Not only is it possible to have a lucrative career in health care without a bachelor’s degree, jobs requiring less education are likely to grow in demand.

Ron Crouch, director of research and statistics for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, compiled data specific to the future of health care for counties in the Barren River Area Development District after the release of a national report of health care and health care education by the Brookings Institution.

“The demand for health care is going up,” Crouch said. “All you have to do is watch the commercials on TV at night.”

Positions such as dentists, pharmacists, anesthesiologists, surgeons and other occupations will see in increase by 2020, Crouch said. More notable, however, is the influx of people into health care jobs that don’t require more than an associate’s degree.

“There are jobs in health care ... that do not require a B.A.,” Crouch said. “When we’ve had a hard time getting jobs, this is something someone can look at, both male and female.”

For example, there were 477 medical assistants in the region in 2010. By 2020, Crouch’s data project there will be 573. Wages for a medical assistant stood at $12.54 per hour in 2013. There were 634 licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in the region in 2010. That number could hike to 776 in 2020. Individuals in those positions were making $16.47 per hour in 2013.

A host of other jobs that don’t require a degree – such as billing and maintenance – also are available. The high demand for lower-level education jobs helps people who need a job to provide for themselves and their families without having a massive amount of debt that often results from several years of college, Crouch said.

These jobs are suitable for both sexes, Crouch said, although about 83.2 percent of health care positions in the region are filled by women.

Warren County has a particularly young population compared to the rest of Kentucky because of Western Kentucky University’s presence, but the aging population can’t be neglected, Crouch said. The Baby Boomers are getting older, and the number of senior adults will far surpass the number of younger people.

“This is a new reality we’ve never seen before,” Crouch said.

As the population ages, the demand for health care will increase. In 1980, there were approximately 58,600 people older than 50 in the region. In 2010, there were almost 93,000. The increase isn’t just specific to the Barren River region. The entire state and nation will see increases. Regardless of political or ideological affiliation, the aging population will determine the future of health care, and jobs of all education levels will become more important, Crouch said.

“There’s going to be more need for health care,” Crouch said. “I’ve got news for the general population: Health care costs will go up.”

— Follow business beat reporter Monica Spees on Twitter at twitter.com/BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.