Being employed in the medical industry is often highly rewarding. You’ll get to help patients on a daily basis, and depending on the nature of your position, you could even save lives. Because medical staff are always in demand, you’ll be practically guaranteed a job no matter where your career takes you. And on top of that, many medical careers are high earning.
The problem is, there are so many potential careers to choose from. How can you decide which career path to take?
The Top Medical Careers to Consider
Let’s take a look at 10 of the most rewarding and most lucrative opportunities in the medical field:
- First, you could become a physician. Physicians are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients, and may specialize in a specific type of patient or treatment; for example, pediatricians focus on small children, while oncologists focus on cancer treatment. Physicians can work at hospitals or start their own practice, and typically must complete 10 years (or more) of college, as well as a residency program.
- Respiratory therapist. Respiratory therapists are a specialized healthcare provider trained to treat and assist people who suffer from conditions that affect their lung health and/or their ability to breathe. Therapists in this field often treat patients with asthma, emphysema, or other acute pulmonary diseases. With the help of continuing education classes from organizations like lastminuteceus.com, you can learn the most relevant, modern therapies and help your patients breathe better.
- Physical therapist. Physical therapists are another type of medical therapist. Their job is to help patients overcome the physical limitations of their injuries or illnesses. For example, it’s common for physical therapists to help patients overcome sports injuries with exercises designed to build strength and stimulate recovery.
- Registered nurse. One common career choice is to become a registered nurse, or RN. RNs coordinate patient care and provide emotional support to patients and their families. To become an RN, nurses must typically complete a bachelor’s degree program.
- Licensed practical nurse. If you’re interested in getting started quickly, you could begin your career as a limited practical nurse, or licensed vocational nurse (LVN). In this career, you’ll act as a nurse in semi-limited capacity, providing basic nursing care in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.
- Pharmacist or pharmacy technician. As a pharmacist, you’ll be responsible for providing medications to the people who need them, tapping into both chemistry and medical knowledge. As a pharmacy technician, you’ll be assisting a pharmacist—and you won’t require nearly as much training or education.
- Home health aid. Home health aids assist patients in their homes with daily tasks like personal hygiene and housekeeping. Typically, these patients are elderly, chronically ill, or unable to cognitively function normally. Little to no formal education is required to pursue this career.
- Emergency medical technician. As an EMT, you’ll be responsible for providing care to patients in the emergency room and in ambulances. It’s a high-paced and stressful job that can expose you to many types of patients in many different situations.
- Medical assistant. You could also consider a career as a medical assistant, in which you’ll handle administrative tasks in a clinic or hospital. To become a medical assistant, you’ll usually need an associate’s degree.
- Nursing assistant. A certified nursing assistant (CNA) usually provides assistances to registered nurses and LVNs. Your responsibilities could include getting vital sign measurements from patients, organizing equipment, and taking care of elderly patients. You may be able to begin work in this field with no formal education.
Note that these 10 medical careers are just the tip of the iceberg. When you consider the number of specialty fields available, and the number of potential career paths and sub-careers, there are literally hundreds of options to choose from.
What Are Your Career Goals?
If you’re having difficulty choosing which career you want in the medical field, try to narrow down the field by considering your personal goals.
Which of these factors are most important to you?
- How much time and money are you willing to spend on education and training? Many healthcare careers require many years of additional education, and even more years of training. If you’re in need of a career change now, or if you’re unwilling to devote that much time to training, there are other entry-level positions that might be accessible to you.
- Certain medical careers are more stressful and higher-paced than others. For example, if you’re a surgeon or a specialist physician, you might have higher workloads than your counterparts. You might also be forced to work certain hours. Any career where you’re working to improve others’ health can be stressful, but some are more stressful than others.
- Entry-level positions tend to pay less, while intensive positions are more lucrative. Of course, there’s also a tradeoff here; intensive career paths tend to pay more because they take more time and education to follow. In other words, you’ll be spending more time and money upfront in exchange for a richer long-term career path. Is that worth the trade?
- Upward trajectory. Where can you go from here? Is there room for advancement? Many skills and bits of knowledge are somewhat transferrable in the healthcare world. However, some positions and career paths offer more flexibility than others.
- How much demand is there for this position, and how might that demand change? People will always need medical treatment, so it’s unlikely for any career in healthcare to end up as a dead end. However, there are some careers (such as home health aids) that are growing much quicker than their counterparts.
- Variations and sub-fields. Are there any variations or sub-fields that are part of your chosen career path worth considering?
If you’re interested in a medical career but you still don’t know what path you want to follow, consider talking to medical professionals in your area to get their advice. You can also begin a pre-med program at university and take other specialty classes as you get closer to making a decision.