Careers for Healthcare and Medical Majors

A career in healthcare can lead to many rewarding opportunities. Here, we outline top degree specializations, as well as helpful resources.

November 8, 2021

Careers for Healthcare and 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.

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.

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Healthcare Career Questions

true Q. 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.

true Q. 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.

true Q. 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.

true Q. 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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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. 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. 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.

Resources for Healthcare Majors

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