Different Medical Careers: A List of Healthcare Fields

Different Medical Careers: A List of Healthcare Fields

Registered Nurse

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On the right career track?

Medical careers are good paying, fast growing, and in demand. Whether you are a recent graduate or looking for a list of different career choices, you have come to the right place.

Different Medical Careers
You have many options when it comes to medical careers and are not limited to the operating room or being a nurse. Photo by phallin via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The health care professions combine technology and the human touch to address the needs of patients.

All the different medical careers on this site are professional workers, making sure their patients are cared for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The healthcare industry is large, with more than 14 million jobs in the U.S. alone.

But there are many types of health care professions, with varying education requirements.

We will look at medical careers that require 2-year degrees, 4-year degrees, and 7-year degrees on this site.

How long you want to go to school?

I created a list of medical careers I considered before I chose radiographic technology.

Each of the health care professions require a minimum of an post-secondary degree.

Each also has the ability for further educational opportunities, including receiving a master’s degree, which was important to me for future growth in the position.

They are also good paying medical careers.

Physician AssistantA physician assistant, who works under a doctor, diagnoses and treats patients for routine visits. Master's$57,450 to $117,720
NurseA registered nurse provides direct patient care.Associate's$44,190 to $95,130
Dental HygienistA dental hygienist cleans patients' teeth. They also examine teeth and provide preventative dental care.Associate's$45,000 to $93,820
Ultrasound TechnicianAn ultrasound technician provides patient care and captures medical imagery.Associate's$44,900 to $88,490
Laboratory TechnologistA laboratory technologist examines, tests, and analyzes bodily fluids and tissuesBachelor's$38,810 to $76,780
Physical TherapistA physical therapist creates, manages, implements a rehabilitation plan for injured patientsMaster's$53,620 to $107,920
Radiation TherapistA radiation therapist treats patients who have cancer.Associate's$50,950 to $110,550
Radiologic TechnologistA radiologic technologist handles patient care and uses diagnostic medical imaging equipment.Associate's$36,510 to $54,340
Social worker or CounselorA counselor educates and provides talk therapy to troubled patientsMaster's$24,180 to $63,630

I also created a master list of medical careers, which has more than 40 health care professions.

Although you can get started in the health sector in less than 6 months, you will be better served to identify which medical career is right for me.

‘What medical career is right for me?’

A career in the medical field provides many incentives. It is important to identify traits about yourself, which I’ll try to help you do over the next few paragraphs.

Are you a hermit?

You have to interact with people and help them on a daily basis. But don’t let that scare you, especially if you are not social by nature.

Many fields in medicine — such as a laboratory technologist — don’t require patient interaction.

Interaction is an important trait you need to consider for your career. You will want to ask yourself — am I a hermit? am I social? am I somewhere between these two extremes.

For example, I like time alone to research and make decisions, but I also like interaction.

I knew a position such as a lab tech would not suit me because I’d drive myself crazy being left by myself. At the same time, I knew a position as a nurse would not suit me, either, because of the massive amount of patient interaction.

This is the thought process you should consider. You need to learn about yourself when picking a medical career.

One solution is to talk to a career counselor, who may be able to suggest you take a personality test like the Myers-Briggs.

This test will offer insight about yourself and provide different career choices.

Also, your workplace location will be influenced by the medical career you choose.

Many in the health sector work in hospitals, physician offices, cancer centers, substance abuse facilities, laboratories, and research facilities.

How secure is my job?

Job security can be important. We want to know the career path we are picking will have jobs in it in the future.

With health care professions, that is the case. Medicine relies on people needing care — and there’s no shortage.

With baby boomers starting to reach retirement age, there will be an increased need for health workers. Also, in many cities the major employer is the hospital. This is important for three reasons.

Stability: The likability of the hospital closing up shop is non-existent.

Relocation: You can move to just about any state, get licensed, and be able to find a job easily.

Advancement: At a large organization such as a hospital, you have many different medical careers that you could experience and have the opportunity to be hired for.

Job outlook and the BLS

Related to security is job outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers data on job outlook.

The data can be misleading, especially when you look at rate of growth. An example is nuclear medicine technologists.

The BLS notes that there will be a need for 20 percent more nuclear medicine technicians by 2020. That sounds like a lot, but it is not and you have to look at the data closer.

Currently, there are 16,900 technicians who handle nuclear medicine procedures. Twenty percent of 16,900 is 3,400.

There will be less than 3,500 more of these technicians needed. Despite 20 percent growth, this likability of finding a job in this position after graduation may be tough.

Compare that to nursing. The BLS notes there will be a need for 20 percent more registered nurses by 2020.

Currently, there are 2,737,400 RNs. Twenty-six percent of this is 711,900. Become a nurse and you won’t have a problem finding a job.

The point: Percentages can be misleading. Please do yourself a favor and check expected growth in numbers, not percentages.

High-paying medical careers

You want to get paid, I’m sure. Medical careers pay well, but you should not just look at dollar signs.

From a money standpoint, a radiation technologist and nuclear medicine technician have the highest median pay — 74,980 and $68,560, respectively — and low education requirements.

But both are small job markets, with less than 4,000 new expected job openings until 2020. Good pay is only available if you can find a job.

Job advancement

Sooner or later you will get bored with your job — whether you are a pediatric nurse or a radiologic technologist. What do you do then?

This is why advancement is important. With many different medical careers, you can advance into management or continue your education and upgrade into a different position.

For example: A nursing career is many-fold. A nurse can work in hospitals, clinics, or schools, and every location will be different.

At a hospital, there are different nursing specialties, such as emergency nursing or surgical nursing. This kind of variety will make sure you do not get bored.

Another example: I chose radiologic technology because that is the foundation for medical imaging careers and know that I could go into ultrasound or nuclear medicine if I wanted.

I also knew that I could teach radiologic technology with my education and communications background or could go into medical imaging sales.

It is important to look forward in your career. Sure, you may want to become an entry-level nurse today, but five or 10 years what kind of senior-level nursing jobs could you get? This brings us to education …

Back to school

Medical careers require continuing education, which includes classes in your field.

But you may find that an entry-level medical career such as nursing offers the opportunity for advanced practices and responsibilities with a little more education.

You will want to find out the minimum education requirements and what kind of jobs the maximum education in the field will get you.

For example: The minimum requirement to be a CNA — a certified nursing assistant — is a certification and takes about 6 months to get. This job does not pay well.

Go to school for a year and you could be a LPN — a limited practical nurse. Two years of schooling is what is required to be an RN — a registered nurse.

As an RN, you could complete an RN to bachelor’s of science in nursing degree, which qualifies you for a management role.

But you could also go for another two years, receive a master’s degree, and become a nursing practitioner, which serves as a primary care provider in rural, under-served areas.

The point: You should check what advancement opportunities are available to you within a career field — even if it requires more education.

I hope this information about medical careers has been helpful to you.

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