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Top Careers in the Healthcare Industry

Johnson Memorial Health on Jul 21, 2015

Maybe you are contemplating a mid-life career change, or maybe you are sending a student off to college this fall. There are some big decisions to be made about which career is right for you and your family.


Are you considering a career in the healthcare industry? There are many areas to consider with varying ranges in required education. Let's take a brief look at some of the top careers in the healthcare industry and the education requirements for each one.

Registered Nurse

A nurse is the main contact you have during a hospital stay. They are responsible for charting, monitoring, and administering medicine among other things. 

To be a nurse, you will need a Bachelor's degree in nursing. Some nurses further their training with a master's degree in nursing specialties. 

Nurse Practictioner

A nurse practitioner, or advance practice registered nurse, has additional training beyond a nurse. They are able to work independently from doctors with the ability to do exams and prescribe medicines among other things. 

To become a nurse practitioner, you will need a Bachelor's degree in nursing, and then go on to nurse practitioner training which is an additional two to four years of schooling. 

Physician Assistant

A physician's assistant works under the supervision of a doctor. They interpret x-rays, conduct exams, and treat many ailments. The doctor then checks in and reviews the patients medical records. While this may sound a lot like a nurse practitioner, there are some differences in their goals. 

To become a physician assistant, Bachelor's degree in science, and then go on to a master's program for two more years. 


A physician, or medical doctor, is a term that refers to your main doctor or a specialist. Medical doctors include family doctors, ER doctors, obstetricians, dermatologists, and many more specialties. 

To become a physician, you will need a Bachelor's degree and then go on to medical school for another four years. After medical school, physicians choose a specialty and go on to another three to eight years of training.

Surgical Technologist

A surgical technologist sterilizes operating rooms and sets out the tools needed for the upcoming procedure. During surgery, a surgical tech will maintain a sterile environment and keep track of all the tools. They may also help the surgeon with getting tools or draping the patient if needed. 

To become a surgical technician, you will need an Associates degree from an accredited program.

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist uses therapies, machines, and patient education to help a patient heal without medications or surgery. Physical therapy may be recommended for broken bones, rehabilitation a stroke victim, post surgery therapy and many other issues dealing with range of motion and muscles. 

To become a physical therapist, you will need a Bachelor's degree and then go on to physical therapy school for another three years. Additional training is available for specialties. A physical therapists assistant requires an associates degree.

Volunteer at Johnson Memorial Health Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist helps a patient perform the daily tasks such as feeding, swallowing, or taking a bath. They may also help a student in a wheelchair navigate the hallways of a new school.  An occupational therapist may work in many settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, or in client homes. 

To become an occupational therapist, you will need a Bachelor's and Master's degree. An occupational therapist assistant will need an Associate's degree and some fieldwork training.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

A diagnostic medical sonographer uses a sonogram to create images that physicians use to diagnose medical conditions. Sonographers may specialize in obstetrics, musculoskeletal, abdominal, or other areas.

To become a diagnostic medical sonographer, you will need to complete a certification program which usually lasts two years. 

Radiologic Technologist

A radiologic technologist uses radiation to produce images or administer treatments. These images are sent to a Radiologist to interpret. A radiologic technologist may work closely with an oncologist to administer treatments for cancer patients.

To become a radiologic technologist, you will need an associates degree. Some states require more certifications than others.


A pharmacist dispenses medications, checks for interactions, give patient instructions, and supervise pharmacy technicians. Pharmacists may also give immunizations and make sure a patients doctor knows about the diverse medications one is prescribed. 

To become a pharmacist, you will need a Bachelor's degree and then go on to Pharmacy school which is another four years of training. 


An Emergency Medical Technician, or paramedic, is often the first responder to a situation. They provide care for a patient while transporting them to the hospital. There are different levels of EMT's with varying levels of responsibility which can include administering medications and interpreting EKG's. 

To become an EMT, you will need to complete a training program. For a more advanced paramedic title, you'll need to complete the paramedic program with an associates degree.

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Topics: Careers