Explore Some of the Best Entry-Level Jobs to Launch Your Healthcare Career
There are many entry-level jobs in the medical field. Not only do they offer great opportunities for advancement, but they can also provide you with a great deal of job security and personal fulfillment. While most healthcare jobs have differing requirements, you might be surprised at how many jobs you can qualify for in the healthcare industry.
To help you follow the right career path, we’ve compiled a list of the 12 best entry-level medical jobs. Many healthcare jobs are available, so we chose to focus on the highest-paying jobs you can pursue without prior work experience or a four-year degree.
Continue reading to learn about some of the best healthcare jobs to start a successful and satisfying career in the medical field.
1. Medical Scientist
In the world of healthcare, Medical Scientists perform research that strives to improve overall human health. These professionals typically use clinical trials and other fact-finding methods to obtain their findings.
What Does a Medical Scientist Do?
Medical Scientists often form hypotheses and create experiments with little or no supervision. In fact, they usually lead teams of technicians or students who carry out support tasks. Medical Scientists analyze the roots of diseases as well as other health problems. For instance, a Medical Scientist who performs cancer research might conceive a combination of drugs that could lessen the disease’s progress. A clinical trial may even be conducted to test the drugs.
What are the Requirements to Become a Medical Scientist?
Medical Scientists typically have a Ph.D. in biology or related life science. Others might seek a medical degree instead of—or in addition to—a Ph.D. Start this career path with a Medical Lab Science degree or a bachelor’s degree program that can be completed in as little as 120 weeks.
Medical Scientist Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a Medical Scientist is about $104,000, or about $50 per hour. This is even higher, on average than most other occupations.
Medical Scientist Job Outlook
By 2031, the BLS projects employment of Medical Scientists to grow by 17%, which is much higher than the average growth rate for all jobs (5%). As the population ages, the rate of chronic disease will increase. Medical Scientists are vital when it comes to the research of disease treatment.
2. Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered Nurses (RNs) often serve as primary caregivers of their patients. They provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients about several health conditions, and offer emotional support to patients and their families.
What Does a Registered Nurse Do?
The daily tasks of a Registered Nurse depend on where they work. However, usually, they support doctors and other healthcare specialists. Some RNs also oversee Licensed Practical Nurses/Licensed Vocational Nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.
There are various opportunities for RNs to work with specific patient groups. Below are some examples:
- Addiction nurses
- Cardiovascular nurses
- Critical care nurses
- Neonatal nurses
- Public health nurses
- Rehabilitation nurses
What are the Requirements to Become a Registered Nurse?
Registered Nurses often pursue one of three education paths:
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree
- An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- A diploma from an approved nursing program
Registered nurses must also be licensed.
While not always required, it’s beneficial to pursue a BSN degree. A BSN can afford more opportunities, a higher salary, and leadership roles. In addition, a BSN degree can usually be completed in as little as 36 months.
Registered Nurse Salary
According to the BLS, RNs bring home an average of about $83,000 annually or about $40 per hour. The top 10 percent even earn more than $120,000 per year.
Registered Nurse Job Outlook
The BLS projects the need for Registered Nurses to grow an above-average 6% by 2031, meaning thousands more will be hired all over the country in addition to all those already working.
3. Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision of physical therapists. They help patients regain movement and manage pain. As you can see, they are directly involved in the care of patients.
What Does a Physical Therapist Assistant Do?
Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) often observe patients before, during, and after therapy. They also report their observations to the physical therapist. In addition, they help patients perform exercises under the physical therapist’s plan of care. PTAs can treat patients through several techniques, such as massages and stretches. They may use devices or equipment to help patients in the process.
What are the Requirements to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant?
Physical Therapist Assistants usually need an associate degree from an accredited program as well as a license or certification. However, getting your Physical Therapist Assistant degree is often the most attractive to potential employers, and it’s possible to complete the coursework in as little as 75 weeks.
Physical Therapist Assistant Salary
As reported by the BLS, the average annual salary for RNs is about $61,000, which works out to about $29 per hour. The top 25% of earners can bring home over $75K annually.
Physical Therapist Assistant Job Outlook
According to the BLS, demand for healthcare services is projected to steadily increase as a significant portion of the population ages, meaning the long-term job prospects for Physical Therapist Assistants are excellent. The BLS estimates employment of PTAs will grow 24% between 2021-2031, which is faster than average for all occupations (5%).
4. Surgical Technologist
Surgical Technologists, also known as operating room technicians, assist with surgical operations. They prepare operating rooms, position equipment, and help doctors and first assistants during surgeries.
What Does a Surgical Technologist Do?
In addition to preparing operating rooms for surgery, Surgical Technologists sterilize equipment and ensure there are enough supplies for surgery. They also prep patients for surgery by washing and disinfecting their incision sites. During the surgery, Surgical Technologists may pass the surgeon instruments. Afterward, they count supplies; it’s essential that they count surgical instruments. This task helps ensure that no foreign objects have been left in the patients.
Above all else, Surgical Technologists are responsible for maintaining a sterile environment.
What are the Requirements to Become a Surgical Technologist?
People looking to become a Surgical Technologist typically need a certificate or an associate’s degree—fortunately, this Surgical Technology Degree can be completed in as little as 90 weeks. No matter which school you choose, remember to check the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) to ensure your program is accredited in Surgical Technology.
Once you have completed your program, you may need to seek certification. Check your state’s rules or regulations to be sure.
Surgical Technologist Salary
According to the BLS, the average annual salary for a Surgical Technologist is $54,000, or about $26 hourly. The top 25% of earners in the field bring home an average of nearly $61,000 annually.
Surgical Technologist Job Outlook
According to the BLS, the number of positions for Surgical Technologists is projected to grow 6% by 2031. As the baby-boom generation ages and requires increasing medical care, the need for Surgical Technologists will also increase.
5. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
A critical part of almost any healthcare environment, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) provide primary medical care. They are also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs). These medical professionals work under the supervision of Registered Nurses and physicians.
What Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Do?
The duties of an LPN vary and often depend on their work setting as well as the state. In general, Licensed Practical Nurses perform the following tasks:
- Monitor patients’ health (i.e., check their blood pressure)
- Administer basic patient care, such as changing bandages or inserting catheters
- Ensure the basic comfort of patients
- Discuss the care they are providing and listen to a patient’s concerns
- Report patients’ status and concerns to RNs and doctors
- Keep detailed records of a patient’s health
What are the Requirements to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?
Starting a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse requires the completion of an approved educational program. These programs typically take a year or less to complete. You can complete your Practical Nursing diploma in as little as 64 weeks. After the program, graduates must obtain a license to become LPNs. Additional certification requirements may vary by state and specialty.
Licensed Practical Nurse Salary
According to the BLS, LPNs earn an annual salary of about $52,000. The top 10% can earn more than $63,000 per year.
Licensed Practical Nurse Job Outlook
As the public demand for medical services continues to increase, so will the need for Licensed Practical Nurses. The BLS estimates employment for LPNs to increase by 6% in the coming decade, which is about as fast as the average job-growth rate.
6. Dental Assistant
Dental Assistants (DAs) work closely with dentists, dental hygienists, and patients. Although their tasks vary by state, they perform administrative and clinical functions. It’s an ideal career for those who enjoy working with their hands while caring for patients.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
In the U.S., each state controls the scope of practice for Dental Assistants. For instance, in some areas, DAs can polish teeth and apply sealants, fluoride, or topical anesthetic. Generally speaking, they perform tasks like the following:
- Ensure that patients are comfortable in the dental chair
- Prepare patients and the work area for treatments and procedures
- Sterilize dental instruments
- Hand instruments to dentists during procedures
- Dry patients’ mouths using suction hoses and other equipment
- Instruct patients in proper oral hygiene
- Process x-rays and complete lab tasks under the direction of a dentist
- Keep records of dental treatments
- Schedule patient appointments
- Work with patients on billing and payment
What are the Requirements to Become a Dental Assistant?
There are various paths you can take to become a Dental Assistant. Some states require aspiring DAs to graduate from an accredited program before passing an exam. In other areas, Dental Assistants learn through on-the-job training and do not have to complete any formal requirements.
The most reliable way to jump-start your DA career is with a Dental Assisting diploma, which you can receive after completing a program in as little as 40 weeks.
Dental Assistant Salary
Dental Assistants, on average, earn an annual salary of about $43,000, or around $20 per hour, according to the BLS. Those who work in Minnesota or Massachusetts tend to earn the highest wages.
Dental Assistant Job Outlook
Around 56,400 jobs are expected to open for Dental Assistants each year over the decade. The BLS estimates career demand for Dental Assistants will increase by 8% from 2021-2031 as more people age and seek preventive dental services.
7. Sterile Processing Technician
In the operating room, Sterile Processing Technicians play a crucial role in the health and safety of surgical patients. Sterile Processing Technicians, also known as Medical Equipment Preparers, are devoted to maintaining a clean surgical environment by inspecting, cataloging, and sterilizing all surgical instruments and equipment.
What Does a Sterile Processing Technician Do?
Everyday tasks for Sterile Processing Technicians include overseeing the proper technique used during the decontamination and sterilization process of surgical equipment. If problems arise or errors occur, they will report to the surgeon and be tasked with finding replacements. They may also test and calibrate medical equipment, perform preventive maintenance and service, keep records of maintenance and repairs, and more.
What are the Requirements to Become a Sterile Processing Technician?
While some employers might require a degree, many Sterile Processing Technicians can start this path with a Sterile Processing diploma that can be earned in as little as 42 weeks. Once you have a Sterile Processing diploma, you can seek several optional credentials. These include the following certifications:
- Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET)
- Certified Radiology Equipment Specialists (CRES)
- Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES)
Sterile Processing Technician Salary
According to BLS data, Sterile Processing Technicians average a salary of around $42,000 annually, which equals about $20.00 in hourly pay. Sterile Processing Technicians working in professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers tend to get paid the most.
Sterile Processing Technician Job Outlook
The BLS projects employment of Sterile Processing Technicians to grow 17% by 2031, more than triple the rate at which most jobs are growing. With the aging population and the prevalence of chronic diseases, the demand for medical care and equipment will increase.
8. Medical Office Administrator
Medical Office Administrators (MOAs) fill a unique role. Not only are they good with numbers, but they also have exceptional communication skills. These healthcare professionals are often detailed, organized, and motivated. They play an important role in medical office management and ensure that physician offices run well.
What Does a Medical Office Administrator Do?
Medical Office Administrators (MOAs) perform clerical tasks through specific knowledge of medical terminology and hospital, clinic, or laboratory procedures. Their responsibilities can include scheduling appointments and billing patients. They also compile and record medical charts, reports, and correspondence.
What are the Requirements to Become a Medical Office Administrator?
One of the fastest ways to get started in the healthcare industry is by earning an MOA diploma. This program involves learning about medical terminology and medical office procedures and can be completed in as little as 34 weeks. Certifications are often available from multiple organizations and can make job applicants more desirable to potential employers.
Medical Office Administrator Salary
According to the BLS, MOAs earn an average annual salary of about $40,000. As of 2021, some of the top-paying states for MOAs include the District of Columbia, Washington, and California.
Medical Office Administrator Job Outlook
Electronic health records continue to become more and more widespread, which should bode well for the employment prospects of Medical Office Administrators. This also means that long-term prospects for this career are very solid despite the BLS reporting that overall demand for office administrators is trending downward.
9. Phlebotomy Technician
Phlebotomy Technicians draw blood for tests, research, or donations. They also assist patients who are anxious before their blood draw and they help those who experience an adverse reaction.
What Does a Phlebotomy Technician Do?
Phlebotomy Technicians mainly draw blood, which is then used for medical laboratory testing or procedures (i.e., transfusions). Because all blood looks similar, Phlebotomy Technicians must thoroughly identify and label the blood they have collected before entering this information into a database.
In addition, Phlebotomy Technicians may also collect urine or other bodily samples. They help instruct patients on procedures for proper collection, ensure that the sample is acceptable, and check that the container is clearly labeled.
What are the Requirements to Become a Phlebotomy Technician?
Completing the required education to become a Phlebotomy Technician can happen relatively fast. In fact, you can complete your Phlebotomy Technician diploma in as little as 34 weeks. Some states may require that Phlebotomy Technicians complete an accredited program, obtain a license or certification, or meet other requirements. For specific requirements, be sure to contact your state licensing agency.
Phlebotomy Technician Salary
Data from the BLS lists the average annual salary for Phlebotomy Technicians at about $38,000. Phlebotomy Technicians in scientific research and development services tend to make more than those in medical and diagnostic laboratories.
Phlebotomy Technician Job Outlook
According to the BLS, employment of Phlebotomy Technicians is projected to increase by 10 percent by 2031. The growing population will likely increase the demand for medical services like blood tests. Blood analysis will always remain an essential component of medical care. Therefore, demand for Phlebotomy Technicians will likely remain high.
10. Medical Assistant
Want to work in the front office as well as the exam room? Medical Assistants complete a wide range of tasks that include both administrative and clinical functions. They work in hospitals, the offices of physicians, and other healthcare facilities.
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical Assistants’ daily tasks are highly varied. Not only do they take and record a patient’s personal information, but they record vital signs, assist doctors during exams, collect laboratory specimens, sterilize medical instruments, administer electrocardiograms, schedule appointments, greet patients, and more.
What are the Requirements to Become a Medical Assistant?
While formal requirements for Medical Assistants can vary by state, there’s no doubt that a Medical Assisting diploma is a significant bonus for potential employers. A Medical Assisting diploma program features a combination of classroom and lab work and can be completed in as little as 36 weeks.
Medical Assistant Salary
According to BLS statistics, the average salary for a Medical Assistant is around $38,000, or about $18 per hour. The top 25% of earners (usually experienced MAs) can bring home $43,000 and up.
Medical Assistant Job Outlook
The BLS projects employment of Medical Assistants to rise by 16% before 2031, which is much greater than the average job-growth rate across all industries. Due to the large baby-boomer population, preventive medical services are on the rise. This means that Medical Assistants will be needed to perform routine tasks in doctors’ offices and other primary care areas.
11. Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy Technicians assist pharmacists by helping them dispense prescription medications to customers and health professionals. They typically work in hospitals and retail pharmacies.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Pharmacy Technicians work under the direction of pharmacists, who must check prescriptions before passing them to the patients. In many states, Pharmacy Technicians can compound or mix certain medications and contact doctors for prescription refill authorizations. In addition, Pharmacy Technicians may also need to use automated dispensing equipment.
What are the Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Depending on the location and employer, Pharmacy Technicians may need to complete a postsecondary program in pharmacy technology. A Pharmacy Technician diploma can often be completed in as little as 34 weeks and will feature hands-on instruction with real-world simulations.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
According to the BLS, Pharmacy Technicians earn an average salary of about $38,000. Technicians working in outpatient care centers tend to bring home the highest wages.
Pharmacy Technician Job Outlook
The coming decade shows a stable projected outlook from the BLS, as jobs in the Pharmacy Technician field are expected to increase as fast as the national average. With the healthcare industry expected to keep growing, there will be a continuing demand for well-trained Pharmacy Technicians.
12. Patient Care Technician
Patient Care Technicians might also be referred to as nursing assistants or nursing aides. They provide primary care while helping patients with activities related to daily living.
What Does a Patient Care Technician Do?
Patient Care Technicians are part of a healthcare team under the supervision of Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurses and Registered Nurses. Some of their everyday tasks include cleaning patients, helping them use the bathroom, measuring vital signs, serving meals, and more. Patient Care Technicians are often the primary caregivers in nursing and residential care facilities.
What are the Requirements to Become a Patient Care Technician?
Typically, Patient Care Technicians must complete a state-approved program and pass the state’s competency exam. A Patient Care Technician diploma can be earned in as little as 34 weeks. Keep in mind that specific requirements vary by state. Be sure to check with state boards of nursing or health for more information.
Patient Care Technician Salary
According to the latest data from the BLS, Patient Care Technicians earn an average annual salary of about $33,000. The highest-paid Patient Care Technicians tend to work in junior colleges or scientific research and development services.
Patient Care Technician Job Outlook
The BLS projects the number of Patient Care Technicians’ jobs to increase by 5% by 2031. Over the next decade, about 220,200 jobs are projected to open for Patient Care Technicians. Some of those openings may result from the need to replace workers who retire and exit the workforce.
Follow Your Dream Career
Whether you’d like to pursue hands-on work or stay behind the scenes, our list of top-paying, entry-level medical jobs can be a great launching pad to a fulfilling career. Consider which options are the right fit for your personality, long-term goals, and natural talents.
There’s a lot more to discover when it comes to all the job opportunities available in the medical field. Learn more about the number of available healthcare programs at Unitek College and start pursuing a new career today!