Top 25 Healthcare Careers in 2024 [+ Salary & Career Growth]

If you’re looking for a career that is driving innovation, is never the same each day, and provides stable employment opportunities, look no further than the healthcare field. Healthcare jobs are widely available and incredibly diverse, with opportunities ranging from dentistry to physical therapy to radiology. If you’re interested in a healthcare career but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve compiled a healthcare career and education guide with 25 options, including the best paying jobs in healthcare.

Healthcare Jobs Growth Forecast

There’s no doubt that healthcare jobs are in demand. An aging population that is retiring from the field paired with that same population’s growing need for care is a major driving factor.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare jobs are expected to increase by 13% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. To put that figure into perspective — the increase equates to approximately 2 million new healthcare jobs over the decade.

It’s not just the number of healthcare jobs that is growing, either — the compensation and benefits for trained and skilled workers in the field is also typically above average. Additional data from the same Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that people with healthcare careers that require further education or training — such as registered nurses, physicians or dental hygienists — have a median annual salary of about $69,000, much higher than the average salary for all other occupations. In comparison, healthcare workers without advanced education or training, such as home health aides or occupational therapy assistants, make less than the national wage average.

How to Find the Right Healthcare Career

You’re probably wondering how to find a healthcare career that best aligns with your skills, interests, and education level. One of the most appealing aspects of working in the medical field is that you can begin your career in one healthcare discipline and transition to other areas as your interests and training evolve over time.

It’s not uncommon to see radiology technicians get their master’s degrees and move into health informatics. Sometimes healthcare workers who spend the majority of their time bedside move into administrative, non-patient-facing jobs. Ultimately, to pursue the healthcare career of your dreams, you must first narrow down your interests, and find the right education program to set you up for success.

To help kickstart your job search, here are 25 of the top healthcare jobs to consider:

Top 25 Healthcare Careers

This data is based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook and U.S. News & World Report Best Jobs List.

  1. Registered Nurse
    • Average Salary: $77,600
    • Job Responsibilities: Registered nurses (RNs) spend most of their time interacting directly with and caring for patients in nearly every healthcare setting. Whether it be a family medical practice or an emergency room, nurses are essential frontline healthcare providers. Some of their many responsibilities include administering medication, monitoring and charting patient vitals, and even performing minor medical procedures.
    • Skills: Required skills will vary from department to department, but all prospective nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which tests a person’s proficiency in all required nursing skills.
    • Education Requirement: Minimum bachelor’s degree required
    • Career Outlook: Projected 6% job growth from 2021 to 2031
  2. Dentist
    • Average Salary: $163,220
    • Job Responsibilities: You likely already have a firm grasp on what dentists are responsible for – they diagnose and treat many ailments related to the teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. Dentists handle anything from fillings to dentures to pulling teeth.
    • Skills: Robust knowledge of oral health and general medical science. Dentists must also have excellent manual dexterity and skills to work with specialized tools on very small, localized treatment areas. Finally, dentists must have excellent bedside manner, as patient anxieties can be high in a dentist’s office.
    • Education Requirement: Doctoral degree required
    • Career Outlook: 6% growth expected from 2021 to 2031
  3. Nurse Practitioner
    • Average Salary: $120,680
    • Job Responsibilities: Nurse practitioners do much of the same work as physicians and can even act as primary care providers. They diagnose ailments, perform physical exams, order and analyze labs, and can also prescribe medicine. Nurse practitioners can also specialize in particular fields of medicine, such as pediatrics or obstetrics.
    • Skills: Thorough understanding of clinical information and skills, with the ability to diagnose and treat many ailments or conditions. Nurse practitioners must also possess excellent communication skills to be able to work with and treat patients as well as collaborate with colleagues.
    • Education Requirement: Must be a registered nurse then complete a master’s degree
    • Career Outlook: Anticipated 46% job growth from 2021 to 2031
  4. Physical Therapist
    • Average Salary: $95,620
    • Job Responsibilities: Physical therapists help diagnose, develop treatment plans for, and ultimately treat physical ailments people develop due to myriad issues. Whether it be an athletic injury or recovering from a fall or surgery, physical therapists help treat all forms of physical ailments and work to improve mobility and motor function and decrease pain caused by any type of movement.
    • Skills: Must have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of human anatomy, most specifically the muscular and skeletal systems, as well as the nervous system. Most physical therapists work directly with patients, putting them through exercises and stretching programs to actively treat issues, so therapists must be physically able to move and assist patients.
    • Education Requirement: Doctoral or professional degree required
    • Career Outlook: 17% growth expected from 2021 to 2031
  5. Physician
    • Average Salary: $208,000
    • Job Responsibilities: Physicians, or doctors as we generally refer to them, are responsible for essentially every aspect of providing healthcare. They see and treat patients with flu-like symptoms, patients with broken bones, and patients with skin issues, to name just a few. The title of physician encompasses essentially all doctors, but people usually choose specialties, focusing on everything from cardiology to dermatology to radiology and beyond.
    • Skills: The required skills will be entirely dependent on a physician’s area of focus. A neurosurgeon must have incredible knowledge of the brain and nervous system and be able to diagnose and treat ailments of those systems. On the other hand, an obstetrician must be an expert in pregnancy and delivery.
    • Education Requirement: Doctoral degree required
    • Career Outlook: A 3% increase is expected from 2021 to 2031
  6. Dental Hygienist
    • Average Salary: $77,810
    • Job Responsibilities: Dental hygienists provide comprehensive, regular oral hygiene treatment and preventative care for patients. They are also trained to find and help diagnose signs of oral disease and assist dentists with certain dental treatments.
    • Skills: Must possess comprehensive clinical skills pertaining to the gums, teeth, and other areas of the mouth. Dental hygienists also perform X-rays, oral hygiene procedures, and administer anesthetics for extensive dental treatments. Lastly, hygienists must have good bedside manner to treat all patients, especially those with anxiety about dental treatment.
    • Education Requirement: Associate degree required
    • Career Outlook: 9% career growth expected between 2021 and 2031
  7. Pharmacist
    • Average Salary: $128,570
    • Job Responsibilities: Pharmacists provide and oversee all aspects of a patient’s use of prescription drug medications. They also check for drug interactions or possible side effects from pre-existing medical conditions. Pharmacists work closely with doctors and insurance companies to ensure that the proper treatment plan is being carried out and costs are billed through the proper channels.
    • Skills: Pharmacists must have vast knowledge of all prescription drugs, their chemical makeups, and how various drugs will interact with each other. Pharmacists also instruct patients on how to take their medicines, how to follow drug safety, and can even administer immunizations.
    • Education Requirement: Doctoral or professional degree
    • Career Outlook: Little change is expected in the pharmacist job market over the next decade, with 2% growth through 2031
  8. Nursing Assistant
    • Average Salary: $30,290
    • Job Responsibilities: Nursing assistants provide all aspects of basic care and assist with daily living tasks. Some of the many responsibilities they may encounter include bathing patients, measuring vital signs, serving meals, and helping patients dress and move about.
    • Skills: Nursing assistants are on their feet constantly and are frequently helping to move patients, so physical stamina is required. They must also be good communicators, be compassionate caregivers for the sick and elderly, and have comprehensive clinical knowledge of the procedures and tasks required by the job.
    • Education Requirement: Typically, nursing assistants must complete a state-sanctioned training program, usually offered by high schools, technical schools, community colleges, and hospitals.
    • Career Outlook: 5% growth from 2021 to 2031
  9. Surgeon
    • Average Salary: $208,000
    • Job Responsibilities: Surgeons diagnose and treat disease, injuries, or ailments via operations. While there are general surgeons who can operate on various parts of the body, many surgeons specialize in one specific area.
    • Skills: Surgeons must possess advanced and specialized clinical skills that allow them to operate safely and effectively on the human body. They must have a deep understanding of all systems in the body, and have the manual dexterity and skills to operate on critical areas and in high-stress situations.
    • Education Requirement: Doctoral or professional degree required
    • Career Outlook: 3% growth projected from 2021 to 2031
  10. Radiology Technician
    • Average Salary: $61,980
    • Job Responsibilities: Radiology technicians perform diagnostic imaging examinations on patients, such as X-rays, CT scans, and mammograms. They can assist physicians in reading the results of such diagnostic tests.
    • Skills: Must be able to properly and safely operate a wide variety of radiologic imaging equipment. Radiology techs must prepare patients and ensure their safety throughout the procedure while keeping equipment in proper working condition. Some radiology techs also assist in the reading of certain diagnostic imaging tests.
    • Education Requirement: Associate degree
    • Career Outlook: Employment expected to grow 6% by 2031
  11. Medical or Clinical Lab Technologist
    • Average Salary: $57,800
    • Job Responsibilities: Clinical laboratory technologists collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances. They also log and analyze data from these tests, helping to inform a physician’s diagnosis and treatment plans.
    • Skills: Must be trained to safely and cleanly work with and analyze infectious materials, bodily fluids, and other substances to determine accurate test results. They must also have excellent analytical skills and knowledge of scientific procedures. Technologists must know how to work with sophisticated laboratory equipment.
    • Education Requirement: Bachelor’s degree minimum
    • Career Outlook: 7% growth in employment opportunities expected between 2021 and 2031
  12. Phlebotomist
    • Average Salary: $37,380
    • Job Responsibilities: A phlebotomist is in a specialized healthcare job – they work strictly with blood, collecting samples for tests, transfusions, blood donations, and research.
    • Skills: Phlebotomists must be able to identify veins and areas suitable for a blood draw and then execute the procedure safely and effectively. Many people have a fear of needles or blood, so a calming demeanor and excellent interpersonal skills are both qualities a phlebotomist should possess.
    • Education Requirement: Postsecondary nondegree award and professional certification
    • Career Outlook: 10% growth is expected in the field through 2031
  13. Respiratory Therapist
    • Average Salary: $61,830
    • Job Responsibilities: Respiratory therapists are specialty care providers that work directly with patients who have difficulty breathing. The cause of their ailments can vary, from asthma to chronic respiratory disease. In unique cases, respiratory therapists will work with drowning victims or those who have suffered a heart attack.
    • Skills: Respiratory therapists must be able to examine cardiopulmonary symptoms, perform diagnostic tests, and consult on treatment plans with physicians. They must also be able to perform a variety of treatments to help improve patients’ breathing and teach patients how to use specific machines and medications intended to improve their condition.
    • Education Requirement: Associate degree minimum
    • Career Outlook: 14% job growth expected through 2031
  14. Medical Assistant
    • Average Salary: $37,190
    • Job Responsibilities: Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other healthcare facilities. Their day-to-day tasks can range from recording patient history and scheduling appointments to measuring vital signs and preparing samples for laboratory tests.
    • Skills: In today’s healthcare field, electronic health records (EHR) are changing the way medical assistants perform their jobs. Therefore, a deep understanding of and certification in EHR is an invaluable job skill. Additional skills include clinical prowess in measuring vital signs and administrative skills for operating computers, inputting data, and scheduling.
    • Education Requirement: Postsecondary nondegree award
    • Career Outlook: 16% growth is anticipated from 2021 to 2031
  15. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer & Cardiovascular Technologists
    • Average Salary: $75,380
    • Job Responsibilities: Sometimes referred to as diagnostic imaging workers, diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists operate specialized imaging equipment to perform diagnostic tests on various areas of the body. They also prepare patients for the test and sometimes consult on results with physicians or surgeons.
    • Skills: Must be able to safely and effectively operate a number of diagnostic and imaging machines, such as echocardiograms, sonograms, ultrasound, electrocardiograms, and more. On occasion, diagnostic sonographers and cardiovascular technologists must also be able to perform their imaging tests during a procedure to help physicians or surgeons get a clearer view of an area.
    • Education Requirement: Associate degree and sometimes specialized training
    • Career Outlook: 10% growth expected in the field by 2031
  16. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
    • Average Salary: $36,930
    • Job Responsibilities: Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics respond to and provide care in emergency situations. EMTs are also called upon to transport patients to hospitals or other medical facilities, and sometimes even accompany the gravely sick or injured on medflights.
    • Skills: Must possess a broad range of clinical skills to be able to provide life-saving care. EMTs routinely provide first-aid care, treat wounds, resuscitate patients in cardiac arrest, and can even provide emergency medication to those in need.
    • Education Requirement: Postsecondary educational program plus state licensure required
    • Career Outlook: 7% growth is expected from 2021 to 2031
  17. Dental Assistant
    • Average Salary: $38,660
    • Job Responsibilities: Dental assistants do very similar work to dental hygienists, but they do not perform any oral hygiene procedures. Dental assistants perform a wide array of tasks; they can take X-rays, collect patient data, schedule appointments, sanitize equipment and assist the dentist with procedures.
    • Skills: Must have a comprehensive knowledge of proper oral care to educate patients. Must also know how to operate X-ray machinery and other dental equipment. Dental assistants must also know how to work with anxious patients and create a calming environment for those nervous about receiving dental work.
    • Education Requirement: Varies from state to state, some require postsecondary nondegree award and certification, while others only require on-the-job training.
    • Career Outlook: 8% growth expected in the field from 2021 to 2031
  18. Genetic Counselor
    • Average Salary: $80,150
    • Job Responsibilities: Genetic counselors are tasked with researching as much as possible about a patient’s family health history. This insight provides valuable information about a patient’s chance of receiving similar diagnoses or passing health conditions on to children.
    • Skills: Must have strong communication skills paired with compassion, especially when it comes to delivering potentially upsetting results. Critical thinking skills are also a must in order to recommend proper testing and analysis for each patient scenario.
    • Education Requirement: At least a master’s degree in genetics or genetic counseling from an accredited program. Many states require certification through the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Achieving and maintaining that distinction requires a passing score on an exam plus continuing education credits.
    • Career Outlook: 18% growth is expected between 2021 and 2031
  19. Occupational Therapist (OT)
    • Average Salary: $85,570
    • Job Responsibilities: Work with patients to improve abilities to perform daily activities despite any range of injury, illness, or disability. Occupational therapists must thoroughly assess a patient, create a plan to address concerns, and provide the medical care required to achieve those goals.
    • Skills: Patience, compassion, and strong communication skills are crucial when it comes to working as an OT. Patients will struggle with life’s daily activities, which can result in complex emotions. The most successful OTs will also be adaptable as patient needs change.
    • Education Requirement: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees are required. Some OTs earn a doctorate degree. In order to work in the field, approval must be granted by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, in addition to a passing grade on an exam from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. A minimum of 24 weeks of supervised field work must also be completed before an OT license is obtained. Continuing education coursework is required to maintain the license.
    • Career Outlook: 14% growth is expected between 2021 and 2031
  20. Optometrist
    • Average Salary: $124,300
    • Job Responsibilities: Diagnose and treat conditions involving the human eye.
    • Skills: Decision-making skills are crucial for optometrists as they are faced with varying patient needs. Additionally, performing and evaluating diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treating conditions require a detail-oriented approach.
    • Education Requirement: A bachelor’s degree and a passing score on the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) are prerequisites for optometry school. A four-year doctor of optometry program will combine classroom work and supervised clinical experience. All hopeful optometrists must take and pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam to obtain a license. Some states require additional licensing, but all have continuing education requirements. In order to specialize, for example in pediatric optometry, additional residency programs can be completed.
    • Career Outlook: 9.6% growth is expected between 2021 and 2031
  21. Audiologist
    • Average Salary: $78,950
    • Job Responsibilities: Assess hearing, balance, and related problems before providing a range of treatment options.
    • Skills: Critical thinking, communication, and patience are all highly valued in audiology. These doctors must be able to convey test results, suggest treatments, and more in a way that patients clearly understand.
    • Education Requirement: A doctoral degree in audiology is required
    • Career Outlook: 10.4% employment growth projected between 2021 and 2031
  22. Speech-Language Pathologist
    • Average Salary: $76,060
    • Job Responsibilities: Evaluate, diagnose, and treat individuals of all ages having difficulties with speech, language, swallowing, and similar conditions.
    • Skills: The abilities to listen to and understand patients is vital in the work of a speech-language pathologist. A wide range of patients could include stroke victims who need to learn to speak again or children with a stutter.
    • Education Requirement: A two-year master’s degree program in speech-language pathology is required along with state-specific licensing. Supervised clinical experience (a minimum of 36 weeks or 400 hours) can follow the graduate program. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have earned a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
    • Career Outlook: 21% growth expected from 2021 to 2031
  23. Pediatrician
    • Average Salary: $170,480
    • Job Responsibilities: Prevent, diagnose, and treat disease and injury in children.
    • Skills: Patience is a big component of working in pediatrics. Patients are young enough that they are unable to explain or have a difficult time articulating any issues. Pediatricians should also be organized, compassionate, dexterous, and detail-oriented.
    • Education Requirement: Start with an undergraduate degree including pre-medical courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and anatomy. You’ll then need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and earn a score high enough for admission to medical school. Four more years of education there will include clinical rotations in different areas of medicine. If you pass a licensure exam after graduation, you will undergo at least three years of residency — training in various pediatric specialties. Certification through the American Board of Pediatrics is not required but highly recommended for more job opportunities and potential higher salary.
    • Career Outlook: 1% growth projection from 2021 to 2031
  24. Anesthesiologist
    • Average Salary: $208,000
    • Job Responsibilities: Administering and monitoring different types of anesthesia, allowing patients to undergo invasive procedures without cognizant discomfort .
    • Skills: Anesthesiologists must be able to focus entirely on a patient’s vital signs and other functions before, during, and after procedures. In the instance that something goes awry, quick decision making skills and high-level critical thinking are vital.
    • Education Requirement: Take advantage of relevant undergraduate courses such as biochemistry and physics that will help prepare you for the MCAT, and subsequently medical school. After medical school you will need to pass a licensure exam, undergo residency, and obtain a state-specific license. An anesthesiologist will have completed anywhere from 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical experience by the time they complete the entirety of extensive training.
    • Career Outlook: 1% employment growth expected from 2021 to 2031
  25. Chiropractor
    • Average Salary: $75,000
    • Job Responsibilities: Examine and treat the neuromusculoskeletal system, such as nerves, bones, and muscles.
    • Skills: Dexterity is key as chiropractors manually adjust patients’ spines and joints. Decision-making abilities and communication are key, especially while patients are in physically uncomfortable and vulnerable positions.
    • Education Requirement: At least three years of undergraduate education before applying to an accredited Doctor of Chiropractic program. These programs typically take four years to complete. Specializations, such as sports rehabilitation, require additional training. Chiropractors also must obtain a state-specific license.
    • Career Outlook: 10% growth from 2021 to 2031 is expected

Benefits of Working in Healthcare

As you can see, there are many benefits of working in healthcare, such as:

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best paying jobs in healthcare?

According to U.S. News & World Report Best Jobs List, these seven healthcare careers have the highest median annual salary — $208,000:

  • Anesthesiologist
  • Obstetrician and gynecologist
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
  • Orthodontist
  • Physician
  • Psychiatrist
  • Surgeon

How do I choose between healthcare careers?

Deciding which healthcare career to pursue is a decision that takes thoughtful consideration. Consult with trusted family members, friends, and any working professionals you know who are already in your desired line of work. Give thought to what educational opportunities you can realistically pursue with your lifestyle and what you are passionate about.

What is the best healthcare job?

This answer is subjective, depending on what you are personally looking for in terms of salary, growth opportunities, work-life balance, and more.

Interested in beginning your healthcare career or advancing up the ladder? Unsure where to start? At the University of San Diego, we have a variety of continuing education offerings for healthcare professionals looking to diversify their knowledge and gain certifications. To learn more, take a look at our Healthcare Programs to explore courses and certificates.

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