It is not necessary to go to medical school, earn a doctorate, finish a residency on the other side of the country, and take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt before landing a high-paying job in the health care industry.
While medical doctors continue to command the highest salaries and make up the bulk of hospitals’ staff, there are plenty of other jobs that pay as much as $167,000 per year but require much less training.
To determine which fields within healthcare offer the highest salaries without a doctoral degree, we looked at BLS data on occupations. Some of the 14 resulting positions require only an associate’s degree to enter the workforce, and they range from helping care for newborn babies to treating communication disorders to designing artificial limbs.
Intriguing, right? The median annual salary for each of these occupations is over $69k, and they are all expected to expand significantly over the next seven years, by as much as 37 percent in some cases. That means people who work in these in-demand areas of healthcare will likely be able to keep their high-paying jobs for the foreseeable future, and may even see a bump in their pay as a result of their increased marketability.
If you want to help people but aren’t interested in becoming a doctor, consider one of the high-paying jobs listed below instead.
Medical careers that pay well
Anesthesiologists provide comprehensive care for surgical patients. They check you out before the operation and make an anesthetic strategy. Postoperative pain is typically treated with either general anesthesia or regional nerve blocking.
The patient’s vital signs are constantly monitored by anesthesiologists during surgery. After surgery, they keep an eye on the patient too, until the effects of the anesthetic have worn off. In rare cases, anesthesiologists help patients deal with chronic pain that is unrelated to surgery or labor. These experts need keen observational abilities and numeracy for determining appropriate dosages.
Obstetrician and Gynecologist
When a woman is experiencing problems with her reproductive system, she should see an obstetrician or gynecologist. Ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, menopause symptoms, and painful or absent periods all fall into this category. Many women choose to see a gynecologist because they want to have a pap test or a fertility test done. Obstetricians are doctors who specialize in prenatal care and childbirth.
Many gynecologists, however, are also board-certified in obstetrics. These workers must be able to listen attentively and interact effectively with others. They must have compassion because they often break bad news to patients.
These physicians focus on pediatric care. Diabetes, genetic disorders, and congenital disabilities are just some of the pediatric conditions they are trained to identify and treat. They help parents find professionals who can address individual concerns. They check the children’s health and make sure they’re developing normally.
Children typically see pediatricians for checkups after contracting a virus, cold, or allergic reaction. Antibiotics and antiviral medication prescriptions are written by them. They also give advice on what kids should eat and what vitamins they should take.
Podiatrists specialize in caring for patients who have problems with their feet or ankles. They are experts at identifying and treating heel pain, nerve problems, and sprains and fractures. Conditions affecting the feet and ankles, such as arthritis and diabetes, are also treated by these professionals.
Podiatrists check their patients’ feet and ears and listen to their complaints. In addition to diagnosis and treatment, they also provide surgical procedures and coordinate care with physical therapists. Starting a private practice is an option for some podiatrists, though it requires a foundation in business fundamentals. People who are detail-oriented and empathetic tend to succeed in this position.
Optometrists take care of patients’ eyes and vision. They administer and evaluate eye tests and make necessary adjustments to corrective lenses and eyewear prescriptions. Optometrists perform comprehensive eye exams, which include screening for eye diseases.
When necessary, optometrists can also perform minor surgical procedures to correct vision. They refer patients to specialists when necessary and give advice on how to take care of one’s eyes. Successfully interacting with patients requires optometrists to have strong decision-making and communication skills.
Veterinary technicians are responsible for taking vital signs, collecting blood and other samples, and carrying out other laboratory procedures on animals. In addition to preparing animals and equipment for procedures, veterinary assistants also take and process X-rays, administer medications and vaccines as prescribed by veterinarians, and educate pet owners. An associate degree is sufficient for entry into this industry.
Technicians in pharmacies help pharmacists fill prescriptions and sell OTC drugs to customers. Preparing prescriptions and answering questions about medications are two examples of possible tasks. They frequently evaluate written prescriptions, check and record patient information, and protect patient confidentiality. Having finished high school or its equivalent is necessary.
Cardiovascular technicians perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures on patients, including monitoring their heart rates and blood pressure, informing them of what to expect, and running electrocardiograms (EKGs). Heart procedures like catheterizations and stent implantations could also benefit from their assistance. A two-year diploma will get you started in this industry.
Ophthalmic technicians help maintain optometry equipment and collect patient histories. They aid doctors in performing diagnostic eye exams, such as evaluating patients’ eyesight by measuring their visual acuity, color perception, eye pressure, and reaction time, and by dosing them with appropriate eye medications. An ophthalmic medical technician provides crucial assistance to the ophthalmologist during eye exams and other diagnostic procedures.
Orthotist and prosthetist
For their patients, orthotists and prosthetists design and fabricate unique prosthetics and orthotics. Prosthetics are artificial limbs or other body parts, while orthotics are specialized supportive medical devices like braces or supports. An expert in this area might specialize in either orthotics or prosthetics, or they might know how to create both.
Orthotists and prosthetists typically start by assessing the patient’s condition and taking relevant measurements. After assessing the patient’s needs, they can choose the appropriate materials to construct orthotics or prosthetics. Orthotists and prosthetists are also responsible for taking impressions of their clients’ bodies, repairing prosthetics and orthotics, and evaluating the physician’s requests for treatment.
An audiologist is a medical professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating patients with hearing, ear, and balance disorders. Audiologists assess the degree of hearing loss or balance problems by using tools like high-tech computers and audiometers. They also evaluate the patient and discuss with them any factors that may have contributed to their health problems, such as medications or mental health issues.
An audiologist can evaluate a patient’s hearing loss and develop a treatment plan based on the individual’s needs and goals. This may involve hearing aids, ear wax removal, or collaboration with other medical professionals to provide a cochlear implant. They also talk to their patients about the effects of their illnesses on their daily lives and figure out ways to help them adjust, like prescribing assistive technology.
Diagnostic imaging includes the work of vascular technologists, who focus specifically on the cardiovascular system. They operate cutting-edge machinery that generates diagnostic pictures of a patient’s arteries and veins. The images produced by a vascular technologist can then be used by a physician in making a diagnosis.
As part of their pre-procedure preparation, vascular technologists interview patients about their health and explain the procedures they will undergo. Vascular technologists are responsible for operating the imaging equipment during the procedure to ensure the best possible image quality. After the procedure is complete, the vascular technologist will compile a report detailing their findings to give to the doctor and add to the patient’s medical file.
Surgical technicians are responsible for preparing and transporting patients in need of surgery or other medical procedures, as well as assisting surgeons in the operating room. Surgical technicians may be responsible for prepping operating rooms, sterilizing instruments, and assisting patients in the postoperative period. To enter this field, you need either an associate’s degree or a certificate of completion from an approved surgical technician program.
A linear accelerator is just one example of the sophisticated machinery used by radiation therapists to target a tumor or cancerous area of the body with high doses of radiation. In hospitals and clinics, radiation therapists assist oncologists in providing care for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. An associate degree will get you started in the field of radiation therapy, and a master’s or doctorate will get you where you want to go professionally.
These professionals, also known as physician assistants (PAs), aid MDs and DOs in their patient care duties. They may be asked to look over a patient’s medical records, conduct an examination, prescribe tests, make a diagnosis, treat the patient, prescribe drugs, and offer health advice. In rural and medically underserved areas, PAs often serve as primary care providers at clinics where a physician is only present one or two days a week. The extent to which a PA must be supervised by physicians or surgeons varies by state.
A master’s degree from a recognized institution is required for PA certification. Full-time students can expect to spend two years on it. To practice as a physician’s assistant in any state, you’ll need to take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. Since state licensing laws recognize the necessity of teamwork between MDs and PAs, PAs are required to have a supervisory agreement with a medical doctor.
Nuclear medicine technologist
These professionals get patients ready for radioactive drugs used in diagnostics or treatment. They run the imaging machines that help doctors diagnose and treat patients. They could also be useful to doctors investigating radioactive drugs’ potential applications.
An associate’s degree in nuclear medicine technology from a recognized institution is usually required for entry-level employment. Some technologists, however, meet the requirements after completing a 12-month certificate program and a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. A certification or license is usually necessary to work in this industry.
Genetic counselors analyze patients’ genes through DNA testing to determine their risk for a wide range of inherited conditions, including genetic disorders and birth defects. They inform other medical professionals and patients who are worried about contracting or passing on a genetic disorder.
Certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling, genetic counselors typically hold a master’s degree in either genetic counseling or genetics.
These professionals assist clients in regaining or developing essential life abilities. They assist patients in performing therapeutic exercises and stretches, play activities with children who have developmental disabilities to aid in coordination or socialization, and instruct patients in the use of adaptive devices to facilitate daily activities like eating. They collaborate with occupational therapists to develop and carry out individualized treatment plans for each patient.
Occupational therapists typically need a master’s degree in the field before entering the field.
What are the easiest highest-paying medical jobs?
Earning six figures as a health services manager may be possible with only an associate’s degree. According to the BLS, their income ranged from $60,780 in May 2021 to $205,620 that same year. These medical experts earned some of the highest salaries in the country.
Experience and a bachelor’s degree in nursing are typically required for advancement to the position of nurse manager. A master’s degree is not required for a position as CNO, but some organizations may give hiring preference to candidates who hold one. According to Payscale, the average salary for these experts was $134,900 in August of 2022.
What are the highest-paying doctor jobs?
The highest salaries in the medical field go to anesthesiologists and surgeons. The average salary for a surgeon in July 2022 was $287,500, while the average salary for an anesthesiologist was $307,740, according to Payscale data from August 2022.
Specializing doctors have the potential to increase their income. As of August 2022, for instance, Payscale estimates that neurosurgeons can expect an average annual salary of $412,780. Specialist training is available to doctors during their time in medical school and residency.
Companies in the healthcare industry are excellent places to work because they value their employees’ skills, reward those skills with competitive pay, and provide excellent opportunities to hone those skills. Whether you’re a dentist performing surgery or a medical receptionist answering phones, it’s rewarding to see how your work improves the lives of others.
When employees get to put their talents to use and expand their knowledge of what they’re good at, everyone wins. Self-esteem, motivation, productivity, and leadership abilities all rise when workers are able to put their unique set of talents to use. Learn which medical specialty offers the highest salary for your set of skills by exploring additional Top Workplaces in your search for a company that will nurture your skills and a job you’ll love.