For young people considering career options, the future of the field is an important consideration. In a rapidly changing world, entire industries appear and disappear over a short span. Assemblers of 8 track music players found themselves without jobs in short order. Early childhood educator students found that consistent funding for the career never developed. At different moments the supply of teachers, engineers, and lawyers far exceeded the available jobs. In all this uncertainty there is one change that is certain to open an ongoing demand for workers. Americans are living longer. No sudden technological breakthrough will change that fact. The implications of that fact for careers is clear. Older people need more medical care. Beyond the obvious increased need for physicians, nurses, and personal care assistants, this fact means that there will be need for additional hospitals. Another fact is observable: medical care is more sophisticated and uses more technology. These two facts open careers in medicine, operation of high tech scanners and other devices, and for people who install and maintain them. A third factor occurs to the high schooler considering careers: college is increasingly expensive. Student debt lingers and saps the income of millions of American young people.
These three factors – older population, more medical facilities with more sophisticated equipment, and high cost of college, combine to point the astute student to a career in installing and maintaining the equipment required to provide the care for America’s aging population with jobs that can be obtained without college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16 of the 30 fastest growing careers are in the area of medical and personal career. As these fields grow, the demands for the facilities which house them expands and one such career path is Medical Gas, a specialty of the plumbing industry. Medical gas pipelines are essential in dental offices, operating rooms, hospitals and healthcare facilities. Workers install, inspect, maintain and verify the compliance of systems. Training and experience provide a career path with increased responsibility and income.
There are five level of Medical Gas certification:
- Medical Gas Installer: Must have a minimum of four years experience in plumbing or mechanical systems, and have completed a 32 hour training course. Often this experience is gained through an apprenticeship, but it need not be. The average annual salary is $57,000, compared favorably to that of college graduates.
- Medical Gas Inspector: Is required to have two years experience in working in design, inspection or verification of medical gas systems, and have completed a 24 hour training course in the industry standards. Salaries can range in the mid 70,000s.
- Medical Gas Verifier: Is required to have two years as a verifier of medical gas piping systems with specific documentation and have completed a 32 hour training course to the industry standard. Certified Medical Gas verifiers average $73,000 annually.
- Medical Gas Maintenance: Certification requires one year experience in the maintenance of medical gas systems, current employment in the field and a 24-32 hour training course. These positions average slightly over $50,000 per year.
- Medical Gas Instructor: Trains in the field, and is required to have a minimum of 10 years experience in the field or 2 years experience in installation of medical gas and vacuum systems. They are also required to have two years of documented practical teaching experience and hold a certificate as a Medical Gas Installer. These positions range from high 60’s to low 90’s in annual salary.
Planning a career choice in a rapidly changing economic world is a challenge for young people facing their future. A consideration of the most basic changes in society offers the best chance of finding a path forward to a prosperous and secure future.