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Healthcare Jobs: Top-Earning Careers that Do Not Require a 4-Year Degree

Healthcare Jobs: Top-Earning Careers that Do Not Require a 4-Year Degree

The medical field contains some of the most highly paid professions across the nation. While years of education remain a critical factor in becoming a highly paid physician, other complementary positions within the healthcare industry can be quite lucrative as well.

You might have had your heart set on becoming a doctor when you were younger. Did you know that it could take around 12 years of combined education and residency in order to become a full-fledged specialty physician? Believe it or not, sometimes, this can take even longer.

Thankfully, for those who want to find a career in the healthcare industry, some jobs require only a couple of years of education and training. Though a radiologist seeking a job is easily capable of earning a six-figure salary, jobs with lesser educational requirements can come close to meeting this sought-after figure as well.

Here, we’ll explore a few healthcare careers that can earn you top-dollar with fewer educational requirements.

Radiology Technician

Becoming a radiologist can take up to 13 years on average in order to complete all required education and training. Though this can be a financially rewarding career, many don’t have the means to attend school and train for several years.

Radiology technicians can earn, on average, between 65,000 and 70,000 dollars a year. Those in some states with well-funded care facilities can earn $90,000 a year, or more. The best part about this career is that you can earn an associate degree, pass a state exam, and be working in your field in as little as two years.

Registered Nurse

Nurses are the worker bees of every hospital and clinic across the country. Though there are several echelons of nursing, the primary top-earners in the nursing field are typically Registered Nurses (RN) and Nurse Practitioners (NP), with Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) being the highest paid of all, cashing in an average salary of $189,000 per year.

A nursing career begins with special training in the science of nursing. While you can earn an associate degree with an emphasis in nursing and sit for a licensing exam in order to become a licensed RN, those who complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing tend to have higher pay and more career opportunities.

On average, a Registered Nurse can make anywhere between $60,000 and $100,000 per year, and sometimes more in certain specialty fields.

Respiratory Therapist

Like a Registered Nurse, you can become a respiratory therapist with as little as a 2-year degree.

An associate degree is the minimum requirement for becoming a respiratory therapist.  While those who complete a bachelor degree in this concentration are much more likely to earn more and have more opportunities for career advancement.

On average, the national salary for respiratory therapists ranges between $50,000 and $90,000 per year depending largely on location. In addition, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating so much need for respiratory therapists, this field is expected to grow significantly for the foreseeable future.

Surgical Technologist

While you’ll be referred to as a “scrub” for most of the time, you’ll be among some of the most cutting-edge medical science in the world.

Surgeons employ the assistance of surgical techs.  These are the individuals who assist the surgeon throughout a procedure. The downside to this profession is that it’s one of the lower-paid positions in the healthcare industry, along with phlebotomy.  Most surgical techs make an average of $48,000 per year.

Becoming a surgical tech can take as little as one year in a diploma or certificate program, or two years if earning an associate degree in the field. Though the salary might be on the lower end, the skills you’ll learn can easily be developed and transitioned into a better paying medical job over time.

Not all heroes wear capes. This is especially true in the healthcare industry. Nurses, doctors, and all healthcare personnel make up part of the world of “first responders” in a crisis situation. And all of these professions, no matter the pay grade, come with plenty of due respect.


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by Lottie Pritchard // Lottie Pritchard is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.