Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today due to many factors. As more Americans reach retirement age and medical advances continue, they are leading to high-paying jobs in the medical field.
What we like about this field is many of these jobs only require an associate’s degree or certificate (a couple of them only require a high school degree). That makes them ideal for anyone on a tight budget, or people looking to change careers but don’t want to spend four years at a university.
Many of the jobs we’ll discuss here also put you in a position to advance to even higher-paying jobs if you continue your education. For instance, there are multiple nursing degrees that pay extremely well if you get to the level of a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Let’s start with the jobs that require the least schooling, and work our way towards the more advanced degrees.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Table of Contents
High Paying Medical Jobs with an Associate’s Degree
How much do they make? $86,850
What do they do? Radiation therapists use radiation to kill cancerous cells in the human body. They may be involved with planning and administering treatments, or they might operate equipment that delivers radiation therapy, such as linear accelerators or external beam radiotherapy units.
The job also includes organizing patient care plans and managing records. Radiation therapists work in hospitals and clinics, but some are self-employed.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists
How much do they make? $79,590
What do they do? Nuclear medicine technologists, also known as nuclear medical technologists, are experts in the field of nuclear medicine. They play a vital role in diagnosing and treating various conditions through the use of radioactive drugs and other materials.
As such, these professionals have an important job that is crucial to ensuring optimal patient care. Nuclear medicine technologists work with radiopharmaceuticals which contain radioactive isotopes that emit radiation for diagnostic imaging or therapy treatment.
In order to become a certified nuclear medicine technologist one must complete two years of post-secondary education from an accredited college or university program and pass both national certification exams offered by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT). Nuclear Medicine Technicians can obtain associate’s degrees with this degree path.
How much do they make? $77,090
What do they do? Dental hygienists are the dental professionals who work with patients’ teeth, gums and oral health. They clean teeth, remove plaque and tartar buildup, educate people about daily oral hygiene habits to prevent gum disease or tooth decay.
Dental hygienists also provide other preventive dental care services such as applying sealants and fluoride treatments. Dental hygienist is a profession that has been growing because of the increase in awareness about good dental hygiene practices. It’s now one of the most popular careers for women in healthcare industry today because it offers flexible hours and high pay without requiring advanced education or training.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
How much do they make? $75,920
What do they do? Diagnostic medical sonographers, or sonographers for short, specialize in making images of the body’s organs and tissues. The use ultrasounds (high frequency sound waves) to create pictures of the inside of a person’s body.
The images they produce are called ultrasonograms. Sonographers produce ultrasound scans by moving a probe over a person’s skin and using high-frequency sound waves to generate pictures. Sonography is used primarily as a diagnostic tool in medicine, but it can also be used as an adjunct tool for certain procedures such as treating patients with kidney stones or gallstones.
In order to become a diagnostic medical sonographer you must have completed at least an associate’s degree from an accredited college program.
How much do they make? $74,690
What do they do? MRI Technologists use the latest technology to diagnose and treat illness. They work in hospitals, clinics, private practices and other health-related facilities. MRI Technologists perform tests such as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scans (computed tomography) and X-rays on patients who have been referred by their physician or another healthcare provider.
The main responsibility of an MRI technologist is to scan a patient’s body using magnetic resonance imaging technology and create cross-sectional images for viewing by a radiologist or surgeon.
MRI Technologists must be able to understand instructions from physicians about what type of test needs to be performed; they need good manual dexterity because they will often manipulate the controls that move the table holding the scanner; they also need strong communication skills to interact with other people.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
How much do they make? $62,940
What do they do? Occupational therapy assistants work under the supervision of occupational therapists to help people with disabilities, illnesses, or developmental problems achieve independence in daily living.
They may teach skills such as dressing and grooming; manage medication reminders; assist with physical therapy exercises; or maintain a safe environment at home. They also provide emotional support and encouragement during treatment sessions. Depending on their job setting, they often interact directly with patients as part of a team including other healthcare professionals such as nurses and rehabilitation specialists.
In recent years, OTAs have been employed outside traditional hospital settings in areas such as nursing homes, extended care facilities for seniors, hospitals that specialize in rehabilitative medicine (rehabilitation hospitals), psychiatric wards of general medical hospitals (sub-acute units), outpatient care centers, and private practice.
In the past, those seeking to become occupational therapy assistants would need to attend an accredited two-year college before entering a four-year program, but as of 2013 most states require OTA applicants to hold an associate degree from a community college or technical school.
How much do they make? $62,810
What do they do? Respiratory therapists treat patients who have trouble breathing or need help getting enough oxygen, such as people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrosis, and other lung conditions. They provide emergency care to those suffering from heart attacks and strokes.
Respiratory therapists also teach patients how to manage their respiratory problems so they can continue living active lives. The median annual wage for a respiratory therapist is $58,420 in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How much do they make? $61,900
What do they do? Radiation technologists use special equipment to create images of the body’s internal organs and structures. They work as part of a team with doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical professionals in hospitals or clinics. In some states, radiologic technologists can also work in private industry such as for insurance companies.
Radiologic technology is one of the fastest-growing occupations in America today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for radiologic techs will grow by more than 30% over the next decade, which is much faster than average growth rates for all U.S jobs during this period.
Physical therapist assistants
How much do they make? $59,770
What do they do? Physical therapist assistants work under the supervision of a physical therapist to provide treatment and rehabilitative services, such as electrotherapy, ultrasound therapy, massage therapy and therapeutic exercises. They also document patient progress in a clinical record.
Physical therapists aides are not licensed healthcare professionals but they do have opportunities to make money from home by assisting with tasks like photocopying or data entry from home according to Indeed’s website. In addition to having a high school diploma or GED you must obtain an associate’s degree which takes about two years of full-time study at a postsecondary institution that has been accredited by the U.S Department of Education (USDE).
How much do they make? $59,100
What do they do? Cardiovascular technologists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals and private practices. They perform diagnostic tests on patients with cardiovascular diseases, such as measuring blood pressure or painlessly inserting catheters through the skin to measure heart function. Cardiovascular technologists use complex equipment like electrocardiographs to analyze electrical impulses from the heart.
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High Paying Medical Jobs with a Certificate
Health information technologists
How much do they make? $51,840
What do they do? Health information technologists (HIT) work with computers and scanners to make sure that the right patient gets the right test.
They input patients’ vital signs, perform diagnostic imaging, manage computerized records, generate reports and alerts on an ongoing basis, and more. HITs may also train clinicians in how to use electronic health records (EHRs). The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17% increase in employment for HIT jobs from 2014-2024. As hospitals continue to move away from paper charts towards digital solutions, more opportunities will open up for those who know how to handle them.
How much do they make? $51,840
What do they do? Surgical assistants are responsible for assisting surgeons in the operating room by performing a variety of tasks, including preparing instruments and equipment, passing surgical tools to surgeons during procedures, holding retractors or other surgical devices, administering anesthesia when necessary and recording operative data.
Surgical assistants may also act as scrub nurses or second assistant on more complicated operations. They must be able to stand for long periods of time while working with precision. This job is ideal for those who enjoy helping others but don’t want to go into direct patient care.
The pay varies depending on where you work and your level of education; however most entry-level positions start at $30k annually with high potential for growth once you gain experience.
How much do they make? $49,710
What do they do? A surgical technologist, also called a scrub technician or operating room nurse, is someone who assists surgeons in the operating room setting. This job requires certification from the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). It’s not necessary to have a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for this career path.
A surgical technologist should work well with people and demonstrate strong interpersonal skills because they are often working alongside surgeons during surgery. They need good hand-eye coordination to handle sterile instruments while assisting doctors during surgery. A surgical technologist may wear many hats in their day-to-day work including sterilizing equipment, preparing patients for surgery by washing them down with antiseptic solution, handing tools needed by the surgeon, passing instruments to surgeons, and counting sponges to make sure nothing was left during surgery.
The median salary for surgical technologists is $45,600 per year or $22.84per hour. Employment opportunities are expected to grow by 19% through the year 2020.
Licensed practical nurse
How much do they make? $48,820
What do they do? A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a health professional who provides basic medical care and emotional support to patients, typically when they are not able to be seen by a doctor. An LPN may also provide assistance with the general treatment and administration of medications. The goal of an LPN is to handle many of the day-to-day tasks that nurses do in hospitals and clinics with the intent on easing some stress from doctors and nurses, while maintaining their own clinical skills. These duties can include bedside care such as taking vital signs or assisting with feeding tubes, wound dressings or catheterizations; administrative work such as answering phones; teaching new skills like how to use equipment; performing treatments including injections for diabetes or high blood pressure; and helping with communication and creating a healing environment.
Medical records specialists
How much do they make? $44,090
What do they do? Medical records specialists are the backbone of any hospital or healthcare organization. They serve as the linchpin between doctors, nurses, and patients. These hardworking professionals maintain patient medical histories and ensure that they’re accessible to health care providers when needed. Medical Records Specialists need a high school diploma and a certificate for entry-level positions; however, some employers require an Associate’s Degree in Health Information Technology (AAS) or Health Information Management (AAS) which takes two years to complete at a community college or technical school. This degree will provide you with the necessary knowledge required to work as an Entry Level Medical Records Specialist.
How much do they make? $43,620
What do they do? Massage therapists use various techniques, including stroking and kneading to alleviate muscle tension and improve circulation. They may also apply heat or cold packs, hot stones, deep-tissue massage, acupressure or reflexology.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapists earned a median annual salary of $39,860 as of May 2012. Employers are expected to be on the hunt for skilled massage therapists, given that more Americans are visiting spa-focused establishments and spas are expanding their services beyond facial treatments and pedicures.
How much do they make? 41,180
What do they do? Dental assistants are one of the most in-demand medical professions. You can go to school for two years and earn an associate’s degree, or you can take a couple shorter courses and get certified. Either way, dental assistants make anywhere from $30,000 to $90,000 per year.
Dental assistants assist dentists by doing things like preparing patients for treatment; handing instruments; passing tools used by dentist (such as drills) during treatment; removing temporary fillings; applying sealants on teeth; taking x-rays when necessary; mixing chemicals needed for treatments such as fluoride varnish or cavity filling material.; monitoring patient’s vital signs during treatment.; sterilizing equipment before use.; sterilizing hands before treating children and infants.; debriding (scraping away dead tissue from a wound or slough from a sore); applying dressing to wounds; and removing sutures after treatment is over.
Ophthalmic medical technicians
How much do they make? $37,940
What do they do? Ophthalmic medical technicians are an essential part of the healthcare profession, specifically in ophthalmology. They do everything from assisting with surgeries to performing various laboratory tests. Their work is vital to eye health and safety. Let’s take a closer look at this important job!
- Ophthalmic technicians are educated through two years of training after high school or by obtaining an associate degree or certificate program.
- There are many different types of jobs available for ophthalmic technicians including lab technician, surgical assistant, and optometric assistant.
- Ophthalmic medical technologists can make anywhere between $30K-$60K annually depending on their experience level and location.
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
How much do they make? $36,650
What do they do? EMTs and paramedics are considered to be emergency service providers. They are typically employed by either a governmental agency, hospital, or private sector organization. Their duties include administering First-Aid, assessing the patient’s condition, and transporting the patient to the hospital. Emergency medical technicians typically have to have gone through an EMT or paramedic training program in order to qualify for this job. To be an EMT you have to have your certification from an accredited national certification body.
How much do they make? $36,320
What do they do? Phlebotomists are medical professionals who draw blood. This is an important job that has to be done correctly every time without fail, and phlebotomists need to take care of themselves as well. A career in this field requires a high school diploma or its equivalent, but it doesn’t require any post-secondary education. Training for the position can be found at vocational schools or community colleges that offer certificate programs in phlebotomy.
The median annual wage for phlebotomy technicians was $32,860 in May 2015 with the top 10% earning more than $57,600 per year. Phlebotomy jobs pay on average about 33% higher than other healthcare support positions of similar skill level and experience.
How much do they make? $35,850
What do they do? Medical assistants are one of the best high paying jobs you can get with little schooling. They work in hospitals and clinics, assisting doctors and nurses by doing clerical tasks such as taking patient histories and vital signs, preparing examinations rooms, arranging equipment, passing instruments to surgeons during operations (especially if they’re standing behind a screen), sterilizing medical instruments and supplies, controlling traffic in surgical areas by assigning duties to personnel on hand. The pay range for these positions is typically $30K-50K per year depending on experience.
Medical assistant positions usually require no more than an associate’s degree or certificate program from a vocational school or community college. Programs last about two years but many employers will hire applicants who have completed just some courses within that timeframe.
How much do they make? $35,270
What do they do? Medical transcriptionists are the unsung heroes of the medical world, and it’s high time we paid them their due. These professionals take doctors’ dictation and turn it into written reports that nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers can use to diagnose and treat patients. They’re not just transcribing – they’re translating what a doctor says into language that everyone else in the hospital understands. And they do this work at lightning speed with amazing accuracy.
High Paying Medical Jobs with High School Diploma
Hearing aid specialists
How much do they make? $52,630
What do they do? Hearing aid specialists are trained to work with clients who have hearing difficulties. They fit and sell hearing aids, as well as teach the client about their needs. A certification is required for this job.
Hearing Aid Specialists must be able to offer a high level of customer service in order to provide an enjoyable experience for clients that may also include teaching them how to use new technology or products they may not understand completely. Hearing Aid Specialists need excellent communication skills due to the nature of working closely with customers. Excellent listening skills are needed because you will likely spend most of your day on the phone or talking one-on-one with your client, so it’s important that you are able to make them feel comfortable and they can communicate with you clearly.
Medical equipment preparers
How much do they make? $38,800
What do they do? Medical equipment preparers are one type of medical jobs that require no previous experience or schooling. Medical equipment preparers are responsible for assembling, cleaning, repairing, and storing supplies. The median pay for this occupation is $21,420 per year.
How much do they make? $35,100
What do they do? Pharmacy technicians have a lot of responsibilities. They are in charge of dispensing prescriptions, processing insurance claims and handling customer service issues. Pharmacy technicians often work under the supervision or guidance of pharmacists.
Pharmacy technicians also do a variety of tasks such as filling prescriptions, stocking shelves with drugs, counting tablets and labeling bottles for customers to pick up from the pharmacy counter.
The Bottom Line
Many people don’t realize there are many high-paying medical jobs available with little or no schooling. With some training and skills, you could be making a good salary in the medical industry. There are associate’s degrees you can complete in 2 years, and if that is too long of a commitment, there are also certificates that allow you to get high-paying medical jobs in less than two years.
This is a great way for someone with little schooling or experience in the field of medicine to get their foot in the door and earn an income that would be difficult to find elsewhere.
If you want to learn more about the top schools that offer these programs, be sure to check out our ranking of colleges and career schools with certificate or degree programs in healthcare!