The Ultimate List of Healthcare Jobs You Can Launch in 2 Years or Less

List of Healthcare Jobs

Healthcare is a broad field with a lot of opportunities. There are few industries in which a person can work such varied jobs all in the same line of work. With options ranging from medical assistant to chief surgeon, it can be a challenge just finding a place to start if this field holds your interest.

Whether you’re heading to school for the first time or you’re taking the leap and switching careers, you’re probably looking for an option that can get you in the field quickly. And that makes perfect sense—a good-paying medical field job that requires relatively little schooling is an ideal combo. But do these jobs actually exist? The good news is that there actually are several solid jobs in the medical field that require only a “two-year” Associate’s degree or less. 

To help you narrow down your search, we used real-time job analysis software to pour over thousands of healthcare jobs and identify some of the top healthcare jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree.1 

12 Healthcare jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree

This list offers a snapshot of 12 in-demand healthcare careers that will allow you to start earning a paycheck and help people with an Associate’s degree or less. Keep reading to learn a bit about each position to see which of these careers align best with your skills and interests: 

1. Registered nurse

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 15% (Much faster than average)

Education: Associate's degree

2016 Median annual wage: $68,4502

Top skills: Patient care, treatment planning, advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)

One of the many reasons to pursue a career as a registered nurse is that you’ll be on the frontline of care. There are many options for nurses with Associate's degrees, and the career offers a variety of specialties and career paths. Don’t let the tests and assessments scare you off; there are plenty of resources to help you pass that pesky NCLEX exam.

2. Nursing assistant

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 11% (Faster than average)

Education: Diploma or Certificate

2016 Median annual wage: $26,5902

Top skills: Patient care, vital signs measurement, patient mobility assistance

Nursing assistants work under the supervision of the nursing staff to care for patients in a variety of settings. This is a swift option to obtaining a career in the nursing field but doesn’t come with quite as much of a salary punch.

3. Medical secretary

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 15% or higher (Much faster than average)

Education: Medical Administrative Assistant Certificate

2016 Median annual wage: $33,7302

Top skills: Administrative support, scheduling, appointment setting

Don’t expect medical secretaries to just punch away at a keyboard and fill coffee mugs. They actually provide medical-specific administrative support including communicating with patients and managing medical charts, plus scheduling appointments, directing visitors and more.

4. Medical assistant

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 29% (Much faster than average)

Education: Medical Assisting Diploma

2016 Median annual wage: $31,5402

Top skills: Patient care, vital signs measurement, medical assistance

Medical assistants may be confused with medical secretaries due to their shared responsibility for medical-related administrative duties. Their work often extends beyond the administrative realm, to include patient care duties such as drawing blood or administering medication. The additional responsibilities can make it even more helpful for them to have medical-specific training.

5. Health information technician (HIT)

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 13% (Faster than average)

Education: Health Information Technician Associate's degree

2016 Median annual wage: $38,0402

Top skills: Medical coding, health information technology, ICD-10

Health information technicians who can process medical information and manage records will be paramount as Baby Boomers age and the number of new patients increases. The healthcare industry’s transition into electronic health records creates a demand for trained professionals to maintain, organize and protect healthcare records and data.

6. Critical care nurse

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 15% or higher (Much faster than average)

Education: Associate's degree

2016 Median annual wage: $68,4502

Top skills: Patient care, critical care, advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)

Critical care nurses form a specialized sector of registered nursing that works in the fast-paced environment of critical and coronary care units. With a salary similar to general RNs, it may be more of a question of skills or preference when deciding if this is the right type of nursing job for you.

7. Pharmacy technician

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 12% (Faster than average)

Education: Pharmacy Technician Certificate

2016 Median annual wage: $30,9202

Top skills: Pharmacy assistance, data entry, prescription filling

Pharmacy technicians perform a variety of tasks to support pharmacists with disbursement of medications to prescription holders including taking orders from customers and counting out medication. These healthcare professionals are the friendly faces at the front of a pharmacy counter.

8. Medical or clinical laboratory technician

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 13% (Faster than average)

Education: Medical Laboratory Technician Associate's degree

2016 Median annual wage: $50,9302

Top skills: Chemistry, laboratory testing, phlebotomy

Medical laboratory technicians assist with the analysis and diagnosis of patients from mostly behind-the-scenes in a laboratory setting. They have the distinct privilege of performing daily “science experiments” like the ones you did in your chemistry labs in high school. In fact, there is a lot to love about a career as a med lab tech.

9. Radiologic technologist

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 13% (Faster than average)

Education: Radiologic Technologist Associate's degree

2016 Median annual wage: $58,9602

Top skills: Radiology, X-rays, patient care

Radiologic technologists work with physicians to perform diagnostic imaging examinations on patients. They work directly with patients to conduct X-ray or CAT scan procedures and use many types of medical machinery to obtain imagery.

10. Surgical technologist

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 12% (Faster than average)

Education: Surgical Technologist Associate's degree

2016 Median annual wage: $45,1602

Top skills: Surgery, patient care, surgical technology

Surgical technologists perform a crucial role as a part of the surgical team. In addition to prepping the operating room for surgery, their days are spent on the front lines of the action, literally providing hands-on assistance throughout life-saving surgeries. A sense of satisfaction from saving lives is just one of many perks of being a surgical technologist.

11. Physical therapist assistant

Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 30% (Much faster than average)

Education: Physical Therapist Assistant Associate's degree

2016 Median annual wage: $45,2902

Top skills: Physical therapy assistance, rehabilitation, patient treatment

It’s almost difficult to comprehend the huge demand for physical therapist assistants, but because they provide such a crucial role in the rehabilitation process, PTAs are needed at the frontlines to help implement physical therapy treatment plans, assisting with prescribed exercises and tracking patient progress.

12. Medical coder

Projected growth (2016–2026): 10% to 14% (Faster than average)

Education: Medical Coding Certificate

2016 Median annual wage: $38,0402

Top skills: Medical coding including CPT and ICD-10, transcribing medical notes

Medical coders serve as a critical bridge to the healthcare and billing process. Transcribing medical notes on what procedures or services were done in appointments, medical coders apply ICD-10 codes for billing and insurance purposes.

A faster path into the healthcare field

It’s clear that pursuing a career in healthcare doesn’t have to equate to spending several years in school. There are several options when it comes to healthcare jobs you can land with an Associate’s degree or less. All of these different choices may make your career search overwhelming, but the variety of options also means you’re bound to find a position that’s the perfect fit for you.

Need help deciphering which of these healthcare professions is your best fit? Check out our Healthcare Career Matchmaker tool to help you figure it out.



1Source: Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 1,555,497 healthcare job postings, April 1, 2017 – Mar. 31, 2018.)

2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed April 2, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published on August 22, 2013. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2018.



Kristina Ericksen

Kristina is a Digital Writer at Collegis Education where she creates informative content on behalf of Rasmussen College. She is passionate about the power of education and enjoys connecting students to bright futures.

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