Health Care Training and Career FAQ
How Should I Approach Choosing a Health Care Career?
With plenty of enthusiasm. First, consider just how many possible career options this broad field encompasses. There are potentially hundreds, each requiring a different combination of skills and personal traits.
But don't let that scare you. It simply means that almost anybody can find a health care occupation which fits his or her unique attributes. All it takes to begin the process is a little honesty and an open mind about what you truly enjoy.
For instance, you might really care about helping people, but maybe you don't particularly like being around too many of them in a single day. That's OK. In fact, it's an insight that can make selecting what to pursue a lot easier.
So draw up a list of questions to ask yourself. Here are a few to get you started:
- Do I prefer predictable routines, or do I enjoy having new and unexpected challenges each day?
- Would I like working directly with patients, or would I rather be doing things behind the scenes with minimal interaction?
- Do I like work that keeps me physically active, or do I want to do something a little more low-key?
- Does working with high-tech medical equipment sound fun, or would I prefer to limit the technical stuff to mostly using computers?
Now, as you read through each of the following sections, start answering some of your questions based on what you learn about different career possibilities. Then you can start matching your answers to a narrowing set of choices.
What Are Some of the Best Options?
With one of the greatest systems in the world, Canada's health care sector is home to a vast number of interesting and worthwhile occupational opportunities. And they are found within several different settings—not just hospitals or doctors' offices. That means you stand a terrific chance of discovering a good path that suits you.
To begin, check out the potential in these booming categories:
Always deserving of the respect they receive, nurses continue to prove that smart and compassionate people can make a deeply meaningful impact. And the ability to affect the lives of others isn't just restricted to RNs. It also extends to practical nurses and other nursing staff who assist in the direct care of all kinds of patients. They perform work that is as hands-on as it gets. And that results in some of the most profound rewards one can experience in any career.
Medical Administrative Services
The health care system simply couldn't function without the great attention-to-detail and organizational abilities of workers in this category. From critical documentation to vital communications, these support professionals handle countless tasks that make getting accurate and timely care possible. Some specialize in record-keeping or managing medical offices. Others transcribe doctors' voice memos or file insurance claims and bill provincial health authorities.
Most of our communities have young, elderly, and disabled people who require special services. Many of us also live near individuals—of all ages—who suffer from mental or behavioral issues. In fact, one in every five Canadians goes through an addiction or mental health problem during any given year.* All of that means that support workers are in high demand. Whether it's working with at-risk youth, providing residential care to seniors, or helping people overcome drug or alcohol dependency, careers in this field contribute a lot of good to society.
You don't need to be a dentist to help provide good oral care to people. The field consists of other fascinating roles that are every bit as important. Just think about the dental hygienist who cleans and examines your teeth while educating you on proper brushing and flossing. Or the chairside assistant who hands your dentist the right tools and is there to help make your procedure go as smoothly as possible. Even the administrative staff who greet you and schedule your appointments are essential to the process.
By now, almost everyone knows that diet and exercise are important for good health. But that doesn't mean we all know how to get fit and stay well, especially since each one of us is so different. We often need help. That's where professionals like personal trainers and nutrition consultants come in. They coach us and guide us toward better-performing bodies. Of course, sometimes we need other proven ways to ease the tension and stress that life brings. It's why more and more of us are turning to relaxation and massage therapy pros.
Technologists, Technicians, and Other Essential Occupations
Health care jobs can be found in so many special areas that they sometimes defy easy categorization. But that doesn't make them any less significant than the ones already listed. Just a few examples of other worthwhile paths to explore include:
- Working in a medical laboratory to help test blood, bodily fluids, and tissue samples
- Assisting pharmacists with the fulfillment of prescriptions
- Using cardiology technology to help detect and monitor heart problems
- Responding to medical emergencies as a paramedic
- Helping people overcome injuries or genetic conditions as a physiotherapist assistant or occupational therapy aide
What Makes the Health Care Field a Smart Choice?
People have numerous reasons for going into this sector. But here are three of the most popular ones:
Growth and Stability
In 2015, more than 1.8 million Canadians were employed in the fields of health care and social assistance.** And that number is expected to continue on an upward trend. That's because of the many fast-growing occupations in the sector. For example, through 2026, it's projected that there won't be enough nurses or health care managers to fill job openings.*** That could mean great opportunities for you.
Impact and Excitement
Working in the sector gives you the chance to help change people's lives for the better and contribute to something genuinely important. Plus, many of these careers offer a fast pace and different challenges each day.
Although income can vary significantly from profession to profession, the average hourly wage for the entire health care sector is still pretty compelling. In 2017, it was $27.65.** And the more skills and experience you acquire, the higher you can grow your take-home pay.
Will I Need a Special License or Certification?
In many cases you will. It just depends on the career you choose. Not all careers are regulated that way.
For those health care occupations that do require licensing, most provinces have their own regulations and processes. Usually, they require that you get proper training from an educational institution and then pass a special exam to receive your professional licensure. So check with your own province to see what's required for the specific career you're thinking about.
Does It Take Very Long to Train for These Careers?
For the most part, no. The majority of programs on this page take two years or less to complete. That's fast, especially compared to the four years that it typically takes to earn a degree. Even so, a more lengthy education option can still go by fairly quickly. And the bottom line is that the health care field offers numerous opportunities for beginning a new career without spending too long in school.
How Do I Begin?
You're a lot closer than you might think. Explore the many courses of study featured above. And when you spot one that appeals to you, make sure to send a quick request for more details to the school offering it. You can also perform an easy search in the box below to see a list of schools that most closely match your location and interests.
* Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Mental Illness and Addiction Statistics, website last visited on May 7, 2018.
** Statistics Canada, website last visited on March 5, 2019.
*** Government of Canada, Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), website last visited on January 2, 2020.