Want a Government Health Care Job? Get One of These 7 Degrees!

Many professionals pine for a healthcare government job because they offer many excellent benefits: good salary, excellent retirement and healthcare and plenty of job security.

While getting your foot in the door of a government agency can be challenging, once you are in, you can stay in for many years and enjoy a good career. If you want to increase your odds of getting a state or federal government job in healthcare, experts recommend that you get a bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of these fields:

#1 Bachelor of Science Nursing

Nursing is one of the most rapidly growing professions in America today. It is anticipated that there will be thousands of new nursing jobs in the next decade, and many of these nursing jobs will be in local, state and federal government.

Many nurses do work in hospitals, doctor’s’ offices, home healthcare facilities and nursing homes. But there also are many work opportunities for nurses who work for government agencies at all levels of government, and many nurses work in the military.

The best path to becoming a nurse in government is to earn your bachelor of sciences in nursing. You can improve your likelihood of getting hired by specializing in a certain type of patient population, such as:

Tip: You can first earn an associate’s degree in nursing, which takes two years. After you earn your degree and pass your NCLEX-PN examination, you can work for a few years, and then earn your bachelor’s degree. In many cases, you can have your government employer pay for your bachelor’s degree.

Salary Trend: Nurses generally earn a median salary of $67,400 per year.

#2 Master of Science in Nursing

After you have worked as a nurse with a bachelor’s degree, a great option to accelerate your government healthcare career is to earn your Master of Science in Nursing or MSN. When you earn this advanced nursing degree, you can become an advanced nursing practice nurse and work for many government agencies at the local, state and federal levels. The major types of advanced practice nurses are:

After you have earned your MSN degree, you must pass your national certification examination for your specialty. At that point, you can work in an advanced nursing practice professional for the government. Many nurses work with state and local public health agencies, or for public hospitals that are funded by the state government.

Tip: The job demand for all APN positions will increase by 31% by 2024, but if you want to have the most job demand of all, becoming a nurse practitioner is a very smart choice. The US government believes that jobs for NPs will increase by 35% by 2024.

Salary Trend: The overall wage for all advanced practice nurses is $104,740. For nurse practitioners, you can expect to earn a median salary of $98,100.

#3 Master of Public Health

Public health is a very rapidly growing field in government. There is more focus today on preventative measures so that people do not get sick in the first place. By preventing illnesses from occurring, local, state and federal governments can often save millions or even billions in health care costs.

Public health professionals always rely on data to make decisions and recommendations, so you can be sure that biostatisticians and epidemiologists will be hired regularly at the local, state and federal levels. There are also plenty of public health career opportunities in environmental health and global health.

Tip: Statisticians are in especially high demand in the US economy, so it is indeed a good move to specialize in biostatistics in your master’s program.

Salary Trend: Salaries in the federal government for statisticians are high – nearly $100,000 per year.

#4 Master of Physician Assistant Studies

A physician assistant is known as a PA, and practices medicine under the supervision of a doctor or surgeon, and does most of the same duties as a full physician.

Given the strong demand increase for all types of health care services, more primary care is being handled today by physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The demand for physician assistants will climb by 30% by 2024, and there will be a strong need for more PAs working in government as well.

Many PAs are employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Because PAs can do most of the same work as a doctor for less money, the federal government likes to use PAs as they can provide effective health care at a lower cost.

Tip: If you want to find a job very quickly, it is a good idea to try to serve in a chronically underserved area, especially in a rural part of the country. Rural areas often are understaffed by doctors due to cost constraints, and the demand for PAs in these areas is very high.

Salary Trend: The median salary for PAs is $98,100, and for government employed PAs, it is $91,260. Keep in mind that government employed PAs have very good benefits and job stability.

#5 Master of Health Administration

Healthcare administrators play a vital role in planning, directing and coordinating medical and health services for health care facilities. Many of these health care facilities are run by local, state and federal government.

In a time of reduced budgets, it is critical for government healthcare facilities to be run in an efficient manner. These facilities need highly trained healthcare administrators to improve efficiency and health care quality.

It is a good career option for you to earn your master’s in health administration so that you can become a department or facility manager in the government for a health care organization.

How good of a move is it? The government states that the employment of healthcare administrators will rise by 17% by 2024, which is much faster than average.

Tip: If you want to get an edge on your competition, consider earning a certification from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management.

Salary Trend: Healthcare administrators earn a median salary of $101,190 in government related work.

#6 Doctor of Physical Therapy

There is a very strong and growing need for more physical therapists, who help ill and injured people to improve their ability to move and to manage their level of pain.

Most DPT programs last three years, and then you must apply for and complete a clinical residency program after you graduate. This will take approximately one year.

There are many government job opportunities for physical therapists, such as in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The US government states that demand for PTs will grow by 34% by 2024, which is much faster than average.

Tip: To qualify for a physical therapy degree program, you will need a strong background in anatomy, physiology, biology and chemistry.

Salary Trend: The median wage for PTs as of 2015 was $84,020 per year.

#7 Master of Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists treat injured and disabled patients through working with them in their everyday activities. They help their patients to develop, recover and improve the skills they need to live and work independently.

Also, patients who have permanent disabilities, such as from a stroke or from cerebral palsy, will need help in performing regular daily tasks of living, such as eating, changing clothes and dressing. Occupational therapists help them to do these tasks.

There are many US war veterans who have suffered debilitating injuries who need assistance so that they can live and work independently after they recover from their injuries. Many occupational therapists work in various levels of the state and federal government to help these patients. Most students should consider a Graduate level degree program and earn a Masters in Occupational Therapy.

Tip: Job growth for OTs will rise by 27% by 2024, which is much faster than average.

Salary: The median wage for OTs as of May 2015 was $80,150.

Robert Sanchez
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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