7 High-Growth Health Care Career Areas in Texas
Texas is facing a serious shortage of qualified health care workers. In the years to come, an increasing number of opportunities will become available across almost every area of the state's health and medical sector. The shortage is being fueled by rapid growth in the overall population of Texans, the aging of the state's baby boomers, and the anticipated retirement of thousands of the region's most experienced health care pros.
In fact, out of 254 Texas counties, 199 of them—about 78 percent—have been designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.1 And that means new graduates of health care training programs can do very well in most areas of the state.
One of the factors driving demand is that the Texas population is projected to keep growing at a rapid rate. Between 2020 and 2050, the state could gain more than 17.5 million additional residents—a rise of almost 60 percent. And while people aged 65 and older account for only about 13 percent of the region's population in 2020, they are expected to account for more than 17 percent by 2050.2
Beyond these demographic changes, some other trends are also making a significant contribution to the rising need for new health and medical professionals in this state. For example, around one-third of all adult Texans are obese, putting them at much greater risk of developing chronic ailments that require treatment and other services.1
All of the above statistics represent just a few of the many reasons why health care is such a good option for career-minded Texans to consider. And here's one more: The number of potential employers is staggering. The state has about 650 hospitals—including 83 in the Houston area, 43 in the Dallas area, 40 in and around Forth Worth, and 38 in the San Antonio area.3
So, which general areas of the Texas health care sector have the most compelling opportunities? Here are seven of the best, including many within fast-to-train-for allied health fields:
Nurses are critical to the effectiveness of the health care system. That's because they are employed almost everywhere that direct patient care is involved. In fact, Texas employs more licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) than any other state, and it ranks second in the number of registered nurses (RNs).4
But, like many other states, Texas is going to need a lot more people to enter the nursing field. As of 2019, almost 27 percent of the state's RNs and nearly 25 percent of its LVNs are 55 or older.5 And one report found that by 2030, the Lone Star State is expected to face one of the biggest nursing shortages in the country.6
So more nurses will continue to be needed. And you can make a very comfortable living in this career. The average salary for RNs in Texas was $72,890 in 2018. For LVNs, it was $46,990.4
2. Medical Technology
Health care technologists and technicians play a major role in ensuring that Texans receive timely and effective health care. They tend to use sophisticated equipment in their jobs and can be found in a large variety of different occupations. But they are especially prominent in the areas of diagnostic testing and surgery. Here are a few examples, with Texas-specific statistics from 2018:4
- Medical laboratory technicians and technologists held 26,350 jobs and earned average annual pay of $51,240.
- About 4,870 diagnostic medical sonographers (i.e., ultrasound technologists) were employed in the state. They earned $71,580 per year, on average.
- Radiologic technologists held 16,180 jobs with an average salary of $58,760.
- Surgical technologists held 10,340 positions and earned, on average, $49,410 per year.
3. Health Care Assisting
Doctors and nurses have a lot of high-level decisions to make when it comes to caring for their patients. So they often rely on other members of their health care teams to handle many of the more routine—but still essential—tasks that need to be carried out each day. In some cases, those tasks involve direct patient care. In others, they are a little more behind-the-scenes. Here are two of the most common in-demand occupations within this category:4
- About 87,750 nursing assistants (often in expanded roles as patient care technicians) were employed in Texas in 2018. On average, they earned $27,030 per year.
- Medical assistants held 59,930 jobs. Their average salary was $31,580.
4. Health Administration
Office work is a huge component in the health care sector. Just think of the vast quantities of time-sensitive information that have to be processed and handled with due care and attention to patient privacy. For example, in 2018, Texas was ranked first for the state with the most employed medical office specialists, and second for health information technicians.4
- About 92,990 medical office specialists were employed in the state. They made $34,150 per year, on average.
- Health information technicians (such as medical coding and medical records specialists) held 17,210 jobs with an average salary of $41,950.
5. Physical and Health-Related Therapy
Many people find this to be one of the most fascinating areas of health care. In most cases, you get to work directly with patients and see the results of your efforts firsthand as progress is made in your patients' mobility, breathing, or other aspects of well-being. Here are three good example vocations:4
- In 2018, about 7,550 physical therapist assistants held jobs in Texas. They earned an average salary of $69,890.
- 11,250 respiratory therapists were employed at an average annual wage of $59,930.
- Massage therapists held 8,670 jobs with annual pay of $49,100, on average.
6. Dental Services
Oral health is an important part of anyone's overall wellness. But, as with many other areas of health care, a shortage of dental workers exists in Texas. Besides dentists, here are two other vocations in significant demand:4
- Dental hygienists held 13,850 jobs in 2018 with average annual pay of $75,300.
- About 30,290 dental assistants were employed in jobs that paid $36,820 per year, on average.
7. Pharmacy Technology
The health and medical system relies heavily on the prescription of special medications and devices. And in Texas, the growing, aging population is generating more and more demand for those items. As a result, the state needs additional pharmacists. But it also needs more pharmacy technicians. In 2018, 37,200 pharmacy techs were employed within the state. On average, they earned $34,290 annually.4
1 Texas Department of State Health Services, website last visited on January 2, 2020.
2 Texas Demographic Center, website last visited on January 2, 2020.
3 Texas Hospital Association, website last visited on January 2, 2020.
4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on January 2, 2020.
5 Texas Board of Nursing, Texas Nursing Statistics, website last visited on January 2, 2020.
6 Journal of Nursing Regulation, "Progress and Precision: The NCSBN 2018 Environmental Scan," website last visited on January 2, 2020.