Not everyone interested in working within the medical field wants to spend multiple years in med school pursing a doctorate of medicine. And that's OK. Maybe as an undergraduate you'd still like to advance your education and career to the next level within the field.
[See our list of the Top 30 Healthcare Careers That Don't Require a Graduate Degree.]
Or maybe you already have a master's degree, but you're not sure what kind of healthcare career it can help you get. Here's the good news: there are dozens of career paths in healthcare that need individuals with master's degrees. What follow are 50 of the best. We've selected these jobs because of their salaries, potential for growth, and demand in the current economy.
The salaries listed are averages at the starting salary, but the upside in all these fields are quite good. Example: an art therapist might start with a low salary, but an experienced, recognized expert in the field can demand six figures. As is always the case, the same job at different locations, within different organizations (private or public) will offer higher or lower salaries.
50. Art Therapist
Average beginning salary $30,000 (to $50,000)
Art therapists work with schools, clinics, psychiatric hospitals, and other organizations, helping those with physical or mental illnesses through the restorative power of art. Art therapy can help people regain fine motor control after an accident, provide an outlet for negative feelings, or help participants learn to better communicate through their art. Art therapists encourage their clients to use art as a visualization tool for the types of changes they want to experience in their lives.
Art therapists have a background in psychology as well as art. They encourage clients to bring out their issues through their art, which makes them easier to process during the therapy element of art therapy. Not all clients are can talk about their issues immediately, but when they are, art therapists must also be ready to provide more conventional therapy.
Those who succeed as art therapists have a mix of creativity and compassion. They also need good communication skills, and a willingness to be patient with clients. An interest in human behavior and psychology can also help.
Art therapists must have a master's degree in art therapy. Some states also set out licensing and credentialing requirements.
49. Infection Preventionist
Average beginning salary $40,000
Infection Preventionists analyze data to determine whether a certain infection is likely to be an issue, and work with the community to educate the public about infection prevention. They may be tasked with informing the public about the need for medications or immunizations that will help prevent infection before it spreads.
Infection Preventionists are typically required to hold a master's degree in public health from an accredited university. Some employers may even prefer to hire an Infection Preventionist who holds a doctorate in public health.
48. Public Health Consultant
Average beginning salary $40,000
Public health consultants work with governments and healthcare providers to design and implement public health policies. After that, they inspect local healthcare providers to determine the effectiveness of various policies. Additionally, they advise local providers on how to implement new policies.
Public health consultants spend most of their time working out of an office. However, they may spend part of their time touring hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities.
Public health consultants must possess advanced degrees; for most states, a master's degree in a relevant subject is required. Relevant subjects include public health, counseling or public health administration; experience in a related field may be substituted for some education. No special training or certification is needed to become a public health consultant.
47. Emergency Preparedness and Bioterrorism Coordinator
Average beginning salary $40,000
Emergency preparedness and bioterrorism coordinators work with local health departments to ensure that sufficient staff are in place in case of bioterrorist attacks or public health emergencies. They work closely with policy advisors to implement emergency management plans and oversee staff training.
Emergency preparedness and bioterrorism coordinators work in health departments and with government agencies. As you might expect with terroristic threats worldwide, demand for emergency preparedness and bioterrorism coordinators is growing rapidly across the U.S.
46. Public Health Planner
Average beginning salary $40,000
Public health planners are responsible for compiling and analyzing statistics pertinent to public health issues. They are generally expected to oversee different divisions within public health departments and must secure funding for public health programs. Some public health planners specialize in a certain area such as sexual or mental health.
Public health planners generally work in county- and state-level public health departments. They may also be employed by major hospitals and educational institutions.
All public health planners must hold at least a BA degree in public health or a closely related field. The majority of individuals in these positions also hold advanced degrees in public health, public health policy or urban planning. They must have some previous experience working in public health or urban planning.
45. HIV/AIDS Nurses
Average beginning salary $44,000
These highly trained nurse specialists care for patients in both the early and advanced stages of HIV/AIDS. Similar to geriatric nurses, they should provide a holistic approach to a patient's health and well-being since HIV/AIDS often has debilitating psychosocial and emotional effects.
This is a fulfilling job, but also very emotionally wearing. â¨
44. Legal Nurse Consultant
â¨Average beginning salary $49,000
These nurses assist attorneys with analyzing patient records primarily regarding medical malpractice cases.
Educational requirement is an RN license; some law firms prefer LNC with an advanced degree and certification
Average beginning salary $51,000
Biostatisticians use mathematics and statistics in the research of life sciences, which may include disciplines such as public health, medicine and environmental science. The statistics used in the research are collected after developing scientific studies and obtaining data from their implementation.
The largest employer of biostatisticians is the federal government. Other organizations employing biostatisticians include state and local governments, pharmaceutical companies and private research firms. Most biostatisticians work in offices or laboratories.
Although entry-level statistician jobs are available for those who earn a bachelor's degree, most jobs require at least a master's degree in mathematics, statistics or a discipline that requires strong research skills. Top jobs for biostatisticians require a Ph.D.
42. Academic Policy Adviser
Average beginning salary $52,000
Academic policy advisers are responsible for making crucial decisions about health education programs. They are also required to allocate funds and may be required to assist in the preparation of grants.
Academic policy advisers work for major health organizations, state and federal health departments, and universities. They spend the majority of their time working in their offices in an administrative capacity but periodically visit classrooms and public health centers.
The majority of academic policy advisers hold an MA degree in public health. Some individuals in these positions are also medical doctors who hold MD degrees. High-profile public health organizations may require policy advisers to have experience as practicing physicians.
41. Genetic counselors
Average beginning salary $54,000
A genetic counselor has a background in genetic conditions, including prenatal, pediatric, and cancer-related conditions. They provide this information to individuals and families, allowing them to make better-informed decisions regarding their medical care and long-term plans. Their role often involves prediction of potential issues, such as an adult's risk of developing diseases with a genetic component.
Genetic counselors often play a role in families' decisions about children. Genetic counseling helps families make their family planning decisions with clear knowledge and understanding of genetic disorders within their families. When called on in a family planning capacity, genetic counselors work with couples to determine their risk of inherited conditions and birth defects. They may interview patients, evaluate genetic information from families, and write reports on their findings for both patients and fellow healthcare practitioners.
Work environments for genetic counselors include hospitals, physicians' offices, and medical laboratories. Some instead choose self-employment or work on college and university campuses.
In all cases, genetic counselors need at least a master's degree in genetic counseling or genetics. These programs include public health, epidemiology, psychology, and biology coursework, and emphasize the need for empathy for patients.
40. Diagnostic Molecular Scientists
Average beginning salary $56,870
Diagnostic molecular science involves performing lab tests on DNA and RNA, the building blocks of human beings. These tests can diagnose or monitor hereditary conditions as well as acquired ones. These tests can tell patients whether they have diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's disease, or congenital conditions. They can also determine a patient's viral load, which in turn can inform treatment for viral diseases.
Diagnostic molecular scientists have a broad scientific background. They study biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and field-specific topics. They may also be familiar with specific elements of medical work, such as hematology, urinology, and cancer treatment.
39. Occupational Health Nurses
Average beginning salary $57,000
This nursing specialty worker can provide treatment for job-related injuries and illnesses and help employers detect workplace hazards and implement health and safety standards.
OHNs work with employers to develop innovative and business-compatible health and safety programs, in response to each organization's unique type of work, workforce, and work/community environments. They promote an interdisciplinary approach to health care and advocate for the employee's right to prevention-oriented, cost-effective health and safety programs.
38. Hematology Nurses
Average beginning salary $58,000
Hematology nurses specialize in issues related to blood, especially chronic blood diseases. Their patients may have hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, leukemia, or other conditions. While not universally mandatory, many employers expect some oncology experience among hematology nurses, as blood-related issues and cancer go hand in hand. As a result, they also assist with cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.
Some hematology nurses specialize in working with children, which requires excellent bedside manner as well as a keen knowledge of blood-related issues. The Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses supports these nurses in their work.
37. Managed Care Nurses
Average beginning salary $61,000
Managed Care Nurses act as liaisons between health care providers and patients. They educate patients on how to control financial expenditures during times of illness and about preventative care methods that could mitigate the chances of future health problems.
Managed Care Nurses work with patients who mainly rely on government-funded healthcare. They help patients practice preventative care, and encourage regular check-ups and vaccinations for themselves and their families. This keeps medical costs down and helps their patients stay as healthy as possible. As a Managed Care Nurse, you'll often work with the elderly and the poor, many of who rely on programs like Medicare or Medicaid. You'll also serve as the liaison between your patients, their insurance company, and their doctor, making sure they get consistent access to quality healthcare.â¨
36. Nurse Attorneys
Average beginning salary $63,000
Nurse Attorneys have earned both their nursing and law degrees, so they can represent medical professionals in court, or work to change healthcare policies. Nurse Attorneys who choose a courtroom career, can help doctors or nurses involved in malpractice suits, and consult on disputes with insurance companies.
The individuals who choose a career in health can advocate healthcare policies, lobby for nursing associations or help inform lawmakers on important issues within the healthcare industry. As a Nurse Attorney, you can also work as a writer, or editor, for professional nursing and legal journals.
35. Certified Dialysis Nurse
Average beginning salary $63,500
Certified dialysis nurses help people whose kidneys don't perform properly and who have to rely on dialysis machines to eliminate waste products from their body. Certified dialysis nursing is one of the nation's fastest growing specialties. There's a high demand and a low supply of certified dialysis nurses. They're also in demand on cruise ships. Most of the nurses employed at dialysis clinics enjoy a 9-to-5 working schedule—a breeze compared to hospital shifts.
Dialysis nurses are experts in all types of dialysis, including hemodialysis (in which a machine is used to clean the blood) and peritoneal dialysis (in which a special fluid is injected into the person's abdominal cavity to absorb toxins). Regardless of the type of dialysis, these nurses carefully monitor the patient's condition before, during and after the procedure and consult with physicians and technicians as needed. Because kidney disease is complex, dialysis nurses work closely with professionals from many disciplines, including physicians, dietitians, social workers and technicians. They also help patients understand their illness and treatment options and show them how to manage their disease through self-care and medication.
34. Legislative Policy Adviser
Average beginning salary $65,000
Legislative policy advisers use their medical and legal expertise to influence the politicians and organizations for whom they work. They are responsible for researching the benefits and drawbacks of legislation related to public health.
Most legislative policy advisers hold an M.A. degree in public health. They must have extensive experience in either the public health or legal field prior to advancing into adviser roles. Many legislative policy advisers have both advanced legal and medical training.
33. Speech-language Pathologists
Average beginning salary $66,220â¨â¨
Speech-language pathology is the study and treatment of human communication and its disorders. They work with the full range of human communication and its disorders to:
â¢ Treat speech, language and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
â¢ Evaluate and diagnose speech, language and swallowing disorders.
32. Orthotists and Prosthetists
Average beginning salary $66,600
Orthotists and prosthetists help mitigate the loss of function that comes with loss of limbs, as well as certain bone or spinal injuries. They fit these individuals with new prosthetic limbs or braces, enabling them to continue some activities they pursued previously. They also diminish the aesthetic impact of a loss on a patient, giving them cosmetic prostheses such as glass eyes.
Prosthetists and orthotists need to be good communicators as well as competent health professionals. Patients often present with depression as well as the primary function loss, and these professionals need to show empathy and kindness when convincing these patients of the value of such an item.
Average beginning salary $66,850
The audiologist usually works with a physician, evaluating hearing, identifying problems, and prescribing and administering increasingly sophisticated hearing devices, mostly aimed at a growing aged population. But school systems offer substantial career opportunities as well. Audiologists also assess noise levels in workplaces and conduct hearing protection programs.
This career can put a music degree to work. Your key task is helping people to adjust to and compensate for hearing loss in constructive ways.
30. Nurse Case Manager
Average beginning salary $68,032
Nurse case manager is an excellent job for RNs desiring to get away from typical nursing tasks. Nurse case managers monitor the progress of patients, evaluate their care, and sometimes suggest alternative treatments. Although they advocate for patients, they also find the most cost-efficient care on behalf of medical facilities and insurance providers. Some nurse case managers work for insurance companies.
Some RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN programs provide a case management track. A case management nursing certificate is not required, but it can improve the chances of getting a job.
Average beginning salary $66,330
28. Medical Researcher
Average beginning salary $68,000
This is an exciting time to pursue a career in medical research. This specialized field of research continues to expand dramatically with each new discovery and technical innovation.
The good news is it has led to new treatments for the prevention and maintenance of disease. There are various pathways for pursuing a career in medical research, but it all begins with an undergraduate degree followed by a master's degree, experts say.
27. Pain Management Nurses
Average beginning salary $70,000
Pain management nurses specialize in reducing the perception of pain, usually in recent surgical patients or dying patients. They make sure that the patient receives palliative care in a safe, reliable manner, and help to develop and implement a pain management plan. Many pain management nurses pursue advanced practice pain management certification.
26. Director of Family Health Services
Average beginning salary $70,000
Directors of family health services are responsible for overseeing the operation of public family health centers. Individuals in these roles are required to manage facility finances, handle human resources issues and actively participate in long-term facility planning.
Directors of family health services work in public and private family health centers. Directors spend time in health centers but complete the majority of their work in a traditional office environment.
Note: Salaries for directors of family health services are largely dependent upon the size of the facility and the geographic location in which such professionals work. Directors in these roles can earn anywhere between $70,000 – $125,000 per year. While demand for talented individuals in these roles remains steady, there are generally only a few openings for directors of health family services nationwide every year.
25. Nurse Educator
Average beginning salary $71,292
Nurse educators are in demand. The shortage of nurse educators provides a high level of job security. Many qualified prospective nursing students are turned away due to a shortage of teachers. Also, nurses need ongoing education throughout their careers. Nurse educators combine clinical expertise and a passion for teaching into rewarding careers.
Nurse educators design, implement, evaluate, and provide academic and continuing education programs for nurses. They teach at colleges, universities, technical schools, and hospital-based schools. Mobile simulation labs are a popular workplace. Most nurse educators get a high degree of satisfaction from their work. They also enjoy the flexible work scheduling.
24. Occupational Therapist
Average beginning salary $70,680
When a patient needs to develop or regain specific physical capacities for everyday tasks, occupational therapists coach them and support them every step of the way. They work in offices, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and home health services organizations, developing plans that will help patients meet their mobility and function goals.
Occupational therapists have at least a master's degree in occupational therapy. These degree programs take at least two years to complete, with doctoral programs taking three and a half years. Those who do not have a bachelor's degree yet and know they want to go into occupational therapy can pursue five-year programs that combine the bachelor's and master's degree.
23. Mental Health Therapist
Average beginning salary 71,600
Therapists and mental health counselors help patients overcome mental disorders that affect their daily lives. Some therapists choose to specialize in certain conditions, like obsessive compulsive disorder or childhood depression. With a degree in psychology, therapists are able to analyze the cause of mental instability and suggest ways for patients to get past their symptoms.
Many patients use their therapists as a venue for venting about issues they could not otherwise talk about.
22. Nurse Administrators
Average beginning salary $72,000
Nurse administrators oversee business and organizational elements of nursing work, such as scheduling, performance reviews, and policy development. They also often have a background in regulatory compliance or ethics, serving an oversight role within the organization. This work tends to take a nurse away from practicing, with only small amounts of direct contact with patients. They still use their nursing skills, however, when developing new training programs.
Like all healthcare management personnel, nurse administrators can be found in any organization or setting in which nurses work. Common nurse administrator work environments include physicians' offices, hospitals, nursing facilities, and outpatient care centers.
21. Gerontological Nurse Practitioners
Average beginning salary $75,000
Gerontological nurse practitioners (GNPs) help elderly patients, especially those with severe conditions that affect their day-to-day lives. They diagnose and manage these conditions, and convey the results of any tests or incidents to family members and other important parties as needed.
Their patients often have diverse health needs. Some have only recently entered old age, and may need only modest physical help but assistance in making the transition. Others, meanwhile, will often be frail and face many daily challenges.
This career, like many advanced practice nursing specializations, requires a master's degree. Those who succeed as gerontological nurse practitioners have a passion for helping older patients and are comfortable operating independently.
20. Clinical Nurse Specialist
Average beginning salary $76,209
Clinical nurse specialists provide leadership in the nursing world, and use their experience and education as advanced practice registered nurses to give direct care as well as coordinate caring done by other nurses. They also work to implement changes in practice throughout the organizations in which they work, identifying where healthcare processes could be improved and recommending changes. They can often reduce costs and emergency room visit frequency, and improve patient satisfaction and perception of pain. All work done by a clinical nurse specialist has a solid grounding in research and theory.
All clinical nurse specialists have advanced training in a specific element of nursing work. Some clinical nurse specialists specialize in specific populations, such as adults, the elderly, children, or newborns. Others focus their work on specific diseases or conditions, working with patients with cancer or diabetes. They can also specialize in specific settings, types of care, or types of problems.
In addition to requiring a graduate-level education in nursing, including a specialization of some kind, certified nurse specialists must also submit to a certification process. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) oversees this process. To maintain certification, clinical nurse specialists must recertify with the ANCC every three years.
19. Physical Therapist
Average beginning salary $76,310
Physical therapists, also known as PTs, diagnose and treat people of all ages who have a limited ability to move and perform functional activities due to illness or disability. They help patients build flexibility and strength.
Physical therapists create a plan utilizing treatment techniques to promote a patient's ability to move, restore function, reduce pain, or prevent disability. They need to be good motivators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about 60 percent of physical therapists work in hospitals.
18. Biomedical Engineering Specialists
Average beginning salary $78,860
Biomedical engineering brings together engineering methods of problem solving and biological knowledge. Biomedical engineers need a broad set of skills, including life science, computer skills, critical thinking, and technical know-how. Biomedical engineers combine all these skills to create devices like implantable pacemakers, joint replacements, and artificially-engineered skin grafts.
Biomedical engineering best fits those who like to solve problems, help people, and communicate with others. A problem-solving mindset helps biomedical engineers approach the problems they face in their jobs, while a helping mindset provides motivation to work. As biomedical engineers often end up using their broad set of skills to help other professionals, such as doctors and mechanical engineers, communicate with one another, they also serve as interpreters between different disciplines.
The broad scope of the field means no two jobs in biomedical engineering are quite alike. Computer-savvy biomedical engineers might write the code that drives a cardiac pacemaker to reliably detect changes in heart rhythms, while those interested in drug development might create a more stable delivery method tailored to a specific illness.
The relatively recent emergence of this field means not all universities have degrees in biomedical engineering. Students at schools without biomedical engineering undergraduate programs sometimes take general engineering degrees and then pursue a master's in the field instead.
Average beginning salary $79,000
Chiropractors work with patients with bone and spinal cord conditions, alleviating pain and improving range of motion. They do this by physically adjusting and manipulating a patient's spine and other bones, realigning joints and sometimes applying heat or cold as needed. Like all medical professionals, chiropractors also assess patients' medical conditions, review their medical histories, and conduct tests to determine the source of a given problem.
To become a chiropractor, one must complete a Doctor of Chiropractic program. These postgraduate degrees take about four years to complete, with 15 programs available on 18 campuses. While these programs require a minimum of 90 semester hours of undergraduate education prior to entry, most students earn a bachelor's degree first. A Doctor of Chiropractic program includes a mix of life sciences coursework, chiropractic-specific topics like spinal assessment and adjustment techniques, and medical billing and business management.
To succeed as a chiropractor, one needs physical, social, and mental skills in equal measure. Chiropractors must be good decision-makers, determining appropriate courses of treatment and knowing when to make a referral. They also need solid coordination and dexterity to perform the physical demands of the job. Finally, patients tend to prefer an approachable bedside manner, so chiropractors need to know how to be a comforting presence.
16. Allied Health Care Managers
Average beginning salary $80,240
A healthcare organization needs solid management to succeed, and health managers provide that strategic vision. Also known as healthcare executives, healthcare administrators, health services managers, and hospital administrators, health managers deal with issues like personnel, finances, promotion of services, and strategy, using their business skills to ensure a hospital provides appropriate services. Due to the value of both personnel and equipment in the medical field, the stakes are high for health managers, with most handling multi-million dollar budgets and hundreds of well-compensated employees.
While hospitals are the most common employers of healthcare managers, they also work in clinics, rehabilitation centers, public health departments, and physicians' offices. Any health organization large enough to benefit from strategic vision can employ a health services manager.
While jobs in this field that require only a bachelor's degree do exist, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many require at least a master's degree in health administration. Some professionals choose to pursue degrees in business administration or public health instead of degrees specific to health administration, learning more about the business element or the population health component of the work. Those who do pursue health administration degrees, however, should ensure their programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.
15. Nursing Informatics Analyst
Average beginning salary $80,596
NIAs manage and provide healthcare data to patients, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers. Nursing informatics analysts ensure computer applications are easy to use and provide useful information to nurses, managers, and other healthcare workers.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center requires two years of experience as an RN and at least 2,000 hours of work in informatics for certification. Those with certification improve their chances of obtaining a job and obtaining a higher salary.
The job outlook is very good because many organizations hire informatics experts to solve documentation issues and decrease errors. Nursing informatics analysts work for hospitals and medical-records software vendors.
14. Forensic Nurses
Average beginning salary $81,000
Forensic nurses help law enforcement officials and crime victims during criminal investigations. They may offer their expertise regarding topics like assaults and accidental deaths. Depending on the needs of a community and their own experience, forensic nurses may work as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, coroners, or death investigators. Some communities do not have openings in these fields, which puts the burden on the nurse examiner to advocate for the creation of such a position.
The path to a career in forensic nursing can vary. Some forensic nurses start with the 40 hours of classroom training and 40 hours of clinical training required for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, while other paths involve studying for a master's degree or PhD in forensic nursing.
The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) offers board certification in forensic nursing, but this certification is not required for practice. Instead, board certification demonstrates that the nurse in question has both the skills and standard of professionalism necessary to succeed.
While forensic nurses often talk with law enforcement and other medical professionals, they also spend much of their time talking with victims themselves. This element of the job requires both empathy and communication skills, as many victims will be in the process of recovering from a traumatic event.
13. Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse
Average beginning salary $81,000
Pediatric endocrinology nurses help young children suffering from disorders and diseases of the endocrine system. They educate parents and children about the physical growth and sexual development issues associated with endocrine-system disorders.
Educating parents and patients about preventing disease and managing endocrine diseases is a major part of their job. They also deal with issues such as obesity and diabetes.
12. Nurse Midwives
Average beginning salary $83,908
Nurse midwives' work deals with reproductive health, including gynecological exams, prenatal care, child delivery, and neonatal care. While public perception of their work looks primarily at their attendance during labor and delivery, they also work closely with OB/GYNs, supporting them in most duties. Common duties for nurse midwives include taking medical histories, performing physical exams, ordering tests, and reducing health risks in women.
Nurse midwife programs have existed for less than a century in the United States according to the National Institutes of Health, but in that time, they have proven themselves as a vital part of the healthcare system. Their assistance improves outcomes in perinatal care, especially in rural and inner-city regions where care may be otherwise difficult to obtain.
Educational requirements vary from state to state, but all certified nurse midwives must have at least a master's degree. To receive certification, they must also pass a certification exam overseen by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). These standards ensure each nurse midwife can perform all duties.
Work environments can vary for these health professionals. They may operate private practices, work in hospitals, or find employment with dedicated birthing centers.
11. Health Center Administrator
Average beginning salary $84,000
Health care administrators manage healthcare facilities or direct and coordinate healthcare services. Some health center administrators act as general managers while others manage specific departments within the centers.
The minimum educational requirement for health center administrators is a bachelor's degree, but most people employed in this position hold a master's degree in healthcare administration, health services, public health or business administration. Some health centers may employ individuals based on past work experience in lieu of formal education.
10. Physician Assistants
Average beginning salary $86,410â¨â¨
Physician assistants, like nurse practitioners, work with doctors as part of a team. They take medical histories, examine patients, order and interpret tests, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medicine, and provide treatment, though their specific duties vary from state to state. The extent to which they must be supervised by a doctoral degree holder like a physician or surgeon varies as well.
Physician assistants usually specialize in an area of practice, such as surgery, pediatrics, or emergency medicine. This specialization in turn dictates specific job duties, such as closing incisions, providing vaccinations, or educating patients regarding their conditions. Those who work in rural or medically underserved communities may be the primary care providers at their clinics, with physicians only present at the clinic one or two days per week. Physician assistants sometimes make house calls, visiting patients in homes or assisted living facilities to provide some types of care.
To become a physician assistant, one must have a master's degree from an accredited program. These degrees take at least two years of full-time postgraduate study. Coursework includes the study of anatomy, physiology, physical diagnosis, medical ethics, and other health and life science topics. These programs also include clinical rotations, which sometimes lead to post-graduation employment opportunities.
9. Nurse Practitioners
Average beginning salary $90,770
Nurse practitioners serve as primary- and specialty-care providers. Nurse practitioners provide diagnosis, treatments, and consultations. They educate patients regarding preventive care and their prescribed treatments. Some nurse practitioners serve as a patient's primary healthcare provider. They can work independently or as part of a treatment team. Some nurse practitioners prescribe medications.
According to the American Nurses Association, about 60 to 80 percent of primary and preventive care can be performed by nurse practitioners. They're increasingly attractive to healthcare employers because they can provide a lot of the healthcare typically provided by physicians and they receive less pay.
Here are some of the most common specialties:
â¢ Family practice
â¢ Women's health
â¢ Adult practice
â¢ Acute care
8. Clinical Trial Manager
Average beginning salary $92,600â¨
Clinical trials are crucial to advancements in drug therapies and other medical protocols. They are responsible for overseeing these trials and ensuring they adhere to FDA regulations and in-house protocols. This job may also be referred to as a Clinical Research Manager.â¨â¨Some employers may require a master's degree, but others may only need applicants to have completed a certificate program.
7. Cardiovascular Perfusionist
Average beginning salary $93,500
Cardiovascular perfusionists maintain heart and lung function during open-heart operations, vascular surgery, and orthopedic and other medical procedures. During surgery, a cardiovascular perfusionist operates bypass machines and other equipment that temporarily controls a patient's circulation and respiratory function.
Cardiovascular perfusionists are required to graduate from an accredited program which may take from one to four years to complete. Some employers require a bachelor's degree. Typically, applicants are required to complete a wide array of college-level science and math courses before enrolling in a program.
6. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Average beginning salary $95,000
Psychiatric nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who provide care and consultation to patients suffering from psychiatric and mental health disorders.
Also called a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners do many of the same things a psychiatrist does, including diagnosing mental illness and prescribing medication. As a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, you'll also act as a therapist, helping patients with depression, anxiety and suicidal individuals, and other conditions that can be remedied with counseling.
5. Nurse Researchers
Average beginning salary $95,000
Nurse researchers work as analysts for private companies or health policy nonprofits. They publish research studies based on data collected on specific pharmaceutical, medical, nursing product and practices.
Nurse researchers are scientists who study various aspects of health, illness, and health care. By designing and implementing scientific studies, they look for ways to improve health, healthcare services, and healthcare outcomes.
Nurse researchers identify research questions, design and conduct scientific studies, collect and analyze data, and report their findings. They often rely on grants to fund their work, which requires writing grant proposals and meeting certain reporting requirements. Many teach in academic or clinical settings, and often write articles and research reports for nursing, medical, and other professional journals and publications.
4. Clinical Nurse Specialist
Average beginning salary $96,000
Clinical nurse specialists work to improve outcomes within a hospital or medical system within an area of specialization. Some specialize in populations, such as the elderly or children, while others choose to specialize in settings, types of care, or types of problems. They usually have a master's degree in nursing with extensive study within their specialization.
They rely extensively on research and evidence-based practice to improve their organizations. Common outcomes, according to a 2013 white paper, involve better pain management practices, improvements in patient satisfaction, and reduction of complications after surgeries and other procedures. They may also reduce costs or length of hospital stays.
3. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Average beginning salary $114,040
Industrial-organizational psychologists use their grasp of the way humans think to improve business processes. Common areas they intervene in include human resources management, business administration, and process management, though they may get involved anywhere in an organization that productivity is a factor. This field brings together both industrial psychology and organizational psychology.
Industrial psychology focuses on individual workers. This field looks at issues like employee training, safety, and job analysis. By learning from an industrial psychologist, human resource managers can better oversee their staff.
Organizational psychology, meanwhile, deals with the work environment and structure of the organization itself. Companies and governments look to the organizational side of organizational-industrial psychology when in need of assistance with issues like team effectiveness and workplace culture.
In addition to the initial master's degree required to enter the field, industrial-organizational psychologists need to stay current on developments within the field. New research and new trends can improve the advice an industrial-organizational psychologist gives as a consultant, or spark new research questions.
Industrial-organizational psychologists often work as consultants. Those who do not may work in academic organizations performing research, or be full-time employees of a specific company.
2. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
Average beginning salary $151,139
Nurse anesthetists use their graduate-level education to provide anesthetic and pain relief during surgery and other procedures. These professionals play a crucial role in providing anesthetic to U.S. Armed Forces personnel and patients in rural hospitals. Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are independently licensed healthcare practitioners, and are accountable for all elements of their practice.
CRNAs must have at least a master's degree. Their education program must also hold accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs or its predecessor. Students have more than 100 nurse anesthesia education program options in the United States and Puerto Rico, including 80 that have been approved to award doctoral degrees. All programs take at least two years to complete, with some coming in at more than four years. These programs provide both a graduate-level foundation in science and clinical experience in aesthesia.
Nurse anesthetists also have to periodically pursue recertification. The recertification process for nurse anesthetists operates on an eight-year period consisting of two four-year cycles, and requires both continuing education credits and professional development activities. CRNAs must also pass a comprehensive examination on best practices in the field every eight years to maintain their certification.
1. Chief Nursing Officer
Average beginning salary: $173,000
Chief nursing officers, also known as directors of nursing or chief nursing executives, oversee the operation of an entire nursing department. For most nurses, this is the highest-paying career with the greatest responsibilities, and usually requires a master's degree in either nursing or health administration. They work to improve the quality of care across an entire organization while keeping operations as efficient as possible.
A chief nursing officer must have both a solid foundation in nursing and a clear understanding of business and administration. Most nurses who pursue chief nursing officer positions get a Master of Health Administration degree or something similar, augmenting their prior clinical experience with administrative skills. Some of these programs admit those with business or administrative backgrounds instead of prior clinical work, as well.
Chief nursing officers usually spend most of their time focusing on an organization's financial and strategic goals, rather than direct patient care. A nurse who moves into this position, however, can use knowledge about the realities of providing healthcare to inform better decision-making. This career best fits those with an eye toward broad goals, rather than those who like to provide personal patient care.