If you’re interested in working in healthcare but don’t think a clinical job is right for you, the good news is there are several excellent healthcare careers that don’t require rigorous medical training. Here are three of the fastest growing alternative career paths in healthcare—in part thanks to the increasingly prominent roles they’re playing in impacting patient care.
1. Healthcare Lobbyist
A healthcare lobbyist is someone who promotes healthcare issues and aims to make them legal by influencing public officials. While healthcare advocates publicize a medical concern, lobbyists are involved in a constant dialogue about the concern with government bodies, politicians, and regulatory agencies that can bring about legislation. In an ever-expanding horizon of medical innovation and patient care, healthcare lobbying is the desired medium to address advocacy campaigns.
This is especially important considering the recent rise of public health issues, such as the opioid crisis that was declared to be a public health emergency in 2017, and the more current COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the heightened neglect of healthcare workers, many of whom might not survive the pandemic due to lack of healthcare supplies like N95 masks. Here’s where lobbyists can play an integral role, pushing for increased medical funding and more support for the healthcare workers fighting the pandemic.
Healthcare lobbyists work across local, state, and federal levels, and are typically employed by hospitals and private practices, insurance groups and pharmaceutical companies, firms developing healthcare technology and implants, groups that work on public health and patient rights, governmental bodies like the Department of Veterans Affairs, or professional associations like the American Nurses Association.
Two essential skills in this career are policy knowledge and inter-professional relationships. Healthcare lobbyists must have insights into policy creation as well as maintain professional communication with politicians, advocates, and other stakeholders concerned with patient safety. A professional healthcare lobbyist conducts extensive research on legislation, attends congressional hearings, drafts public health policies and debates in favor of enacting them.
In order to make a career in healthcare lobbying, you must have an undergraduate (and preferably a master’s) degree in public relations, public health, sociology, or healthcare administration, as well as familiarity with the law. This is followed by interning with healthcare agencies or enrolling in certificate programs like the American League of Lobbyists. Then, you must register with the government to earn professional credentials to work independently or with a lobbying firm.
An experienced healthcare lobbyist with a master’s degree can earn an annual salary of more than $100,000.
2. Rehabilitation Counselor
A rehabilitation counselor is a specialist counselor who works with people with social or physical limitations to help them live independently. Many adults are unable to secure and maintain employment due to personal or social issues and/or disabilities. A rehabilitation counselor works with such patients to develop specific skill sets by assessing their strengths and limitations, arranging for required medical assistance, and training and counseling them to lead self-reliant, independent lives. Their professional skills include personal and vocational counseling, job placements, injury prevention and management, non-vocational disability services, and public policy.
Rehabilitation counselors can work in various settings—from government agencies to health and community associations. They may also be employed by family centers to help fix interpersonal issues between spouses, or parents and children.
Aspiring rehab counselors should ideally have an undergraduate degree in Disability and Developmental Education or in social work or health science. This may be followed by pursuing a postgraduate specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling. In order to become a certified rehabilitation counselor, you must pass the CRC examination and then go on to earn additional counseling certifications. In order to earn a license, a counselor must complete 2,000 to 4,000 hours of clinical service and pass a state-recognized exam.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this type of counseling will grow by 10 percent in the next eight years. Meanwhile, rehabilitation counselors can expect to earn an annual salary of as much as $72,000.
A doula is a trained assistant who provides physical and psychological support to women before, during, and after they experience childbirth. Unlike obstetricians or midwives, doulas don’t give medical advice but lend critical support by discussing postures, delivery options, and natural childbirth preferences. Generally, a birth doula assists in breathing during contractions, and combines postpartum services like newborn care and household assistance.
The importance of this kind of service is on a steady rise, especially in developed countries. The American College of Nurse-Midwives aimed to employ nurse-midwives in 20 percent of non-cesarean births by 2020. Other career prospects of a doula may include childbirth educators and lactation consultants. Doulas may be employed by hospitals, community groups, or private clients.
There is no age limit or professional degree required to work as a doula. The only criteria essential is passion for helping laboring mothers and readiness to embrace the unpredicted timeline of childbirth. It’s not compulsory to obtain certification for the job, but a certified doula has better professional credentials and is likely to find better employment. Some of the major organizations that train and certify people to become doulas include Dona International, Childbirth and Postpartum Association (CAPPA), and International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA).
Prospective doulas should include certifications, any relevant past experience, and specific achievements on their resumes. The salary of a birth doula varies depending on births/month, but a reasonable yearly salary could be $86,400, while a postpartum doula could earn as much as $135,200 a year.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced Freelance writer from the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business, marketing, management, finance, and technology. You can follow Jori on Twitter and LinkedIn.