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15 Unique and In-Demand Medical Careers That Have Online Degree Programs

Healthcare is a booming field right now, largely thanks to those booming Baby Boomers. The reason is simple: Older people, even healthy ones, tend to utilize more healthcare services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 14% growth rate across the entire industry in the next 10 years, with the industry adding more jobs than any other occupational category.

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In addition to doctors and nurses, every medical facility depends on a huge crew of people to keep things running. Some of those positions are obvious, like the medical assistant who takes patients' vitals, or the front-desk receptionist. But others are less so.

Whether you’re interested in working behind the scenes or you’re passionate about working directly with patients, the healthcare field is full of lucrative job opportunities that can provide long-term stability. Even better, patient-facing jobs have little risk of being outsourced.

One other significant plus: Healthcare is about as “recession-proof” as any job field can get.

Here, we’ll spotlight 15 career paths that you can enter after earning your degree online.

Note: For programs that include clinical duties  or direct patient interaction, you may be required to complete a portion of your training in-person. It's also important to note that some positions may require state licensing in addition to a degree.

1. Health Informatics/Health Information Systems

Degree requirement: Bachelor’s

Median salary:  $62,663

This career blends information technology and healthcare. In this position, you'll help ensure the accessibility, integrity, and security of medical records. You'll also be deeply involved with ensuring that your facility is complying with HIPAA and other regulations that govern medical records. 

Having a working understanding of medical terminology is important for this career path because your job may require you to extract information and organize data to help build models for patient outcomes. You may also train medical practitioners and staff on how to use the record system. 

2. Clinical Laboratory Technologists

Degree requirement: Bachelor’s

Median salary: $52,330

In this career, you'll analyze blood, urine, or other samples to determine the presence of absence of certain conditions. Generally, you will not be drawing samples yourself, but rather will perform the laboratory testing that has been ordered by the patient's doctor. 

Your job setting could be a hospital, lab, or physician’s office.

3. Dental Hygienist

Degree requirement: Associate’s

Median salary: $74,820

Dental hygienists are often the first people you see after you sit down in the dentist’s chair. In this job, you’ll clean teeth, give patients a preliminary exam for signs of oral diseases, and take X-rays.

Many dental hygienists work part-time, which can be an excellent perk if you want the option for future flexibility.

4. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Degree requirement: Associate’s

Median salary: $72,510

In this position, you’ll operate imaging equipment (such as an ultrasound machine) to get an internal view of various organs. The machine generates high-frequency waves into a patient's body to create an image.

Tests that are performed by a sonographer may be called a sonogram, ultrasound, or echocardiogram (also called an ECG or EKG). Sonographers also have to take patient histories, troubleshoot equipment problems, and maintain patient records. 

5. Cardiovascular Technologist

Degree requirement: Associate’s

Median salary: $56,850

This is a job with heart. (Forgive the terrible pun.) But seriously … in this career, you’ll spend your days examining patients’ hearts to determine cardiovascular health, diagnose blockages, and help keep a patient's heart pumping during surgery using specialized imaging equipment.

Tests you may perform include the echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, or stress test.

6. Dietician/Nutritionist

Degree requirement: Bachelor’s

Median salary: $60,370

In this job, you'll use specialized knowledge about how diet and nutrition can impact overall health or specific conditions. 

Dietitians and nutritionists work in many settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, cafeterias, and even in the public sector for state and local governments.

7. Nuclear Medicine Technologists

Degree requirement: Associate’s

Median salary: $76,820

Nuclear medicine technologists do highly specialized work in preparing radioactive drugs and administering for imaging or therapeutic purposes. Radioactive drugs can help abnormal areas of the body show up on diagnostic images. 

Technologists may also operate the imaging equipment.

Most nuclear medicine technologists work in hospitals. Some work in physicians’ offices, diagnostic laboratories, or imaging clinics. Positions are generally full-time.

8. Radiation Therapists

Degree requirement: Associate’s

Median salary: $82,330

This job is mainly about fighting cancer. If you go into this field, you'll operate machines that deliver radiation treatment to cancer patients, with the goal of shrinking or removing tumors. You will also participate in creating patient treatment plans by collecting and analyzing data.

Radiation therapists work in hospitals, offices of physicians, and outpatient centers. Most radiation therapists work full time.

9. MRI Technologists

Degree requirement: Associate’s

Median salary: $71,670

This career blends information technology and healthcare. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images. This is a job with a high level of patient contact. You'll not only conduct tests, you'll need to help make the patient comfortable and explain what they can expect during the procedure. 

MRI technologists work in healthcare facilities, and more than half work in hospitals.

10. Radiologic Technologist

Degree requirement: Associate’s

Median salary: $59,520

In this job, you'll perform a variety of tests to help diagnose and treat medical conditions. Tests include  X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and computed tomography (or CT scans).

Radiologic and MRI technologists work in healthcare facilities, and more than half work in hospitals.

11. Respiratory Therapist

Degree requirement: Associate’s

Median salary: $60,000

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing — for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. In this job, you'll interview patients, perform chest exams, analyze specimens, and administer treatments.

Most respiratory therapists work full time. Because they may work in medical facilities, such as hospitals that are always open, some may work evening, night, or weekend hours.

12. Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technician

Degree requirement: Bachelor’s

Median salary: $69,370

This position is all about keeping staff and patients safe from workplace hazards and complying with federal regulations under the Occupation Health and Safety Act (OSHA). 

This career path is not just limited to the medical sector, but the healthcare field offers many varied opportunities for people in this field. If you're employed in this position in a hospital, lab, or other clinical setting, you'll help institute safety procedures such as sharps disposal, proper management of biohazards, and adherence to safe handling of contagions, among many other duties. You'll also monitor the facility for compliance and conduct safety training. 

13. Biomedical Engineer

Degree requirement: Bachelor’s

Median salary: $88,550

If you an interest in invention and innovation, this may be the career for you. Biomedical engineers create and optimize medical equipment, devices, and software that can help improve patient outcomes. From artificial organs to creating computer simulations of body processes, there is a lot of interesting subject matter to tackle in this field. 

14. Medical and Health Services Manager

Degree requirement: Bachelor’s

Median salary: $99,730

If you're interested in an executive-level position, you may want to consider studying to be a Medical and Health Services Manager. In this position, you'll coordinate and direct medical services across a variety of settings. For example, you may manage an entire facility for a group of physicians, or you manage one specific clinical area or department within a hospital or clinic. 

To slide into this top-level spot, you'll need to have a solid background in:

  • business
  • ethics
  • finance
  • healthcare laws, and
  • technology.

15. Clinical Systems Analyst

Degree  requirement: Bachelor's

Median salary: $89,000

This is another IT job with a medical focus. In this position, you'll investigate, diagnose, and fix problems within medical records and billing systems.

You'll need the regular background of systems analyst (programming languages, operating systems, etc.), along with some clinical knowledge and expertise of healthcare-related hardware and software systems. 

What's next?

Whether you go to school in-person or online, earning your college degree is a smart way to help ensure your long-term employment and increase your earning potential. To learn more about the benefits of online education, see 8 Reasons Why Online Education is Better than Traditional.

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