Education and Training Opportunities in Health Care 

image of Health Care Month logo with cartoon superheroes in health care uniforms

So you’ve heard time and time again about how an entry level position in health care can be a springboard to a new and fulfilling career, and that is true. Health care is one of the few occupations where you are limited only by your own personal goals in life. So I wanted to take this opportunity to share information about the education and training opportunities that exist to help you begin your journey as a health care professional.

Health care for youth and young adults

Not sure if health care is the occupation for you? There are many opportunities to take health care for a test drive before committing to it as a career. At the Exploring Potential Interests & Careers (EPIC) event in early 2020, more than 3,300 students from 27 schools in Central Minnesota had a hands-on opportunity to sew stitches, identify heart attack symptoms, and learn more about the many employment opportunities in health care for them. The event was so successful that other regions, including Northeast Minnesota, have been meeting regularly to plan a similar event dedicated to health care in their region.

Another resource is HOSA Future Health Professionals, which is an organization for high school and college students that prepares students for a career in health care through competitive events, tours and guest speakers.

People as young as 15 years old can begin their health care careers today. Local skilled nursing and assisted living facilities may have opportunities available as a dietary aide, health care aide, or in housekeeping. The training, certification, and even equipment like uniforms and shoes may be provided to you for free!

Health care as the next stage in your career

Many individuals are beginning to look at health care as their second or third career. With solid growth potential, the ability to make a difference in people’s lives, and many opportunities to advance it’s easy to see why. Previous experience in a variety of career fields can prepare a person with the core skills needed for entry level positions in health care. (See the first blog post in our Health Care Month series for more on transferable skills.) The important point on transferable skills is that health care offers an opportunity to bring your prior experience and skills honed in other fields into a health care role – and that will only make you more successful and feel more valued.

If you have been laid off from other employment, this might be the great time to consider health care as your next career. Resources like the Dislocated Worker Program, incumbent worker training, Adult Basic Education, and on-the-job training that can help you in being successful in this new opportunity. For more information, reach out staff at a CareerForce location near you. You can find one near you at

Opportunities abound in health care

Health care is a fantastic industry for career growth because there are so many entry points, and all of them can take you to new opportunities. Whether you begin as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and grow your skills or go to school for nursing and start work as Licensed Practical Nurse, there is no wrong path to moving toward your career goals. You may even go into management, gerontology, human resources or one of the many different paths within health care as your career progresses.

You can take in-person short-term training classes to prepare for a health care position, like those offered through local CareerForce locations. For example, Duluth Workforce Development, a leading CareerForce partner, is starting a free Certified Nursing Assistant Course beginning in January.

Or there are online options, like the OnTrack program developed by Leading Age, which prepares people for working as a nursing assistant in aging services. Essentia Health recently offered an Echocardiographic Technologist Education to Employment training opportunity. This program allowed qualified applicants to train online to be an Echocardiography Technologist on a full scholarship from Essentia Health. Other online opportunities exist as well.

An opportunity for everyone

Because of low educational requirements for entry level positions and many employer paid training options to help dedicated employees grow in their careers, health care is a great option for those who don’t want to take on a lot of educational debt. Of course this depends upon what type of health care career you want to achieve and where you work.

Loan forgiveness is an option based on certain criteria. The Minnesota Office of Rural Health and Primary Care grants loan forgiveness to various health care professionals serving in high-need areas. There is also the Minnesota State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) through the Minnesota Department of Health. Minnesota's Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is for primary care providers practicing in rural and urban Health Professional Shortage Areas in Minnesota.

Looking for more scholarship or training support opportunities?

Contact your local CareerForce location to find out whether you may be eligible for training through the Dislocated Worker program or the Pathways to Prosperity program.

The LeadingAge Minnesota Foundation sponsors a scholarship program for employees of its member organizations to support professional development and career advancement. LeadingAge also has a regularly updated list of other scholarship opportunities on their website.

The Care Providers of Minnesota Foundation also offers scholarships to assist qualified persons who wish to further their education and practice serving seniors and persons with disabilities.

What about funding opportunities for employers looking to train new or existing staff?

The Minnesota Department of Human Services Nursing Facility Employee Scholarship Program provides Minnesota nursing facilities the opportunity to grant scholarships to eligible facility employees for education and training leading to advancement in the long-term care field or within the facility.

The MN Department of Employment and Economic Development has several resources for employers to help offset the cost of training new employees as well as existing ones.

The Minnesota Jobs Skills Partnership (MJSP) works with businesses, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities and keep high-quality jobs in the state. The goal is to target short-term training for full-time employment in the growth sectors of the state’s economy. For the purposes of this blog, I would like to focus on three of the more popular incumbent worker grants: the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant, Job Training Incentive Program, and the Pathways grant.

Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant

DEED’s main training grant, the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant allows businesses to partner with an accredited Minnesota educational institution to provide customized training. Grants are up to $400,000, with an in kind employer contribution.

Job Incentive training Program grant

The Job Incentive training Program offers grants to new or expanding businesses located in Greater Minnesota for the purposes of training workers. Grants of up to $200,000 are awarded to eligible businesses to provide training for new jobs. This grants are for outside the seven county metro area, and do have a minimum income requirement and in kind contribution and there is an in kind matching requirement.

Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Pathways grant

The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Pathways grant also provides training, but the focus is on new jobs and career paths for people who have incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or those who are making a transition from public assistance to work. The Pathways program also offers grants up to $400,000 and also has an in kind match.

Health care could be your next career opportunity

I hope this blog post helps demonstrate the employment opportunities in health care, and just how accessible they are. Working in health care is a wonderful opportunity to help others while building a career for yourself. And the health care field is one of the most diverse in Minnesota, welcoming people from every background, including those who speak English as a second language. The next chapter in our blog series we will be focusing on the Pipeline/Apprenticeship Programs as a way to pursue a career in health care.

Contact Shawn Herhusky, Northeast Minnesota Workforce Strategy Consultant at

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See other blog posts in this Health Care Month series

See other resources for Health Care Month