In-Demand College Majors for Healthcare Careers

Exploring 12 Healthcare Jobs You Can Launch in 2 Years or Less

In-Demand College Majors for Healthcare Careers

Working in healthcare has certainly captured your imagination for a while now. You know there are plenty of roles in the healthcare field, from the reception desk on up to the hospital c-suite, but finding the right opportunity for you can be a little trickier.

While there’s a lot to weigh when considering a potential career, you do know you’d prefer to find a role that can help get you into the field quickly. That makes perfect sense—a rock-solid healthcare job that requires comparatively little schooling is an ideal combo.

But do these jobs actually exist? The good news is that there actually are several in-demand, medical-field jobs that require only a “two-year” Associate’s degree or less.

To help you narrow down your search, we’ve compiled a helpful list of top medical field jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree.

12 Quality healthcare jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree

This list offers a snapshot of 12 in-demand healthcare careers that will allow you to start earning a paycheck and helping people with an Associate’s degree or less. Keep reading to learn a bit about each of these jobs in the medical field, and see which careers align best with your skills and interests.

1. Registered nurse (RN)

One of the many reasons to pursue a career as a registered nurse is that you’ll be on the frontline of care. There are many opportunities for nurses with Associate's degrees, and the career offers a variety of specialties and career paths. Don’t let the tests and assessments scare you off; there are plenty of resources to help you pass the ever-important NCLEX-RN exam.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 7 percent1

Education needed: Associate's degree at a minimum

2019 Median annual salary (BLS): $73,3001

2. Nursing assistant

Nursing assistants work under the supervision of the nursing staff to provide basic care for patients in a variety of settings. This is a low barrier-to-entry option to obtaining a career in the healthcare field that typically requires a training program that can be completed in weeks, not months. That said, this role doesn’t come with quite as much of a salary punch.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 8 percent1

Education needed: Non-degree training program

2019 Median annual salary: $29,6401

3. Medical administrative assistants

Don’t expect medical administrative assistants to just punch away at a keyboard and fill coffee mugs. They actually provide medical-specific administrative support, including communicating with patients and managing medical charts, plus scheduling appointments, directing visitors and more.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 8 percent or higher2

Education needed:Medical Administrative Assistant certificate

2019 Median annual salary: $36,5802

4. Medical assistant

Medical assistants may sometimes be confused with medical secretaries due to their sometimes-shared responsibility for medical-related administrative duties.

Their work often extends beyond the administrative realm to include patient-care duties, such as drawing blood, recording vital signs and administering medication.

The additional responsibilities can make it even more helpful for them to have medical-specific training.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 19 percent1

Education needed:Medical Assisting diploma

2019 Median annual salary: $34,8001

5. Health information technician (HIT)

Health information technicians who can process medical information and manage records will be paramount as baby boomers age and the number of new patients increases. The healthcare industry’s transition to universally using electronic health records creates a demand for trained professionals to maintain, organize and protect critical healthcare records and data.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 8 percent or higher2

Education needed: Health Technician Associate's degree

2019 Median annual salary: $42,6302

6. Licensed practical nurse (LPN)

Licensed practical nurses play an important role in our healthcare system as they handle a large portion of basic nursing care tasks.

This lower-level nursing position still comes with plenty of responsibilities—they monitor patient health, change dressings and catheters, administer medications and assist with personal care as needed.

Many LPNs work in long-term care or assisted living facilities, but they can also be found in physician’s offices and hospitals.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 9 percent1

Education needed:Practical Nursing diploma

2019 Median annual salary: $47,4801

7. Pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technicians perform a variety of tasks to support pharmacists with disbursement of medications to prescription holders, including taking orders from customers and counting out medication. These healthcare professionals are the friendly faces you’ll find at the front of a pharmacy counter.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 4 percent1

Education needed:Pharmacy Technician certificate

2019 Median annual salary: $33,9501

8. Medical or clinical laboratory technician

You’ve probably had a trip to the doctor where the next steps in your treatment would depend on the results from “the lab.” So what will you find at this lab? Medical laboratory technicians.

These healthcare professionals assist with the analyses and diagnoses of patients from mostly behind-the-scenes laboratory settings. If you were the type to love hands-on lab work in science classes, you might enjoy the work of a medical lab tech.

In fact, there is a lot to love about a career as a med lab tech.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 7 percent1

Education needed:Medical Laboratory Technician Associate's degree

2019 Median annual salary: $53,1201

9. Radiologic technologist

Radiologic technologists work with physicians to perform diagnostic imaging examinations on patients. They work directly with patients to conduct X-ray or CAT scan procedures and use many types of medical machinery to obtain the imagery needed for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 7 percent1

Education needed:Radiologic Technologist Associate's degree

2019 Median annual salary: $62,2801

10. Surgical technologist

Surgical technologists perform a crucial role as a part of the surgical team. In addition to prepping the operating room for surgery, their days are spent on the front lines of the action, literally providing hands-on assistance throughout life-saving surgeries. A sense of satisfaction from saving lives is just one of many perks of being a surgical technologist.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 7 percent1

Education needed:Surgical Technologist Associate's degree

2019 Median annual salary: $48,3001

11. Physical therapist assistant (PTA)

Physical therapist assistants are the healthcare professionals who help patients recover from injuries and illnesses that limit their mobility or cause pain in their everyday lives.

They work directly with patients as they carry out rehabilitation exercises and stretches and report progress to overseeing physical therapists.

These healthcare professionals are projected to see a substantial boost in employment as the large baby boomer generation ages and faces mounting mobility issues.

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 33 percent1

Education needed:Physical Therapist Assistant Associate's degree

2019 Median annual salary: $58,7901

12. Medical coder

Medical coders serve as a critical bridge to the healthcare and billing process. Transcribing medical notes on what procedures or services were done in appointments, medical coders apply ICD-10 codes for billing and insurance purposes.3

Projected employment growth (2019–2029): 8 percent or higher2

Education needed: Medical Billing and Coding certificate

2019 Median annual salary: $42,6302

A faster path into the healthcare field

It’s clear that pursuing a career in healthcare doesn’t have to equate to spending several years in school.

There are several options when it comes to medical-field jobs you can land with an Associate’s degree, diploma or less.

All of these different choices may make your career search overwhelming, but the variety of options also means you’re bound to find a position that’s the perfect fit for you.

Ready to take the next step? Rasmussen University can help. Request more information today to hear more from an admissions advisor and get the process started.

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed March, 2021] Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience.

This data does not represent starting salaries, and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [accessed March, 2021]

Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries, and employment conditions in your area may vary.

3Most coding positions are not considered «entry level»; a combination of education and work experience is typically required to attain a coding position. Similarly, coders, especially those who are new to the field, should not expect to find a position where they can work from home.

Most coding positions require onsite work.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2021.


Healthcare Careers In Demand Right Now

In-Demand College Majors for Healthcare Careers

A career in healthcare is rewarding and provides an invaluable service to your community. Everyone's reasons for wanting to be a nurse or a physical therapist assistant might be different, but there's no denying that healthcare careers are more in demand than ever, especially due to the recent pandemic and the accessibility of healthcare. 

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has placed an emphasis on the country's need for more healthcare professionals.

But what are some of the fastest growing, most in-demand, non-physician healthcare jobs right now? Learn more about the different options, growth rate of healthcare jobs as well as their pay.

Plus, discover Nebraska Methodist College's different programs for the following healthcare careers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare professionals have a much faster-than-average projected job growth rate between 2018 and 2028. About 1.9 million new jobs have been added, mostly due to an aging population.

1. Physical Therapist Assistant- 26% growth rate

A physical therapist assistant provides hands-on care to improve the physical capabilities of patients. PTAs get to see the patient from the beginning of an injury or illness all the way to their maximum level of physical function. In addition to having a rewarding career on a personal level, PTAs can expect to earn a median salary of $48,990 (May 2019 statistic).

2. Medical Assistant- 23% growth rate

If you to wear many hats while at work, consider a career as a medical assistant. At Nebraska Methodist College, you can begin this rewarding career in just a year (yes, really).

You'll work in medical offices, hospitals, and outpatient facilities. Job duties range from administrative work, maintaining correspondence with patients, bookkeeping and more.

Earn a median salary of $34,800 (May 2019 statistic).

3. Respiratory Therapist- 21% growth rate

Respiratory therapists assist patients who have trouble breathing. Most of the reasons include emphysema, asthma, sleep disorders, cystic fibrosis and most recently COVID-19. RTs deal with breathing treatments, and they typically work in the ER, medical offices, asthma clinics, hospitals and more. The median annual salary for RTs in 2019 was $61,330.

4. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer- 19% growth rate

Diagnostic medical sonographers' main focus is creating images of the body's tissues and organs. They provide sonograms and ultrasounds which are the first tests performed when a disease could be present or suspected.

Sonographers use ultrasound transducer to scan parts of the body being examined. They work closely with patients as well as surgeons and physicians throughout the processes.

In May 2019, the median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $74,320 annually. 

5. Healthcare Manager- 18% growth rate

Medical and healthcare managers are responsible for overseeing different departments such as nursing, surgery, physical therapy and more.

Depending on where they work, they may plan, direct and coordinate the daily business tasks of healthcare providers. Most healthcare managers work in hospitals, nursing homes and group medical practices.

Managers/administrators could earn a median salary of $100,980 (May 2019 statistic).

6. Cardiovascular Sonographer- 14% growth rate

Due to population aging, medical conditions such as heart disease and blood clots will need to be diagnosed. This is where cardiovascular sonographers come in.

They work with patients using ultrasound equipment to collect and evaluate images of the heart, heart valves and blood vessels.

Salaries will range by state and experience, but the median salary in May 2019 for cardiovascular sonographers was about $74,320 annually. 

7. Registered Nurse- 12% growth rate

The career path of a registered nurse can go many ways; there are many different types of nurses and they work in a variety of places.

The primary responsibilities for registered nurses include coordinating patient care, assessing patients' conditions, observing patients, recording medical records, operating medical equipment, educating patients and families on various conditions and so much more. The median annual wage for registered nurses was $73,300 in May 2019.

8. Radiologic Technologist- 9% growth rate

If a day of operating X-rays and MRI scanners sounds what you want, then a career as a radiologic technologist is for you.

Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging exams on patients and work in hospitals, clinics or other diagnostic imaging centers.

Other responsibilities include mammography, keeping detailed patient records, operating other computerized equipment and more. Depending on the state, radiologic technologists can earn a median wage of $62,280 annually.  

9. Surgical Technologist- 9% growth rate

Be a surgeon's right-hand assistant as a surgical technologist. In addition to providing tools and patient care, surgical techs have strong stomachs who work under the direction of a medical team and prep patients for surgery.

They troubleshoot equipment and can also clean and cauterize blood vessels and close wounds. If the sight of blood isn't a problem for you and you can work well under pressure, this may be the career for you.

Surgical technologists earned a median wage of $48,300 annually in May 2019.

Consider these healthcare career paths and more. Healthcare careers have expanded into administrative work, technology, assisting and so much more. Not only do they pay well, they provide a meaningful life for all involved. 

If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, check out Nebraska Methodist College to further your education and start a life-changing career.


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