Explore Some of the Best Entry-Level Jobs to Launch Your Healthcare Career
With solid long-term prospects, generous salary, and a chance for a fulfilling career helping people become healthier and happier, starting a new career in healthcare is one of the best things you can do for your future. However, many people don’t realize how attainable this dream actually is—and how quickly it can happen.
Entry-level medical jobs are abundant across the growing health care industry, and many of them offer great opportunities for advancement once you get your foot in the door. And while all the top healthcare jobs will have different responsibilities and requirements, you might be surprised how many good jobs in the medical field you can qualify for without having to go through the time and commitment of completing a traditional four-year degree.
To help you get started on the path to your rewarding new career, we’ve put together a list of 16 popular entry-level medical jobs from across the healthcare industry. There are hundreds of different health care jobs available, so we’ve chosen to focus on the highest-paying entry level medical jobs you can get without a traditional four-year degree or previous work experience. We considered the best healthcare careers as far as long-term employment prospects. Continue reading to learn more about some of the best healthcare jobs to jump-start a long, successful, and satisfying career in the medical field.
1. Healthcare Administrator
Healthcare administrators are the behind-the-scenes organizers of the healthcare industry. They may manage a specific office, department, or even an entire facility.
What Does a Healthcare Administrator Do?
Healthcare administrators’ day-to-day responsibilities are likely to include managing budgets, schedules, and logistics, hiring new employees, and ensuring their facility stays compliant with all laws and regulations.
What are the Requirements to Become a Healthcare Administrator?
Most employers will typically look for candidates with a Healthcare Administration Degree, a bachelor’s degree program that can be completed in as little as 120 weeks. Except for specific cases like nursing home administrator jobs, an additional license or certificate is typically not required.
Healthcare Administrator Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a healthcare administrator is about $115,000, or about $55 per hour. This is even higher, on average than most other management professions.
Healthcare Administrator Job Outlook
By 2029, the BLS projects employment of healthcare administrators to grow by 32%, which is much higher than the average growth rate for all jobs (4%). Healthcare administration will likely remain one of the best medical careers as healthcare systems become larger and more complex.
Click here to learn how to become a Healthcare Administrator
2. Medical Scientist
Medical scientists are the researchers that drive breakthroughs in human health. They are at the forefront of emerging technology, devices, and drugs that increase the quality of life for people all over the world.
What Does a Medical Scientist Do?
Daily responsibilities for medical scientists may include studying or testing certain diseases, drugs, or medical devices. They also frequently conduct clinical trials or work with health departments to develop programs and policies that lead to a healthier population.
What are the Requirements to Become a Medical Scientist?
A bachelor’s-level Medical Lab Science Degree can get you started in the field of medical research, and be completed as quickly as 120 weeks. Additional certifications or licenses are typically not required, though many career medical scientists do have advanced degrees like a Ph.D.
Medical Scientist Salary
According to the BLS, medical scientists bring home an average of about $98,000 annually or about $47 per hour. This is higher than average among life scientists by about $10,000 per year.
Medical Scientist Job Outlook
As medical research advances and healthcare technology continues to develop, medical scientists will continue to be in high demand. The need for medical scientists is projected by the BLS to grow an above-average 6% by 2029, meaning thousands more will be hired all over the country in addition to all those already currently working.
Click here to learn how to become a Medical Scientist
3. Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered Nurses (RNs) provide arguably more hands-on patient care than any other healthcare profession. While physicians often get most of the glory on TV shows and in movies, nurses make every bit as big of an impact on patients’ health and overall healthcare experience.
What Does a Registered Nurse Do?
Registered nurses usually work as part of a team with physicians and other nurses. They’re the first line of defense when assessing patients, administering treatment, and teaching patients and their families how to best care for illnesses and injuries and stay healthy in general.
What are the Requirements to Become a Registered Nurse?
There are multiple paths to becoming a Registered Nurse (RN), including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or associates of science in nursing (ASN). However, getting your BSN Degree is often the most attractive to potential employers, and it’s possible to complete the coursework in as little as 36 months.
Beyond a basic nursing education, all RNs must become licensed by the state in which they’ll be practicing, by completing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Certain employers may also require certifications in CPR, basic life support (BLS), or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS).
Registered Nurse Salary
As reported by the BLS, the average annual salary for RNs is about $77,000, which works out to about $37 per hour. The top 25% of earners can bring home over $90K per year.
Registered Nurse Job Outlook
According to the BLS, demand for healthcare services is projected to steadily increase as a significant portion of the population ages, meaning the long-term job prospects for registered nurses are excellent. The BLS estimates employment of RNs will grow by 7% between 2019-2029, which is faster than average for all occupations (4%).
Click here to learn how to become a Registered Nurse
4. Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision of licensed physical therapists to help patients recover from illnesses, injuries, and surgeries.
What Does a Physical Therapist Assistant Do?
An average day in the life of a physical therapist assistant includes observing patients’ symptoms and progress, helping them with exercises, and educating them and their family members about how best to continue treatment at home.
What are the Requirements to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant?
People looking to become a physical therapist assistant need an associate’s degree from an accredited program—fortunately, a Physical Therapist Assistant Degree can be completed in as little as 75 weeks. After finishing an associate’s program, you’ll also need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. Some states may also have their own testing requirements or require a background check.
Physical Therapist Assistant Salary
According to the BLS, the average annual salary for a physical therapist assistant is $58,520, or about $28.14 hourly. The top 25% of earners in the field bring home an average of nearly $70,000.
Physical Therapist Assistant Job Outlook
Physical Therapist Assistants are projected to be in incredibly high demand in the coming years, with the BLS projecting the number of positions to grow an enormous 33% by 2029. As the baby-boom generation continues to age and require increasing medical care, physical therapy services will likely be sought after more than ever.
5. Medical Laboratory Technician
A critical part of almost any healthcare environment, medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to help physicians diagnose and treat patients appropriately.
What Does a Medical Laboratory Technician Do?
Medical laboratory technicians use a variety of instruments and lab devices to collect and test patient samples. They work hands-on with high-tech lab equipment to analyze various fluids, tissue, or other substances and record accurate data that informs the treatment plan for any given patient.
What are the Requirements to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician?
Starting a career as a medical lab technician requires an associate’s degree, which focuses on the practical and technical aspects of daily lab work. You can complete your Medical Lab Technician Degree in as little as 64 weeks. Additional certification requirements vary by state and specialty.
Medical Laboratory Technician Salary
According to the BLS, medical laboratory technicians earn an annual salary of about $54,000, with technicians working in hospitals earning slightly more than those working in diagnostic laboratories.
Medical Laboratory Technician Job Outlook
As the overall demand for medical services continues to increase, so will the demand for laboratory technicians. The BLS estimates employment for lab technicians to increase 7% in the coming decade, nearly double the average job-growth rate.
6. Surgical Technologist
Also commonly called operating room technicians, surgical technologists help prepare patients and operating rooms for surgery and provide critical assistance to surgeons during an operation.
What Does a Surgical Technologist Do?
Surgical technologists have many essential responsibilities in preparing for and assisting with any type of surgery. Duties often include sterilizing tools, ensuring an operating room has adequate supplies and properly functioning equipment, and even handing the surgeon the tools they need during an operation.
What are the Requirements to Become a Surgical Technologist?
The most reliable way to jump-start your surgical technology career is with a Surgical Technology Degree, an associate’s program that can be completed in as little as 90 weeks.
Certification through credentialing organizations is often helpful in landing a job, and certain jobs may require training in CPR or basic life support.
Surgical Technologist Salary
Surgical technologists, on average, earn an annual salary of $50,000, or about $24 per hour, according to the BLS. Those who work in outpatient care centers or specialty hospitals tend to earn the highest wages.
Surgical Technologist Job Outlook
Surgery is much safer than it used to be, which means more surgeries are being performed than ever before. The BLS estimates career demand for surgical technologists will increase by over 7% from 2019-2029 as more people age and seek out surgeries to improve their quality of life.
7. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic medical care to prepare patients for examination or treatment.
What Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Do?
Everyday tasks for LPNs include checking blood pressure, changing bandages, listening to and communicating patients’ concerns to other healthcare professionals, and helping patients stay comfortable or perform tasks they may not be able to accomplish on their own.
What are the Requirements to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?
LPNs will need to complete an approved educational program and obtain certification by completing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). A Practical Nursing Diploma can be earned in as little as 64 weeks, making a career as an LPN one of the best entry-level hospital jobs available without completing a multi-year degree.
Licensed Practical Nurse Salary
According to BLS data, LPNs average a salary of around $48,000 annually, which equals about $23.00 in hourly pay. LPNs working in home health services or nursing care facilities tend to get paid the most.
Licensed Practical Nurse Job Outlook
The BLS projects employment of licensed practical nurses to grow 9% by 2029, more than double the rate at which most jobs are growing. Long-term prospects for this field are quite rosy, especially for those with certifications in specialty areas.
8. Billing & Coding Specialist
Want to make a difference in healthcare but not so keen on hands-on patient care? Billing & coding specialists track and manage critical patient information and help providers coordinate billing to insurance companies and individuals.
What Does a Billing & Coding Specialist Do?
For an average billing & coding specialist, daily tasks are likely to include reviewing patient data and assigning codes for data analysis and billing purposes, and organizing and maintaining databases and registries.
What are the Requirements to Become a Billing & Coding Specialist?
One of the quickest ways to get started in the healthcare industry is by earning a Medical Insurance Billing & Coding Diploma. This program involves learning about medical terminology and medical information standards and can be completed in as little as 34 weeks. Certifications are available from multiple organizations and often make job applicants more desirable to potential employers.
Billing & Coding Specialist Salary
According to the BLS, when comparing the amount of time spent in school to potential earnings, billing & coding specialists are among the highest earners in the shortest time, with an average annual salary of about $46,000.
Billing & Coding Specialist Job Outlook
Electronic health records continue to become more and more widespread, which bodes well for the employment prospects of medical billing & coding specialists. By 2029, the BLS estimates a job growth of 8%, which is twice the amount all jobs are expected to increase in the same time period (4%).
9. Health Information Technician
Health information technicians play an important role in healthcare systems by recording, tracking, and reviewing medical records and other data.
What Does a Health Information Technician Do?
While health information technicians don’t treat patients directly, they often interact with registered nurses or other healthcare providers to ensure every patient’s medical information is accurate, complete, and confidential. Daily tasks include recording, reviewing, and classifying data to help medical facilities run more smoothly and provide better patient care.
What are the Requirements to Become a Health Information Technician?
Completing the required education to become a health information technician can happen quite quickly. You can complete your Allied Health Degree in as little as 30 weeks. Certifications such as the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) are also available and tend to make job-seekers more attractive to potential employers.
Health Information Technician Salary
Data from the BLS lists the average annual salary for health information technicians at about $44,000, making this one of the best-paying entry-level medical jobs you can get without a multi-year degree. Health information technicians working in hospitals tend to make more than those working for private physician’s offices.
Health Information Technician Job Outlook
The BLS projects an aging population will come with a rising demand for all types of healthcare services, and health information technicians are no exception. Especially as electronic record-keeping becomes more widespread, tech-savvy information technicians are likely to be highly desirable to employers.
10. Dental Assistant
Want to help people bring out their best smiles? Dental assistants work directly with patients as well as behind-the-scenes to help dentists and their hygienists deliver outstanding oral care.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
Dental assistants’ daily tasks are often highly varied. They may include everything from setting appointments and keeping records to checking in patients, taking their vital signs, and even offering hands-on help to dentists as they perform specific procedures.
What are the Requirements to Become a Dental Assistant?
While educational requirements for dental assistants vary by state, there’s no doubt that a Dental Assisting Diploma is a major eye-catcher for potential employers. A dental assisting diploma program includes both classroom and lab work, and can be completed in as little as 40 weeks.
Dental Assistant Salary
According to BLS statistics, the average salary for a dental assistant is around $41,000, or nearly $20 per hour. The top 25% of earners (usually experienced assistants) can bring home $48,000 and up.
Dental Assistant Job Outlook
People are keeping their original teeth much longer than previous generations, which means an increased demand for dental care as the population ages. The BLS projects employment of dental assistants to rise by 7% before 2029, much higher than the average job-growth rate across all career fields and industries.
11. Sterile Processing Technician
To keep patients safe from the risk of infection during operations, stealth processing technicians perform the crucial role of sterilizing and cataloging all the tools and devices used in a surgical setting.
What Does a Sterile Processing Technician Do?
On a day-to-day basis, sterile processing technicians are responsible for thoroughly inspecting and sterilizing just about anything that goes into the operating room. They ensure all medical tools, devices, and instruments are clean and functioning properly to protect patients and ensure everything goes smoothly during an operation.
What are the Requirements to Become a Sterile Processing Technician?
Sterile processing technicians require specialized training to learn about antiseptic practices and the tools used in a surgical environment. A Sterile Processing Diploma can be completed in as little as 42 weeks and will feature lots of hands-on instruction using real surgical instruments.
Sterile Processing Technician Salary
According to the BLS, sterile processing technicians average a salary of about $39,000. Technicians working in outpatient care centers tend to bring home the highest wages.
Sterile Processing Technician Job Outlook
The coming decade shows a strong projected outlook from the BLS, as jobs in the sterile processing field are expected to increase faster than the national average. With a medical industry that’s expected to keep growing, there will be an ongoing demand for technicians adequately trained in sterilization techniques.
12. Medical Office Administrator
As medical office administrators are often the first person any patient talks to, they’re a significant part of providing an excellent healthcare experience. Medical office administrators are essential in keeping healthcare staff productive and organized.
What Does a Medical Office Administrator Do?
The majority of a medical office administrator’s day-to-day responsibilities include standard clerical work like answering phones, scheduling appointments and helping physicians or medical scientists manage files and prepare reports or articles. They also frequently help process insurance payments or medical records.
What are the Requirements to Become a Medical Office Administrator?
Administration positions in the medical field typically require a little more training than standard clerical work due to all the specialized knowledge and regulatory requirements associated with the healthcare industry. A Medical Office Administrator (MOA) Diploma can be earned in as little as 34 weeks and will often provide a major boost over other applicants without specialized knowledge of the medical industry.
Medical Office Administrator Salary
According to the latest data from the BLS, medical office assistants earn an average annual salary of about $38,000. The highest-paid medical office assistants tend to work in outpatient care centers or dentist offices.
Medical Office Administrator Job Outlook
The BLS projects the number of medical office administrator jobs available to increase about 10% by 2029, meaning long-term prospects for this career are very solid despite overall demand for office administrators trending downward.
13. Phlebotomy Technician
If you’ve ever donated blood, chances are you’ve met a phlebotomy technician. Besides blood donations, phlebotomists also draw blood from patients for research, transfusions, and testing.
What Does a Phlebotomy Technician Do?
In addition to drawing blood from patients or donors, phlebotomy technicians are also responsible for proper labeling of samples, entering patient data, maintaining necessary medical instruments—and of course, talking to nervous patients to make them feel more comfortable!
What are the Requirements to Become a Phlebotomy Technician?
Professional certification via an accredited phlebotomy technician program is a must-have for the vast majority of employers. In as little as 34 weeks, you can earn a phlebotomy technician diploma and receive a certification from one of several national organizations.
Phlebotomy Technician Salary
According to the BLS, phlebotomy technicians average a yearly salary of about $36,000, or about $17 per hour. Phlebotomists working in medical and diagnostic labs tend to earn a little more than those working in hospitals.
Phlebotomy Technician Job Outlook
Long-term job prospects for phlebotomy technicians are excellent, with the BLS estimating a 17% increase in employment by 2029. That’s much faster than the average job-growth rate (4%), even within a healthcare industry projected to expand faster than other industries.
14. Medical Assistant
A career that offers tons of variety, medical assistants work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare facilities and perform a wide range of tasks from clinical to clerical.
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
On a day-to-day basis, most medical assistants do things like measure patients’ vital signs, record patient histories and manage medical records, prepare samples for lab tests, and even help doctors perform patient examinations. It’s a highly varied field with a chance to learn lots of different skills.
What are the Requirements to Become a Medical Assistant?
While a few people manage to get hired as medical assistants with just a high-school education and receive on-the-job training, applicants with a certificate like a Medical Assisting Diploma will have a major leg up on the competition. Medical Assisting programs can be completed in as little as 36 weeks, and will cover anatomy, medical technology, and baseline technical skills.
Medical Assistant Salary
The BLS reports the annual wages for medical assistants at about $35,000, or $17 per hour. While most medical assistants are employed by physicians or hospitals, jobs at outpatient clinics tend to pay a little more on average.
Medical Assistant Job Outlook
The BLS projects the number of medical assistants employed across the country to increase a massive 19% by 2029, which is more than four times the average job-growth rate across all career fields. The long-term outlook is excellent, particularly for tech-savvy medical assistants who can quickly learn the nuances of electronic health record (EHR) software.
15. Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians mostly work in retail pharmacies or hospitals and help their supervising pharmacist dispense medications to patients or other healthcare professionals.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Daily tasks for a pharmacy tech are likely to include measuring appropriate amounts of medication to fill prescriptions, organizing inventory, interacting with customers, and processing payments or insurance claims. Pharmacy technicians working in hospitals often prepare more types of medications and may even make rounds to dispense them to patients.
What are the Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Most pharmacies strongly prefer to hire employees who have completed formal training programs rather than try to teach everything on the job. A Pharmacy Technician Diploma can be completed in as little as 34 weeks, and is a fantastic way to start a new career as a pharmacy tech. You’ll get hands-on experience with critical technical skills and pharmacy arithmetic and learn about pharmacy law and ethics.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
The BLS reports that the average annual salary for pharmacy technicians is about $35,000. Pharmacy technicians working in hospitals tend to get paid more than average, as they prepare more complex medications and may have additional responsibilities.
Pharmacy Technician Job Outlook
As a large chunk of the population ages and consumes more pharmaceuticals, the BLS projects demand for pharmacy techs to continue growing right alongside the rest of the healthcare industry. As pharmacists continue to increase their workload with things like administering flu shots, pharmacy technicians will likely will be entrusted with more duties traditionally performed by a pharmacist.
16. Patient Care Technician
Patient care technicians help care for others who have trouble accomplishing day-to-day tasks on their own. They often develop deep friendships with the people they care for over the course of multiple years.
What Does a Patient Care Technician Do?
Patient care technicians often perform basic medical duties like monitoring temperature or blood pressure. They record patients’ concerns and report them to supervise nurses. They may also help the people in their care with day-to-day activities like eating meals, staying clean, getting dressed, or using the restroom.
What are the Requirements to Become a Patient Care Technician?
Licensing requirements for patient care technicians vary by state, but almost any employer will require some formal training. You can earn a Patient Care Technician Diploma in as little as 34 weeks, and will make landing a job much easier. Keep in mind certain jobs may also require CPR or basic life-support training.
Patient Care Technician Salary
According to the BLS, patient care technicians earn an average annual salary of about $31,000. Patient care technicians that work in surgical or specialty hospitals tend to get paid more than average.
Patient Care Technician Job Outlook
According to the BLS, the overall amount of patient care technicians employed in the United States is projected to increase 8% by 2029. High rates of chronic disease and an aging baby-boom population will surely drive demand for nursing facilities, hospitals, home health care services, and other organizations that employ patient care techs.
Choose the Career That’s Right for You
While every healthcare career has its own set of responsibilities, educational requirements, and skillsets to develop, all of them offer opportunities to earn a great living, making a positive difference in the world. Whether you’re itching to treat patients hands-on or you’d prefer to stay behind the scenes, any of these top-paying entry-level medical jobs will be a great launching pad to a long, lucrative, and fulfilling career. Consider which options might be the best fit for your personality, life goals, and natural talents, and make sure you’re getting your training or education from an accredited institution.
When it comes to all the job opportunities available in the medical field, there’s a lot more to discover. Learn more about the wide variety of available healthcare training programs at Brookline College, and get started on your way to an exciting new career today.