It’s that time of year again: it’s time to talk about the U.S. News and World Report’s 100 Best Jobs of 2017! We’ll be breaking down the list by industry and discussing which jobs you can get with an associate degree from Dallas Community Colleges, along with a little information about what each career path might look like and what kind of salary you can expect to make.
Due to the huge role of health care as an industry in Dallas County, we’re going to be kicking off the series by writing about health care jobs. But first…
A Brief Explanation of Living Wage
For our purposes, a living wage is the absolute minimum amount an individual must earn per year, working full time to support him- or herself and any dependents (if applicable). Obviously that’s going to vary based on how many adults are in the household, as well as how many children. Use the Living Wage calculator on our website to figure out what kind of wages you need to earn to meet your basic needs.
22. Registered Nurse
Registered nursing came in at number 22 again this year, and it’s easy to understand why. Texas is, after all, facing a shortage of nurses. Dallas County alone is expected to need thousands more nurses by 2018. The job pays well, too — the annual mean wage for a registered nurse in Texas is $70,000 — making it not only a rewarding career path, but also putting you easily above a living wage. Demand for registered nurses is steady and growing, with a projected employment growth of 16 percent from 2014 to 2024.
Also worth noting: while an entry-level nursing job is obtainable with an associate degree in nursing, furthering your education is a key component to advancing in this profession over time. That means an RN-to-BSN program is something you should consider. Brookhaven, El Centro and North Lake have articulation agreements in place with the University of Texas at Arlington, the Chamberlain College of Nursing and the Texas Tech University Health Science Center to help make it that much easier for you get into the RN-to-BSN program that’s right for you. Over time, you might also consider looking into a master’s degree to further advance your career — making future work as a nurse practitioner (#2), nurse anesthetist (#6) or a nurse midwife (#11) a possibility.
24. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
A diagnostic medical sonographer uses high-frequency sound waves to visualize the soft tissue structures of internal organs as requested by physicians to diagnose patients. These jobs made a huge jump on the list this year — from #42 to #24! That’s probably partly because these jobs are projected to grow 24 percent from 2014 to 2024, with an annual mean wage in Texas of $77,000. Most people in these positions have an associate degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and a certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
32. Dental Hygienist
Most dental hygienists work in dental offices alongside dentists. They will usually see a patient first and clean the patient’s teeth, removing tartar, stains and plaque as they brush, floss and scrape. They earn an annual mean wage in Texas of $72,000, and employment for dental hygienists is expected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024. You can get started in this career field by earning a Dental Hygiene Associate of Applied Science Degree from El Centro. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and a regional clinical board in order to apply for licensure by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners to become a registered dental hygienist.
36. Respiratory Therapist
Respiratory therapy is another field being recognized for its bright future this year, going from #65 in 2016 to #36 in 2017 on the Best Jobs list. Respiratory therapists specialize in helping to treat people who have breathing problems or diseases. For long-term career advancement, you may eventually want to consider earning a bachelor’s degree, but you can start out with an associate degree from a Respiratory Care program and a respiratory therapist certification. Texas respiratory therapists can make an mean annual wage of about $58,000, and employment levels are projected to grow about 12 percent from 2014 to 2024.
40. Medical and Health Services Manager, 68. Medical Records Technician, & 77. Medical Secretary
For larger health care systems and hospitals, most medical and health services managers have at least a bachelor’s degree — however, for a smaller private practice, the vast majority of managers have an associate degree or trade school certificate, such as through a Medical Front Office program, a Medical Practice Manager program or a Medical Staff Services program. Graduates of these programs can expect to work with patient records, insurance billing, computerized accounting and patient databases and to transcribe dictated notes and apply standardized codes to patient records.
The following includes possible entry-level job titles and salary information for Texas:
|Job||Hourly Mean Wage in Texas||Annual Mean Salary in Texas|
|Medical records and health information technicians||$19.09||$39,710|
Pharmacists are #49 again in 2017! Okay okay… so you need a lot of school to become a full-fledged pharmacist — aspiring pharmacists have to go through a Doctor of Pharmacy program. That being said, going through a Pharmacy Technician program is a great way to learn more about the field and make it easier to decide if working in a pharmacy is right for you. A pharmacy technician in Texas makes an average of about $33,000 per year, and these jobs are projected to grow by 9 percent from 2014 to 2024.
50. Cardiovascular Technologist
Cardiovascular technology took the #62 spot in 2016, making a big improvement to #50 this year. Cardiovascular technologists help patients when they experience symptoms like chest pain, irregular heartbeat or shortness of breath. We offer two ways for you to become a cardiovascular technologist: the Cardiac Sonography program or the Invasive Cardiovascular Technology program, both of which are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Cardiovascular Technology and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Another option might be to major in Radiologic Sciences and then specialize in cardiovascular technology while on the job. Texas also has the highest employment levels for cardiovascular technologists, with an annual mean wage of just over $54,000 and a projected job growth of 24 percent from 2014 to 2024.
56. Radiation Therapist
Radiation therapists work with CAT scans, X-rays and Cone beam computed tomography before radiation is even administered. Most employers prefer you to have at least an associate degree, making a Radiologic Sciences Associate in Applied Sciences degree from either Brookhaven or El Centro a great option with which to get started. These jobs are projected to see about 14 percent growth from 2014 to 2024, and radiation therapists in Texas make an annual mean wage of about $73,000.
59. Clinical Lab Technician
A clinical laboratory technician is responsible for things like examining bodily fluids and cells and matching blood for transfusions, and you’ll likely use equipment like microscopes and cell counters. You can become qualified to become a clinical laboratory technician through a Medical Laboratory Technology program and a certification from the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science. Lab technicians in Texas make a mean annual wage of $40,000, and the job growth for these positions is projected at 16 percent from 2014 to 2024.
63. Home Health Aide
Home health aides moved from #78 to #63 on the list this year, which makes sense when you consider that the projected employment growth for these jobs is 38 percent from 2014 to 2024. Home health aides do exactly what their title implies — sure, they might help with household chores, but most often they assist with patients who need full-time care due to a chronic condition or disability. Formal education is not technically required, but in order to work with an agency you’ll probably need to get certified from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. If this career path sounds appealing to you, you should also consider earning a Patient Care Technician certificate to help you get started. Home health aides earn an annual mean wage of about $20,000, while health care support workers in general make closer to $44,000 in Texas.
75. Physical Therapist Aide
Physical therapist aides support physical therapists and physical therapist assistants by cleaning and sanitizing treatment areas and equipment, washing linens and performing clerical tasks. They are also usually responsible for moving patients to and from treatment areas. These jobs pay an annual mean wage in Texas of about $26,000, and employment of physical therapy aides is expected to grow 40 percent from 2014 to 2024. You can become a physical therapy aide with about 50-100 Continuing Education contact hours at Brookhaven College.
78. MRI Technologist
MRI Technologists operate machines that use a magnetic field and radio waves to create images of patients’ organs, tissue and bones. You can study through a Magnetic Resonance Imaging program in order to jump right into this field, or you might consider studying Radiologic Sciences and then specializing in MRI technology once you’re on the job. After meeting certain criteria, you can then sit for the certification exam as part of the post-primary pathway with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Either one is a great choice, because MRI technologists in Texas make an annual mean wage of just over $68,000, and projected job growth is about nine percent from 2014 to 2024.
81. Medical Assistant
Medical assisting jobs moved from #87 to #81 this year, in part thanks to projected job growth of 23 percent from 2014 to 2024. Medical assistants are usually the first person you see during a doctor’s appointment. They might cover the front desk, answering phones and filing forms, and they might also do hands-on tasks like drawing blood, administering injections and making sure medical histories are accurately recorded. Technically, there is not any required formal training for an entry-level medical assistant, but it helps to go through a Medical Assisting program and earn a certification in order to stand out and get ahead among other applicants. Medical assistants in Texas make about a $30,000 annual mean wage.
86. Veterinary Technologist/Technician
Veterinary technologists and technicians moved from #95 in 2016 to #86 in 2017. They handle dozens of tasks related to animal health care, helping with everything from monitoring anesthesia and sterilizing equipment to preparing vaccines and serums. You’ll probably work in a private clinic or animal hospital and you should definitely be committed to animal care. You can become a veterinary technician by earning an associate degree, while most veterinary technologists have at least a bachelor’s degree. (Should you decide to continue your career in the veterinary field, you should know that Cedar Valley has transfer agreements with several veterinary assistant programs to help you do exactly that.) Veterinary technicians and technologists make an annual mean wage of about $29,000 in Texas, with projected job growth of 19 percent from 2014 to 2024.
88. Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear medicine technologists inject small amounts of radioactive material into patients and then take images of their patients’ bodies to diagnose or determine the progression of certain diseases or illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease. Employment for these jobs is somewhat flat, with a two percent expected job growth from 2014 to 2024. In Texas, these jobs pay an annual mean wage of about $75,000. These jobs usually require an associate degree to start, and a great option for getting started is to major in Radiologic Sciences and then specialize in nuclear medicine while on the job.
92. Radiologic Technologist
Specifically, radiologic technologist jobs are showing up on the Best Jobs list for the first time this year, debuting at #92. But with that said, radiologic technologist programs can lead to a variety of specializations within the field (remember cardiovascular technology and MRI technology?). These jobs are projected to grow by nine percent from 2014 to 2024, and the annual median salary in Texas is just under $56,000.
93. Surgical Technologist
Before the surgeon scrubs in, surgical technologists sterilize the operating room and set tools out on the tables for procedures. Surgical technology is showing up on the Best Jobs list this year in part due to the 15 percent projected job growth from 2014 to 2024, as well as the annual mean wage in Texas of $46,000. Most surgical technologists have a Surgical Technologist Associate in Applied Sciences degree, which you can get in just two years from El Centro.
EMTs and paramedics care for the sick and wounded while quickly transporting them to a nearby medical facility. They often work side by side with police officers and firefighters to provide the best all-around care in emergency situations. When it comes to EMT and paramedic training, there are a variety of options, including certificate programs and a Paramedicine Associate of Applied Sciences. The projected job growth is 24 percent from 2014 to 2024 for EMT/paramedic jobs, and the annual mean wage in Texas is just under $36,000.
100. Dental Assistant
Dental assistants usually help with things like preparing and sterilizing instruments, processing X-rays and maintaining patient records. The projected employment growth for dental assistants is 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, and the annual mean wage in Texas is about $35,000. Formal training isn’t technically required to become a dental assistant, but a Dental Assisting certificate from Richland is a great way to get started.