Health careers

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This wiki is in very early stages and is a work in progress.

This page contains all notes on health careers over and above what we put in our career profile. Read the profile first, here.

Profile type


Best resources

The Bureau of Labour Statistics for the US and Prospects for the UK both produce useful guides. Some of the professions have had more in depth guides written about them which you could look for using this. It's worthwhile looking for 'day in the life' resources for whichever profession you're interested in, such as this for physical therapy.

More information on individual options


High job satisfaction and autonomy. ONET data shows 77% state they have ‘a lot of freedom’. Helping people through uncomfortable procedures is probably emotionally draining Dentistry is very expensive - this leads ethical quandaries around giving people the ideal care given their priorities + feeling like you’re doing a bad job if they can’t pay + dealing with people who feel like you’ve ripped them off. ONET data states dentists Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.” A dentist we interviewed made this point. We don’t know how useful a degree in dentistry is for health policy. Fluoridation is a clear win, but there are interest groups opposing it. Possibly relevant to how much you can optimise policy is the interesting fact that no countries have implemented a truly universal, free dental scheme which covers all dental procedures due to the high cost of dentistry.

Regarding specialisation (info from BLS):

Around 1/10th of dentists are specialised. Orthodontists mean - $221,390, prosthodontists mean $161,020, all other is $171,040. I should say a bit more about their level of job satisfaction.

Dental public health specialists promote good dental health and the prevention of dental diseases in specific communities.

Endodontists perform root-canal therapy, by which they remove the nerves and blood supply from injured or infected teeth.

Oral and maxillofacial radiologists diagnose diseases in the head and neck through the use of imaging technologies.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons operate on the mouth, jaws, teeth, gums, neck, and head, performing procedures such as surgically repairing a cleft lip and palate or removing impacted teeth.

Oral pathologists diagnose conditions in the mouth, such as bumps or ulcers, and oral diseases, such as cancer.

Orthodontists straighten teeth by applying pressure to the teeth with braces or other appliances.

Pediatric dentists focus on dentistry for children and special-needs patients.

Periodontists treat the gums and bone supporting the teeth.

Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with permanent fixtures, such as crowns and bridges, or with removable fixtures, such as dentures.


Seems to have pretty high job satisfaction and pay. In the UK and Australia it's not too competitive. Hospital pharmacists are unusually part of the hospital team, so it seems like a better option if you want to work in a team.

How much room for career advancement? Forum post - discusses ways to narrow scope of practice (renal, cardiovascular etc), not really ways to expand it also goes over some specialisations


? worse for job satisfaction given prestige. Podiatrists do have lots of autonomy though. 66% on payscale for job satisfaction which is 303rd out of 512, but is 83% for meaningfulness, which is like 60th. There are 1/20th as many podiatrists as there are physical therapists, so we might just be missing sample size here.

Useful resources:


In terms of further education to expand scope of practice or specialise, relatively little. Certainly some, but not compared to physical therapy or dentistry. This forum post says it's hard to expand your scope of practice - This college of optometry page lists optometry in community, in hospital, in people's houses who can't get to a clinic and research. says you can specialise in contact lenses, low vision, kids/behavioural, sports vision, and therapeutic (who prescribe) 81% satisfaction on payscale forum of discussion about whether it's repetitive - and and Latter claims that in community practice weekend and evening work is common, particularly in the larger chains.

Physician assistant

Physical therapist

Occupational therapist

Speech pathologist

Dental hygienist

Diagnostic radiographer We haven’t fully looked into this, but it’s possible an unusually large fraction of people studying radiography drop out. The SCoR Approval and Accreditation Board Annual Report for academic year 2006- 2007 outputs showed student attrition rates for diagnostic students as 31.7%. Sonography is unusually automatable for a health career at 0.35 according to Frey and Osborne, but this is still quite low.

Profiles in the several professions we included in this profile: payscale,

Forum discussing whether it's boring -


Respiratory therapist

Ex phys/sports science

Tried to thoroughly answer this question about whether it's just a really difficult job market. Seems robustly true, even though there are individual sources which dispute it.

From Prospect: "Although more career opportunities are becoming available, competition for jobs is fierce." - "As competition for jobs is strong, it can be useful to have a postgraduate qualification specialising in sport and exercise physiology or a relevant PhD." "Although job opportunities in sport and exercise science are increasing, the number of sport and exercise science graduates is also growing, making competition for jobs intense."

This forum makes it seem hard to get a job -

There's this blogger arguing against it -

On the other hand, the article from the guardian was quite positive - "Of 2009 graduates, over 60% went straight into full-time or part-time employment, with around a third in sports-related industries. Careers in education (11.1%), the public sector (7.6%), health (2.8%) and business (2.7%) were also popular choices. The relatively low proportion immediately employed in stop-gap retail or catering work implies there is a higher than average demand for sports science graduates."

The guardian article I linked to in the piece settles this question; it is harder to get a job in this than the other courses

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What are the major sub-options within this path?

What is it like day-to-day?

What are the people like?

Personal fit

Entry requirements.

What does it take to progress?

Who should especially consider this option?


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