Healthcare Grads Did Well Financially During Recession

Julie Shenkman
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The great recession of 2009 had a long reaching affect on the job market, with many industries still showing slow downs in 2014. The healthcare industry, on the other hand, continued to grow. During the recession, undergraduate healthcare majors enjoyed a booming job market upon graduation, and qualified healthcare graduates remain in high demand to fill healthcare positions.

In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education issued a report titled Baccalaureate and Beyond, which analyzes the employment history of college graduates from 2007 through 2008. These graduates were entering the job market right as the recession hit. The report looks at the graduates' job history since college as well as their primary job in 2012. The report lists healthcare majors as having the lowest unemployment rate in 2012, with a low 2.2 percent being unemployed. This number is significantly lower than the 4.9 percent unemployment rate experienced by computer science majors and the 6 percent rate faced by business majors. The national unemployment rate in 2012 was 8.1 percent, and the overall unemployment rate for college grads from 2007 and 2008 was 6.6 percent.

In addition to experiencing low unemployment rates during the recession, healthcare majors also worked fewer hours than graduates in other fields. The average healthcare graduate worked only 36.6 hours a week in 2012 compared to 45 hours for engineering graduates, 42.8 hours for business graduates and 42 hours for computer science graduates. Working fewer hours correlates with less job stress and more job satisfaction. The report shows healthcare majors as having the third highest median salary at $54,800, falling behind only engineering and computer science majors.

The healthcare job market continues to flourish and is expected to stay strong. It is difficult to outsource most healthcare positions, and an aging population is increasing the need for healthcare workers in many fields. Undergraduate healthcare majors with strong job prospects include registered nursing, dental hygiene, phlebotomy, physical therapy assisting, occupational therapy assisting and laboratory technology. Graduate healthcare majors studying to become dentists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians and physician assistants have a strong job outlook upon graduation. The healthcare industry encompasses a range of careers stretching from patient-centered care positions to behind-the-scene analysts and laboratory positions. The diverse field offers many options for students with different aptitudes and skill sets.

The healthcare job market remained strong through the great recession of 2009, and it continues to grow. The healthcare field has shown that it can weather economic downturns, and current students with healthcare majors should be optimistic about job opportunities upon graduation. To increase your employment potential, apply for internships in your program, and remember to network. Joining professional organizations is a great way to meet employers in the healthcare industry.

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