The health and social care sector accounts for more than 10% of Northern Ireland's entire workforce, figures show.
Health and social care makes up the single largest workforce in the province, employing almost 78,000 people.
Even when excluding casual staff, the figure of a little under 67,000 as of March 2008 was 26% up on a decade before.
A report from the Department of Health found that drives towards greater efficiency were putting more people into frontline health jobs and less into office-based positions.
The number of medical and dental staff, qualified nurses and allied health professionals increased by 1% in the year to March 2008, while those employed in administration and clerical jobs dropped by 5%. Ambulance staff also increased by 5% over the same period.
Nurses, midwives and health visiting staff make up the largest single group within the workforce, accounting for a third of the total. This is compared with just 3,823 medical and dental staff, excluding GPs, working in hospital and community settings.
Northern Ireland also employs more nurses per head of population than anywhere else in the UK - 78 per 10,000 population. In England the equivalent figure is 58 per 10,000.