If you are a military veteran looking to pursue a civilian career in healthcare, there are several potential career opportunities that you can pursue.

Your military experience means that you have likely developed a number of skills and experiences while on active duty that will translate well over into a career in healthcare. There may even be an opportunity to work with veterans at a military hospital or other setting if you have a desire to give back and specifically pursue that career path.

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This article will cover the various job opportunities in healthcare you can pursue if you have completed your military service and are entering into civilian life.

Healthcare Careers for Veterans

1. Registered Nurse

What is a Registered Nurse?

Registered nurses (RNs) are tasked with the care of patients in a wide variety of settings that include hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, assisted living facilities, and more.

A career in nursing entails a broad scope of practice that encompasses a diverse list of responsibilities. These tasks can include communicating with and observing patients, maintaining a clear record of patient medical history and current health, preparing patients for examinations, administering patient medication, and more.

Ultimately, nurses are responsible for the delivery of patient care across all healthcare settings. This position is especially well suited for veterans who have served as a military medic or navy corpsman. Several of the skills and medical training military medics acquired while on active duty translate well into a nursing career.

Average Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs typically hold an average salary of $75,330 annually, or $36.22 per hour. This amount can be influenced by factors such as location and the type of facility they work in. The job outlook for RNs is also positive, as the career is expected to grow by 9% between the years of 2020 and 2030, which amounts to more than 276,000 jobs over the next ten years.

How To Become a RN

In order to become a RN, the first step is to earn your degree. In most cases you will need to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in order to become licensed professionally. The next step is to pass the NCLEX exam, which is designed to ensure that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed as a nurse. You will then need to become licensed by whatever state you would like to practice in. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the state in which you would like to pursue a nursing career. If you would like to advance your career further, you may want to consider furthering your education by earning a master's degree in nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). These will increase the amount of money you are able to make and expand your job prospects.

2. Nurse Practitioner

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner (NP) provides comprehensive care to patients, generally in a primary care setting. Unlike RNs, NPs can provide patient care without direct physician supervision. This means that NPs have the ability to write prescriptions and order diagnostic tests if the need arises without having to consult with a physician.

The daily responsibilities of a NP typically include performing a wide range of tasks including keeping a record of patient medical histories and treatments, performing examinations and assessments, creating individual treatment plans, providing referrals, and more. NPs can find themselves working in several locations that include hospital settings, emergency rooms, managed care facilities, and surgical centers.

Average Salary

NPs typically earn highly competitive salaries. On average, the BLS reports that NPs make an annual salary of approximately $117,670, or $56.57 per hour. In the next ten years, the career outlook for NPs is expected to grow by 45%, which is much higher than the average for other occupations. The amount that NPs can make is influenced by factors such as location, work location, experience, and specialty. For example, Psychiatrists make a different average salary than NPs working in urgent care or primary care.

How To Become a NP

The first step in becoming a NP is to become a RN. This is a required prerequisite for a NP job. As a RN, take some time to gain experience and consider exploring various specialties that you may want to explore in the future as a NP. Following licensure as a RN, you will need to obtain either a MSN or DNP degree from an accredited graduate school.

3. Clinical Nurse Leader

What is a Clinical Nurse Leader?

A Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) is responsible for providing leadership and support to the caregivers of their patients in order to improve the communication between medical professionals.

The CNL works to ensure that the patient can receive the best level of care possible and eliminate medical mistakes and errors. The CNL's role is multifaceted, encompassing many areas of nursing practice including coordinating patient care, measuring patient outcomes, research, communication and collaboration, internal policy development, and more.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a CNL is just over $92,000 or approximately $44 hourly. However, the benefits that CNLs receive such as employee sponsored health insurance, retirement accounts, and life insurance dramatically increase the overall compensation that CNLs earn. This amount varies by factors such as work location, state, experience, and education.

How To Become a CNL

Becoming a RN is a stepping stone to several careers, including that of CNL. Completing your BSN and becoming a nurse is the first step to a job as a CNL. Once you have become a certified RN, your next step is to obtain a master's degree (MSN) in a certified CNL program. When you have completed your graduate degree, you need to obtain CNL certification from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

4. Occupational Therapist

What is an Occupational Therapist?

Occupational Therapists (OTs) are responsible for the treatment and rehabilitation of injuries, illness, or other health conditions. Their primary objective is to assist in the recovery of individuals who are limited in their ability to perform activities of daily living.

The primary difference between occupational therapists and other healthcare professions is that occupational therapists focus their treatment on the whole patient rather than limiting their focus on a specific ailment. OTs focus on helping the patient achieve their goals by determining what activities are important to the patient and helping the patient resume those activities.

Average Salary

OTs typically average around $86,280 per year, or $41.48 per hour. The ten year job outlook for OTs is 17%, which is much faster than the average across industries. In the same time period, the number of jobs is anticipated to increase by approximately 23,000. This growth is largely due to factors including the aging baby boomer generation and the high level of skill required to work at an OT. In addition to a positive outlook, the employment rate for OT professionals is approximately 99.7%.

How to Become an OT

Occupational therapy is a highly demanding career that involves extensive training and education. The first step to becoming an OT is to obtain a master's degree in occupational therapy (MSOT) at an accredited college or university. Following completion of the MSOT, aspiring OTs must pass the National Board Certification in Occupational Therapy exam. Once you have passed, you must apply for licensure in whichever state you wish to practice in. If you are considering a specific specialization, you may want to consider pursuing a certification in that specialization. The American Occupational Therapy Association offers several certifications that can help you stand out in your OT career.

5. Physical Therapist

What is a Physical Therapist?

While OTs focus on the whole patient, physical therapists (PTs) are more concerned with helping patients recover from a specific injury, illness, or ailment.

Generally, PTs work with individuals who have received an injury that has resulted in muscle weakness, pain, or decreased mobility. This includes injuries such as broken bones, sprains, musculoskeletal conditions such as generalized neck or back pain or a torn rotator cuff, sports injuries, and more. Physical therapists treat patients by providing them with therapeutic exercises or other treatments designed to help them fully recover.

Average Salary

Physical therapists enjoy an annual salary of around $91,010 with an hourly rate of $43.75. The number of jobs expected to open up in the next ten years is 49,100 and the occupational outlook is much higher than average at 21%. As is the case with all other jobs, this salary can vary based on work location, state, education, and experience.

How to Become a Physical Therapist

Prior to practicing physical therapy, you must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited school. Typically, these programs require an undergraduate degree that pertains to physical therapy in some regard. One option that you can pursue on an undergraduate level is a pre-physical therapy program. These programs are specifically designed to prepare you for your DPT degree. Upon completion of your DPT degree, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam and obtain licensure in the state you would like to practice in.

6. Paramedic

What is a Paramedic?

In a nutshell, paramedics are responsible for saving lives. Paramedics respond to calls pertaining to emergencies or life-threatening situations. They typically work in ambulance settings, though occasionally provide care to patients who need to be transported by air.

The care that paramedics provide is more invasive and pharmacological than the care that other similar professions such as EMTs provide. Paramedics operate in high stress situations on a regular basis as they frequently find themselves in life or death situations where they must act quickly to keep their patients alive.

Average Salary

A paramedic position typically does not require the level of education that nursing or occupational therapy demand, and this is reflected in the salary. On average, paramedics earn around $36,650 per year or $17.62 per hour. However, the career outlook is positive, as the growth rate is anticipated to be 11% from 2020 to 2030, and an estimated 28,600 jobs will become available in that same time period.

How to Become a Paramedic

Paramedics require less formal education than many other healthcare professions, as a degree is not a requirement for a paramedic. The first step to become a paramedic is to earn your high school diploma or GED. You will then be required to take a state-approved EMT course and complete an accredited program from a CAAHEP-approved source. You will also need to complete your CPR certification for basic life support. The last step is to apply for the National Paramedic Certification, and upon obtaining certification you can apply for licensure in whichever state you want to work in.

How To Choose a Career Path

The number of healthcare options may seem overwhelming, but it is important not to get discouraged. The first step in deciding what career path you want to pursue is to figure out your goals.

Do you want to pursue a job with a higher salary, or do you thrive in high stress situations where you feel you can make a difference? Are you willing to undergo the amount of education your desired career path requires?

It can be helpful to review your military experience and determine whether there is any overlap between your military training and the responsibilities of your desired job. The healthcare field provides several career options that are excellent for military veterans, so make sure you have done your research before deciding on a final option.

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