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Healthcare & Medical salaries that have boomed since COVID

Healthcare & Medical salaries that have boomed since COVID

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Australia’s job market is, in a phrase, ‘going gangbusters’. Huge demand for workers and record numbers of job vacancies have created the great job boom.

The pandemic has put enormous strain on the Healthcare & Medical industry. But it has also presented some rare opportunities for job seekers – including the chance for higher pay.

According to SEEK salary data, average salaries have grown by around 20% or more in some Healthcare & Medical roles, compared to pre-pandemic times.

But what does this mean for you? Whether you’re switching jobs or negotiating a pay rise, now could be the right time to optimise your earning potential.

Booming salaries in Healthcare & Medical

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SEEK, based on average annual full time and annualised hourly salaries (excluding contract roles) for job ads listed on SEEK from Nov21-Feb22 compared to Nov19-Feb20.

What’s driving salary growth?

While the current demand for healthcare workers might appear to be a pandemic-era ‘all hands on deck’ situation, the key reasons driving this demand aren’t so straightforward.

According to Roisin Burns, Director of Healthcare at recruiter Evolve Talent, the primary reason we’re seeing a rise in vacant jobs – and a subsequent rise in salaries – is the result of border restrictions. “With the borders closing, we’ve been extremely understaffed,” Burns says.

The industry has also been thrown into a problematic cycle since the beginning of the pandemic. A shortage of workers from overseas coupled with added demands from the virus itself have created a strain on the workforce that has driven some people out of the industry, creating even more demand.

How can job seekers take advantage of this moment

It’s not all doom and gloom for Healthcare & Medical workers, though. In fact, now more than ever is a great time for job seekers to take advantage of the great job boom and get more out of their careers.

One obvious benefit: “There’s more money to make,” Burns says.

For instance, Occupational Therapy roles, according to SEEK salary data, are paying around 13% more than they did pre-COVID-19. For a Resident Medical Officer, that increase is more like 31%.

“For the first time in a long time, healthcare workers have the opportunity to negotiate their salary,” Burns says.

There are also silver linings for the industry in general. For example, Burns says that she is seeing more healthcare workers willing to travel to rural and remote areas across Australia, “because the pay is incredible.”

According to Burns, where there was once little bargaining power for Healthcare & Medical job seekers, there’s now, in addition to salary, a “lot more opportunity for flexibility.”

“Healthcare workers essentially never had the opportunity to negotiate,” she says, “Flexibility of hours, or salary, or travel and accommodation - there’s a lot more for them to ask for now.”

Why it might be better to stick with your current job

With increased job demand and an ongoing pandemic, healthcare facilities are naturally eager to retain staff. Which means that now might also be the right time to approach your current employer about a higher salary.

“Managers are open to having those types of conversations,” Burns says.

In terms of approaching your employer, Burns cautions against overplaying your hand: “A lot of people feel that they need to look for a new job so that they have something to go to their manager with – to show that they’ve got a bargaining chip. And I don’t think that’s always essential.”

“Going in and having an open conversation is probably my first piece of advice.”

To prepare for a pay rise conversation, read up on your company’s pay rise policies and processes to work out how to arrange a meeting. Then do your research to find out what people in comparable roles are being paid. It’s also important to identify some tangible achievements you can use to provide evidence of the value you bring to a role, such as improvements to processes or certain results.

Where things are heading

Burns believes that although we are starting to see workers from different countries return to Australia, the current demand for workers – and potential for higher salaries – is here to stay for a while.

Burns believes it partly comes down to healthcare issues not caused by COVID-19 that have been deprioritised due the pandemic. Things like delayed elective surgeries, or people who didn’t see their doctors because they were cautious of contracting COVID-19, or because they didn’t want to burden already busy healthcare workers. “So many things have shut down in healthcare because of COVID,” she says.

“There’s such a backlog within healthcare that the [demand for healthcare workers] is endless. They’re called essential workers for a reason.”

Even with the pressure of the pandemic, there is still cause to be optimistic and take advantage of the moment while your skills as a worker in Healthcare & Medical are in high demand.

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