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 therapy is one of many interdisciplinary careers within the health care sector. The discipline uses art and creative expression for the purpose of clinical assessment and treatment. It’s a unique form of treatment therapy for patients with medical, social, developmental, or psychological impairment.
Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy. They usually work in a clinical practice, but could also work in shelters, prisons, community mental health centers, hospitals, nursing homes, or schools. The profession began with the treatment of children, but the field has grown and now art therapists often work with people of all ages and walks of life, or can treat couples, families, or conduct group therapy. They can employ a variety of art media, including drawing, sculpture, or painting to assess and treat their patients.
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.
44. Legal Nurse Consultant
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
Genetic counselors assist people who have genetic disorders in their family and those who are concerned about the possibility. Sometimes patients are people who are considering having children and want to know about the risk of inherited disease. There may be health conditions or known genetic disorders in the family, or they may simply want to know their health status.
Counselors also work with people with babies whose health screenings have indicated the possibility of inherited disease or genetic mutation. These clients want to know what it all means. Genetic counselors can not only answer questions but also make referrals for additional services.
Sometimes patients are adults who are concerned about their risk of developing illnesses that run in the family, for example, breast cancer or early onset Alzheimer’s. They must decide if they want to have genetic tests and, if so, which ones. They need to weigh the benefits of knowing (lifestyle changes, life planning) with the emotional costs. Patients who are considering genetic testing generally have a lot of concerns. They may wonder, for example, whether knowing their status will affect their ability to get insurance. Genetic counselors act as liaisons between medical professionals and concerned patients. While most genetic counselors work at health care facilities, a number of settings are possible. Some genetic counselors work for laboratories or biotech companies. Others work as policy advocates or study coordinators.
The master’s degree has become the standard for the profession. Prospective genetic counselors should enroll in a master’s program that has been accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
40. Diagnostic Molecular Scientists
Average beginning salary $56,870
These scientists are experts in analyzing the most basic building blocks of the human body: DNA and RNA. They are highly specialized laboratory scientists who employ tests like CGH microarrays, and gene expression profiles.
Their work serves a variety of ends: It can confirm the presence of genetic disorders and also identify people who are at risk of developing cancer, Alzheimer’s, or other serious conditions. By determining viral load, molecular scientists play a role in the treatment of infection.
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 patients suffering from chronic blood diseases and disorders, such as Hemophilia, Sickle-Cell, Leukemia, and other less common ailments. Many positions available for hematology nurses require some experience with Oncology Nursing since the aforementioned diseases are often closely related to cancer.
They may also assist with blood transfusions, blood tests, research, and chemotherapy. If you go into hematology, expect to have more responsibility than other nurses, prescriptive authority, and the ability to order diagnostic lab 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.
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 $66,220
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:
• Treat speech, language and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
• Evaluate and diagnose speech, language and swallowing disorders.
32. Orthotists and Prosthetists
Average beginning salary $66,600
In this career, you serve people who have serious spinal or limb injuries or have lost all or parts of limbs due to accident, battle, or disease, by preparing and fitting orthopedic braces or prostheses.
Prostheses have greatly improved due to batteries, microcomputers, and small sturdy circuit boards, allowing for greater function, with more advances to come. New materials offer lighter, more natural designs, for both children and adults. Coaching skills are important because the prosthetist needs to persuade the depressed patient that the gains from learning to use the prosthesis are worth the investment of time and energy.
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
Epidemiologists are experts in health at the population level. They analyze health data and help determine how emergencies are responded to and how they are prevented.
There are two main types of epidemiologist: those who conduct research and those who put knowledge to practical use.
Applied epidemiologists work in many settings. Governmental agencies are among the largest employers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one well-known agency. The National Center for Health Statistics, the World Health Organization, and the National Institutes of Health also hire experts to analyze health at the population level. State departments of health also employ a lot of epidemiologists. Other epidemiologists are employed at hospitals, developing policies for prevention and management of disease outbreaks.
One frequent duty is to monitor and analyze data related to outbreaks of infectious disease. Sometimes epidemiologists study other types of diseases, for example, cancer. They may also work in areas like family planning or violence prevention.
Epidemiologists do more than crunch numbers. They may apply for grants, act as educators and advocates, and carry out other public health duties. Research epidemiologists, meanwhile, find ways to prevent outbreaks from happening. While epidemiologists themselves are generally not public policy makers, their work can be instrumental in shaping policy and determining how dollars will be spent. Among the duties are communicating findings and making recommendations.
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 are responsible for monitoring the pain of patients who have recently undergone a surgical operation or are near death. They implement a pain management plan for the patient and ensure that the patient’s treatment is administered safely.
Pain Management Specialists are NP certified advanced practice pain management nurses.
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 people come back from serious illness or accident, they often need help relearning daily living tasks, especially if they have lost limbs, senses, or functions. In this career, you assess and help them relearn their daily life a well as possible.
Occupational therapists (OTs) assist clients in performing activities of all types, ranging from using a computer to caring for daily needs such as dressing, cooking, eating, and driving. Services typically include: customized treatment programs to improve one’s ability to perform daily activities; comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations; adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training; and guidance to family members and caregivers.
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
A nurse administrator creates work schedules, gives performance reviews, and develops work policies. Other job duties include keeping up established ethical and legal standards for job performance, attending administrative personnel meetings, and developing new employee training.
Most of the work of a nurse administrator is done in an office and not on the care floor, so an administrator has little or no direct contact with patients. A nurse administrator may work in a hospital, nursing home, private doctor’s office, home health care organization, or urgent care facility.
21. Gerontological Nurse Practitioners
Average beginning salary $75,000
(GNPs) hold advanced degrees specializing in geriatrics. They are able to diagnose and manage their patients’ often long-term and debilitating conditions and provide regular assessments to patients’ family members. Similar to all geriatrics nurses, GNPs must approach nursing holistically and pay special attention to maintaining a comforting bedside manner for their elderly patients.
The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner is a Registered Nurse who synthesizes theoretical, scientific, and contemporary clinical knowledge for the assessment and management of both health and illness states. The focus is on providing primary care to the entire adult-older adult age spectrum and across the continuum of care from wellness to illness. The scope of practice is not setting specific but rather is based on patient care needs.
20. Clinical Nurse Specialist
Average beginning salary $76,209
Clinical Nurse Specialists develop uniform standards for quality care and work with staff nurses to ensure that those standards are being met. They are required to possess strong managerial skills and an ability to anticipate potential staff/patient conflicts.
Clinical nurse specialists are trained to become clinical experts in their field and base their practice on research and theory. Their studies focus more on case management, educational teaching skills, and inter-dependencies involving clinical practice. In addition, they are educated to function in one, two, or three of the spheres of influence (patient management, clinically directing or managing nursing staff of a large department or nursing facility, and being intimately involved with the organization management of the health care system). In order for a clinical nurse specialist to begin practicing, he or she must pass the CNS certification program through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). To maintain certification, a clinical nurse specialist must recertify 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
These specialists study engineering based on molecular cell biology. They employ engineering principles to solve problems in surgery and medicine. It is in fact the advancement of this multidisciplinary research, of mixing engineering with medicine and physiology that has led to many breakthroughs and medical discoveries.
Biomedical engineering makes contributions to the medical field primarily by inventing instruments for therapy, rehab, and diagnosis, but also by engineering cells and tissues. While research is a large part of this career, biomedical engineers have designed sophisticated medical equipment such as medical imagist systems, prostheses, artificial organs, and healthcare information and delivery systems. If you are interested in engineering yet have an interest for scientific research and discovering, or are a biologist who is interest in paving the way for new developments, consider pursuing biomedical engineering. They can work in hospitals, research facilities, educational institutions, or in government agencies.
The massive growth, however, has led to a greater number of biomedical engineering programs, so earning a master’s degree will make you more competitive in a field that is facing more competition even as it grows in jobs. For most research and development, you will also probably need a master’s degree. You can get started in an entry-level job with a bachelor’s degree, but this is the minimum education requirement for most employers.
Average beginning salary $79,000
Chiropractors help patients with spinal conditions, helping them realign the bones in their backs. A chiropractor may work under his own practice, or he may assistant patients in a hospital.
Chiropractic care (also simply “chiropractic”) is a health care discipline that emphasizes the inherent power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. It focuses on the relationship between the body’s structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. When appropriate, doctors of chiropractic work in cooperation with the patient’s other health care practitioners.
Chiropractic doctors diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body’s muscular, nervous and skeletal systems. Chiropractors believe that interference with these systems can impair normal functioning, cause pain and lower resistance to disease. They are most known for the hands-on technique they practice to adjust imbalances in the patient’s skeletal system, particularly the spine.
16. Allied Health Care Managers
Average beginning salary $80,240
Job seekers often overlook the business side of health care, but the fact is that health care is very much a business that needs effective management. Health managers, also called health care executives, health care administrators, health services managers, or hospital administrators, oversee the business side of health care delivery. They can be in charge of specific departments, or manage entire health care systems or facilities. They are responsible for huge facilities, millions of dollars, and hundreds of employees. Health care managers will work primarily in hospitals, but also in clinics, rehabilitation centers, public health departments, clinics, consulting firms, health insurance companies, offices of physicians, or in residential care facilities.
Allied health managers will need education and experience before assuming managerial roles. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for some entry level positions, and a master’s degrees is ideal. You will need a degree in health services administration, health sciences, public administration, public health, or business administration. Health administration programs are offered at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level at many colleges and universities. It is important to choose a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health care Management Education. With a bachelor’s degree in health administration, you will likely have to begin as an administrative assistant or assistant department head. With a master’s, you can begin as department manager.
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 have a very important job. The men and women who are in this field help victims of crimes and the police with criminal investigations. The nurses are able to offer professional assistance for the investigations into assault and even accidental death. The work they do can help to collect and preserve evidence, which will assist with investigations and eventual prosecutions.
When it comes to forensic nursing, the majority of the time on the job will likely be spent in a hospital setting, often in an emergency room. The work can be chaotic, and can be mentally and emotionally draining. Helping victims of crimes during one of the most trying times in their life can be heartrending but has the potential to be rewarding as well.
Forensic nurses will spend time working with law enforcement, other nurses, and doctors, naturally. However, they will spend quite a large chunk of time working with actual victims, collecting evidence, speaking with them about their ordeal, and helping to encourage them. They may measure wounds, take photos, and take tissue or blood samples that can help in the investigation.
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 provide primary care to women, including gynecological exams, family planning advice, prenatal care, assistance in labor and delivery, and neonatal care. They work in hospitals, clinics, health departments, homes and private practices. Midwives will often have to work unpredictable hours (due to the unpredictable nature of childbirth). They should have good communications skills and be willing to commit to a holistic approach to patient care.
Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) attend an estimated 300,000 births per year in settings ranging from hospitals to homes, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. But CNMs do more than deliver babies. They also provide a wide range of care to female patients, including family-planning education, gynecological exams, and prenatal and postnatal care. In hospitals, CNMs often work closely with OB/GYNs. While the educational requirements vary by state, as of 2010, all CNMs were required to hold a master’s degree (such as a master of science in nursing).
Master’s of Skilled Nursing (MSN); certified midwives must also pass a certification exam administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).
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 $86,410
Like Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants work as part of a team with a doctor. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, they are graduates of an accredited PA educational program who are nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of a physician.
According to U.S. News and World Report’s 2014 “100 Best Jobs” ranking, physician assistant (PA) is one of the top 15 best jobs in America. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% job growth rate for the profession through 2020.
There are many reasons for the career’s appeal:
• The average length of a PA program is 27 months.
• It offers flexibility to practice in different areas of medicine without additional education and training
Physician assistants can practice and prescribe medicine in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (regulations vary by state) under the license of a physician and can work in a variety of health care settings. Although PAs are trained as generalists in medicine, they can also work in specialty areas of medicine. PAs are formally trained to provide diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic services, as designated by a licensed physician.
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:
• Family practice
• Women’s health
• Adult practice
• Acute care
8. Clinical Trial Manager
Average beginning salary $92,600
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. 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
If you like your nursing infused with some scholarly research, number crunching and data evaluation, the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) job might be for you. In addition to treating and diagnosing patients, CNSes also focus on assessing a hospital’s procedures, processes and personnel.
The job of a CNS is often broken down into three spheres of influence as defined by the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists: patient/family, nursing personnel/practice and system/network organization.
3. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Average beginning salary $114,040
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist apply psychology to the areas of human resources, administration, management, and other applicable areas within corporations.
This branch of psychology is the study of the workplace environment, organizations, and their employees. Technically, industrial and organizational psychology – sometimes referred to as I/O psychology or work psychology – actually focuses on two separate areas that are closely related. Some professionals might liken it to yin and yang – one can’t exist without the other.
The industrial side of industrial and organizational psychology generally focuses on the individuals and his relationship to the workplace. This might cover such things as job analysis, employee safety, employee training, job performance measurement, and employee hiring systems.
The organizational side of industrial and organizational psychology, on the other hand, focuses on the organization and workplace as a whole. Increasing productivity and maximizing the performance of n organization as a whole is often covered under this area of industrial and organizational psychology. For example, professionals concerned with this aspect of I/O psychology will often look at how an organization might affect a worker’s individual behavior. This might include studies on interpersonal relationships in the workplace, as well as workplace environments and organizational policies.
2. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
Average beginning salary $151,139
Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia to patients before and after surgical, diagnostic, therapeutic, and obstetrical procedures. They also provide pain management and emergency services, including airway management. CRNAs oversee the health of patients post-surgery. They’re an advanced practice registered nurse.
CRNAs can work independently. Their practice varies by state. They provide anesthetics to patients in every practice setting and for every type of surgery or procedure. They’re the only anesthesia-providers in most rural hospitals.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a high demand for CRNAs, especially in medically underserved areas such as rural areas and inner cities.
CRNAs need a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or other appropriate bachelor’s degree, and at least a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program. The programs take 24 to 36 months to complete, and require a current registered nurse’s license.
CRNAs have to pass a national certification examination and have at least one year of work experience in an acute-care nursing setting, such as a surgical intensive-care unit or a medical intensive-care unit.
1. Chief Nursing Officer
Average beginning salary: $173,000
This role also can be called Director of Nursing. You are responsible for the management of an entire nursing department, and the position is generally regarded as the highest-paying nursing career. You will probably need to have a Master of Science in Nursing, or a Master of Health Administration.
The Director of Nursing assumes authority, responsibility, and accountability for the delivery of nursing services in the facility. In collaboration with facility administration, allocates department resources in an efficient and economic manner so that each resident can attain or maintain their highest practical physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. Collaborates with other departments, medical professionals, consultants, and organizations, including government agencies and advocacy groups, to develop, support and coordinate resident care, related administrative functions, and to represent the interests of the facility.