Posted March 17, 2015 by

You Want to Make America Healthier. Here Are 4 Career Options.

Healthcare professional promoting healthy eating, focus on fruit

Healthcare professional promoting healthy eating, focus on fruit. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Is making a difference during your workday important to you? Do you have questions about which career is right for you? Take a look at these four careers that give you the chance to make America healthier — and earn a healthy paycheck while you do it.

1. Nutritionist/Dietitian

Nutritionists and dietitians help people to understand how their diet affects their health. Some work with individual patients, from everyday people to elite athletes. Others work in facilities, like hospitals or assisted living residences, coordinating with physicians to care for patients and residents. Still others supervise kitchens and create menus for large organizations, like public schools. Nutritionists must earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a nine-month internship before they can take the exam to become registered dietitians. They also have to be licensed to practice in their states.

Dietitians gather information about patients’ diets and health status. Then, dietitians create meal plans that balance nutritional needs, weight goals, and budgetary limitations. In some cases, they speak to groups and provide training to communicate the latest nutrition science findings. They help people from all walks of life improve their health and manage chronic conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Quick stats:

  • Median pay: $55,240
  • Job outlook: Faster than average growth (21 percent over the next decade)

2. Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Social workers can do more than just work for public child protection agencies. They can work with geriatric patients, provide services in public schools, and help people with disabilities get appropriate medical treatment and support. Licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) can open private practices to help patients with mental, social, and behavioral disorders. They can provide individual therapy, couples therapy, and group therapy to patients who need help. Their work not only helps individual patients live happier lives; it also helps to reduce domestic violence, improve high school graduation rates, and lower juvenile crime.

The best LCSWs earn both bachelor and Master of Social Work (MSW) degrees from prestigious schools, where they study with distinguished graduate faculty members. After completing a supervised clinical experience, MSWs can take their state’s exam to become LCSWs.

Quick stats:

  • Mean pay: Ranges from $40,740 and $70,660 depending on the type of employer
  • Job outlook: Faster than average growth (19 percent increase over the next decade)

3. Exercise Physiologist

Helping people keep their bodies fit and healthy can provide an enormous amount of satisfaction. Exercise physiologists work with many different types of people: people with chronic illnesses, typical healthy individuals, and even professional and collegiate athletes. They have specialized knowledge in how the body responds to exercise both in the short term and over repeated exercise sessions.

Entry-level jobs in exercise physiology don’t necessarily require a degree, although the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) credential is essential to getting work as a personal trainer. For gym management positions and elite positions, candidates need at least a bachelor’s degree and preferably a master’s degree in exercise physiology or kinesiology.

Quick stats:

  • Median pay: $42,690
  • Job outlook: Faster than average growth (19 percent increase over the next decade)

4. Sleep Specialist or Sleep Technologist

The CDC has labeled lack of sleep a public health epidemic in America. They estimate that between 50 and 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, and nearly five percent of Americans admit that sleepiness has caused them to nod off while driving a vehicle. Sleep specialists and sleep technologists help to diagnose and treat sleep disorders including insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea.

Sleep specialists are physicians who complete an accredited behavioral sleep medicine fellowship. Many are certified as sleep specialists, although the American Board of Sleep Specialists (ABSM) has suspended certification while they revamp their program. Sleep technologists must complete accredited polysomnography training program and earn certification from the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPST). Most sleep technologists work 10- to 12-hour night shifts while sleep specialists work during the day.

Quick Stats:

  • Median pay: $35 per hour for certified sleep technologists; $260,000 annually for board certified sleep specialists
  • Job outlook: Varies

A Healthier, Happier America

By supporting people as they try to live healthier lives, you’ll make a big difference in people’s health and happiness. Whether you offer physical or mental health support, you can make good money while helping others.

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