Working in medicine is one of the most rewarding career paths. But there’s a misconception that to get into the medical industry that you need to have completed years of training and have a stack of formal qualifications.
Thankfully, this isn’t true! While some positions do require very extensive training, there are lots of unusual medical careers and jobs that pay well and require little schooling. To be a doctor, a surgeon or some other form of specialist, you’d need to buckle down and prepare for as many as seven years of education. But there are lots of other, equally fulfilling roles that don’t demand such rigorous training.
Medicine is a great field to go into, whether you’re just out of high school or you’re halfway through a career you’re not passionate about anymore. Let go of the misconception that you’ll need to spend the next decade learning the craft – it’s not always the case.
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In this article, we’re going to look at some of the more unusual medical careers that require less training – up to two years maximum. These medical positions all pay well, and you could start training for them now if you wanted to! If you’ve ever fancied joining the medical profession in some capacity, it’s time to find out how to turn the dream into a reality.
The world of medicine is slowly transitioning from old paper files to electronic storage methods. This has created a huge demand for technicians and assistants who can process, maintain, manage and protect health care records and data. These individuals are called Health Information Technicians, and it’s a great job for someone who is introverted.
Health care records are essential in keeping hospitals, clinics, surgeries and other care locations up and running. Without detailed information about every patient, how would a doctor or nurse get anything done? Health Information Technicians need to be able to organize and manage vast amounts of data while ensuring total compliance with the relevant regulations and laws.
You can train to become a Health Information Technician in as little as eighteen months, with an Associate’s degree. Many of the courses out there also offer a mix of traditional education and on-the-job learning. You can gain the experience you need while learning the important material you need to pass your exams at the same time. Once qualified, you could be earning as much as $38,040 a year.
Ultrasound Technicians have one of the best jobs in medicine. It’s a great combination of rewarding and laid-back – perfect if you’re leaving a hectic job and looking for a career that is a little calmer.
Ultrasound Technicians (sometimes referred to as Diagnostic Medical Sonographers) are the professionals who leverage ultrasound technology to produce live images of internal organs and body parts. Most people associate ultrasounds with pregnant women, but they can also be used to detect tumors and blood clots, evaluate heart conditions and establish causes of abdominal pain.
You’ll need an Associate’s degree, diploma or certificate to become an Ultrasound Technician. The duration of this qualification will vary between institutes, but they usually range between one and two years. Many of them offer on-the-job training too, so you can get a feel for the position while you’re still learning.
For many ultrasound technicians, there’s nothing more satisfying than helping two parents hear their child’s heartbeat for the first time. But detecting and diagnosing illnesses and other conditions can also be very rewarding. As an Ultrasound Technician, you could end up saving many lives.
The average pay for an Ultrasound Technician is also excellent, with average annual salaries at around $70,880. This is ideal if you’re looking for an unusual medical job that pays better than your current one.
Phlebotomists play a vital role in the diagnosis and treatment of illness within the medical system. They’re also very important in the world of medical research, as well as blood banks. Their main task is to draw blood samples or donations from patients and volunteers carefully and safely.
But being a phlebotomist is far more than simply drawing blood. You’ll need to have a friendly face for patients who may be nervous or scared of needles. It involves knowing how to treat newborn babies, infants, adults and the elderly appropriately. It also demands someone with a seriously organized streak. Phlebotomists are usually responsible for labeling and transporting blood samples to laboratories for testing, so it’s important that candidates have a real eye for detail and accuracy.
There are many routes you can take if you want to train to become a phlebotomist. The longer routes involve going through college or university and taking phlebotomy alongside some form of biology or medicine major. This will give you all the in-depth education you need to make a successful phlebotomist.
However, if you’re ready to switch career now and don’t want to go through the extensive process of college or medical school, there are options open to you. You can become a certified phlebotomist by applying for a short phlebotomy program, which can be completed in as little as eight months. In just one year from now, you could well be a qualified phlebotomist!
Being a phlebotomist opens up a world of opportunities for your career. You can find a stable position in a hospital or clinic, or you could roam around as a mobile phlebotomist. You could work in nursing homes and blood donation centers, or you could get a job in a laboratory performing important medical research. The options are almost limitless once you have your phlebotomy certification.
If you’re a fan of medical dramas, or if you’ve ever known someone who had open heart surgery, you may be familiar with the role of medical perfusionist. Some surgeries require that a patient’s heart is stopped so that the surgeon can operate on it accurately and safely. But obviously, someone has to keep the patient’s circulatory and respiratory functions up and running during this time. This is what a perfusionist does.
As you can imagine, this is an important role with many complexities. It’s not as simple as just pumping blood around the body every few seconds. Perfusionists must become familiar with and use a multitude of sophisticated technical, mechanical and electronic devices to ensure that certain criteria are met. As a perfusionist, your main job is basically keeping a patient alive while their heart is not functioning – it’s no mean feat!
To become a perfusionist need to become certified by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion. The requirements to become certified vary – some require a full bachelor’s degree in a related subject, some schools offer bachelor’s degrees specifically in perfusion. If you already have some medical qualifications, you may be able to become certified a little faster.
Once you’re certified, you can expect to be a very well-paid individual. Medical perfusionists can earn up to $93,500 per year – sometimes more depending on experience!
If you don’t necessarily want to be on the ‘front line’ of medical activity, you can look at positions like that of Cancer Registrar. This is a unique position which involves fathering medical information and statistical analysis on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
As a registrar in this field, you’ll be gathering information on everything from medical records to pathology reports, summarizing the information to pass onto other organizations. The National Cancer Institute uses these statistics to work out survival rates for various cancers, as well as establishing demographic information on particular types of cancer. Registrars can also be involved with collating the information produced by clinical trials for cancer treatments.
You can enter this field in as little as two years by completing an associate degree in health information management. There are then some shorter training course you can take which will have you certified within months. You’ll need to choose a course that’s accredited by the National Cancer Registrars Association.
Once you’re qualified, you can expect to earn an average of $35,900 annually. With 15% job growth rate expected over the next decade, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a role in this sector with the right certifications.
If you thrive in an interesting and fast-paced environment, why not consider training to become an EMT – Emergency Medical Technician – or a paramedic? These roles are among the most crucial in the medical world. They’re usually first on the scene when someone has suffered an accident or injury. Their actions are often crucial in determining how the patient will recover from the incident.
The main difference between an EMT and a paramedic is their level of training. EMTs are entry-level roles. The training to become an EMT consists of up to 106 hours of classroom time, as well as a further 10 hours of training in the field. You can undergo extra training to become an EMT-Intermediate, with extra responsibilities involved.
A paramedic is the pre-hospital care provider with the highest level of skill. They are trained to provide care which is on a par with an emergency room, offering advanced life support using the most sophisticated equipment. Paramedics must train for 1,100 hours in the classroom and another 500 hours on the field to become qualified.
If you’re looking for a career change, you can start off as an EMT fairly quickly. As an EMT, you’ll be earning around $31,980 a year. By putting in the hours over time, you can then work your way up to paramedic level. Paramedics in the US can earn as much as $40,519, with some earning up to $50,000 for their skills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the demand for qualified Anesthesia Technicians is set to rise by 15% over the next decade. Now might be the time to move into this demanding yet exciting role.
As an Anesthesia Technician, you’ll work alongside the top dog – the anesthesiologists. As a team, you’ll prepare the medical equipment and the substances used to administer anesthesia to patients as they undergo surgeries or other procedures.
The equipment used in such a process is very complex, so you’ll also learn how to set it up, as well as how to troubleshoot and calibrate it properly by yourself. You’ll also discover how to check that patients are safely sedated, and how to monitor their condition throughout surgery to ensure no one comes around at the wrong moment!
Becoming an Anesthesia Technician involves training in essential operating theatre procedures, basic pharmacology, and of course, using the anesthesia equipment. The good news is that you don’t need extensive qualifications to qualify for an entry-level role as an Anesthesia Technician. All you’ll need is a high school diploma or a GED.
You can also become certified to prove your credentials. The American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians will grant this certification after two years of work experience. This qualification can be very useful for career advancement and better pay, and you can study for it alongside your regular work.
This is an unusual career path in the medical world – but all those patients and professionals have got to eat! A Food Services Manager is essential in any hospital, but it’s a job that doesn’t require a medical degree. They must work with expert dieticians and nutritionists to prepare healthy, balanced meal options for patients under the hospital’s care.
As a Food Services Manager, you’ll be charged with placing bulk orders for food and equipment, as well as training a full roster of staff. You’ll need to ensure you’re fully compliant with all the relevant health and safety legislation and help to meet specific dietary needs for certain patients.
Within a hospital, it’s usually the high-flying surgeons and the specialists that get the credit for treating patients. But roles such as Food Services Manager are important in their own way. After all, without healthy menus and rigorous health and safety policies, patients would be facing a whole number of other risks!
This very unusual role has an average annual salary of $48,560, and you’ll get to play a crucial role in the day-to-day coordination of the hospital’s food output. You can become qualified for this role at any community college, with a program institutional food service management. With 5% job growth predicted in this sector, finding a role once you’ve qualified should be relatively easy.
If you’ve ever trained in a medical field or taken an exam in biology, no doubt you’ll have spent lots of time poring over detailed drawings of the anatomy. Ever wondered who creates those drawings? It’s down to a medical illustrator, one of the most unusual medicine-related roles.
Medical illustrators are tasked with translating very complex information into accurate, easy-to-understand images. These are usually for textbooks, but they can also be for court proceedings, public relations, and research purposes.
Becoming a medical illustrator is no easy task. You’ll need to demonstrate a high level of skill and knowledge in both art and science – two fields which don’t usually mix. As well as having a thorough understanding of biology and anatomy, you’ll also need computer skills to use graphic design software. In this modern age, you may even be asked to use three-dimensional modeling techniques to create advanced sculptures and models of body parts.
You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree with an artistic and scientific element, which is rare enough in itself. Many medical illustrators then go on to acquire a dedicated master’s degree from one of just four accredited programs in the US. Each program only accepts 16 students per year, so you’ll need to be pretty special to be considered.
However, if you do manage to get onto a course to become a medical illustrator, you could end up earning an annual salary of up to $100,000.
We hope you’ve found something to pique your interest in this article. There are dozens of medical careers and pathways out there for those looking for a new role. You don’t necessarily have to train for up to ten years to get the right qualifications. In fact, some positions – like that of a phlebotomist – only require around eight months of training or you can take a 3-year training program in phlebotomy.
Medicine is a very rewarding industry in which to work. Whether you’re on the frontline in the operating theatre, working as a Perfusionist, or whether you’re coordinating the distribution of food in the hospital as a Food Services Manager, everyone plays their part in helping patients to recover successfully. There are good non-office-based careers.
If you’ve ever thought of retraining in a new career, why not give some of these options some thought? Likewise, if you’re about to apply for college or medical school and aren’t sure which field to study, these potential career paths can give you some idea about the options available, and how your medical knowledge can be applied to many different roles.
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