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Healthcare is one of the most popular major among students. Ten of the 20 fastest growing occupations are healthcare related. Most workers have jobs that require less than 4 years of college education, but health diagnosing and treating practitioners are highly educated.

The healthcare industry is present from small towns (like private practice) to bigger cities (hospitals) . About 40 percent of healthcare professionals work in hospitals; around 21 percent were in nursing and residential care facilities; and 16 percent were in offices of physicians. About 28 percent of hospital workers are registered nurses.

Healthcare Occupations

There has never been a better time to consider a career in the healthcare field. If you have a passion for helping people, the discipline to study and work hard, and the ability to succeed in a fast-paced environment, then a career as a healthcare professional could be the right fit for you.

For individuals considering a career in the medical field, the future is looks bright. With the baby-boomer population moving into retirement, the demand for doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists continues to climb at an increasing rate. In fact, the rate of job growth in the healthcare industry will outpace all other sectors of the U.S. economy in the next decade. Analysts expect 2.4 million new jobs to be added in healthcare alone. Although many workers are losing their jobs to automation and technology, there is a critical human element required in healthcare that will always be with us.

Part of deciding whether to pursue a career in healthcare is researching the various types of jobs available. As you consider all the options, you must weigh the pros and cons of how much training is required before you are eligible to work in your chosen field.


If you are looking for a career in the medical field but want some variety in how, where, and when you do your job, then consider becoming a nurse. As a nurse, you’ll probably start your career working in a hospital, but after a few years, you can look for exciting opportunities to advance your career and learn new ways of applying your skills. There is even flexibility in how to earn your credentials. Most states allow individuals to pursue their education at either a two-year community college Associate’s Degree in Nursing (A.D.N.) or a four-year university Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program. Starting out with a two-year degree can be a wise decision, financially, as many hospitals will offer their nurses tuition assistance to go back to school and complete their B.S.N.

Schooling: Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree
Median Annual Salary (2017): $70,000


When you think of a pharmacist, what first comes to mind? If you are like most people, you think of a man or woman in a short white coat checking pill bottles at a local retail pharmacy. And while retail pharmacists comprise the majority of individuals in the profession, there are actually quite a few directions a career in pharmacy can take you. If your favorite class in high school was chemistry, perhaps consider starting your own compounding pharmacy lab. Independent pharmacists fill an important need in the healthcare community by using their chemistry skills and pharmacology knowledge to prepare special formulations of prescription medications for patients. Some pharmacists work in hospital pharmacies, dosing medications for nurses to administer to hospital patients and monitoring for any potential drug interactions. Nuclear pharmacists pursue specialized training that equips them to work with doctors and radiologists who use nuclear preparations in their treatment or diagnostic procedures.

Schooling: Bachelor’s degree plus four-year Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program.
Median Annual Salary (2017): $124,170


Dentists are the doctors of oral health. In order to become a dentist, individuals must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree and compete for acceptance into a four-year Doctor of Dental Science (D.D.S.) program. The major focus of general dentist training is the promotion of oral health, and the treatment and prevention of tooth, gum, or mouth disease. Dentists are also trained in screening for other diseases of the head, throat, and lymph glands that may require attention by a medical doctor. Beyond general dentistry, dental students can pursue additional education and training in a specialty such as orthodontics (fitting patients for braces or other hardware to fix misaligned teeth and smiles) or periodontics (treating diseases of the gums or bones supporting the mouth structure).

Schooling: Bachelor’s degree plus four-year Doctor of Dental Science (D.D.S.); specialization requires additional training.
Median Annual Salary (2017): $158,120


Deciding to go to medical school requires planning, determination, and commitment. There is no other career that requires as much time, training, and financial investment as becoming a physician or surgeon. Sure, most people know that medical school is four years long, but preparation for getting accepted into a program starts years before that. And once you graduate medical school, you are still at least two years away from completing your training. Residency programs - a stage of graduate medical training where new doctors train in their speciality at a hospital under direct supervision of an attending physician - can last anywhere from two (2) to eight (8) years. And if your preparations require a fellowship in a sub-specialty, that could extend your training another one (1) to two (2) years. So, while physicians consistently top the list of highest income, they have certainly earned their keep with at least a decade of dedicated schooling.

Schooling: Bachelor’s degree plus four-year medical school and residency (two or more years).
Median Annual Salary (2017): $208,000 and above

The decision to enter the healthcare field must be made thoughtfully, intentionally, and with the input of individuals who know your strengths and growth areas. Once you have selected a course of study, prepare yourself for strong competition. It will take much hard work and dedication to make this goal come to fruition, and it will take the support of family and friends to help you succeed.