Health care IT: Where the jobs are

The health care industry will add 5.6 million jobs by 2020, many in IT. Landing one is not as hard as you think

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Keeping up with their health care needs will push the industry to add 5.6 million jobs, increasing by nearly 35 percent from 16.4 million jobs in 2010, to 22.1 million a decade later, according to the BLS report. (Some of those jobs are in "social assistance," a related category not broken out.) That's the largest jobs increase expected in the U.S. economy.

The industry, with a big shove from the feds, is moving rapidly to digitize health care records, so there is substantial demand for database skills, Figge says. Because the industry uses so many different terms that actually mean the same thing, techies who are good at rooting out duplications will find themselves in demand, she says. Similarly, work flow in health care is extremely complex, and techies who can help automate it will do well.

A good way to start a health care IT job search is to visit the careers section of the HIMSS website. Obviously your technical skills need to be good, but the site suggests that the ability to communicate with nontechnical health care professionals is also key. "Employers need to know if the candidate can speak in plain English to nontechnical people," says Jim Gibson, principal of Gibson Consultants, a health care IT recruitment firm.

"We need to hire people who are confident enough to go into a room and get requirements and work flow from clinicians," says Cheryl Paxton-Hughes, a manager of human resources at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "It's about how you explain the process and make them understand what goes into an implementation." At the interview, expect to be asked questions about whether you've specificially solved problems. "We drill way down, and if they can't come up with very specific stuff, they're not the right person," she says.

Last week I wrote about the declining value of IT certifications, so I was careful to ask Figge how important certs are in HIT. "It is totally job-dependent," she says.

Some employers, as Crosstree's Tholemeier notes, expect you to have experience in health care. But if you don't, you may be able to assuage their concerns by having volunteered at a hospital or even a doctor's office to help with IT, Figge suggests. In any case, don't walk into an interview without knowing something about trends in health care, and be sure to communicate a passion for working in the field.

After several years of writing about job losses in IT, it's certainly refreshing to watch the IT industry come back. Good luck in your job search!

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This article, "Health care IT: Where the jobs are," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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