There are now more good reasons to start your career as a health professional than ever.

While the industry is strong, it’s facing a skills shortage – both in the US and around the world. In fact, the World Health Organization expects the global health workforce to be short of 12.9 million workers by 2035. It means demand is currently outstripping supply – so there are plenty of opportunities for qualified professionals who want to get into the industry. That includes those who want to help solve the challenge of the skills shortage through influencing public health policy.

Whether you’re considering a hands-on medical career, or one that’s more focused on administration, here are just a few of the most important reasons to consider joining the health industry:a

Better access to courses than ever

Where professional healthcare qualifications are concerned, there are now more options than ever. A growing number of institutions are offering an ever-increasing number of health-related bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctorates, and diplomas.

Many of those courses are available as distance learning or online degrees – like USC’s online mpa degree. Typically, online and distance learning courses carry far lower tuition fees than their campus-based equivalents – great news considering the average student debt is now over $37,000.

Online courses are also highly flexible, allowing students to accelerate or delay their studies to fit in with their needs. In the same way, home-based study time is largely self-directed – so you can study around your existing commitments, like your family life and day job. There’s also no need to uproot yourself to attend a health or medical course in another city or state – so there’s never been a better time to earn a qualification in health.

Work around the world

Gaining a qualification in health from a recognized US institution often opens the door to work virtually anywhere in the world. It’s a fairly common practice around the world – for example, large numbers of nurses have emigrated from the UK to Australia due to the significantly higher wages in recent decades.

At the other end of the scale, organizations like Medicins Sans Frontiers (also known as Doctors Without Borders) help place medical professionals from developed countries in areas where their skills are in dire need – like war zones and regions affected by famine and disease.

Financial security

Though it’s not the case across the board, many health workers at the top of their profession can earn large salaries. Among the best paid are radiologists, surgeons, and neurologists, all of whom can command a six-figure salary.

Similarly, public health officials are often well paid. For example, a top-earning management position can offer a salary of almost $94,000 per year.

Those salaries are reflective of the skills currently in demand in the industry – the higher the salary, the higher the requirement for the skills associated with that profession. With the forecast shortage in health professionals, that situation is unlikely to change any time soon. So, studying to become a health professional is a smart move if you’d like the education and skills you acquire to offer a secure career.

Sense of achievement and mental wellbeing

Working in health and medicine can be frantic, stressful, and exhausting; it’s not uncommon for medical interns, nurses, and resident doctors to work shifts of up to 18 hours – their work hours are often indicative of an over-demand and under-supply situation. The same often goes for those whose job it is to shape long-term health policy.

However, few professionals can go home at the end of a long shift feeling the same sense of worth as those who work in health. Knowing that the work they do is what keeps many health professionals going through times of trial and tribulation – with many health-related jobs ranking among some of the “happiest” available.

Therefore, if making a real difference to people’s lives is important to you, it’s time to consider one of the many available routes into the health sector.

Immediate employment

When studying for a health or medicine-related course, most will involve a work placement or hands-on supervised learning element. In many cases, this can lead to immediate full-time work opportunities upon graduation.

For public health students, almost all graduates manage to find work within a few months of graduation. Many US colleges report 90% employment for health graduates– far outstripping national averages in other fields of study. So, if you want to get started on making a difference as soon as you graduate, a career in public health could be for you.