By Gladys Mae
Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.
With many industries in decline or showing signs of economic distress, the health industry is definitely one of the few that have never been healthier. Jobs in the health industry are not only abundant, they’re also secure, fast-paced and usually well paid. After all, people are always going to need to have their health looked after, no matter what is going on with market trends or the economy. If you’re considering a career in the health industry, it could be a great decision to get started on your training with the International Career Institute.
This article will step through the major career paths available in the industry, starting with those requiring the least amount of academic training, to those that require multiple years and levels of study. As we’ll see, the higher paying and more skilled jobs aren’t necessarily the best ones, but the path you choose should be based on your own individual calling.
The easiest job to get into in the healthcare industry is the role of a pharmacy assistant. This job is one of the lower paying jobs on the list, but it has a few perks that make it attractive. The first of these is that you’ll normally get regular work hours with no surprises, which is not something that can be said for most other jobs in the health industry. You’re also unlikely to be exposed to traumatic scenes working in this role, which is a benefit if you’re particularly sensitive or squeamish around blood and medical procedures.
While it’s similar to other jobs in retail sales, there are some important differences. You’ll still need a winning personality and plenty of confidence, with other desirable traits of pharmacy assistants being discretion, patience and compassion. People shopping at pharmacies are usually looking for solutions to problems, and you need to be able to rapidly gain their trust in order to help them.
Strict formal academic qualifications are not usually required, but employers are likely to seek candidates who hold a certification as a pharmacy assistant, because there’s more to the job than just selling. The Pharmacy Assistant Certificate at the International Career Institute is a great first stepping stone to a career in the pharmaceutical industry, and covers everything from human anatomy to retail skills. You’ll need to be able to remember a very large range of products and what they’re intended for in terms of medical treatment, so you can provide customers with the best advice.
Key attributes: Organised, friendly, helpful, confident.
Pharmacy technicians often have the same duties as pharmacy assistants, but in addition, they may also help in mixing and preparing medicines or other pharmaceutical products. Most products sold through pharmacies these days are pre-packaged, so employment for pharmacy technicians is often found in hospital dispensaries, where specific formulations may be requested by doctors.
As a technician, you will normally be working under the direct supervision of a pharmacist, and will take orders from him or her. An appropriate qualification, plus good skills in chemistry and biology, are what employers will usually be seeking from inexperienced candidates. Hospital dispensaries are often open on a 24-hour basis, so this job may involve shift work and weekend work. Securing a position as a pharmacy assistant gives you a good amount of growth and promotion potential within either your specific workplace or the pharmacy industry as a whole. You’ll be learning new things every day, and will gain valuable experience in analysing and understanding how medications have varying affects on the body.
Key attributes: Attentive, understanding, analytical.
As the name implies, nursing assistants are assistants to nurses. No surprises there. You may be wondering why anyone would work in this job instead of just becoming a nurse, since there’s a lot of overlap in terms of duties, and a fairly large difference in what you get paid.
The answer is that becoming a nurse takes a much bigger commitment in terms of time and money, plus training positions for nurses are limited and highly competitive. Getting qualified as a nursing assistant is a breeze in comparison. The International Career Institute’s Nursing Assistant Certificate can be completed in as little as 31 weeks. Also, many people choose to work as nursing assistants while studying to become nurses.
As a nursing assistant, you aren’t expected to perform any medical procedures, which is why you don’t need quite so much training. You do still need training however, and it is quite thorough. Courses can average from 6 weeks to 6 months, where obviously the more training you get, the higher the likelihood of you being able to handle anything that comes up on the job.
Tasks are diverse, but you can expect the majority of them to be the non-medical tasks that nurses don’t like to do.
Key attributes: Friendly, clean, adaptable, excellent time management.
Dental assistants are just like nursing assistants, except they work for dentists, making it a less intense working environment with generally better, more regular work hours. Depending on the size of the practise where you work, you’ll either be supervised directly by the dentist, or otherwise by a dental nurse. Dental assistants usually perform a range of tasks, including hygiene practices, extraction assistance, patient aftercare and customer service. If you’re interested in a career as a dental assistant, our Dental Assistant Certificate is a great qualification to use as a starting block for building your career.
Key attributes: Open to learning, calm, meticulous.
If going to medical school for nearly a decade doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, but you’re still craving a stethoscope with your name on it, then becoming a paramedic may be the right path for you.
The entry requirements are not as strict (though you’ll still need to be above average) and the study duration is shorter. The actual qualification you need is different between each state, but at a minimum, you’ll need a diploma in Paramedical Science (or equivalent).
To obtain employment, apart from the academic component, you’ll also need a driver’s license, a clean driving history, and you’ll need to pass a police background check. It’s a potentially rewarding career that pays well, but also involves a certain amount of danger, difficult work conditions, shift work, and long work days. Being a paramedic can be incredibly exciting, but it isn’t all like it seems in the movies – it can be very stressful, and it’s important to have a strong and happy disposition to thrive in this intense working position.
Key attributes: Physically fit, resilient, quick-thinking, resourceful.
It may seem strange to see nurse listed after paramedic, since this list is in order of how much training you need, but it’s generally true. Paramedics can qualify in 2 years in states which accept diploma level qualifications (and with fast-tracking, possibly even only one year). To become a nurse however, you’ll need to study for at least 4 years. Everyone knows what nurses do, so there’s not much need to elaborate here. From looking after patients during and after surgery, to cleaning and maintaining high standards of medical hygiene in operation procedures, being a nurse gives you the opportunity to meet amazing people and lead a fulfilling, challenging career.
Study places for nurses are limited and highly competitive. Prior experience and qualifications as a nursing assistant can make it easier to get accepted into a study place, and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) provisions may also help you reduce the time and cost of getting your nursing degree.
Key attributes: Caring, passionate, understanding, strong.
To be at the top of the healthcare pyramid requires a significant investment of money and time, but those are not the only reasons these jobs are definitely not for everyone. Becoming a doctor takes considerably more than having good grades and terrible penmanship.
To even be accepted into medical school, you need to have exemplary year 12 results in English, mathematics and biology, plus a blemish-free record. You will also need to pass a rigorous aptitude test called the UMAT, and then make a strong impression at the admissions interview.
You’ll then spend the next six to eight years as a student, paying the highest level of fees that any university charges. The ordeal doesn’t end there, either. It’s only just beginning. Hospitals in Australia and the UK have a reputation for pushing junior doctors to the limits of their endurance. Needless to say, you need to be willing to put up with a lot of hardship before you actually start to collect the rewards of this demanding profession.
In terms of being a vet, this is the obvious choice if you’re passionate about animals. However, vets often have to train even longer than doctors do, as they need to be able to treat a variety of animal species, whereas doctors just have to just one – humans. Vet courses are often in excess of seven years long. If you’re crazy about animals and can’t imagine a career without them, one of our courses in zoology, pet care or equine studies could be a great alternative.
Key attributes: Intelligent, determined, career-driven, dedicated.
If you’re passionate about helping people and love to learn new things every day, a career in the health industry might be the perfect option for you. Although often stressful, requiring rigorous training and definitely not for the faint hearted, health industry careers can be incredibly rewarding. Take a look at how to get started with a course from the International Career Institute’s Health and Fitness Faculty.