Thinking about getting a job in health care?

To get the best idea of where the hottest jobs are it helps to understand the forces shaping Connecticut’s health care landscape.

One major factor is Connecticut’s aging population, a veritable tsunami that is already having an impact on health care. Connecticut’s population is already the 7th oldest in the country, with a median age of 40. The over-65 population is expected to grow by 65 percent by 2030.

At the same time, the state is expanding long-term care options for older people, offering them the option of getting care at home or in the community rather than in a nursing home. Connecticut officials predict 15,000 more people will need long- term home- and community-based services over the next 10 years.

As a result, economists and health care experts expect a booming market for home health aides, nurses and personal care aides who care for older patients at home and help them with basics such as eating, bathing and grooming.

The state Department of Labor predicts that the demand for personal care aides will grow by 53 percent growth between 2010 and 2020, one of the fastest growing occupations in the state.

“Right now, anybody who does home health care or nursing is hot,” said Peter Gioia, an economist at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.

Not only will the elderly need more intense and frequent health care, but many uninsured people are expected to have coverage under the Affordable Care Act and will need to find a primary care provider.

“Eventually, we’re going to have 330,000 more people covered. That’s going to be a challenge within the existing infrastructure of primary care provider,” Gioia said.

Changes in health care are also creating the need for people who can process and manage the health care business and technology, such as medical coders and health information systems analysts.

The following is a list of some of the hottest health care jobs in Connecticut now and in coming years. The list, developed with input from area economists, the state Department of Labor and health care experts, includes a general description, estimated salary and basic education requirements.

Personal care aide
Aides who help patients, particularly older people, and bathe, groom, clean, cook and take medications, are in high demand.
Salary: $10/hour
Education: No requirements.

Home health aide
Home health aides visit the home to help patients, often post hospitalization, with the activities of daily living under direction of visiting nurse.
Salary: $28,799
Education: High School

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
APRNs are in particularly high demand. They are increasingly being used as a “physician extender” as part of health care reform, handling well child visits and other duties. These nurses must have a minimum of a master’s degree, and there is a trend toward many getting a doctoral of nursing and national certification in a particular specialty.
Salary range: $70,000-$135,000
Education: Master’s degree

Pharmacists continue to be in demand due to the aging population, the boom in medication use and pharmacists playing more of a role in consultations about medication.
Salary: $79,000 – $120,000
Education: 6-year degree beyond high school.

Health information systems analyst
Health information analysts have the know-how to translate the clinical needs of care providers to software vendors and get functional programs for physicians.
Salary: $58,000-$102,000
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Medical coder
Medical coders are trained to review medical records and know how to put them into diagnostic code.
Salary: $36,000-$63,000
Education: Certification program or associate’s degree.

Medical Assistant:
Medical assistants have preparation to work in physician offices, doing administrative work, and clinical procedures, such as EKGS.
Salary: $34,400
Education: Certification program or associate’s degree

Behavioral and mental health
Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors and advance practice nurses are in demand to help prevent and treat substance abuse and behavioral health problems outside of the emergency department.
Salary: $189,364
Education: Medical School and Internship/residency

Substance Abuse and behavioral disorder counselor
Salary: $44,867
Education: High School

Primary care physician
Connecticut is already facing a shortage of primary care physicians and the average age of those practicing now is 55. The Affordable Care Act will increase the demand for physicians even more.
Salary: $160,00-$170,000
Education: Medical school and three years of training/residency.

Hospitalists, called “the inpatient physician,” are trained to practice in a hospital, and many have had intensive care medical training and are knowledgeable about quality improvement and better utilization of resources.
Salary: $190,000-$238,000
Education: Medical school and three years of training

Emergency Room Physician
Emergency room physicians are in great demand because of double- digit increases in visits to emergency rooms in the past 6 to 8 years due to an older and sicker population and people who lack health insurance or don’t have a primary care doctor.
Salary: $260,000
Education: Medical school and at least three years’ residency.

Occupational Therapists
Help patients recover and engage in meaningful activities of daily life.
Salary: $81,011
Education: Master’s degree

Speech Therapists
Help patients recover from an injury or stroke and improve their quality of life.
Salary: $80,849
Education: Master’s degree

Community Health Worker
Community health workers help patients in the community with prevention and follow-up care and support, including assisting with medication and getting them to appointments, case management.
Salary: Not available.
Education: No recognized educational requirement.

For more information on job growth projects and salaries, see the state Department of Labor website:

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