Health Care Career Options for Everyone


You don't need an MD or RN next to your name to make it in health care.

By Chris Kyle    

If you're looking to enter a career field with lots of opportunities, look to health care.

Ten of the 20 fastest growing jobs in the country are in the health care industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And there are plenty of career options that don't necessarily require four years of college or medical school.

In fact, remove every last doctor and nurse from the equation and more than 10 million jobs still remain in health care, according to 2008 employment data from the Department of Labor.

Whether you're outgoing, analytical, or even a tad squeamish, we have a health care role that could suit you. Keep reading to find the right professional match, and see what it takes to get going.

Career #1 - Health Services Manager

Health services managers typically wear suits, not scrubs, and are much more likely to wield a cell phone than a surgical instrument. In this broad career track, you may find yourself in charge of a medical device sales team or you could be making financial decisions for a hospital or clinic. Whatever you do, you'll be marrying together your health care knowledge with hopefully strong business and management skills.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program

Education options: To begin, consider earning a bachelor's degree in an area like health care administration. Depending upon the employer, it may be necessary to earn an MBA as well, according to the Department of Labor. Many MBA programs offer specializations in health care management.

Average earnings: $93,670*

Career #2 - Medical Records & Health Information Technician

If dissecting frogs wasn't your thing in high school, you may be more comfortable in a technician (also known as medical billing and coding) role. According to the Department of Labor, this is one of the few jobs in health care that doesn't involve any hands-on care. Instead, you're likely to manage health information and assign codes to each diagnosis and procedure.

Click to Find the Right Medical Billing and Coding Program

Education options: One option is a medical billing and coding associate's degree program. According to the Department of Labor, most medical records and health information technicians have an associate's degree in a health care-related area.

Average earnings: $35,010*

Career #3 - Pharmacy Technician

This is another health care career that doesn't involve needles or blood. As a pharmacy technician, you'll be preparing prescriptions, providing customer service, and performing administrative tasks like stocking shelves and working the cash register.

Click to Find the Right Pharmacy Tech Program

Education options: Look into pharmacy technician certificate or associate's degree programs. Though not always required, the U.S. Department of Labor notes that employers may prefer applicants who have formal education and certification.

Average earnings: $29,330*

Career #4 - Dental Assistant

Are you a people person? If so, you could be a real asset in a dentist's office as a dental assistant, where it would be your responsibility to make the patient comfortable in the chair prior to their exam and help prepare them for treatment. In addition to assisting the dentist, you would also be in charge of instructing patients on any general or postoperative care they might need.

Click to Find the Right Dental Assisting Program

Education options: More and more employers are preferring applicants who have completed a dental assisting program, according to the Department of Labor, which could include a certificate or associate's degree.

Average earnings: $34,140*

Career #5 - Medical Assistant

Medical assisting is another career that could be a nice fit for outgoing types. In this role, you'll likely be juggling administrative and clinical tasks in a doctor's office or hospital setting. This could include taking a patient's vital signs, as well as their phone calls to schedule an appointment. Whatever you do, your personality here can be a real plus.

Click to Find the Right Medical Assisting Program

Education options: Most medical assistants complete a one- or two-year program that results in a certificate or associate's degree in medical assisting, according to the Department of Labor.

Average earnings: $29,760*

Career # 6 - Rehabilitation Counselor

Do you like trying to figure people out? If so, you may want to pursue a career as a rehab counselor. They help evaluate the strengths and limitations of individuals who are coping with physical and emotional problems. Appropriate counseling and support would follow.

Click to Find the Right Psychology Program

Education options: Though requirements can vary, you will likely need a bachelor's degree in an area like counseling or psychology, and possibly even a master's in psychology as well to get licensed, according to the Department of Labor.

Average earnings: $35,850*

Career #7 - Clinical Laboratory Technician

Good analytical judgment is important for clinical laboratory technicians, according to the Department of Labor, since you'll be testing for diseases. You'll be likely using a computer and automated laboratory equipment to examine cells and substances. Precise and thorough professionals could be a good match in this role since you'll also be analyzing numerical readings that can be crucial to a patient's well-being.

Click to Find the Right Medical Technician Program

Education options: Most clinical laboratory technicians have an associate's degree or a certificate in an area like medical technology, according to the Department of Labor.

Average earnings: $38,190*

*All average earnings info comes from the U.S. Department of Labor using May 2010 salary data.

All time to completion statements represent the average. Time to completion will vary by school, program, student's level of commitment, and other factors.

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