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.
That isn’t always 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 seven years of education. But there are lots of different fulfilling roles that don’t demand such rigorous and lengthy training.
Medicine is an excellent field to get 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 skills – it’s not always the case!
9 Well-Paid Medical Careers That Are a Little Unusual
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 wanted to join the medical profession in some capacity, it’s time to find out how to turn the dream into a reality.
#1. Health Information Technician
The world of medicine has transitioned from old paper files to electronic storage methods. This has created a massive demand for technicians and assistants who can process, maintain, manage, and protect healthcare records and data. This has led to the position of Health Information Technicians, and it’s a great job for someone who is introverted.
Healthcare records are essential to 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 18 months with an Associate’s degree. Many of the courses also offer a mix of traditional education and on-the-job learning. You can gain the experience you need while learning the critical material that is required to pass your exams at the same time.
Once qualified, you could earn as much as $38,040 a year.
#2. Ultrasound Technician
Ultrasound Technicians have one of the best jobs in medicine. It’s rewarding and laid-back – perfect if you’re leaving a hectic job and looking for a career that is a little calmer. It requires a completely different skillset.
Ultrasound Technicians (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, blood clots, evaluate heart conditions, and establish the 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 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 parents hear their child’s heartbeat for the first time. But detecting and diagnosing illnesses and other conditions can also be rewarding.
The average pay for an Ultrasound Technician is also excellent, with average annual salaries at around $70,880.
Phlebotomists play a vital role in the diagnosis and treatment of illness within the medical system. They’re also essential 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 safely.
But being a phlebotomist is far more than 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 vital 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.
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 other options open to you. You can become a certified phlebotomist by applying for a short phlebotomy program, which can be completed in 4 months. In just one year from now, you could 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 certification.
#4. Medical Perfusionist
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 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 a vital 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 specific criteria are met. As a perfusionist, your main job is keeping the patient alive while their heart is not functioning.
To become a perfusionist, you need to be 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, and 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 paid handsomely for your work. Medical perfusionists can earn up to $93,500 per year – sometimes more with experience.
#5. Cancer Registrar
If you don’t necessarily want to be on the ‘front line’ of medical activity, you can look at positions such as that of Cancer Registrar. This is a unique position which involves fathering medical information and statistical analysis on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
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 is 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 a 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.
#6. EMT or Paramedic
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 had an accident or become seriously ill. Their actions are 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 reasonably quickly. As an EMT, you’ll be earning around $31,980 a year. By putting in the overtime, 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.
#7. Anesthesia Technician
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 anesthesiologists. As a team, you’ll prepare the medical equipment and the substances used to administer anesthesia to patients before they undergo surgeries and other medical procedures.
The equipment used is complex, so you’ll also learn how to set it up, as well as how to troubleshoot and calibrate it properly. 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 anesthesia equipment. You don’t need extensive qualifications to qualify; a high school diploma or a GED will normally suffice.
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 useful for career advancement and better pay, and you can study for it alongside your regular work.
#8. Food Services Manager
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.
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 that you’re fully compliant with all the relevant health and safety legislation and meet specific dietary needs for individual patients.
This role has an average annual salary of $48,560, and you’ll 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.
#9. Medical Illustrator
If you’ve ever trained in a medical field or taken an exam in biology, 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 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. Many medical illustrators go on to acquire a dedicated master’s degree from an accredited program. Each program only accepts 16 students per year, so you’ll need to be good to be considered.
If you manage to get onto a course to become a medical illustrator, you could end up earning an annual salary of up to $100,000.
Exciting Medical Careers That Require Less Training
There are dozens of medical career pathways for people who are seeking a new career direction. 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 4 months of training, or you can take a 3-year training program in phlebotomy.
Medicine is a rewarding industry. Whether you’re on the frontline in the operating theatre, working as a Perfusionist, or coordinating the distribution of food in hospitals as a Food Services Manager, everyone plays their part in helping patients to recover successfully. They are good non-office-based careers for people who are seeking something a little different from the norm.
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