You’ve heard that careers in health care are lucrative and plentiful. Your school guidance counselor insists, “If you choose a medical career, you’ll always have a job.” Many interesting careers in health care require only a two-year degree such as occupational therapy assistant (OTA) or emergency medical technician (EMT). The majority of health professions require at least a Master’s Degree such as a social worker (MSW) and often an even more advanced degree, such as a physician (MD). But, don’t be discouraged, there are many exciting, well-paying jobs in hospitals and other medical settings that require only a Bachelor’s degree. However, not all colleges offer these programs. So, you’ll need to do your homework and research your desired profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has an easy-to-use website that can help you decide.
A Physician Assistant (PA) works under the direct or indirect supervision of a doctor or surgeon. Like doctors, they examine patients, diagnose, treat and help prevent disease. They also perform minor procedures such as casting. Depending on the state license, some physician assistants prescribe medication. Physician assistants work in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. They’re in especially high demand in rural areas where there may be a shortage of physicians. According to the BLS, there are about 66,000 jobs in the US for physician assistants; pay can be $75,000 – $80,000 per year.
Who’s running the rehabilitation department at the city hospital? Maybe you are. A Bachelor’s Degree in health care administration can put you in charge. Utilize your business acumen in the health care arena and plan, direct, coordinate and supervise in a hospital, nursing home or other setting. Most of the 262,000 health care administrators hold a state license. Expect to earn $65,000 -$80,000 yearly.
It’s legal to sell drugs if you choose to become a pharmaceutical sales representative. Though there is no specific degree program for this career, a bachelor’s degree in some aspect of business will serve you well. Most of the 2 million sales reps cover large regions and travel often to doctor’s offices and hospitals to introduce physicians to the newest medications and peddle their wares. Annual earnings can be $65,000- $75,000.
Forget the silly white hat and matching uniform that you see in the old movies; when was the last time you saw a real nurse wearing those? Though there is a major shortage of nurses and only a two-year degree is required, some of the better nursing jobs are available to those with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). You might not have paid attention to the nurse who took your medical history and checked your vital signs. Nurses keep very busy working in hospitals, nursing homes, and a variety of other medical settings. Each state has its own license for nurses. Additionally, nurses can train and become certified in specialties such as nurse practitioner or nurse-midwife. There are many opportunities for advancement for nurses. The BLS states that there are over 2.5 million nursing jobs. Nurses can earn $50,000 – $65,000 per year or more.
If the idea of examining and analyzing body fluids such as urine, blood and feces doesn’t gross you out, then becoming a laboratory or medical technologist might be a great career choice. You may be using a microscope and, more likely, a computer to look for bacteria, parasites and microbes. Your work will be in a hospital or a medical laboratory. Get your BS in Medical Technology and you can snag one of the approximately 320,000 jobs and help save lives. Med techs earn about $45,000 – $55,000.
Perhaps you’ve never encountered a registered dietitian (RD) or nutritionist. They work in health care, community public health, and other settings to supervise food programs, supervise meals and promote wellness and healthy eating. Those who advance with a Master’s Degree can move into management positions. Most states license dietitians. Approximately 60,000 dietitians are employed, earning about $45,000 – $50,000 annually.
You love sports and want to use that passion professionally, but you don’t expect to be the next Michael Jordan. Why not become an athletic trainer? Some work in medical arenas such as hospitals, but many work in non-medical settings such as on campus. A relatively new career, about 17,000 are employed, $35,000 – $45,000 could be yours each year.
When you work in health care, you truly feel like you make a difference every day. A Bachelor’s Degree can train you for an array of exciting, well-paying medical careers. If you are already enrolled at a university, explore your options. If you are not yet enrolled at a college and a particular medical career appeals to you, find out where you can get your Bachelor’s Degree in that field.