for some people, spending years (and many thousands of dollars) in school to become a doctor or a nurse is a great option. but that isn’t the only way to find a rewarding job in healthcare. there are plenty of job opportunities across the industry for people who don’t have a bachelor’s degree.
here are five of the most lucrative occupations for healthcare professionals who took a different route into this ever-growing industry.
1. ultrasound technician
ultrasound techs operate important diagnostic equipment in hospitals and outpatient facilities. we’re all familiar with the image of a technician presenting soon-to-be parents with a sonogram image of their baby (and identifying which black-and-white smudge on the screen is junior), but the role is actually much broader: helping doctors to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions. it’s pretty lucrative, too: the median salary is $66,410, with the field growing at a breakneck pace of 46% by 2022.
2. occupational health and safety technician
these occupational techs aren’t necessarily involved in patient care, but rather evaluating health and safety risks in places like offices and public areas. you may not see them, but they serve a very important public health need and perform tests and analysis to make sure we’re all safer in our workplaces. the median salary is $44,470, with average growth of 11% by 2022.
3. licensed practical nurse (lpn)/licensed vocational nurse (lvn)
lpns and lvns provide crucial nursing support to registered nurses and doctors. these roles typically require a training program, but not a four-year degree (as is the case for most registered nurses). lpns and lvns can also be found in a large range of environments, from hospitals to home care to eldercare facilities, opening many opportunities.
the median salary is $41,450, with speedy growth of 25% expected by 2022.
4. surgical technologist
surgical technologists perform an essential non-doctor function in operating rooms: setting up equipment, making sure all necessary elements are in place, and assisting or doctors and nurses during procedures. with a median salary of $41,000 and growth of 30% expected, this field is a great bet for the future if you have incredible attention to detail and aren’t squeamish!
5. dispensing optician
do you have a knack for knowing when glasses just look right on someone’s face? this field might be for you. dispensing opticians take glasses and contact lenses prescribed by an ophthalmologist and work with the patients to ensure proper fit and arrange follow up care. with a median salary of $33,330 and 23% growth predicted (thanks to all of us staring at small screens 24 hours a day), this is a patient care area you might not realize is under the healthcare career umbrella.
it’s worth noting here that many (if not all) of these jobs may require special licensing or training programs, depending on your state’s rules. you’ll want to do some research legwork before committing to any of these paths—but these occupations are a great way to get your foot in the door in one of the fastest-growing industries in the country.