1. Physician Assistant Studies
Physician assistants provide many of the same services as doctors but can enter the medical field much quicker, after earning a master’s degree in two years. The projected 31% employment growth for physician assistants between 2018-28 ranks significantly higher than other healthcare fields.
While tuition for this online program ranges from $80,000-$90,000, the rigorous training and financial investment proves well worth the effort. Graduates can expect to earn a median annual salary of $112,260.
2. Advanced Practice Registered Nursing
This master’s degree provides the required educational credential for the most highly paid careers in nursing: the APRN specialties of nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists.
Tuition for online APRN programs, based on $400-$800 per credit, can cost over $22,000. However, career opportunities continue to increase much faster than other occupations. APRN specialties are projected to grow 26% from 2018-20, offering six figure median salaries from $105,030 for nurse midwives to $174,790 for nurse anesthetists.
3. Healthcare Administration
Medical facilities of all kinds rely on healthcare administrators to coordinate nonclinical services, financial operations, and human resources. These positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, public health administration, or business administration.
Undergraduate and graduate tuition varies considerably, ranging from $9,000-$34,000 depending on degree level. The time and expense of earning a degree translates into rewarding career opportunities. Healthcare administrators can anticipate 18% projected job growth and a median annual salary of $100,980, according to the BLS.
4. Health Informatics
Educational options in health informatics range from postsecondary certificates to graduate degrees. Certificate or associate programs charge the most affordable tuition. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, which lead to the best-paying informatics management careers, can cost over $30,000.
Medical records and health information technicians who possess a certificate or associate degree earn a median annual salary of $40,350. Employment for these jobs is projected to increase by 11%. Graduate degree-holders can earn six figures as clinical data analysts or health services managers.
5. Physical Therapy
Physical therapists need a graduate degree, increasingly a doctorate, from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Although tuition for a three-year doctor of physical therapy degree may cost over $75,000, licensed physical therapists can anticipate projected employment growth of 22% from 2018-28.
Additional certifications in sports, geriatrics, and cardiovascular specialties can boost earnings significantly above the median annual salary of $89,440 reported by the BLS.
6. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapists can enter the field with an associate or bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Depending on the degree level, programs require 12-24 months of coursework and clinical training, with tuition rates from $9,000-$30,000.
A bachelor’s degree and certifications in allied health fields can improve salary and job prospects. The BLS projects 9% job growth in radiation therapy from 2018-28, and these professionals earn a median annual salary of $85,560.
7. Occupational Therapy
A two-year master’s degree serves as the minimum educational requirement for occupational therapy. A few schools offer a doctorate requiring 3-5 years of study. Tuition for a master’s program costs $15,000-$70,000, with doctoral programs charging several thousand more. Prospective occupational therapists often find the most affordable options at public institutions and in-state schools.
Licensed occupational therapists can expect a healthy employment outlook, with job growth projected at 18% from 2018-28 and a median annual salary of $84,950.
8. Speech-Language Pathology
This rapidly growing field generally requires a master’s degree accredited by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, and a state license. Master’s programs typically include courses in speech and language development, audiology, anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing, phonetics, and communication disorders. Tuition costs $23,000-$75,000, depending on the type of school.
These skilled professionals earn a median annual salary of $79,120, and the BLS projects employment growth of 27% in this field. This career offers graduates high employment satisfaction and a favorable job and salary outlook.
9. Nuclear Medicine Technology
Nuclear medicine technologists conduct diagnostic imaging to treat cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. Technologists may enter the field after completing a one-year certificate. Depending on the type of degree, tuition costs $3,000-$30,000.
The BLS projects a 7% job growth rate for this field, and reports a median annual salary of $77,950. Earning a bachelor’s accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology or additional certifications can enhance salary prospects.
10. Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Among the highest-ranking healthcare support jobs, diagnostic medical sonography applies ultrasound and other technology to create images used to assess medical conditions. Sonographers can enter the field quickly after completing a one-year certificate.
Many students choose to enroll in associate or bachelor’s programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. These programs often incorporate specializations corresponding to certification exams in areas of breast, abdominal, or pediatric sonography. Depending on the educational path, a sonography degree can cost $5,000-$40,000. The BLS projects a 14% employment growth rate for sonographers from 2018-28, with a median annual salary of $68,750.
11. Registered Nursing
A bachelor of science in nursing degree typically takes four years to complete. An associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma program requires only 2-3 years, including clinical experience and the required NCLEX-RN exam. Associate and diploma programs typically offer more affordable tuition rates compared to four-year bachelor’s degrees.
The medical needs of the aging population and changes in healthcare delivery continue to fuel the demand for RNs, resulting in a projected 12% increase in employment. RNs earn a median salary of $73,000 and experience high job satisfaction.
12. Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology
Degrees in MRI technology train graduates to operate MRI scanners, producing images that help doctors diagnose medical conditions. MRI technicians can enter the field with an associate or bachelor’s degree in radiography, or a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s in MRI technology. Depending on the type of degree, tuition costs $4,000-$15,000. Radiologic technologists and MRI technologists typically must complete an associate degree.
The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology accredits programs in radiography, and the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists accredits MRI programs. According to the BLS, these specialists earn a median annual salary of $62,280, with a projected 9% employment growth outlook for 2018-28.
13. Dietetics and Nutrition
A bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition, dietetics, food service management, or related fields can lead to rewarding employment prospects in dietetics and nutrition. The BLS projects employment growth of 11% for 2018-28, and reports that nutritionists and dieticians earn a median annual salary of $61,270.
A master’s degree provides the training to advance into clinical, public health, and policy careers. Depending on the type of program, a degree can cost $20,000-$80,000. Some states require these professionals to obtain licensing as a registered dietician, a credential administered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
14. Medical Laboratory Technology
Clinical laboratory technicians typically complete a two-year associate program in laboratory sciences. The more advanced clinical laboratory technologist positions require a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory technology. An associate program can charge as little as $2,500, while tuition rates for a bachelor’s degree may reach $60,000.
Technologists and technicians earn a median annual salary of $53,120, with the highest paying jobs in hospital settings. The employment outlook for medical laboratory technology indicates a projected 11% increase from 2018-20.
15. Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nursing
Training programs for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) appeal to students who want to begin their nursing careers as soon as possible. These certificate or diploma programs, offered by community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and some universities, take about one year to complete.
Depending on the type of program, a certificate or diploma program can cost $5,000-$40,000. LPNs and LVNs must pass the NCLEX-PN exam to earn state licensure. The BLS projects 11% employment growth from 2018-28 for these nurses, who earn a median annual salary of $47,480.