‘Lifeboat jobs’ in health care can help people land on dry ground

If you or someone you know is unemployed right now, it may comfort you to know that there are more than 200,000 South Carolinians out there like you, trying to keep their heads above water.

An even bigger encouragement is the state’s top employment agency is trying to make people aware that there are “lifeboat jobs” out there to hold someone over until the economy recovers or possibly make a career pivot at this time.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Employment and Workforce released its third in a series of “lifeboat jobs,” spotlighting current available jobs in the health care industry that can help people move to the ranks of the employed and start earning a paycheck almost immediately.

The agency spent June and July combing through online occupational postings to find the most available jobs – by actual number of current postings this summer – in the state.

According to agency Labor Market Information Director Brian Nottingham, in the spring the health care industry actually experienced layoffs when providers stopped performing many elective procedures because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as those restrictions were lifted, it created a backlog of available jobs for health care providers to fill.

Some highlighted “lifeboat jobs” currently in the industry are licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), nursing assistant and medical or health service manager. The 10-year growth projections for all four occupations range from 8.5% to 17.1%.

Nottingham noted for displaced workers, it could be a good time to consider a career change.

“Sometimes in these moments where we are focused to pause and re-evaluate,” he said, “it could be the perfect time to consider looking at certifications and degrees that could leverage you onto a new path with high-paying opportunities.”

Health care workers are critical to the state, and several occupations have experienced continued growth for at least 20 years, he added.

Of the spotlighted careers, LPN and nursing assistant positions require only short-term training and certifications, and people can step into those jobs relatively quickly, Nottingham said.

With a medical or health service manager position, at times individuals can step into these jobs without prior health care experience.

Billing, coding, scheduling and office manager-type experience could help people obtain one of these jobs, he said. A key is to build those linkages well in a resume and cover letter.

Nottingham also made mention of the nursing assistant position.

Certifications in the field can be earned quickly. Entry-level pay averages $19,970 in the state, but the median salary is $25,550.

“The training for these is very short term, and they are in such high demand right now,” he said, “that if people can complete the training, they could land one of these jobs pretty quickly. I think, the nice thing about looking at the nursing assistants, is someone could progress right up the ladder from there and with a little more training become an LPN or licensed vocational nurse.”

He added that the entry-level salary for an LPN is $10,000 more than a nursing assistant and about $29,950.


For information and a graphical presentation on the lifeboat jobs currently in the health care industry, go to dew.sc.gov/individuals/find-a-job/job-search-resources.