Healthcare degrees train students for many in-demand careers. Graduates may work in nursing, allied health, or surgical care. Some healthcare careers only require an associate degree.
The healthcare field offers many benefits. Professionals can impact people’s lives and make a positive contribution to society. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for healthcare professionals to grow 16% from 2020-2030. This is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Read on to learn about options for healthcare degrees and careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare
Many healthcare jobs pay above-average salaries. Healthcare practitioners and those in allied health occupations earn a median annual salary of $69,870. This exceeds the median annual salary of $41,950 for all occupations.
The BLS projects jobs for nurse practitioners, healthcare managers, occupational therapists, and respiratory therapists to grow from 2020-2030.
Yes. Many schools offer healthcare degrees online. Learners complete coursework online and fulfill clinical requirements locally.
What Does Someone Who Works in Healthcare Do?
Healthcare professionals work in many settings. These can include hospitals and outpatient care centers. Healthcare workers may also work in doctors’ offices and community health organizations. They treat patients, manage staff, and organize medical data.
Common healthcare job titles include registered nurse, pharmacist, surgeon, and physician. Allied health roles like dental hygienist and respiratory therapist require an associate degree. These careers pay above-average salaries.
What Kind of Healthcare Degrees Are Available?
Students can pursue healthcare degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Learners can also enroll in certificate programs. Prospective students should consider which program best meets their career goals. See below to learn about degree levels and potential career paths.
Healthcare certificate programs can help enrollees advance their careers and specialize their skills. Unlike degree-granting programs, certificate programs do not require general education coursework.
Many programs offer certificates in medical coding, practical nursing, and other entry-level healthcare areas. Students can earn a certificate in 12 months or less.
Associate degrees meet the entry-level requirements for many allied health careers. Associate degree-holders can pursue healthcare careers as respiratory therapists, sonographers, or radiation therapists. Learners can complete an associate degree in two years. Students gain foundational knowledge in human anatomy and physiology. They also strengthen allied health career skills.
Many healthcare associate programs include experiential learning, clinical hours, or a practicum. These programs can help prepare graduates for professional certifications.
Bachelor’s degrees in healthcare train learners for greater responsibilities in allied health and nursing careers. Bachelor’s programs can also prepare students for master’s or doctoral programs in healthcare.
Bachelor’s degree-seekers take classes in math and the natural sciences. Programs may incorporate practicum hours or internships. Many colleges offer accelerated programs for associate degree-holders, including RN-to-BSN programs.
Many clinical roles require a graduate degree. Nurse practitioners, veterinarians, physical therapists, and physicians all hold graduate degrees.
Graduate students specialize their training. They complete advanced coursework in their specialty area, which often includes clinical requirements. Learners can also pursue non-clinical healthcare degrees at the graduate level. These include programs in healthcare management and public health. Coursework requirements vary by program and specialization.
Healthcare professionals work in diverse specialties. Some need clinical training or a graduate degree. Some professionals only need an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Pursuing healthcare degrees online can lead to many benefits. Online students can often complete coursework around other responsibilities. They can also save money by not paying for campus housing or meal plans. An online format means enrollees can attend top programs without relocating.
See below for healthcare specialties available to degree-seekers. Learners should consider degree and certification requirements before choosing a specialty.
Healthcare Management and Administration
This specialization blends business administration and healthcare training. Learners study management practices and finance in healthcare settings. They also explore healthcare legal regulations. Coursework builds leadership skills catered to healthcare organizations.
With a bachelor’s or master’s degree in healthcare management or healthcare administration, graduates can work as medical and health services managers. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $104,280.
Healthcare organizations increasingly rely on informatics to manage patient health data and improve patient outcomes. Learners pursuing this specialization study data collection and analysis. They learn how to draw on health data to make decisions in healthcare settings. Courses cover medical terminology and data analytics. Students also learn about electronic health record systems.
Health Informatics Ultrasound and Sonography
Ultrasound and sonography healthcare professionals use medical equipment to capture images from inside the body. Ultrasound technicians and sonographers help medical professionals diagnose diseases and make medical decisions based on imaging.
These professionals need an associate degree. Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. Professionals can pursue certifications to stand out in the job market. Medical sonographers earn a median annual salary of $70,380.
This specialization focuses on the spread of diseases, environmental health, and epidemiology. Bachelor’s degree-seekers study the natural sciences, community health, and the healthcare system. Graduates may work as community health specialists or public health educators.
This specialization at the graduate level prepares professionals to work as public health specialists. They may also work as epidemiologists or public health administrators. Learners gain hands-on experience through practicums.
The healthcare system plays an important role in emergency management. Learners pursuing this specialization study disaster preparedness and response. They examine community needs after a disaster, public health response, and emergency planning in healthcare.
Enrollees also study emergency care. Nurses and other healthcare providers work in emergency rooms and urgent care facilities. ER nurses and doctors treat patients with immediate needs.
Health science specializations cover the healthcare industry’s clinical and administrative sides. Bachelor’s degree-seekers study topics like international healthcare and biomedical research. They also explore healthcare leadership and health education. Enrollees learn about human anatomy, the healthcare system, and healthcare management.
Undergraduate programs may include math and science courses. Graduate programs focus on non-clinical areas like healthcare risk management and healthcare administration.
Specialists in sports medicine treat sports and movement-related injuries. Enrollees study physical therapy, orthopedic surgery, and exercise physiology. Coursework covers anatomy, common injuries, and sports-related chronic conditions.
Bachelor’s degree-holders may work as athletic trainers or physical therapist assistants. Graduate programs prepare learners to work as surgeons, physical therapists, or physicians. Graduates may also work as sports medicine nurses.
This specialization focuses on the aging process and caring for older adults. Bachelor’s programs train learners in dementia care, advocacy, and care management. At the graduate level, nurses, physicians, and other medical providers specialize in the care of older patients.
Gerontology programs teach the psychological side of aging. Courses also cover acute care for adult-gerontology patients. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and doctors may specialize in gerontology.
Veterinarians provide medical care for animals, including pets and livestock. These professionals need a doctorate. Undergraduates often major in fields like biology, chemistry, or zoology. They may study anatomy, wildlife science, or physiology.
Doctoral programs in veterinary medicine cover disease prevention, medical treatments, and clinical training. Veterinarians earn a median annual wage of $99,250.
This specialization blends healthcare and business training. Learners explore the healthcare system and learn about administrative functions. Coursework covers anatomy, public health, and biology. Enrollees also study health policy and health services management.
Graduates may work in administrative roles at hospitals, community health organizations, or outpatient clinics. Degree-holders may also pursue graduate programs in healthcare management or clinical healthcare.
Respiratory therapy focuses on patients with breathing problems, including those with chronic conditions like asthma or emphysema. This specialization trains students to measure lung capacity and operate therapeutic equipment. Learners study how to monitor treatment plans.
Respiratory therapists earn a median annual salary of $62,810. Some respiratory therapists pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Radiologic technology professionals operate X-ray equipment in clinical settings. An associate degree meets the requirement for entry-level positions like radiologic and MRI technologist. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $63,710.
Learners study anatomy, radiographic technique, and patient care. The curriculum also includes clinical training. Associate degree-holders may pursue licensure or certification. A bachelor’s degree prepares professionals for more advanced roles.
Featured Online MPH Programs
Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.
A master's degree in healthcare administration can lead to new and exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the best program options.
A law degree can increase earning potential and career opportunities. Here, we list the best online programs available.
According to the , 7,313,623 students enrolled in at least one distance education course at degree-granting postsecondary institutions in fall 2019. The year 2021 is an ideal time to pursue...