Careers for Medical Majors

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Healthcare Majors Career Options

A degree in healthcare can open doors to various career options for those interested in the field. In addition to offering stability, healthcare jobs are often rewarding in their own right. Healthcare professionals often enjoy helping people and working personally with communities. But these professionals may also work in various other career paths including management, administration, public health, and health education.

To succeed in the healthcare field, students need to excel in hard skills like scientific and quantitative reasoning. Healthcare programs often require a mix of classes in anatomy, chemistry, and biology. But students will also need to possess several soft skills, like compassion, communication, and problem-solving skills.

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Below, learners interested in pursuing a job in healthcare will find useful information such as popular careers, education requirements, and career and salary outlooks. Keep in mind that this list comprises just some of the options that a degree in healthcare can open for students.

Healthcare Career Questions


  • What are some healthcare careers?

    Healthcare degree graduates can pursue careers as nurses, doctors, dentists, physician’s assistants, and medical assistants. Other healthcare careers include medical biller, medical and health services manager, and healthcare administrator.


  • What healthcare certifications pay the most?

    Aspiring healthcare professionals can obtain a certification to work in the field. Some of the highest-paying certifications include phlebotomy technician, professional coder, and medical assistant.


  • How much schooling do I need to be a nurse?

    To become a registered nurse (RN), students usually pursue a bachelor of science in nursing. Nurses must meet specific national requirements and obtain licensure, which varies by state.


  • What kind of jobs can you get with a healthcare administration degree?

    A healthcare administration degree can lead to jobs like practice manager, medical and health services manager, director of operations, and healthcare consultant.


Healthcare Specializations



Healthcare specializations often go by various names at different schools, such as concentrations, tracks, majors, or areas of focus. Students can choose from various specializations to pursue and all of them require a different level of schooling. Some jobs, like nurse or physician’s assistant, require particular degrees. But graduates may obtain other occupations, such as practice manager or sonogram technician, by earning certifications. Below we list a few of the many healthcare specializations available.


  • Nursing

    Typically, nurses perform various duties, including caring for patients, performing physical and diagnostic tests, administering medicine, and checking vital signs. Nurses can work in private practices, hospitals, and family planning clinics. Programs in nursing include classes on anatomy, microbiology, nutrition, and specific nursing topics. Students must also complete clinical rotations to test their skills and knowledge in professional healthcare settings.


  • Healthcare Management

    Healthcare graduates can pursue management roles, including medical and health services manager. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects this career to grow 32% from 2019-2029. These professionals plan and coordinate the business activities of providers. Healthcare management professionals work in hospitals, private practices, and healthcare systems. Coursework in healthcare management typically includes human resources management, healthcare financing, accounting, epidemiology, and medical terminology.


  • Health Informatics

    Programs in health informatics teach students how to develop information technology systems that process and store data specifically for healthcare organizations. Similar to administration, these jobs usually require data and computer skills. Classwork includes statistics, health data management, and computer science. A degree in healthcare informatics prepares graduates for various jobs both inside and outside the healthcare management world. Jobs include clinical informatics specialist, medical records and health information technician, and computer systems analyst.


What Are the Education Requirements for Healthcare?



Education requirements for healthcare jobs vary significantly among occupations. Some jobs, like medical biller and medical assistant, only require an associate degree or a certification. Nursing jobs, however, usually require a bachelor’s degree. Colleges and universities also offer a variety of master’s programs for healthcare management and administration. Students interested in physician or dentist roles need a doctorate.


  • Associate

    Students can pursue careers in several sectors with just an associate, including nursing, radiology technology, and medical coding. Nurses who hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN) differ from registered nurses (RNs) who hold bachelor’s degrees. However, they can still take the NCLEX-RN Exam and work in the same settings. An ADN takes two years to complete. The degree consists of classroom and clinical hours that teach students basic lab skills, nursing terminology, and bedside manner.


  • Bachelor's

    Bachelor’s degree-seekers can choose from a slew of healthcare specializations like healthcare management, healthcare administration, and health education. Enrollees interested in entering healthcare services often need a bachelor’s degree to start in the field. Many schools offer degrees in nursing and athletic training in addition to pre-professional programs like pre-med and pre-dental. These degrees often require a large amount of science coursework and laboratory hours. Bachelor’s degrees usually take about four years to complete, but completion times vary depending on the program format.


  • Master's

    Students who complete a master’s degree in health informatics or healthcare management can pursue high-earning positions like health services manager. For learners interested in service positions, a master’s degree opens up a lot of doors. Degree-seekers may pursue master’s in mental health specializations like counseling and psychology in addition to specialties like public health and sports medicine. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners can pursue licensure with a master’s degree. Program lengths vary but usually fall between 1-3 years.


  • Doctorate

    Physicians and surgeons must hold an M.D., which typically requires four years of additional education after earning a bachelor’s degree. They must also complete 3-9 additional years of residency or an internship to gain the experience necessary to practice as an attending physician. Doctoral degrees require a large course load that usually covers both biochemistry and clinical topics. Students can also pursue a doctorate in dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, and podiatry.


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How Much Does a Healthcare Degree Cost?


Many schools offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in healthcare online. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate tuition at all school types cost an average of $19,314 for the 2018-19 academic year. Undergraduate tuition at public, four-year schools cost an average $20,598 for the same year. Please note that this does not include housing or living costs.

As of May 2021, a year of undergraduate tuition at the University of St. Francis, a private university, costs about $35,000, or roughly $1,100 per credit hour for 30 credit hours. By comparison, tuition and fees at the University of Central Florida, a public school, costs $6,379 per year for in-state students. Out-of-state students pay $23,478 for tuition and fees.

Some schools might charge additional lab fees for certain programs. Students should also factor in costs for books, materials, transportation, and housing. Additionally, if learners need to obtain a certification or license to practice, they should prepare for any accompanying fees.

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Calculating the Cost of a College Degree



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How Much Do Medical Majors Make?



Physicians make a median salary of $208,000 per year, according to the BLS. Other jobs include dental assistants and athletic trainers, who make median annual salaries of $41,180 and $49,860, respectively.

Many healthcare careers offer generous compensation and opportunity for advancement. Continued education can help professionals advance in their careers.

For example, nurses make a median salary of $75,330 annually, but nurse practitioners earn a median wage of $117,670 per year. RNs who complete a master’s degree in nursing or a nursing subspecialty can become advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). However, those who complete a degree in another health-related field can still become nurses but must take the RN licensure exam before their APRN exam.

The healthcare management field can offer opportunities for high-paying roles. Medical and health services managers make a median salary of $104,280 per year. These professionals need a bachelor’s degree to enter the field, but employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

Career and Salary Outlook for a Healthcare Degree



Students who graduate from healthcare programs can pursue various career paths. Graduates interested in working directly with patients may consider careers as nurses, physicians, or medical assistants. However, students interested in management and administrative tasks might consider a career in medical service management, working in private practices or a hospital system.


  • EMTs and Paramedics

    Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are often the first responders to the sick and injured in emergency medical settings. They respond to emergency calls, perform medical services, and transfer patients to a medical facility. In addition to providing hands-on care, these professionals document their medical care and observations. EMTs and paramedics must be certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, but entering a certification program usually only requires a high school diploma.


  • Registered Nurses

    Nurses provide and coordinate patient care and advise patients and families about their care options. Nurses can also perform diagnostic tests and administer medicine. Nurses usually possess an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing and must pass the National Council Licensure Examination. They may also need additional certifications in their state.


  • Medical and Health Services Manager

    Medical and health services managers oversee the planning, coordination, and direction of medical and health services. These leadership roles often require supervising and training other staff members. Medical and health services managers usually hold a bachelor’s degree, but many also hold a master’s degree.


Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
EMTs and Paramedics $36,650 6%
Registered Nurses $75,330 7%
Medical and Health Services Manager $104,280 32%

Source: Bureau of Labor Services

Certifications and Licensure for Healthcare Careers



To work in the healthcare services field, professionals often need a certification or license from a specific governing body. Licenses and certifications are not the same as certificates, degrees, and diplomas, which educational institutions award. A license, for example, allows a nurse to work professionally, while a bachelor’s degree in nursing provides them with the education necessary to pass. The list below highlights three certifications for healthcare professionals.

Emergency Medical Technician Certification


This certification allows EMTs and paramedics to work in emergency settings. To obtain this certification, students must first enroll in a state-approved EMT education program. Enrollees then create an account and fill out an application with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians in addition to taking a cognitive test. EMTs do not need to meet any educational requirements to receive certification.

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Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) Certification


This certification allows dieticians and nutritionists to practice nationally, although states might hold individual requirements. The Commission on Dietetic Registration requires candidates to possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, which sometimes requires an internship. Without a bachelor’s degree, enrollees can still obtain certification through a 1,000-hour course through the Academy of Nutritionists and Dietetics.

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Certified Dental Assistant


The Dental Assisting National Board administers the Certified Dental Assistant Exam for prospective dental assistants. There are three pathways to receive eligibility for the test. While two pathways require completion of a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, one track allows high school graduates to pursue licensure with work experience.

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Resources for Healthcare Majors


  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

    The CAAHEP covers all the information students need to learn about licensing and certification for different healthcare jobs. They even dedicate a page to various career paths that lead users to detailed information about each field.

  • Health Career Connection

    HCC’s programming connects college students — especially those from underserved populations — to healthcare professionals and internship opportunities to better prepare them for healthcare careers.

  • Health Professions Network

    The HPN is a nonprofit organization that brings together healthcare professional associations. Participants meet at least once per year to discuss issues relating to healthcare. The HPN holds most meetings virtually.

  • Health.gov

    The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion designs trainings and resources to help improve healthcare quality and patient safety. The free modules only require a web browser to complete.


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