Health Care Schools and Colleges

By Publisher Last Updated June 2, 2022

Health care schools can help you learn a reliable vocation that fits who you really are.

Vocational colleges throughout Canada contribute to the successful futures of thousands of people each year who want skills for in-demand and meaningful health care careers. Their college-level programs are often conducted in a very practical and focused way that can greatly widen your potential and help you become job-ready in less time than you might expect. It's a training approach well suited to helping you go after opportunities in this fast-growing field full of purpose.

Which career areas are worth pursuing in health care school?

Occupations don't get any more important than those that make up this sector. Quality health care is simply a fundamental need of every Canadian. And that need is rising. As a result, people who graduate from colleges that offer training in this field frequently go on to have good employment prospects and enjoyable professional lives.

Canada's health care sector is home to many exciting and worthwhile occupational opportunities, and they are found in several different settings—not just hospitals or doctors' offices. That means you stand a terrific chance of discovering a good path that suits you.

The facts about this career field speak for themselves. For example:

  • In 2006, older Canadians (aged 65 and over) made up only about 14 percent of the nation's total population. However, by 2050, they could represent about 27 percent, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. And older people tend to require more health care services—more frequently—than those of younger age.
  • It's been estimated that, between 2012 and 2037, the number of physicians in Canada will need to grow by at least 46 percent just to match the increasing pace of demand caused by the aging population. But, of course, similar demand will be created for many other types of health and medical workers.
  • Having a health-related degree, diploma, or certificate can significantly increase your income potential. For instance, check out the impact it had on the cumulative earnings of Canadians between 1991 and 2010: Men who earned a college credential or bachelor's degree in a health field made 23.5 to 84.5 percent more money than those with only a high school education. And women made 77.1 to 138.4 percent more.

So, which health vocations make the most sense to train for? The variety of possibilities is extraordinary. Multiple options exist within each of the five categories below. And many other good ones exist besides those—such as massage therapy, fitness training, nutrition consulting, emergency care, phlebotomy, physiotherapy assisting, and pharmacy support.

*Unless otherwise noted, wage data comes from the Job Bank of Canada.

1. Medical Technology Specialties

Canada's hospitals and diagnostic testing labs employ many kinds of people who specialize in using technologies for specific purposes. That's part of what makes careers in this category so compelling. They let you operate advanced medical equipment—used for things like medical imaging, health monitoring, and laboratory examination—that plays a significant role in helping patients get appropriately diagnosed and treated.

Plus, medical technologists and technicians often receive good salaries and benefits. For example, the median hourly pay of Canadian cardiology technologists is $31.00, with some making over $37.50. And medical laboratory assistants can earn a median hourly wage of about $27.47 or up to $40.00 or more.

2. Nursing

Aside from doctors, nurses are among the most essential professionals in the health care industry. They embody the practical and helpful spirit that is crucial for ensuring that medical patients experience the direct, compassionate, and skillful care they need. It's why they are often in very high demand. From 2019 to 2028, nearly 191,100 job openings are expected to become available for registered nurses (RNs) and nurse supervisors alone. But thousands more will also be generated for practical nurses.

And you can't ignore the fact that nurses tend to be compensated very well. Median earnings for full-time licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in Canada are $28.00 per hour, and some earn above $33.23. For RNs, the median hourly pay is about $40.00, with many making more than $48.37.

3. Medical Administration

Medical offices and hospital departments generate documentation like patient records, doctor memos, billing statements, and requisitions. The amount of health information that must be processed, organized, and managed is massive. So administrative professionals with specialized knowledge of the medical sector are always needed to keep everything running.

Opportunities exist for health unit clerks, medical billing and claims specialists, medical transcriptionists, medical office assistants, and those in many other types of support roles. The wages can be enticing. As an example, the median hourly earnings of full-time Canadian medical secretaries total about $21.55, yet many make above $28.89.

4. Dental Services

Good oral health is vital to a person's well-being. So dental care plays a significant role in keeping Canadians healthy and confident. But the vocational options in this field extend beyond just becoming a dentist. The nation's dental offices also require the services of hygienists and office and chairside assistants. Such positions can be very satisfying and often come with outstanding pay.

For instance, the median hourly wages of the nation's dental assistants are about $24.00, with many earning over $32.00. And for dental hygienists, the median wage is even higher at $36.00 per hour. Plus, some experienced hygienists can make more than $48.00 an hour.

5. Social and Human Services

Every community has people who need extra assistance. They might be elderly, have disabilities, struggle with addictions, or deal with challenges like housing, family crises, or mental health problems. In fact, during any given year, 20 percent of all Canadians experience difficulties related to just addiction or mental health alone.

That's why many good career possibilities exist for people who want to help their fellow community members overcome or cope with their challenging circumstances. You can specialize in areas like personal support and health care assisting, addictions counselling, family and youth care, or senior assistance. Or you can work in a more general capacity. The median hourly pay of the country's community and social services workers is $23.00, with some of them earning over $34.19.

How do I choose a health care career?

Consider just how many possible career options this broad field encompasses. There are potentially hundreds, each requiring a different combination of skills and personal traits.

This means almost anybody can find a health care occupation that fits their unique attributes. All it takes to begin the process is a little honesty and an open mind about what you truly enjoy.

For instance, you might really care about helping people, but maybe you don't particularly like being around too many of them in a single day. That's OK. It's an insight that can make selecting what to pursue a lot easier.

Draw up a list of questions to ask yourself. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Do I prefer predictable routines, or do I enjoy having new and unexpected challenges each day?
  • Would I like to work directly with patients, or would I rather be doing things behind the scenes with minimal interaction?
  • Do I like work that keeps me physically active, or do I want to do something more low-key?
  • Does working with high-tech medical equipment sound fun, or would I prefer to limit the technical stuff to mainly using computers?

Why is the health care field a smart choice?

People have numerous reasons for going into this sector. But here are three of the most popular ones:

Growth and Stability

Statistics Canada data shows that in 2021, more than two million Canadians were employed in the fields of health care and social assistance. And that number is expected to continue trending upward. That's because of the many fast-growing occupations in the sector.

Impact and Excitement

Working in the sector gives you the chance to help change people's lives for the better and contribute to something genuinely important. Plus, many of these careers offer a fast pace and different challenges each day.

Earning Potential

Although income can vary significantly from profession to profession, the average hourly wage for the entire health care sector was $29.38. And the more skills and experience you acquire, the higher you can grow your take-home pay.

Will I need a special license or certification?

In many cases, you will. It just depends on the career you choose. Not all careers are regulated that way.

For those health care occupations that require licensing, most provinces have their own regulations and processes. Usually, they require that you get proper training from an educational institution and then pass a special exam to receive your professional licensure. So check with your province to see what's required for the specific career you're thinking about.

Does it take very long to train for these careers?

For the most part, no. Most programs on this page take two years or less to complete. That's fast, especially compared to the four years it typically takes to earn a degree. Even so, a lengthier education option can still go by fairly quickly. And the bottom line is that the health care field offers numerous opportunities for beginning a new career without spending too long in school.