Top 10 Careers in Healthcare That Pay More Than You Think (With Less School Required)

Are you dreading a pink slip? Does your job bore you? Would you like a career that is not necessarily 9-5 and that could offer plenty of excitement? Perhaps a change of career is in your cards, and the pay that some healthcare careers might bring could surprise you. Additionally, you can make an entry into these careers with less than two years of education in most instances.

The healthcare industry is expanding, as openings are created by those who are retiring and by the creation of new fields within this industry. This industry also encourages further education, so you might snag a job and continue to climb that career ladder with further education while you work. While other careers may also offer this educational bonus, very few of the careers listed below will confine you to a cubicle.

Many of the salaries for the jobs listed below will vary by location and by employer. Although the following information was gathered mainly from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, you also can find more information about salaries at, College Grad, or, among other sites. The list is alphabetical, which shows that we do not favor one career choice over another.

  1. Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians: Although many careers now are seeking employees with bachelor’s degrees, the vast majority of workers in this field complete a two-year junior or community college program. Some states require a license to practice. The middle 50 percent of employees in this job earned between $37,200 and $69,090, making the median annual earnings approximately $53,210 in May 2013.
  2. Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA): In addition to a high school diploma or GED, you’ll need to complete a 6-to-12 week CNA certificate program at a community college or medical facility and become certified in the state where you plan to work. Salaries for this position, no matter the place of employment, begin at approximately $24,000 per year and can escalate to about $35,000 per year depending upon years of experience and location.
  3. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers: This is one practice that does not require a preferred level of education, so several avenues are open to you if you wish to pursue this job. Employers do, however, prefer sonographers who were trained in accredited programs and who are registered. Median annual earnings of diagnostic medical sonographers were $66,410 in May 2013 The lowest ten percent earned less than $45,840, and the highest ten percent earned more than $92,070.
  4. Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics: You’ll need a high school diploma and training to become an EMT-Basic. Your chances of earning more money will increase with more training at the EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic levels. The intermediate level requires 30 to 350 hours of training, and the hours vary by state regulations. Median annual earnings of EMTs and paramedics were $31,270 in May 2013. The middle 50 percent earned between $24,800 and $41,470. The highest ten percent earned more than $54,710 per year.
  5. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians: Expect to work towards a two-year associate’s degree to obtain this job. Advancement opportunities for medical record and health information technicians are typically achieved by specialization or promotion to a management position. Median annual earnings of medical records and health information technicians were $34,970 in May 2013. The lowest ten percent earned less than $22,700, and the highest ten percent earned more than $57,320.
  6. Nuclear Medicine Technologist: Nuclear medicine technology programs range in length from one to four years and these programs lead to a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree, respectively. Median annual earnings of nuclear medicine technologists were $71,120 in May 2013. The lowest ten percent earned less than $51,410, and the highest ten percent earned more than $94,250.
  7. Physician Assistants (PA): Educational programs designed for this career choice last at least two years with some experience in the health care field as well. All states require PAs to complete an accredited education and to pass a National exam to obtain a license. The money may entice you, as median annual earnings of wage-and-salary physician assistants were $92,970 in May 2013. The lowest ten percent earned less than $62,030, and the highest ten percent earned more than $130,620.
  8. Radiation Therapists: To begin this career, you may need only a certificate in radiation therapy. But you can advance rapidly if you pursue more education in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. In May 2013, the lowest ten percent of individuals in this field earned less than $53,010, and the highest ten percent earned more than $114,900. Median annual earnings of wage-and-salary radiation therapists were $79,140.
  9. Respiratory Therapist: An associate degree is the minimum educational requirement for this position. If you want to advance, then you’ll need to pursue a higher degree up to the master’s level. Median annual earnings of wage-and-salary respiratory therapy technicians were $47,040 in May 2013. The highest ten percent earned more than $67,470. Respiratory therapists earned a median salary of $56,290 in May 2013, with the highest ten percent earning over $76,750.
  10. X-Ray Technician: Generally, the candidate must have graduated from an accredited radiology technology training course and pass the examination. The candidate must have 24 hours of continuing education every two years in order to be recertified. Median annual earning of $55,200 was recorded in May 2013. The middle 50 percent earned between $44,950 and $67,360.

This page was updated on January 5, 2015 with the most up to date salary statistics.

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