Written by: Staff Writer
Last updated: May 2020
The healthcare field offers many high-paying career paths and stable employment. In addition to paying well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects certain medical professions to increase by up to 32% from 2018-2028, far outpacing general national job growth projections.
Healthcare careers also offer many different roles. Beyond working as physicians and nurses, healthcare professionals find employment as pharmacists, scientists, and machine operators. These rewarding medical careers assist in high-need areas, like rural spaces or cities with high levels of poverty.
The following list covers the highest-paying jobs in the medical field, including nurses, doctors, administrators, information technology workers, and others. Salaries vary, depending on factors like education levels and years of experience. Read on to learn about the best-paying jobs in healthcare.
25 of the Best Paying Jobs in Healthcare
Pharmacists distribute medications to patients in need. These professionals fill prescriptions and sometimes provide basic care, like immunization shots. This job requires a doctor of pharmacy degree, and students take many courses in chemistry and pharmacology to prepare for the role. Pharmacists earn a median annual salary of $128,090 each year. As of 2018, about 314,000 pharmacists were employed in the U.S. The BLS projects a job growth rate of 0% from 2018-2028, indicating little-to-no change.
Podiatrists, doctors who specialize in foot and ankle problems, bring home annual earnings of about $126,240 each year. These medical professionals assess problems connected to patients' feet and lower legs, carrying out physical examinations and x-rays. They may provide treatment, prescribe medication, or perform ankle or foot surgery. About 10,500 podiatrists worked in the U.S. in 2018, but the BLS projects that number to grow by 6% from 2018-2028.
3. Medical Perfusionists
Medical perfusionists operate complicated medical machinery related to respiratory and circulatory functions. During surgery, these professionals control the machines that regulate a patient's heart and lung functions. They also observe patients' vital signs and blood coagulation factors. According to PayScale, medical perfusionists earn an average annual salary of about $120,147.
4. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
This umbrella term covers several types of nursing professionals: nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners (NPs). NPs work in various specializations, including family practitioner, geriatric, pediatric, women's health, and neonatal care. These nurses hold graduate degrees and take on more responsibilities than registered nurses, with many states allowing them to diagnose patients and prescribe medication. APRNs make an average of $115,800 per year. With about 240,700 working in the field in 2018, BLS projections indicate that the industry may grow by 26% from 2018-2028.
These doctors give yearly eye examinations, test patients' vision, and prescribe glasses or contact lenses. Optometrists also diagnose illnesses and diseases relating to the eye, along with treating those problems with either medications or surgery. Approximately 42,100 optometrists worked in the U.S. in 2018, and the BLS projects a 10% job growth from 2018-2028. Optometrists earned a median salary of $115,250 in 2019.
6. Physician Assistants
Physician assistants (PAs) carry out many responsibilities on medical teams with doctors, surgeons, and other licensed healthcare workers. They can examine, diagnose, and treat patients, generally under the supervision of a physician. Each state regulates the extent to which PAs can work independently. A PA needs at least a master's degree to practice. These professionals made a median income of $112,260 in 2019. BLS data indicates about 118,800 PAs worked in 2018, with a projected growth rate of 31% from 2018-2028.
A professional with a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) can pursue a career in several different fields. They may become APRNs, healthcare executives, nursing professors, clinical researchers, or healthcare lobbyists. Taking into account this range of possible career choices, the average salary of professionals with DNPs reaches about $102,000.
8. Healthcare Administrators
In short, these professionals manage hospitals and other healthcare organizations. They direct the organization's business activities and coordinate healthcare services. Healthcare administrators should either hold a bachelor's or master's degree. BLS data indicates the median earnings of healthcare administrators reached nearly $101,000 in 2019. About 406,000 of these professionals worked in the field in 2018, and the BLS projects a job outlook of 18% from 2018-2028.
9. Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts work in many different fields, including healthcare and medicine. These professionals safeguard organizations' computer networks and information systems from cyberattacks and other technological threats. In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, they ensure that sensitive patient data stays private. Information security analysts earn about $99,730 each year. With over 112,000 information security analysts already in the workforce in 2018, the BLS projects employment to grow at a very fast rate — 32% — from 2018-2028.
As scientists who concentrate on the chemical process of living things, biochemists work with compounds like DNA, proteins, and fats. Often, but not always, these scientists dedicate their research to health sciences and human biochemical processes. In 2019, the median biochemist salary reached almost $94,500, according to the BLS. About 30,400 biochemists worked in the field in 2018, and BLS data indicates the field will grow by 6% from 2018-2028.
11. Biomedical Engineers
These experts work at the intersection of engineering and biology to create healthcare devices, such as artificial body parts or medical machinery. They may work in research, engineering design, and prototype testing. Biomedical engineers made a median income of $91,410 in 2019. The BLS projects that the industry will grow by 4% from 2018-2028, up from the nearly 20,000 biomedical engineers employed in 2018.
12. Gerontology Nurses
Also known as adult-gerontology nurse practitioners, these advanced practice nurses provide care to older adults. In many states, they provide preventative care plans and may administer medication to help adults overcome certain illnesses. To obtain the proper certification, a gerontology nurse must earn a master's degree in nursing with a gerontology specialization. These nurses earn a median salary of about $90,102.
13. Physical Therapists
Physical therapists help people with illnesses, injuries, neurological disorders, or other chronic conditions with improving physical movement and easing pain. This usually involves stretching and exercising, and they may advise patients to use aids like crutches or wheelchairs. A physical therapist needs a doctorate or professional degree, and they made a median income of $89,440 in 2019. Nearly 248,000 of these professionals found employment in 2018, and the BLS projects employment to grow by 22% from 2018-2028.
14. Medical Scientists
Earning an average salary of about $88,970 a year, medical scientists conduct research within the fields of medicine and human health. They explore human diseases, examining causes and possible treatments. They may also supervise clinical trials of new pharmaceutical drugs, medical tools, or vaccinations. About 13,700 medical scientists conducted research in the U.S. in 2018, and the BLS projects that number to grow by 8% from 2018-2028.
15. Radiation Therapists
Radiation therapists operate machinery to provide treatments to patients with cancer and other illnesses. Unlike many other professions in the healthcare field, this career only requires either an associate or bachelor's degree. Radiation therapists made a median income of $85,560 in 2019. About 18,600 radiation therapists worked in the U.S. in 2018, which BLS data indicates will grow by 9% from 2018-2028.
16. Nursing Educators
Nursing educators work as college or university professors in the field of nursing. They may also teach aspiring nurses in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Nursing educators need at least a master's degree to find employment. According to the BLS, nurse educators made a nationwide mean annual income of about $83,160 in May 2019. Projections Central also estimates that nearly 68,000 of these professionals worked in the U.S. in 2016, and projected the profession to grow by 24% from 2016 to 2026.
17. Occupational Therapists
People with physical disabilities or major injuries often need professional help in learning how to carry out their daily tasks. Occupational therapists treat patients through therapeutic techniques. These professionals differ from physical therapists by focusing on helping patients with day-to-day living, while physical therapists aid patients with movement. About 133,000 occupational therapists worked in the U.S. in 2018, which the BLS projects to grow by 18% from 2018-2028. As of May 2019, they earned a median income of $84,950.
Psychologists work as doctors for patients' mental health. They diagnose and treat people with anxiety, depression, and other behavioral and mental health disorders. Many psychologists provide treatment through counseling, and a handful of states allow them to prescribe medication. The approximately 181,700 psychologists working in the U.S. earn a median annual pay of $80,370. BLS projections indicate a job growth rate of about 14% from 2018-2028 for the profession.
19. Speech-Language Pathologists
Many children and adults face speech and swallowing disorders, making it difficult for them to communicate. Speech-language pathologists diagnose these disorders and work with patients to treat them. This fast-growing profession saw about 153,700 speech-language pathologists working in the U.S. in 2018, and the BLS projects a job growth rate of 27% for the profession from 2018-2028. These professionals earned a median salary of $79,120 in 2019.
Chemists work as scientists concerned with the atomic and molecular components of substances. For chemists in the field of medicine, their research focuses on pharmaceutical drugs. They research various chemical components in response to specific illnesses, along with developing and testing new medicines. Chemists earned a median pay of $78,790 in 2019. About 95,800 chemists worked in the U.S. in 2018, which the BLS projects to grow by 4% from 2018-2028.
Audiologists work as doctors of the ear. They may assess hearing loss or see patients with vertigo, which commonly stems from ear problems. They provide various treatments, like prescribing hearing aids or cleaning wax from a patient's ear. Approximately 13,600 audiologists worked across the country in 2018, earning an average pay of about $77,600. The number of audiologists could increase by about 16% from 2018-2028, much faster than average.
22. Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists work in dentists' offices. Although they do not perform all of the same duties as dentists, they take on several important tasks: cleaning stains from patients' teeth, taking dental x-rays, and applying fluorides to protect teeth. BLS data shows that dental hygienists brought home a median salary of $76,220 in 2019, with a projected 11% job growth from 2018-2028.
23. Clinical Trial Nurses
Clinical trial nurses, or clinical research nurses, focus on patients participating in clinical trials. Medical researchers test new cancer treatment on patients, and clinical research nurses care for the patient and assist in the research. They take on many tasks, such as identifying possible patients for the clinical trial, or recording and assessing information about how the patient responds to treatment. These professionals earn a median salary of about $71,672.
24. Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Occupational health and safety specialists assess various workplaces to ensure they meet all of the standard health, safety, and environmental regulations. They inspect workplaces and prepare written reports based on their findings. These specialists made a median income of $70,480 in 2019. BLS data indicates that approximately 118,000 of these professionals worked in the U.S. in 2018, with a projected growth rate of 6% from 2018-2028.
25. Health Information Managers
Working at the intersection of data and healthcare, health information managers safeguard digitally stored medical information. This information might include patient data, laboratory results, diagnostic records, and other medical documents. These professionals usually oversee a team of information technology workers as well. They typically need bachelor's or master's degrees, and they earn a median income of about $57,258.