Healthcare Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree

Updated: July 14, 2020

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    The healthcare field provides many opportunities to members of the military community. The growth rate of jobs in the healthcare sector is projected to be 14 percent through 2028, making healthcare the fastest-growing job sector in the United States. Additionally, as more people reach retirement age, jobs in this sector will continue to be necessary for many years to come.

    Jobs In Healthcare That Don't Require a Degree There are many jobs in healthcare that can be obtained with either a certificate, or an associate degree. These jobs are a great way for someone to begin their career in the healthcare field, while not having to spend several years in school.

    Jobs In Healthcare That Require A Certificate

    Many roles that require a certificate can be obtained within one to two years. Opportunities in healthcare that require a certificate (or diploma) include:

    • Dental assistant: tasks include taking and developing X-rays; assisting dentists during procedures; preparing and sterilizing instruments; assisting with lab duties, like helping to make casts of patients’ teeth. Requirements differ by state, but dental assistants may require certification or a Dental Assistant Diploma.
    • Massage therapist: therapists can work in fitness centers, spas, hospitals, or private offices. They help patients manage pain, recover from injuries, and promote overall wellness and relaxation. Massage therapists must complete training in anatomy, massage techniques, and other topics, and may need to obtain a license or registration in their state.
    • Occupational therapy aide: aides set up equipment, transport patients, and assist with insurance forms and billing. This role requires a high school diploma, and most training is provided on the job.
    • Patient care technicians: technicians work in nursing homes, residential care facilities, and hospitals to provide basic care to patients who are sick or injured.
    • Physical therapy aides: aides work under the supervision of physical therapists and help set up equipment for patients, help with transporting patients, and perform other clerical tasks as necessary.
    • Radiologic technologists and MRI technologists: technologists perform diagnostic imaging exams, such as X-rays and MRIs. They usually work in hospitals.
    • Medical scribe: scribes help physicians complete patient charts using electronic medical records software; the role requires being able to type quickly and an interest in medicine.
    • Medical assistant: assistants support medical staff through tasks such as appointment scheduling, bookkeeping, and updating medical records. The role requires a postsecondary program that can be completed in about 12 months.
    • Phlebotomist: these professionals draw blood in lab settings; the role requires a certification that usually takes between six and twelve weeks to earn.
    • Medical coder: coders review medical records to determine the proper codes for insurance reimbursement. Training varies based on the employer.
    • Jobs in assisted living: roles in assisted living facilities can include personal care assistants, administrative personnel, maintenance, and housekeeping.
    • Pharmacy technician: techs work closely with patients and pharmacists, and perform tasks such as preparing and dispensing medications, and processing insurance information. The role requires a certification that can be completed in a few months.
    • Surgical technologists: techs work alongside surgeons helping to prepare patients for surgery, operate robotic surgical equipment, provide materials and tools to surgeons, and help patients during recovery. An individual can become a surgical technologist by completing a one to two year certificate or diploma program.
    • EMT and paramedic: these professionals are often the first to the scene of an accident, and provide emergency treatment to patients before they get to the hospital. EMT training consists of a three month certificate program and state licensure, while becoming a paramedic requires two years of training.

    Want to get a degree but not interested in spending years in school? An associate degree typically takes two years or less. Decrease that time commitment by taking and passing entrance exams such as CLEP and Dantes. Here are some jobs in healthcare you can do with just an associate degree.

    Jobs In Healthcare That Require An Associate Degree

    • Dental Hygienist: hygienists work in dentists’ office cleaning teeth, examining patients, and providing preventive care. This role requires an associate’s degree as well as a state license, but is well-suited to part-time work; over 50 percent of all dental hygienists work part time.
    • Diagnostic medical sonographer: sonographers operate equipment to produce images to help physicians diagnose various conditions. Specialization can be in abdominal, obstetric, neuro, or musculoskeletal sonography. In addition to an associate’s degree, some employers require certification.
    • Medical billing and coding specialist: specialists ensure the accuracy of health data so that insurance reimbursements are correct, and to ensure patient treatment records are accurate.
    • Medical equipment repairer: these professionals install, maintain, and repair medical equipment like X-ray machines and CAT scanners. In addition to an associate’s degree, specialty certifications are required for some roles, depending on the position.
    • Medical lab technician: technicians may work in hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, or doctor’s offices, analyzing samples of tissues or bodily fluids to look for signs of disease or illness.
    • Occupational therapy assistant: assistants work with patients to help them perform therapeutic activities, assist occupational therapists in developing therapy plans, and record patient progress. In addition to an associate’s degree, state licensure is also required.
    • Physical therapy assistant: assistants help recovering patients manage pain and regain range of motion after an injury or illness. State licensure is required in addition to an associate’s degree.
    • Radiation therapist: therapists administer radiation treatment using high energy X-rays to treat cancer. They work with radiation oncologists, oncology nurses, and other staff. This role requires state licensure as well as an associate’s degree.
    • Respiratory therapist: therapists treat patients with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and cystic fibrosis using chest physiotherapy and other methods. This role also requires state licensure, and a certification from the National Board for Respiratory Care is beneficial in obtaining employment.
    • Surgical technologist: technologists assist physicians prior to and during surgery by preparing operating rooms, preparing patients for surgery, and handing instruments to the surgeon.

    With the variety of opportunities in healthcare that can be obtained with two years of training or less, members of the military community can find a rewarding career without the added stress of years of schooling. These jobs provide excellent opportunities to those within the military community, while giving them the chance to help others.


    About The AuthorHeather Maxey works at a non-profit that addresses military ineligibility. She is an Army spouse, and met her husband while working as a Health Educator at Fort Bragg.


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