5 Ways to Get Started in the Medical Field
Healthcare is growing and with it comes a wide range of promising career opportunities. If you’ve ever dreamed of working in the medical field, the time to explore it is now. From nursing and laboratory technology to medical assisting, there are tons of career options. Here are five ways you can get started.
Trade schools offer diploma or certification options that make breaking into healthcare easy — especially if you need to get out of the classroom and into a paying job quickly and without incurring high debt. Training programs for medical and dental assisting as well as practical nursing are popular. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, all three fields are expected to grow faster than average through 2026, and because demand is so high, salaries are keeping pace. Medical assistants can expect to make more than $33,000 annually, and they represent one of the fastest-growing employment segments in healthcare. A dental assistant’s wages are closer to $38,000, but opportunities are somewhat more limited. A Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse can expect to earn more than $45,000, but a professional license is required, and positions are rarely Monday through Friday.
Having an associate degree opens more doors in the medical field. Because credits may be transferable to other programs, it represents good value for students who want to get into healthcare as professionals and grow their careers over time with additional education. Nurses, laboratory and x-ray technicians, dental hygienists, and therapy aides can all get started with an associate degree. In some cases, trade school graduates can apply for similar jobs, but an associate degree program is more rigorous and qualifies candidates for positions with greater responsibility and higher wages. Medical assisting, for example, is an entry-level field that requires at least a vocational school education, but an associate degree offers the training necessary for management positions. You may be required to complete an internship as part of your schooling to receive an associate degree.
As healthcare becomes more complex, employers are increasingly seeking candidates with higher education. Medical technologists, dental hygienists, and diagnostic technicians with bachelor’s degrees can expect a broader range of employment opportunities and generous salaries. A registered nurse can expect a ten-percent higher starting wage. For students with clear career goals, getting a bachelor’s degree is the fastest route to a professional-level career, and graduates are perfectly positioned to add to their credentials by tacking on a master’s degree or specialty certifications.
Members of the military can’t always choose what they do while enlisted, but for those with an aptitude and a desire to serve as a healthcare specialist, opportunities are plentiful. The military needs doctors, nurses, and medics as well as support staff. Any training received can easily translate into a civilian career. Additionally, the military will sometimes even pay for your schooling if you sign up for active duty. This can be a great option for you to get started in the medical field without incurring a bunch of debt from the cost of going to school.
A career in healthcare is rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re intrigued but you’re not yet confident it’s right for you, volunteering is the perfect way to test the waters. It’s an unpaid position, but it offers insight into possible career choices. Join the staff of a low-cost clinic over the weekend or see the world as part of a medical outreach team that serves poor communities in countries like Haiti, Kenya, or Ghana.
Healthcare is a challenging field, but it’s flexible, engaging and hardly dull. It may seem intimidating to try and break into a healthcare career, but there are many paths such as the ones above that can get you started. Though it may be daunting at first if you persevere and explore which healthcare path is right for you, a rewarding career is waiting for you.