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Highest Paying Healthcare Careers by Degree Level

Highest Paying Healthcare Careers

Healthcare is one of the most noble yet challenging careers you can pursue. With medical field jobs ranging from entry-level positions to healthcare careers requiring over a decade of training, healthcare has something for anyone who is motivated, passionate, and resilient.

From associate degrees to medical doctorates, there is an educational path that can deliver a profitable, long-lasting career. If you have what it takes to complete the education, you’ll be rewarded with a lifetime of fulfilling, impactful work.
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Skills Acquired from Healthcare Majors

There is a vast array of skills and knowledge that are acquired during healthcare education and training, ranging from human anatomy to software engineering. Because healthcare is becoming a broad, high-tech, and specialized industry, the specific knowledge you gain can change depending on your program and focus.

However, you can reasonably expect to learn about basic biology and human anatomy. These subjects form the foundation of medical learning, and nearly all students in all fields will need to become experts in these topics.

Technology is also important. You will learn to use modern technology and software, including information systems, to keep healthcare organized and efficient. If you specialize with a certain technology, such as medical imaging or robotic surgery, you will obviously become a proficient user of these machines.

If you will be working directly with patients, you will also learn about ethics, compassion, medical procedures, and other theoretical areas that affect the interaction between you and your patients.


Highest Paying Medical Field Jobs — Associate’s Degree


#1   Radiation Therapist

Avg. Salary: $80,220

Radiation is a common treatment for many forms of cancer, and radiation therapists are responsible for administering these treatments. They will be fully knowledgeable in the safe operation and examination of machines, and be able to monitor patients for unusual reactions. They will also explain treatments, follow safety procedures, and x-ray patients when required. Like many top-paying medical jobs, radiation therapists can expect steady job growth, which is expected to be roughly 14%, and with an annual salary of $80,000, this is a very attractive position. Most radiation therapists will need certification or licensing through their state.


#2   Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Avg. Salary: $73,360

The responsibility of a nuclear medicine technologist is to operate advanced equipment that creates detailed images of a patient’s body. They are trained in the use and examination of imaging machines and will prepare radioactive drugs which are used to create the medical images. At an average salary of $73,360 a year, this is one of the best medical field jobs for people who want to make a significant income with only an associate degree. However, the expected job growth for this position is expected to be lower. At only 2% expected growth, it falls well behind the national average of 7%. Licensing is required by roughly half of the states in the U.S.A.


#3   Dental Hygienist

Avg. Salary: $72,330

These dental experts are responsible for the general cleaning of teeth and gums. They assist dentists by removing tartar, stains, applying sealant, taking X-rays, and performing many other tasks within a dentist’s office. A dental hygienist needs, at minimum, an associate degree, which usually takes two to three years to complete. They must also be licensed, which will be conducted through the specific state where they will be working. Although the position only requires an associate degree, dental hygienists average salary is over $72,000 and job growth is expected to be at 19% between 2014 and 2024.

#TRENDING: Dental hygienist programs from Penn Foster.


Highest Paying Healthcare Jobs — Bachelor’s Degree

#1   Medical & Health Services Manager

Avg. Salary: $94,500

Although they may have more in common with office managers and corporate executives than doctors and nurses, medical and health service managers are extremely important to the organization and function of healthcare facilities. They will plan, direct, and organize medical services while managing staffs at large or small scales. Duties may include recruitment, scheduling, representing the facility to the public, and communicating with department heads. This medical field career earns an average salary of $94,500, and the top 10% can expect to earn over $165,000. However, job growth is only expected to be 6%. Bachelor’s degrees for this position often include health management, public health administration, or business administration. Although licensing is generally not required for managers at hospitals and clinics, it is required by all states for managers at nursing homes.

#TRENDING: BS – Health Care Administration Leadership at Capella University.


#2   Biomedical Engineer

Avg. Salary: $86,220

Biomedical engineers combine human biology with modern technological engineering to create advanced equipment and systems that will be used in healthcare. Although they need to understand the principles of health, they also need engineering, software, and systems expertise. To work in this position, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. It’s also possible to study a form of engineering with a minor or second major in a biological science. Licensing is not required, as this position does not work directly with individual patients. People working as biomedical engineers can expect to make about $86,000 a year, but the top 10% command an average salary of $139,520.

#TRENDING: Biomedical program at Liberty University.


#3   Registered Nurse

Avg. Salary: $67,490

Registered nurses are some of the most broadly-skilled professionals in all healthcare fields. From day to day, they may coordinate care, provide advice, administer medication, record symptoms, operate medical equipment, and much, much more. They often collaborate with physicians and other people in healthcare occupations to ensure the best possible care. The highest-paid in the field can earn over $101,000 and job growth is expected to be at 16%. During nursing education, students will learn about many topics, including anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and biology. In all states registered nurses must complete licensing.


Best Healthcare Careers

Now that we’ve explored the jobs available for people with associate and bachelor degrees, let’s take a look at the top jobs in all of healthcare. It should come as no surprise to learn that these jobs in the medical field usually require advanced masters or doctorate degrees. It should also be unsurprising to discover that many of these top-paying medical jobs usually average well over $100,000 a year, and in many cases these advanced professionals can earn upwards of $150,000 annually.

 Physician or Surgeon  Average salary: $187,200+
There are many specialties that fall under the umbrella of “physicians and surgeons,” but one thing they nearly all have in common is a sizable income. These are the people who diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses. Physicians generally exam patients and prescribe treatments, while surgeons perform various types of invasive and non-invasive procedures. Pay is often dependent on the specialty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians specializing in anesthesiology make the highest incomes, with an average salary of $443,859. Primary care physicians average $241,273 a year. In virtually all cases, the physician or surgeon will have to have a doctoral or professional degree and be licensed in their state.
 Dentist  Average salary: $158,310
While we may not love visiting the dentist, we all know the importance of these healthcare occupations. Dentists keep our teeth and gums healthy by performing many services, including the removal of decay, repairing damaged teeth, and placing sealant and whiteners. Across the country, dentists earn an average of $158,310, but the top 10% in the field can earn an average of $187,200. Job outlook, which is expected to be 18% growth, is also high. Doctorate or advanced professional degrees are required, and dental school students will train in subjects that include biology, chemistry, and anatomy. Dentists in all states are required to have proper licensing.
 Pharmacist  Average salary: $121,500
A pharmacist disperses medications and offers expert advice on the safe use of medications, helping people relieve symptoms or cure medical conditions. They are often called upon to fill prescriptions, but they also instruct patients, check for negative drug interactions, and advise patients on general healthcare. A pharmacist needs an education that includes a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. This education will include chemistry, biology, anatomy, and other medical-related sciences. After completing their education, aspiring pharmacists must complete two exams to become licensed. This applies to all states. After they become licensed, pharmacists can expect to make an average of $121,500, with the top 10% earning over $154,000. Job outlook for this job in healthcare sits at 17%.
 Podiatrist  Average salary: $119,340
Many of us don’t think about them until they hurt, but our feet are complex, important, and very sensitive parts of our bodies. Podiatrists are responsible for providing medical and surgical care for people with foot problems. The scope of their work can also include ankles and lower legs. They will diagnose issues, provide treatments, use medical imaging, and prescribe medication to promote healthy feet. To work as a podiatrist, you must have a doctorate degree in podiatric medicine and complete a three-year residency program. In every state, podiatrists must be fully licensed. The demand for podiatrists will grow by 14% between 2014 and 2024, and the average professional will earn $119,340. The top 10% in this healthcare career bring in an average pay of $187,200.
 Nurse Practitioner  Average salary: $104,740
They go by many names, including nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and advanced practice registered nurse, but the job remains the same: to coordinate treatments while providing primary and secondary care. The specific tasks, however, can vary as much as the name. They may be asked to record patient’s medical histories, perform diagnostic tests, diagnose various problems, and administer medicine, among many other duties. This position requires a master’s degree and they must be licensed or certified through the state. Top earners will receive an average of $171,560. Best of all, they have an expected job growth rate of 31% between 2014 and 2024.
 Optometrist  Average salary: $103,900
Young and old, we all need good eye health. Fortunately, there are well-trained optometrists all over the country to help perform vision tests, diagnose sight problems, prescribe eyeglasses, and even perform eye-related surgeries if needed. Optometrists often work in their own offices, but they can also be found in doctor’s offices and optical stores. The job outlook for optometrists is very optimistic (we couldn’t help ourselves!). Job growth is expected to rise 27% between 2014 and 2024. The average pay is also strong for this career in the medical field, with an annual salary over $100,000 and top earners bringing in over $187,000. Optometrists need doctorate-level educations and must be licensed in the state where they practice.
 Physician Assistant  Average salary: $98,180
By collaborating with physicians, surgeons, and many other healthcare workers, physician assistants, or “PAs” help diagnose and treat patients of all ages. Their duties can include examining patients, interpreting diagnostic results, delivering treatment, prescribing medicine, and more. Although most physician assistants will not have a doctorate, a master’s degree is required. Physician assistants are required to be licensed in all states. When completed, PAs can earn an average of $98,180, and the top 10% in the field will earn over $139,000. Also, the job outlook is strong, with an expected growth of 30% between 2014 and 2024.
Medical Scientist  Average salary: $82,240
By conducting research and developing new advances, medical scientists work every day to improve overall human health. They will often design and conduct research, prepare medical samples, and test medical devices. They rarely work directly with patients, but instead attempt to create new innovations that physicians, surgeons, and nurses can use to improve a patient’s health. Medical scientists typically have a doctorate-level degree in biology or a related life science. Some will have Medical Degrees (MD), similar to doctors, but they can also have Ph.D’s. Because they do not work directly with patients, medical scientists are not required to have licensing. However, if administering drugs or other treatments as part of their research, specific licensing may be required. In these healthcare careers, you can expect to earn an average of $82,240, while the top earners can make over $155,000 a year. Job outlook, however, is expected to be roughly 8%, only slightly higher than the national average.
 Biochemist / Biophysicist  Average salary: $82,150
People working in these jobs in healthcare plan and conduct research in the study of  biological processes, which can take numerous forms. They may study diseases, cell development, DNA, and more. In many cases, a biochemist or biophysicist will coordinate and manage teams, plan research methods, and prepare reports. Ph.D’s are typically required for this work, but licensing is generally not required. Biochemists earn an average salary of $82,150, but the top 10% can earn roughly $153,000 a year. Expected job growth is only 8%, which is just higher than the national average.
 Psychologist  Average salary: $72,580
Although they may not be the first medical field job we think of when we hear the word “healthcare”, psychologists play an important role in people’s overall health. In this case, they work to improve our mental health. They perform many duties, including collecting information through observations, conducting research, identifying abnormal mental behavior, and discussing treatment options with clients. Although only 6% work in hospital settings, they remain very important to the wellbeing of people from all walks of life. Psychologists can expect an average salary of $72,580, although professionals working for government agencies can earn an average of $90,620. The top 10% of all psychologists earn roughly $118,000. Licensing is required in most settings, and requirements will vary by state. Job growth is expected to be strong, with a 19% rise over ten years.


Selling Your Healthcare Education Outside of the Industry

What happens if you decide to not pursue a medical or healthcare career after completing your degree? Is your education useless? Far from it! Healthcare training and education requires organization, compassion, and detail not found in many other areas, which makes you a viable candidate for many other fields.

When selling your healthcare education, it’s often best to emphasize two universal skills. The first is communication. Any healthcare education will involve working with teams, and communication is a skill that business owners constantly pursue. The next is organization and attention to detail. Healthcare is complex, and staying organized is essential. Once again, you can enhance your marketability by emphasizing this talent.

Continuing Education for Healthcare Students

In many cases, you will need to continually re-certify or renew your license in order to maintain your career in the healthcare field. In general, if your career requires licensing or certification in any form, you will need to renew it on a regular basis. No matter what your specific medical field career, healthcare is a complex and ever-changing industry, so staying up-to-date with industry journals, on top of your regular studies, is a smart decision.


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