7 In-Demand Healthcare Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
If you’re interested in working in healthcare, but aren’t quite ready to commit to a degree, you’re not out of luck. While many fields offer few solid career options for professionals without college degrees, healthcare isn’t one of them. There are many opportunities to land medical jobs without a degree, and many of these positions are seeing employment growth projected at faster-than-average rates.
We identified seven healthcare career paths that you can get started on without earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Keep reading to get acquainted with these in-demand opportunities that to start making a meaningful difference while earning a paycheck.
7 Rewarding healthcare jobs you can launch without a degree
You’ll be happy to hear you can pursue both clinic and hospital jobs without a degree. That means you can start on your path toward a rewarding career in healthcare relatively quickly.
1. Medical records specialists
Median annual salary (2020): $44,0901
Projected employment growth (2020–2030): 9 percent1
Job description: Medical records specialists function as a kind of interpreter of the medical process. They review the notes and information that doctors record and assign codes that correlate to the types of services, supplies and procedures that a patient was given. Accurate recording of specific codes and other information is correlated to the reimbursement that hospital physicians receive—so accuracy is of the utmost importance.
In addition to reimbursement, the work of medical records specialists is important in maintaining protection of confidential medical records, adhering to compliance regulations and more. Medical records work is detail-oriented, as the codes and policies are constantly changing. If you have a keen eye for detail and like the idea of working behind the scenes, this career is a great starting point.
Education requirements: Many employers require medical records specialists—particularly those involved in medical coding—to obtain certification. At Rasmussen University, you can complete a Medical Billing and Coding Certificate program in as few as nine months.2 This program will help prepare you to pursue the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Certified Coding Associate (CCA)® credential or, with industry experience, the AHIMA Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)® credential.
2. Medical administrative assistant
Median annual salary (2020): $37,3501
Projected employment growth (2020–2030): 10-15 percent1
Job description: Medical administrative assistants (sometimes called medical secretaries) work in a variety of medical settings to perform basic administrative tasks. Their daily duties include answering the phone, collecting patient information, scheduling appointments and greeting patients when they arrive in the waiting room. If you’re an organized person who can handle a variety of tasks and is well-versed in customer service skills, this is a great entry-level position for you.
Education requirements: Though there are no formal requirements, employers may prefer candidates with experience or specialized training. At Rasmussen University, you can acquire a Medical Administrative Assistant Certificate in as few as nine months.2
Median annual salary (2020): $36,3201
Projected employment growth (2020-2030): 22 percent1
Job description:Phlebotomists, sometimes called lab technicians, draw blood from patients in clinics, hospitals, blood donation centers, transfusion sites and research facilities. Their daily duties include verifying and updating patient information, organizing instruments and disposing of contaminated sharps and other biohazardous material. If you can handle the sight of blood, have a compassionate nature and a talent for precision, this role is a good fit.
Education requirements: Most phlebotomist roles require only a high school diploma, and many can be trained on the job.
4. Pharmacy technician
Median annual salary (2020): $35,1001
Projected employment growth (2020–2030): 4 percent1
Job description: A pharmacy technician works directly under the supervision of a pharmacist in performing a variety of tasks. Their responsibilities include helping to fill prescriptions, recording information, organizing inventory, accepting payment, processing insurance and more. Whether you’ve considered becoming a pharmacist in the future or you’re just eager to take the fast track to a hands-on career, this could be a great way to kick things off.
Education requirements: Many states require that pharmacy technicians complete a certification program. A Pharmacy Technician Certificate program at Rasmussen University can be completed in as few as nine months.2
5. Medical assistant
Median annual salary (2020): $35,8501
Projected employment growth (2020–2030): 18 percent1
Job description: Medical assistants work on the clinical side to support physicians and provide basic care for patients. They might take a patient’s vital signs, help a physician with examinations, administer injections or prepare a blood sample for lab work. If you want hands-on clinical experience without spending years earning a degree, this is the position for you. This is also a great entry-level healthcare career if you’re hoping to gain some clinical experience to leverage in the future.
Education requirements: Although there are no formal requirements, many employers prefer to hire individuals who have been certified or registered. Most medical assistants will also undergo on-the-job training. Earning a Medical Assisting Diploma is a great option and can be completed in as few as 12 months.2
6. Licensed practical nurse (LPN)
Median annual salary (2020): $48,8201
Projected employment growth (2020–2030): 9 percent1
Job description: Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work under both registered nurses and physicians to provide nursing care. Their duties may include changing bandages, checking blood pressure and helping patients perform a variety of self-care tasks like bathing or dressing. The work will vary depending on the setting and state.
If you’re considering a career in nursing but aren’t ready to commit to a higher degree, becoming an LPN is the way to go. You can always advance your education down the line.
Education requirements: LPNs must earn a Practical Nursing Diploma from an accredited program. These programs typically take about a year to complete and combine classroom and supervised clinical experience.2
7. Nursing assistant
Median annual salary (2020): $30,8301
Projected employment growth (2020-2030): 8 percent1
Job description: Nursing assistants provide basic daily care for patients. Common tasks include assisting patients with eating, bathing and dressing as well as taking vital signs and reporting new information to nursing staff. This is a physical job that often involves moving patients, from bed to wheelchair for example, as well as transporting them to different spaces in the facility for meals or treatments. Often employed in long-term care units, nursing assistants also clean and restock supplies in their assigned areas. Because they work with the same patients day after day, many nursing assistants establish close connections with the people they care for. If you’re a compassionate person who can do physical work and is motivated to help others, becoming a nursing assistant is a solid place to begin a healthcare career.
Education requirements: Most nursing assistant positions only require a high school diploma, and many facilities provide on-the-job training.
Get started on your healthcare career path
You may be pleasantly surprised at the number of healthcare jobs that don’t require a degree. With so many growing opportunities in the field, there are plenty of career paths to choose from.
Still not settled on what’s the best fit for you? Our article “5 Jobs Similar to Nursing You Shouldn’t Overlook” highlights several hands-on options for getting involved in patient care.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [accessed December 2021] www.bls.gov/oes/. Salary data represents national averaged earnings for the occupations listed. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Completion time is dependent on transfer credits accepted and courses completed each term.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in February 2016. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2022.
Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Associate (CCA) are registered trademarks of American Health Information Management Association non-profit corporation.