7 Fastest Ways To Start Your Healthcare Career Now
Healthcare is a field that's continually growing and always expanding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is estimating a 13% growth rate in healthcare occupations by 2031. This means roughly another 1.9 million jobs will be available. So, it's no surprise that a lot of people are looking to get into the healthcare field.
There are a lot of ways to get into a healthcare career, but some paths will let you get started faster than others. We’ll cover the seven quickest ways to get started working in the world of healthcare.
1. Medical Assistant
What is a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants act as liaisons between patients and the medical staff. They can work in a wide variety of healthcare facilities, and best of all, it's one of the fastest healthcare fields to get into!
How to Become a Medical Assistant
You can start working as a Medical Assistant in just 1 to 2 years. Medical Assistant programs are available both in-person and online, you just want to make sure you go through an accredited program!
How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?
The BLS reported their median salary for Medical Assistants in 2021 as $37,190, though salary will vary based on where you work and your level of experience, as well as what certification you have.
Why Become a Medical Assistant?
U.S. News & World Report lists Medical Assistants as the ninth best job for people without a college degree! It's a great way to get into the healthcare field quickly while allowing you to explore other healthcare options such as nursing.
2. Medical Coding and Billing
What is a Medical Coder and Biller?
Medical Coders and Billers translate the diagnosis and treatment from a healthcare provider into standardized codes that get sent to insurance companies and government agencies.
It's an in-demand job with a lot of flexibility. Medical Coders and Billers can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including from home! Some nurses transition into a career in medical coding and billing in order to have a work-from-home position.
How to Become a Medical Coder or Biller
One of the most appealing aspects of medical coding and billing is the fact that you can earn your certification and start earning a competitive salary in less than one year. You'll go through a certification program for either Medical Coding, Billing, or both, which can be completed either online or in person.
>> Related: How to Get Started in Medical Coding and Billing
How Much Do Medical Coders and Billers Make?
According to the BLS, medical coders earn on average $46,660 per year or $22.43 per hour as of May 2021. Employment for medical coders and billers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
3. Phlebotomy Technician
What is a Phlebotomy Technician?
Phlebotomy technicians, also known as Phlebotomists, draw blood from patients for testing and other purposes. They typically work in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, or outpatient laboratories.
How to Become a Phlebotomist
Becoming a phlebotomist is a relatively fast process. While some states require a certification or license to practice phlebotomy, some facilities train their phlebotomists on the job. Certification is obtained in a one to two-semester program.
>>Related: How to Become a Phlebotomist
How Much Do Phlebotomy Technicians Make?
According to the BLS, phlebotomy technicians earn an average annual salary of $37,380 per year or $17.97 per hour as of May 2021.
Skills and Characteristics You Need to Work as a Phlebotomist
Phlebotomists must work well with others as they interact directly with patients and often handle frightened or anxious patients. They should be comfortable interacting with patients of all ages, including infants and the elderly.
Because phlebotomy work requires accessing veins and handling blood and bodily fluids, you can’t be squeamish about needles and blood.
We Found The Following Schools with Online Phlebotomy Programs
4. Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)
What are Paramedics and EMTs?
Looking for a fast-paced job where you can thrive on adrenaline and work under pressure? Becoming an EMT or Paramedic may be the right path for you. EMTs and paramedics both work as part of the emergency medical services team, but the primary difference between the two lies in their education and what they are allowed to do. Both Paramedics and EMTs respond to emergency calls, perform medical services, and transport patients. EMTs can administer CPR, glucose, and oxygen. Paramedics can perform more complex procedures, including inserting IV lines, administering drugs, and applying pacemakers.
>> Related: The Ultimate Guide to Paramedic-to-RN Bridge Programs
How to Become a Paramedic or EMT
EMTs and paramedics are certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Certification requires completing a certified education program and passing the national exam. Some states have first-level state certifications that don’t require national certification.
Some EMT programs are non-degree programs, while others last up to two years. Becoming a paramedic requires completion of an Associate's degree program or an accredited on-the-job training program. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed. Programs are offered by
- Technical colleges
- Community colleges
- Facilities that specialize in emergency care training
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs offers a list of accredited programs for EMTs and paramedics, by state.
How Much Do Paramedics and EMTs make?
According to the BLS, the average annual salary as of May 2021 for paramedics and EMTs is $36,930 a year or $17.76 per hour. Overall employment of EMTs and paramedics is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
5.) Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
What is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?
Certified Nursing Assistants, CNAs, are a vital part of the nursing team. They assist patients with personal care and activities of daily living in a wide variety of settings including:
- Long term care facilities
- Home healthcare agencies
- Rehab facilities
How to Become a CNA
In order to become a certified nursing assistant, you'll need to complete a state-approved training program. These can be found at vocational schools, community colleges, and through the Red Cross, and take approximately 4 to 12 weeks to complete.
How Much Do Certified Nursing Assistants Make?
According to the BLS, the median average annual salary for certified nursing assistants in 2021 was $30,290. But keep in mind that wages vary depending on industry and location. Overall employment of nursing assistants and orderlies is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Skills and Characteristics You Need to Be a CNA
CNAs are often called "the backbone of healthcare." They must possess compassion and patience. It's important to note many nurses begin their careers as CNAs and continue their education while working.
6. Licensed Practical Nurse
What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?
LPNs are licensed nurses who complete an accredited, board-approved nursing program and pass the NCLEX-PN.
Each state has a Nurse Practice Act that defines the scope of practice for Licensed Practical Nurses. Some duties of LPNs include, but are not limited to:
- Administering medications
- Performing wound care
- Inserting catheters
- Performing lab procedures
- Coordinating care with patients' interdisciplinary team
- Supervising CNAs
Additionally, many LPNs work in an administrative and supervisory capacity. Some certifications allow LPNs to broaden their scope and job opportunities. Many registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses began their careers as LPNs. It’s important to note, that in some states LPNs are referred to as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).
Licensed practical nurses work in various settings:
- Long-term care facilities
- Rehab facilities
- Outpatient clinics
- Physician offices
- Home health
- Psychiatric facilities
- Correctional facilities
- Schools, colleges, or universities
How to Become an LPN
Most LPNs programs are 12 to 18 months long and give students a certification; however, some programs are longer, and its students walk away with an Associate's degree. LPN programs can are found at
- Technical schools
- Community colleges
- Allied health schools
Some states allow candidates who began registered nursing programs but didn’t finish or pass the NCLEX-RN to test as practical nurses.
How Much Do LPNs Make?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects LPN jobs to increase by 6% by 2031. The BLS reports that the median LPN salary in 2021 was $23.11 per hour or $48,070 per year.
7. Surgical Technologist
What is a Surgical Technologist?
Surgical technologists are members of operating room teams. Surgical techs work under the authority and supervision of the surgeon unless prohibited by state law or hospital policy.
How to Become a Surgical Tech
You can become a surgical technician through either a certificate program or an Associate's degree, and then pass the national surgical technology certification exam.
Training is available at community colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and the military. A certificate program can take 12 months, and an Associate's degree program takes two years to complete.
Eligibility to take the national surgical technology certification examination requires:
- A graduate of a surgical technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- Military program
How Much Do Surgical Technologists Make?
According to the BLS, surgical technology jobs are projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, and the average pay is $23.32 per hour or $48,510 per year.
Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development--while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for her latest.