Bachelor's Not Required: 10 High Demand Health Care Jobs That Require An Associate Degree Or Less

Does the idea of spending years in college trying to get a degree fill you with anxiety? Have you been operating on the assumption that you absolutely must get at least a bachelor’s degree to secure employment and earn a reasonable income?



We’re here to ease your mind a little, and offer you some insight into careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. That’s right! Some of the fastest growing industries actually only require candidates to hold an associate degree in the field, or less. What’s more, provided you earn your degree from an accredited institution, you always have the option of transferring those credits to a four-year program down the line.

According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health care industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the entire country. There are a plethora of jobs within the field which are highly in demand and are expected to experience significant growths in terms of employment. As the U.S. population ages and medical needs increase, demand for health care providers in some areas is expected to surge.

For those looking to enter the health care industry, there are a number of careers and positions which require two years of educational training or less. The majority of health care support occupations require only an associate degree or completion of a certificate program.

Many of these jobs also offer the potential for a comfortable income as well. With the increasing amount of jobs expected to be available in the field, coupled with a shorter duration of time required in college, some of these career paths are definitely worth considering.

Please note that the statistics below are all from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, the average rate of employment growth is 11%. You may use that as the benchmark with which to compare the rates of expected employment growth given for the professions listed below.

Registered nurse

Registered nurses form an integral part of the health care occupation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘registered nursing is among the top 10 occupations with the largest job growth’. Entry level positions in the field require an associate nursing degree. After gaining some experience and establishing your career, you can move into more advanced positions with additional education and certification.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $65,470
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $94,720
  • Entry level education required: Associate degree
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 19% (much faster than average)

Dental hygienists

Dental hygienists provide preventative dental care, clean teeth, and teach patients about the importance of maintaining good oral health. They act as the front line of assessing a patient’s oral health. An increased awareness in the importance of oral health for better overall health will lead to an increase in employment growth in this profession.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $70,210
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $96,280
  • Entry level education required: Dental Specialties associate degree
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 33% (much faster than average)

Radiologic and MRI technologists

Radiologic and MRI technologists use a variety of different equipment to diagnose patients. Some of these include x-ray, computed tomography (CT) imaging, and mammography. They use these diagnostic tools on patients and then give the results to radiologists to assess.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $55,910
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $77,160
  • Entry level education required: Associate degree
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 21% (much faster than average)

Diagnostic medical sonographers

Diagnostic medical sonographers make use of sound waves in order to create images which are used for diagnosing and assessing various medical conditions. This technology may be used in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions in the breast, abdomen, heart and blood vessels as well as for musculoskeletal problems.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $60,350
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $91,070
  • Entry level education required: Associate degree
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 39% (much faster than average)

Physical therapist assistants

Physical therapist assistants (also commonly referred to as PTAs) work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement in their affected limbs and manage pain resulting from their injury or illness.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $39,430
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $72,720
  • Entry level education required: Associate degree
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 41% (much faster than average)

Optician

An optician is a technical practitioner who designs and dispenses corrective lenses for individuals who require vision correction. A dispensing optician not only dispenses and fits spectacles, and contact lenses but also a variety of other optical aids. They must however first receive the prescriptions written by optometrists and ophthalmologists.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $33,330
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $52,740
  • Entry level education required: High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 23% (much faster than average)

Fitness trainer and aerobics instructor

A fitness trainer is someone who trains or coaches individuals how to exercise properly and about the fundamentals of sports. They demonstrate how to properly carry out certain exercises and then monitor individuals to ensure that they are doing them correctly.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $31,720
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $66,530
  • Entry level education required: High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 13% (about as fast as average)

Radiation therapist

A radiation therapist is a health care specialist in the field of oncology. These professionals treat cancer patients and administer other radiation treatments. This involves using penetrating beams of high-energy radiation to reduce the growth of tumors and other cancerous growths.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $77,560
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $113,810
  • Entry level education required: Associate degree
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 24% (much faster than average)

Occupational therapist assistant

Occupational therapist assistants work alongside occupational therapists to help individuals who have suffered from an accident or debilitating condition live as independently as possible. They instruct them on how to perform routine, daily tasks, and how to minimize the detrimental effects of their condition. Each patient requires an independently crafted plan depending on their condition.

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $48,940
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $73,120
  • Entry level education required: Associate degree
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 41% (much faster than average)

Medical assistants

  • In 2012, the annual median salary eared in this profession was: $29,370
  • The top 10% of professionals in this field earned - more than $41,570
  • Entry level education required: High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Expected employment growth (2012 to 2022): 29% (much faster than average)

Medical assistants carry out clinical and administrative tasks in clinics, offices, and hospitals. They may fill out patient records and histories, greet patients, make appointments, handle correspondence and billing, prepare patients for examination, assist the doctor during appointments and perform basic laboratory tests, etc.

As you can see, all ten of the above career choices in the field of healthcare are quite promising and do not require a bachelor’s degree for entry. That’s not to say that you can’t transfer your credits and gain a bachelor’s degree later on. Doing so may increase your job opportunities and prospects. However, when starting out, it is sufficient to begin with gaining an associate degree.

 

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