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5 In-Demand Healthcare Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree

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You’re interested in healthcare and know that it’s a promising field to pursue. But what if you’re just not quite ready to commit to a degree? It’s possible you see a degree in your future, but before you go down that route, you’d rather take the time to garner some experience and start earning an income while you continue down your career path.

Some industries don’t offer many career options for professionals without college degrees. But you’re in luck because the healthcare field isn’t one of them! There are a handful of opportunities to land medical jobs without a degree, and many of these positions are seeing employment projected to grow at faster-than-average rates.

We identified five healthcare career paths that you can get started on without earning a degree—at least for the time being. Keep reading to get acquainted with these in-demand opportunities that will allow you to start making a meaningful difference while earning a paycheck.

5 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.

We consulted the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to provide a brief breakdown of each of these opportunities.1

1. Medical coder

Median annual salary (2017): $39,1801

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 10–14 percent (faster than average)

Job description: Medical coders are kind of like the interpreters of the medical process. They review the notes and information that doctors record while assisting patients and assign codes that correlate to the types of services, supplies and procedures that a patient was given. These codes are directly correlated to the reimbursement that hospitals physicians receive, so accuracy is of the utmost importance.

In addition to reimbursement, the work of medical coders is important in maintaining protection of confidential medical records, adhering to compliance regulations and more. Coding is detail-oriented work, and the codes 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 coders to obtain certification, but that’s not the only reason to pursue a Certificate in the field. On average, certified medical coders earn 15 percent more than those without certification, according to the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).2 You can earn a Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding in as few as nine months.3

2. Medical administrative assistant

Median annual salary (2017): $34,6101

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 15 percent or higher (much faster than average)

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 typically prefer that medical administrative assistants are certified. You can acquire a Medical Administrative Assistant Certificate in as few as nine months.3

3. Pharmacy technician

Median annual salary (2017): $31,7501

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 10–14 percent (faster than average)

Job description: A pharmacy technician works directly under a pharmacist in performing a variety of tasks. Their responsibilities include helping to fill prescriptions, recording information to fill prescriptions both in person and over the phone, 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. Many Pharmacy Technician Certificate programs can be complete in as few as nine months.3

4. Medical assistant

Median annual salary (2017): $32,4801

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 15 percent or higher (much faster than average)

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 the 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 you can leverage in the future.

Education requirements: Although there are no formal requirements, most 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 from an accredited program is a great option and can be completed in as little as 12 months.3

5. Licensed practical nurse (LPN)

Median annual salary (2017): $45,0301

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 10–14 percent or higher (faster than average)

Job description: Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work under both registered nurses and physicians to provide basic 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.3 You’ll also need to pass the NCLEX-PN exam in order to be licensed to practice in your state.

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.

Whether you decide to pursue a degree or go a different route, check out these other in-demand options in our article, “11 Entry-Level Healthcare Jobs Employers Want to Fill.”

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [information accessed November 2, 2018] 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.
2American Academy of Professional Coders, 2017 Salary Survey: Right on the Money, [information accessed November 2, 2018]
3Completion time is dependent on transfer credits accepted and courses completed each term.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was original published in February 2016. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2018.

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen College. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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