Want a High-paying Health Care Career? Do the Math

Most high school students have one goal in mind: receiving their diploma. But if you want to pursue a health career, simply meeting graduation requirements may not be enough. Taking four years of math and science in high school will put you on the path toward a rewarding health care career.

“You need a strong working knowledge of math, science, and English to qualify for most health career training programs.” says Henryne Tobias, Project Director for ExploreHealthCareers.org. “The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics national standards for grades 9 through 12 states that students need to take four years of math. Four years of science would also strengthen preparation for all types of health careers.”

Whether you plan to go to a community college, a four-year university or medical school, taking rigorous high school courses now can help you:

  • Improve your chances of getting into the school of your choice.
  • Expand your health career opportunities.
  • Dramatically increase your future income.

Math, Science, and English: Requirements for Every Health Care Career

Whether you dream of becoming a surgeon, a veterinary assistant, an occupational therapist or a hospital administrator, your health career preparation begins in high school. Health career training programs at both community colleges and four-year universities expect you to meet certain academic prerequisites.

For almost all health care careers, experts recommend that high school students complete:

  • Two to four years of math, including geometry and algebra II
  • Two to four years of science, including biology, chemistry, and physics
  • Four years of English
  • One to two years of computer science

Unfortunately, most states don’t require high school students to take enough math or English.

“Too often, state high school standards are not anchored in the skills and knowledge employers and colleges now demand,” according to a report by the American Diploma Project. “As a result, students can graduate high school and believe they’ve done well, but they can still find themselves unprepared for work and learning.”

Need another reason to crunch those numbers?

A study reported in Harvard’s Review of Economics and Statistics found “Students who take advanced math have higher incomes 10 years after graduating—regardless of family background, grades, [or] college degrees.”

The American Diploma Project also found that strong math and English skills are essential to get a job in any field that offers good pay, benefits, and the opportunity for advancement.

Completing more advanced math courses may be particularly beneficial for minority and low-income students. Achieve, Inc. found that Black and Latino students who take Algebra II in high school are twice as likely to earn a college degree.

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