What are Good Medical Careers for Older Adults?
The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing areas in the job market. With no signs of slowing down, new jobs continue to form constantly within the medical field. What may surprise you is that many of these jobs don’t require a medical degree. They also don’t require you just to be starting out in your career. Some of the best jobs in the medical industry are right for older adults.
Whether you previously had a career in medicine, or you’ve always been interested in the industry, there is never a bad time to consider a career in healthcare. If you’re in your 40+, 50+, or beyond, there are viable jobs available to fit your career desires, while understanding your physical needs. You may be surprised to discover that some hospital jobs don’t require you to hold a medical degree.
There are so many benefits to a career in healthcare, and it’s a career that can develop at almost any stage of life. Here’s some information on the highest-paid jobs in the field of healthcare. What’s important is first to determine what you’re looking for in a career at this age, and how the medical field can fit those needs.
Don’t let age deter you from making a move into healthcare. In this article, we’ll discuss why medical careers can be beneficial for older adults. Then, we’ll go over several of the best careers in medicine, and what you can expect from each one.
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What are the Benefits of Working in Healthcare?
Working in medicine at any age can be a rewarding experience. When it comes to older workers, however, there may be more benefits in this industry than most people realize. As we age, it’s normal to start looking for jobs that require less of our time, are less physically demanding, and jobs that offer some security for the future.
Because people are living longer than ever, it also means the general population is waiting longer to retire. It’s become more common for older individuals to keep working, even if it’s only part-time. Choosing a job in healthcare can be a great way to keep a steady job while reaping multiple benefits. Some of the biggest perks of working in the medical field at an older age include:
- Flexibility – When you work in a hospital, you’re part of a team. There are dozens of specific positions that must be filled each day. Thankfully, because it’s such a popular industry, many people want to fill these positions. That makes it easier for consistent rotation to occur. Part-time jobs in healthcare are very common. Even if you work full-time, it’s likely that you can get someone to ‘cover’ for you on an as-needed basis.
- Physical Expectations – Of course, many healthcare careers require you to be on your feet for hours at a time, but that isn’t the case for every single one. The right job in medicine can offer a great balance of physical activity and rest, giving you the opportunity to stay active, without wearing yourself out.
- Salary – Because of the consistent boom of popularity in the medical field, it’s one of the most stable industries. Most of the jobs within this field have salaries that measure up to that popularity. It may be hard to find a job over the age of 50 that will offer such competitive and fair pay.
- Personal Rewards – There isn’t necessarily a shortage of jobs for Baby Boomers in multiple industries. However, very few of those jobs provide the personal rewards that a career in healthcare can give. Jobs in medicine can be emotionally rewarding, especially to older adults who are looking for a career that makes them feel valued. Not only are you giving back to the patients and people you work with, but you’ll find that the job itself is interesting and gives something back to you.
As an older individual, it’s safe to say you can offer something unique to your healthcare career, too. People over 50 have years of experience and ‘world knowledge’ that simply can’t be taught in a training center or school. Your wisdom and real-life experiences can greatly help you throughout this type of career when it comes to decision making, working directly with different types of people, and more.
So, what are some of the best medical careers you can choose from, even if you’re older?
Home Health Care Aide
It can be quite rewarding to go to a patient’s home and develop a personal connection while caring for their overall health needs. Typically, these individuals are much older, or in need of constant care, and even companionship.
In some cases, being a home health aide requires no formal training. But, there are certification options to consider that do require some education. Certification may be required if you ever plan on working for an organization, such as hospice, etc., or if you plan on working directly with patients in a hospital.
The duties of a home health care worker include things like:
- Basic daily patient care
- Temperature, pulse, and blood pressure readings
- Medication assistance
It’s important for health aides that work in people’s homes to have a sense of compassion, kindness, and understanding. Many times, the patients you’ll work with in these situations need a lot of help performing seemingly simple daily tasks. The role of the job isn’t only to go through the motions of getting things done, but to make your patient comfortable and as happy as possible in the process.
The growth for this type of healthcare worker continues to rise previous generations continue to get older. Aside from being a daily rewarding experience, the median salary for a home health care aide is about $21,920. If this is a new career choice for you, it’s a great way to bring in a substantial salary while truly making a difference in an individual’s life and care.
If you don’t want to work directly in the medical area of the healthcare field, many jobs allow you to focus on more computer-oriented positions. One of the most popular is a medical biller or coder. If you’re good with computers, numbers, and have great attention to detail, this could be the perfect job for you. It’s not as physically demanding as some healthcare jobs and allows you to work in a quieter and comfortable environment. This means that it’s a good career for introverts.
Medical coders have the task of converting medical terms into specific numbers and codes. These codes are used by insurance companies to help identify what can be reimbursed and billed to patients.
Training to become a medical biller can take up to a year, but you can often do it at your own pace if you look at training courses online. It is required that you pass an accredited coding program, and most employers will require some certification through a nationally-recognized institution, like the American Academy of Professional Coders.
There are many employment opportunities for coders, including hospitals, billing companies, and clinics. Salaries may vary depending on where you work, but the average yearly pay for a medical biller is $40,000. For a comfortable job that allows you to work in healthcare without getting your hands dirty, it’s a career that can provide fulfillment and an outstanding salary for many years, no matter your age.
If you never thought you could become an optician after the age of 50, think again! As the population continues to age, so does the need for qualified opticians. As an optician, you have the duty of fitting individuals for eyeglasses, and adjusting existing glasses to make sure they’re the perfect fit.
While this may seem like a ‘fashion over function’ position, it requires you to be able to understand and interpret prescriptions written by the patient’s eye doctor so that you can order the proper lenses. Most opticians work within a private optometrist’s office, helping patients after they’ve had a full ocular exam.
Not all states require an official license for this position, which means you can either gain experience through an apprenticeship or training courses at a local community college or training facility. However, obtaining certification even if your state doesn’t require it can help you to stand out and may make your job resume get picked over someone else who wants the same position.
Being an optician is a fun way to be able to work directly with patients, and help them experience better sight. On top of the personal rewards, the average salary is over $43,000.
A Medical Transcriptionist job is similar to that of a medical coder, as it’s mostly office-based. However, the requirements and daily tasks are very different. A transcriptionist creates detailed reports and performs basic administrative work, creating documents that come from the dictated recordings of physicians. Medical transcriptionists also check work for grammatical and spelling errors.
Typical training and education consists of a high school diploma, plus passing a certified medical transcriptionist program. These programs can take anywhere from six months to a year to finish. Throughout your training, you’ll learn concepts like:
- Medical terminology
- Computer application
- Basic English grammatical skills
Medical transcriptionists can work in hospitals, private practices, and even public healthcare agencies. Because there are so many opening possibilities for this particular job, it should be relatively easy to find one near you. The median yearly salary for a medical transcriptionist is $34,750.
If working directly with patients in hospitals and clinics is something you’d like to do, you may want to look into becoming a telemetry technician. This job requires you to do different cardiac tests on your patients. These tests include things like EKGs and electrocardiograms. A telemetry tech does everything from preparing the patient for the exam, to monitor specific cardiac activity through a variety of different tools and resources.
As hands-on as this job may seem, it has one of the lighter training requirements for a medical career. Many telemetry technicians receive on-the-job training. However, you’ll have a better chance of getting hired at a credible facility if you look into training options yourself. You can become a certified telemetry technician through about 120 hours of coursework. Certification must be approved through a nationally-recognized program, like the American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals.
Depending on where you work, a telemetry tech can make anywhere from $22,366 to $41,360 each year. You should have an even temperament, and a willingness to work with all different types of people to perform this job properly. It’s also a job that may require you to be on your feet each day for longer periods of time than many other positions on this list.
If you speak multiple languages, you could have an extremely successful career as a medical interpreter, no matter your age. Employment growth has continued to rise for language interpreters in multiple industries, but there is no greater need than in healthcare. As the country continues to diversify and the population continues to grow, new language translators are needed all the time.
The most common languages that typically need interpreters are:
Other languages, like Russian, are also growing in popularity and are showing an increase in the need for quality interpreters.
An interpreter’s actual job is to be the source of communication between patients, doctors/nurses, and the rest of the medical staff. If you decide to work in a hospital or another medical facility, this is often done face-to-face. However, some medical interpreters work via phone, or even video conferencing. It’s important not only to be able to translate calmly and effectively but to understand different cultural, medical practices as much as possible.
There is no formal training required to become a medical interpreter, other than an ability to fluently speak multiple languages. However, because the position is becoming so popular, most healthcare facilities are looking for certified interpreters. You can obtain official certification by going through a certificate program. Many community colleges and universities throughout the United States offer such programs. They don’t take long to complete and are fairly inexpensive.
As a medical interpreter, you can expect to make an average of $42,000 each year. Some of the top earning interpreters can make more than $78,000 each year. Salary is dependent on your experience, the languages you can speak, and your place of employment.
Becoming a medical receptionist doesn’t necessarily require a vast knowledge of medical terminology or any familiarity with the industry. In fact, most employers are willing to train on the job. A medical receptionist has the responsibility of being the ‘face’ of an office or hospital building. They interact directly with patients on a daily basis. They are also responsible for dealing with pharmaceutical representatives, vendors, and more.
Essentially, a medical receptionist keeps a medical office running smoothly. They are an integral part of any healthcare team, but they are also responsible for making sure that team is functioning to the best of its ability. They can do everything from schedule patient appointments with doctors to updating records.
Again, most medical receptionist jobs don’t require any formal training, though they often do require you have a high school diploma or equivalent. The average salary for a medical receptionist is $27,830 each year. Salary greatly depends on where you’re located within the country and the type of medical facility. If you’re the type of person who likes to keep things organized and running smoothly, this is a great way to get your foot in the door of the healthcare field.
Phlebotomy makes this list because it’s considered one of the best entry-level jobs in the medical field. It does take a bit more required training than many of the other jobs in this article. However, it’s a great way to get started in medicine at any age and help people in the process.
A phlebotomist is responsible for drawing blood from patients, organizing and storing it properly, and transporting it safely to a medical lab for testing. A phlebotomist works with a variety of different patients each day, as well as a medical team. Most phlebotomists either work in hospitals or clinics, but there is also work in nursing homes, private practices, and volunteer organizations.
Training to become a phlebotomist can be done in a year, but there are several educational options to choose from. You can attend a community college and receive an associate’s degree, or take a specific phlebotomy training program. There are even some programs offered online. Throughout training, you’ll learn everything from anatomy to proper lab procedures. You will also practice venipuncture on your classmates and volunteers.
A phlebotomist is required to be on their feet most of the day so that it can be considered more physically demanding. However, if you love working with different types of people, and can pay great attention to detail, it could be a great job for you. The average salary for a certified phlebotomist is between $21,730 and $39,685 per year. It’s a good alternative career for people who want to leave nursing.
A hospital recruiter (or medical recruiter) serves the healthcare industry by recruiting and screening potential employment candidates. They are hiring specialists that work directly with job seekers in the healthcare industry, and potential employers.
The basic responsibilities of a medical recruiter include:
- Interviewing candidates for specific job placement
- Reviewing and organizing resumes
- Salary negotiation
- Performing background checks on candidates
While a degree isn’t necessary to be a medical recruiter, most facilities do prefer you to have a Bachelor’s Degree. It’s important for someone in this position to have incredibly communication skills. If you’ve worked in a similar field or similar positions as a recruiter before, that will also give you preferential experience.
A professional demeanor is required when working both with potential employment candidates, and the hospitals or clinics that will ultimately be doing the hiring. You must be good at problem-solving, and working promptly. This is to ensure that the needs of employers and potential employees are always met.
The average yearly salary for a hospital recruiter is around $59,000.
Is There a Good Job Outlook in the Healthcare Industry?
One of the best reasons to get into the healthcare industry, even at an older age, is because all of the positions listed in this article have a consistent projected growth over the next ten years. If you’re 50 years old, you could still be 15-20 years away from retirement. Choosing a new career that is growing and you can qualify in 12 months is a great way to ensure you’ll have a steady job.
These are some of the best medical careers for older adults. However, there are many other entry-level positions in healthcare to consider, no matter your age. There are also lots of jobs that are quite similar to phlebotomy, if you want to get into blood work The biggest decisions in choosing a healthcare career is considering what type of training is required, and if it’s a position that fits your needs.
The healthcare industry is flexible, consistently growing, and pays extremely well in most positions. If you’ve ever wanted to work in medicine, there are multiple opportunities for older adults. This is regardless of whether you prefer to work behind the scenes or work directly with patients.