HEALTHY FUTURE IN CARING
Melanie Burgess finds job satisfaction is not this field’s only reward
HEALTH sector salaries have risen by up to 40 per cent in the past five years, as demand outpaces supply. SEEK data reveals the average advertised salary for Australian healthcare and medical roles is $88,722 – up 6.8 per cent since 2013. The largest salary growth is in the optical sub-sector, where roles offer 39.5 per cent more than five years earlier, and now average $87,642 a year. It is followed by dental ($75,453), pathology ($76,152), and psychology, counselling and social work ($83,260), which all have experienced about 20 per cent growth.
Salary growth typically stems from increased demand for skills.
TAFE Queensland Gold Coast Community Services and Health and nursing faculty director Debbie Blow says an ageing population and increasing mental health diagnoses are driving the need for workers.
“The 75-plus age group is the fastest-growing in the country,” she says.
“That’s our biggest area and within that you’ve got layers such as dementia and mental health. Projecting for the next two decades suggests we are going to double the incidents of dementia and mental health, which creates a whole other set of skills, jobs and opportunities.”
The Hays Jobs Report forecasts increased demand for mental health professionals such as social workers, mental health practitioners and nurses, general practitioners and counsellors.
“(Those) with experience working with young people in the area of suicide prevention and mental health are needed,” it states.
“More programs to heighten awareness of this issue have led to increased demand for qualified professionals.”
The report reveals a shortage of registered nurses in aged care as most graduating nurses prefer to work in acute care or a hospital. It is despite SEEK data showing the third highest-paying nursing roles are in aged care ($94,013 a year).
Nursing jobs with the strongest salary growth are in community, maternal and child health (up 18.2 per cent in five years), psychology, forensic and correctional health (14.1 per cent) and high acuity (13.9 per cent).
“We want to encourage young people into the sector but it’s also a great opportunity for people who want to change career,” Blow says. “In nursing, aged care and disability, one of the really great things mature-age people can bring is life experience, which is underestimated by people.”