OUT NOW: Your Future in Healthcare 2024!

    Healthcare Jobs: How Much Education Do You Need?

    Posted May 26, 2022, 10:00 am by Johnathan Kindall

    How much education do you need for healthcare jobs? Everyone knows that becoming a doctor can take years and years of education and training, but what many may not know is that there’s all kinds of healthcare professions that require far less schooling. 

    Medical Professions at Every Education Level

    If you’re interested in a career in medicine but aren't ready to commit to 10+ years of healthcare education and medical school, consider exploring the following options. Degrees and/or certifications for many of these jobs can be completed in four years or less, though it's important to note that minimum education and licensing requirements vary from state to state and country to country. 

    Use the list of selected healthcare jobs below as a guide and, if any of them strike your interest, be sure to research the minimum requirements for such a position in your area. We can’t wait to see what you do with your future in healthcare! 

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    Note: This article was originally published in TeenLife's Guide to Your Future in Healthcare. For more information about the amazing career opportunities waiting for you in the fields of medicine and healthcare, download this free digital guide today!

    Healthcare Jobs That Require a High School Diploma or Equivalent

    A lab worker handles a rat as one of their healthcare jobs

    The following is a short list of medical and healthcare jobs that may only require a high school diploma or equivalent form of degree. Many of these jobs may require additional training or certification, but all can be achieved without going to college.

    • Home Health Aide: These healthcare workers help take care of sick or elderly patients inside the patient's home. 
    • Laboratory Animal Caretaker: These workers help manage, maintain and care for animals that are used in medical experiments. 
    • Medical Biller: These medical workers are administrative employees who are in charge of billing insurance companies and patients for their care. 
    • Medical Equipment Technician: These workers may clean, repair or maintain certain medical equipment. 
    • Personal Care Aide: Similar to home health aides, personal care aides assist patients in regular, day-to-day tasks at home. 
    • Veterinary Assistant: Veterinary assistants help with administrative duties in a veterinarian's office.  

    Healthcare Jobs That Require a Postsecondary Non-Degree Award

    An EMT and paramedic work in the back of an ambulance

    These positions, while not necessarily requiring a college degree, will require some form of a postsecondary award. This typically includes a months or years-long training and certification. While healthcare workers in these positions do not earn as much as their counterparts with more formal education, these healthcare jobs are a great entry point into a career in medicine.

    In some states, these position require an associates degree. In others, they may only require a postsecondary award.

    • Dental Assistant: Individuals with this healthcare job assist in administrative and other patient care duties at a dental office. 
    • EMT: Emergency Medical Technicians help transport injuries individuals to a hospital and also provide out-of-hospital care. 
    • Health Information Specialist: These healthcare workers organize and manage certain health information and data.
    • Massage Therapist: Massage therapists are trained in massage arts and may operate out of a massage parlor or salon.
    • Medical Assistant: Usually workinin a clinic setting, these healthcare workers assist nurses and doctors with a wide range of issues.
    • Medical Transcriptionist: These workers transcribe recorded voice memos or messages taken by doctors or nurses.
    • Medical Records Specialist: Workers in this position maintain and organize vast healthcare records in various locations.
    • Paramedic: Working with emergency medical technicians, paramedics mostly work in public settings without immediate hospital access or on an ambulance and trauma team.
    • Pharmacy Technician: Working with a licensed pharmacist, these technicians assist in all pharmacy duties.
    • Phlebotomist: This position primary consists of drawing blood from patients, usually in a clinical setting.
    • Surgical Technologist: These workers assist in surgical procedures.

    Healthcare Jobs That Require an Associate's Degree

    A female dental hygienist cleans a female patient's teeth

    These healthcare jobs require an associates degree, most of which can be completed in two years or less. As noted above though, requirements for these positions vary from state to state, so it's possible that a job listed in this category may only require a simple certification in some states, while in others it could require a two or even four year degree.

    Use the list below as a starting point and then do more research into the requirements in the area where you're hoping to work!

    • Cardiovascular TechnicianWorking in a clinic or lab, cardiovascular technicians usually help surgeons during intensive cardiovascular surgeries like stent or pacemaker insertion. They may also operate cardiac-related imaging equipment or other similar devices.
    • Cytotechnologist: These workers use microscopes and other equipment to inspect patient's cells for signs of cancer and other abnormalities. 
    • Dental Hygienist: Hygienists clean patient's teeth and prepare them to be examined by a dentist. They may also assist in dental surgery.
    • EKG Technician: Workers with this healthcare job operate EKH machines and interpret the results for both patients and other healthcare workers.
    • MRI Technologist: These technicians operate and interpret the results of magnetic resonance imaging machines.
    • Nuclear Medicine Technologist: This specialized healthcare job assists with and prepares nuclear medicine procedures like chemotherapy.
    • Personal Trainer: Personal trainers, alongside a dietitian and medical doctor, can assist patients in achieving their fitness goals.
    • Radiation Therapist: Similar to healthcare workers in nuclear medicine, these specialists help with oncology work and various radiation treatment solutions.
    • Sonographer: Sonographers use ultrasound equipment and other imagine software to help aid patient care and diagnosis.

    Healthcare Jobs That Require a Bachelor’s Degree

    A male nurse stands in hallway of hospital

    All of the healthcare jobs listed below require, at minimum, a bachelor's degree. The degree can be in a number of different fields, though for these jobs especially, bachelors of science are most common. A healthcare worker with a bachelors degree can likely perform a number of the healthcare jobs above in this list, though some positions require certain specialities.

    • Athletic Trainer: Professionals with this title usually work in sports medicine and help injured athletes rehabilitate and recover.
    • BiostaticianBiostatisticians collect, analyze and report on healthcare data, and then apply that data thoughmathematics and statistics to biology
    • Dietician: Dietitians and nutritionists help their patients learn about, understand and enjoy food, usually in the name of achieving certain patient-specific fitness goals.
    • Exercise Physiologist: People with this healthcare job help patients with chronic or acute injuries exercise safely and correctly. Exercise physiologists typically work with other rehabilitative healthcare professionals.
    • Health Educator: High school health teachers, community health workers and other similar positions are all included under the banner of this job. Typically, in order to teach about a health, a strong knowledge of the subject is needed.
    • Medical Librarian: A medical librarian typically oversees other positions already mentioned like medical records technicians and medical transcriptionists. A medical librarian also helps save hospitals money by using data and records to effectively cut costs.
    • Registered Nurse: One of the most popular and important healthcare jobs around, a bachelor's degree is needed for almost every nursing position.
    • Social Worker: No matter their field or location, social workers almost already have a four-year degree under their belt. Social workers can work in addiction, at-risk youth and a whole host of other environments.
    • Toxicologist: These healthcare workers have a strong understanding of both biology and chemistry and often run experiments and collect data on different chemicals interaction with the human body. They also work in criminal justice.

    Healthcare Jobs That Require a Master’s Degree

    A medial professional repairs a prosthetic hand

    The following healthcare jobs require some form of graduate education. Healthcare education beyond a bachelor's degree grows more and more specialized and specific, and many of these positions have their own dedicated programs and degrees across the country.

    • Art Therapist: Many therapist positions require a master's degree or equivalent honor. An art therapist, who uses visual art and other creative media to help patients, is just one example of this type of position.
    • Epidemiologist: These healthcare workers, perhaps more well-known then they once were due to the COVID-19 pandemic, specialize in knowledge of infection diseases. They are experts in how to prevent and protect against epidemics and pandemics.
    • Genetic Counselor: These workers help inform patients about diseases or conditions that they may be predisposed to due to their genetics. Administering genetic tests and understanding the results is a highly specialized field, which is why a master's degree at minimum is required.
    • Nurse Practitioner: Familiar to many as a sort of mid-tier doctor, a nurse practitioner can diagnose patients and help formulate treatment plans. They do have a doctorate of medicine, but are more qualified and knowledgeable than a regular nurse.
    • Midwife: A midwife is one of the oldest healthcare jobs. Midwives assist in the care of newborn babies and their mothers, from pregnancy to post-delivery.
    • Occupational Therapist: Occupational therapists help patients overcomes injuries, illnesses or other ailments and return to daily life. They formulate treatment plans focussed on simple daily activities and help patients to meet these achievable goals.
    • Physician’s Assistant: Similar to nurse practitioner, a physician's assistant is a type of mid-level practitioner. These professionals may diagnose patients, prescribe medicine, and, in some states, even practice indecently of a physical entirely.
    • Prosthetists: Workers with this job title conceptualize, design, improve and repair prosthetics of all kinds.
    • Speech Pathologist: Everything from speech impediments to swallowing problems fall under the care of speech pathologists or speech therapists. These workers treat children and adults.

    Healthcare Jobs That Require a Doctoral or Professional Degree

    Group of professionals with different healthcare jobs stand in a line

    The jobs listed below all require a doctoral or professional degree. Many of these positions are more well-known than some of the other healthcare jobs listed above.

    As with master's degrees, the doctoral and professional degree programs for the following jobs are usually dedicated and specialized. This means that, while one might have a doctoral degree to be a pharmacist, it does not mean they are listened to practice surgery. To do so may require an entirely separate degree.

    • Audiologist: If a patient has an issue with their ear - whether hearing, neurological or balance related - and audiologist is likely the healthcare professional best suited to treat them.
    • Chiropractor: Caring for a patient's neuromusculoskeletal system, those with this healthcare job take care of the bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments of a patient.
    • Dentist: Dentists are medical professionals who specialize in treating the teeth, gums and mouth of patients. Dentistry programs are often entirely separate from other healthcare colleges.
    • Optometrist: Healthcare professionals who specialize in optometry treat patients with poor vision or other eye-related ailments.
    • Pathologist: Pathologists examine body tissue for abnormalities and ailments. They are a vital part of a treatment and diagnoses team and typically help examine samples, biopsies and other biological tests taken from a patient.
    • Pharmacist: Pharmacists fill prescriptions for medicine for patients. Pharmacy school often has its own sets of requirements and certifications separate from traditional medical school.
    • Physical Therapist: Along with other types of rehabilitative therapists already mentioned in this list, physical therapists help patients manage pain, particularly those with chronic injuries.
    • Physician: Medical doctors see patients, make diagnoses, prescribe medicines and formulate treatment plans. This is the healthcare job that most people imagine when they hear the word doctor. Important to note though is that there are all kinds of different medical doctors, and degree and certification requirements vary drastically between fields and location. 
    • Surgeon: One of the highest pressure (and highest paid) healthcare jobs, surgeons remove foreign objects, repair internal damage and perform a whole host of other surgical duties.
    • Podiatrist: Podiatrists specialize in feet. They treat injuries and ailments related to the feet, ankles and legs.
    • Veterinarian: Another medical profession with its own schooling system, veterinarians treat non-human patients like household pets.


    Healthcare Jobs at Every Education Level Graphic

    Hopefully, the list above gives you a good idea of the level of education required for different healthcare jobs. Remember though: this list is just a guide, and requirements vary from location to location. Check your local area for more information, and download the TeenLife Guide to Your Future in Healthcare for more great articles like this one!

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    Johnathan Kindall

    Johnathan Kindall is the Content Editor at TeenLife Media. He attended Boston University’s College of Communications, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Journalism. Johnathan is dedicated to launching teens into life by providing a number of resources that help teens navigate the world of college, enrichment learning and more.