Types Of Education You’ll Need For A Career In Healthcare

Healthcare is a popular occupational field in the United States, especially with the demand for qualified healthcare professionals and strong salaries. While many people think of doctors and nurses as common medical careers, this field’s opportunities are extensive.

Although some healthcare professions require extensive post-secondary training, not all healthcare occupations require advanced degrees. The amount and type of education you’ll need will depend on what form of healthcare career you want to pursue.

Doctoral Degree

It typically takes between seven and 15 years to enter careers requiring a doctoral degree. In addition to several years of study, most of these professions require individuals to complete internship or residency requirements. The amount of training to become a licensed doctor, for example, depends on the doctor’s field of specialization.

Audiologists are required to earn a doctoral degree in audiology. Audiologists specialize in evaluating patients with hearing or balance issues. They’re qualified to evaluate a patient’s ear canal health and administer tests to confirm the level of hearing loss, determine the cause, and develop an appropriate treatment plan. These medical professionals are familiar with top rated hearing aids that restore hearing. Audiologists refer the best hearing aid options to their patients and help them determine the best option for their needs. Audiologists can also prescribe surgery and teach patients how to prevent further hearing loss. An audiologist can opt to work with patients of all ages or specialize in pediatrics, which means they focus on treating children.

Other medical professionals who must complete a doctoral degree include dentists, veterinarians, physical therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, and chiropractors.

Master’s Degree

It usually takes between five and six years of post-secondary study to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Most master’s degree programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s, although some programs may admit individuals with an associate’s degree and relevant work experience.

Nurse practitioners are highly educated professionals who’re qualified to assess patients, order diagnostic tests, prescribe medication, and refer patients to specialists. Nurse practitioner programs enable registered nurses (RNs) to advance in their careers. Nurse practitioners who specialize as family nurse practitioners (FNPs) can serve as primary care providers for families, treating patients of all ages, and providing preventative care. These medical professionals need to be a master of science in nursing (MSN) to work as a nurse practitioner.

Occupational therapists help those affected by disability, illness, or injury. For example, occupational therapists may help stroke victims regain and refine motor and daily living skills.

Physician assistants and speech-language pathologists are also required to have a master’s degree.

Bachelor’s Degree

It usually takes three to four years of post-secondary study to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Although it’s possible to become a nurse with a diploma or associate’s degree, it’s common for American nurses to have a bachelor’s degree. Individuals who complete a bachelor’s degree have more opportunities for advancement. RNs provide direct patient care, monitor patients, help perform medical tests, give patients medication, and update patient records. RNs also educate patients about how to manage their condition and care for their health.

Other healthcare professionals who need to have a bachelor’s degree include dieticians, nutritionists, and biological technicians.

Associate’s Degree

Two to three years of post-secondary study are required to earn an associate’s degree. One of the advantages of earning an associate’s degree is that graduates work in their field while continuing their studies to qualify for advancement opportunities.

Occupational therapy assistants and physical therapy assistants need associate’s degrees. Occupational therapy assistants work under the supervision of occupational therapists. They assess patients, lead therapeutic exercises, and teach patients how to use assistive devices. Physical therapy assistants perform similar tasks under the direction of a physical therapist.

Nuclear medicine technologists, radiation therapists, medical assistants, MRI technologists, dental hygienists, paramedics, and veterinary technicians can also begin their careers with associate degrees.

Certificate or Diplomas

A post-secondary diploma can take two years to earn, while certification usually takes less than one year of post-secondary studies. Phlebotomists, medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, dental assistants, occupational health and safety technicians, emergency medical technicians, and surgical technologists can launch their careers with a certificate or diploma. Some programs can be completed in one semester.

High School

Veterinary assistants, occupational therapy aides, physical therapy aides, personal care aides, and orderlies can usually enter the workforce with a high school diploma. These healthcare workers acquire the skills needed through on-the-job training.

Whether you’re interested in pursuing extensive post-secondary studies or want to start a healthcare career after high school, there are healthcare opportunities. If your preference is to complete some post-secondary studies, you can train for a medical career with just a few months or years of classes. Some medical professionals, such as nurses, can also enter their field after a few years of study and continue their education to qualify for advancement opportunities.