Healthcare Careers: 10 Top Health Fields

Healthcare Careers: 10 Top Health Fields
Learn about 10 of the best jobs in health care that you can land with just a two-year degree from your local community college.

For students looking to enter the workforce with a two-year degree under their belts, the medical field is an excellent one to consider. Many positions within this industry can be started with an associate degree, and the number of job openings and growth potential gives these healthcare jobs some of the best value for your higher education dollar. Check out these top 10 health fields you can enter after spending just two years earning your degree.

Dental Hygienist

Most people have a closer relationship with the dental hygienist than the dentist since this professional spends the most time with patients. Hygienists go far beyond simple teeth cleaning, including assisting dentists with surgical procedures, taking X-rays, and educating patients on proper dental care. According to U.S. News and World Report, dental hygienists can expect to earn an annual average salary of $68,200 and enjoy a projected job growth of around 38 percent in their industry.

This video explains what a dental hygienist does.

Medical Sonographer

Medical sonographers use ultrasound technology to help physicians diagnose various disorders and illnesses. Sonographers are responsible for taking ultrasound pictures and determining which photos will be most helpful to the physician making the final diagnosis. This position is heavily patient-oriented and suits those who enjoy working with others. predicts that the job growth for medical sonographers should remain around 16 percent through 2016. Professionals in this field enjoy an average wage of $27 per hour.

ECG or EKG Technician

Medical professionals in this area monitor how well a patient’s heart works. Technicians operate various equipment to look at patient heart rates, collecting data that physicians can use to diagnose and prescribe a treatment plan. These professionals may also perform ultrasounds of the heart, which show a picture of how the heart is functioning and blood flow to the organ. ECG and EKG technicians make an average annual salary of $38,000, according to

Respiratory Therapist

The respiratory therapist tests and treats patients with breathing issues through devices like mechanical respirators. These professionals often work in hospitals, providing emergency and ongoing patient care. They often work with patients diagnosed with emphysema or asthma to help them manage their condition and enjoy a higher quality of life. The average annual salary for a respiratory therapist was $54,210 in 2010, with expected job growth of 18-26 percent through 2016.


Professionals in this line of work are often the first responders in emergency situations. Paramedics and EMTs provide the first line of treatment at the scene before transporting a patient to a hospital. This highly-charged job is perfect for adrenaline junkies and those who can think fast on their feet and handle high-stress levels regularly. According to U.S. News and World Report, paramedics earn an average annual salary of $30,300, with a projected growth of 33 percent.

Medical Assistant

According to Campus Explorer, the job of a medical assistant can run the gamut, from seeing patients to performing clerical duties. In smaller physician offices, the medical assistant may become a “Girl Friday” of sorts, while larger offices may have assistants who specialize in one area. These professionals are often the first to see patients, collecting vital information like temperature and blood pressure before the doctor arrives. The average annual salary for medical assistants is around $28,800, with a projected job growth of 31 percent.

Radiation Therapist

These professionals provide radiation therapy to cancer patients as the physician prescribes. Many machines and devices can be used for this purpose, so the work is relatively diverse and interesting daily. Since radiation therapists typically deal with people who are sick – some of whom are terminally ill – compassion is an important character trait for these medical professionals to possess. According to, the annual average salary for a radiation therapist in 2010 was $78,020, with a projected growth of 27 percent.

This video explains the work and training of a radiation therapist.

Registered Nurse

Many nurses today began their careers with an associate degree, allowing them to begin gaining practical experience quickly. This job typically works directly with patients in a hospital or clinic setting. Registered nurses may handle various jobs, from administering medication to educating patients and their families. The annual average salary for a registered nurse is $67,720, with a projected job growth of 22 percent.

Physical Therapist Assistant

Patients who have been injured or had surgery often require physical therapy to regain their strength and range of motion. The physical therapist assistant works directly with the therapist and the patient, aiding in routine exercises and documenting patient progress. The average pay scale for a physical therapist assistant is $20 per hour.

Radiology Technician

These medical professionals work with various radiology equipment, including CAT scans and MRIs. The radiology technician is responsible for taking the X-rays requested by the physician, developing the films, and getting them to a radiologist for diagnosis. They work directly with patients, positioning them for X-rays and explaining procedures to them. The average annual salary for the radiology technician can be as high as $60,000, with an average projected growth of nine to 17 percent through 2016.

Healthcare is booming today, and many available positions can be filled with an associate degree. If this field sounds right for you, contact your local community college to find out what specific degree programs are available.

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