A List of High Paying Medical Careers
Careers in the medical field are highly sought after in the 21st century. They are lucrative, demanding, and rewarding all at the same time. If you are looking for a job wherein you can make a real difference in people’s lives, the medical field is the place to be. Each and every day you’ll have a chance to help people with health problems they are facing. Depending on the job, they may be minor nuisances, serious injuries, or psychological problems.
Med Career Hub is dedicated to finding a medical career that suits your personality, and helping you along the road to making it happen. Read the below descriptions of some of the most popular medical careers today, and then read our in depth guides on how to get started in those fields.
A psychiatrist is one who diagnoses, analyzes and treats people with mental health disorders. For people who are suffering from chemical dependency and a host of other mental disorders, a psychiatrist is often times the primary source of mental health care. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies psychiatrists in the same group as physicians and surgeons.
The requirements for a career as a psychiatrist include eight years of education and additional training as achieved through an internship or residency. Students in high school who are considering a career as a psychiatrist should consider AP chemistry and physics classes as well as extra-curricula activities designed to engage the interests of pre-med students.
Undergraduate classes should include pre-med classes that are inclusive of the sciences with associated laboratory work requirements. Undergraduate students will need to achieve a grade point average (GPA) that will provide for entrance to a medical school and score well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Typically, prospective psychiatrists seek a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration on one or more of the sciences to include biology, chemistry, genetics and physics.
A four-year medical school program for psychiatrist requires the same type of coursework required for a doctor of medicine (M.D.). This is inclusive of the study of anatomy, biochemistry, histology (the study of body tissues), immunology and psychology as well as clinical training in different fields of medicine. Following medical school, prospective psychiatrist must complete a four-year residency. A residency in psychiatry requires training in a hospital setting or medical facility that provides hands-on experience working with patients. Following residency, potential psychiatrists must pass an exam issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in order to obtain certification and legally practice in the field. A post-residency fellowship is encouraged, but is not required.
Read our in depth guide to becoming a psychiatrist here.
A nurse represents the larger field of individuals who provide care for patients in hospitals, clinics and other medial settings. Nurses support a culturally diverse population of patients who may be in stressful situations. Nurses are required to keep themselves and patients safe by preventing accidents, using ergonomic principles and correctly handling infectious items. They must keep patients comfortable, identify the appropriate use of medications, calculate doses and recognize adverse effects.
All nurses have to be licensed as established by individual states after they graduate from an educational program. Licenses typically require continuing education credits for renewal. Individuals interested in nursing may choose to become registered nurses (RNs), or licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Nurses may also seek advanced degrees to become advanced practice nurses. Advanced practice nurses are inclusive of nurse-midwives, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners.
RNs and LPNs or LVNs are required to complete a formal education program. A LPN or LVN requires less formal education than a RN. A LPN is required to engage a one-year training program at a technical school, vocational school or community college, but is not required to obtain a license to practice. This training must include classroom lectures and hands-on clinical practices in a hospital or clinical setting. Classroom lectures typically include coursework in anatomy, first aid, nutrition and physiology. Upon completion of the training program, practical nurses are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).
A RN is required to complete the requirements for an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Typical coursework includes the study of anatomy, nutrition, adult care and medicine practices. Upon completion of the requirements for an associate degree, candidates must take the NCLEX-RN licensing exam in order to become practicing RNs.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) typically includes coursework in human development, healthcare, nursing theory, chemistry and infant care as well as hands-on work experience in a medical setting. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is required for advanced practice RNs. The coursework for a degree in this field varies dependent upon the area of concentration. After earning a degree and obtaining RN licensing, nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses may need to undergo an additional process of certification as determined by the state in which they practice.
Read our in depth guide to becoming a nurse here.
Certified Nurse Assistant
Certified nurse assistants (CNAs) are persons who perform basic healthcare duties in hospitals and care facilities under the supervision of a RN or LVN. The BLS groups CNAs with nursing attendants and orderlies rather than nurses.
CNAs must be registered with a state regulatory body and complete a state approved post secondary training program that is inclusive of classroom education and a clinical rotation. Vocational schools and community colleges offer CNA training programs, which are about eight weeks and include the study of anatomy, patient rights, medical ethics, medical terminology, infection guidelines and diseases. Other coursework may include the study of pre-operative and post-operative care procedures, patient hygiene, patient communication and administrative duties. Coursework taken as part of a RN or LVN degree program may also satisfy CNA training requirements.
CNA training institutions accept applicants who have earned their high school diploma or those who have received qualifying scores on reading and math competency tests. Most institutions also require students to acquire CPR certification before or during the program. Students must also meet certain health requirements.
Some states may allow nurse assistants to work for a limited time while going through the application and testing processes. A nurse assistant can only be designated a CNA after completing the registration process.
Read our in depth guide on becoming a CNA here.
A chiropractor is someone who diagnoses and treats muscular and skeletal problems, primarily those affecting the back and neck. Chiropractors are best known for their efforts to manipulate and adjust the spine to relieve pain and improve bodily functions. However, chiropractors practice a number of alternative therapies.
All states require potential chiropractors to obtain a license or similar credentials in order to practice. In order to obtain a chiropractor’s license, most states require either 90 undergraduate college credits or a bachelor’s degree followed by continuing education in chiropractic medicine and hands-on experience. While some states only require 90 undergraduate credits, a bachelor degree provides for licensure in any state. Many state-licensing boards require continuing education credits as part of their annual license renewal process.
All states require chiropractors to have a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and to pass a certification exam. A Doctor of Chiropractic degree must be earned from one of the limited number of accredited chiropractic college programs. Candidates for chiropractic college programs should have undergraduate coursework in chemistry, biology and physics as well as humanities and social science. Chiropractic college coursework includes the study of anatomy, chemistry, chiropractic philosophy and chiropractic diagnosis. Specific courses are taught based upon specific chiropractic techniques and specialty chiropractic services being taught. A potential doctor is required to complete an internship at a chiropractic clinic or practice under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor. Following chiropractic college, students must pass either a state exam or an exam as offered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
Read our in depth guide on becoming a chiropractor here.
A pharmacist is a licensed healthcare professional who performs a number of functions. Pharmacists may educate patients about drug use, educate patients about illness prevention, monitor patient progress and advise physicians on medication issues. According to the BLS, most pharmacists work in retail locations as salaried employees, but they may also work in private and public healthcare facilities or deliver hospice care.
Pharmacists are required to obtain a license and acquire a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) in order to practice. A potential pharmacist must complete at least two years of undergraduate coursework to become eligible for a four-year pharmacy school program. Typical coursework includes the study of biopharmaceuticals, disease treatments, drug absorption rates, medicinal chemistry, patient care, pathophysiology, pharmacy ethics and law toxicology. A Pharm.D. program also includes clinical training to familiarize students with patient interaction while allowing them to develop professional skills
Graduates of Pharm.D. programs may choose to pursue additional training through one to two-year residencies or fellowships. These programs generally provide direct, patient-care experiences in community pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Residents may pursue general training, or they may pursue clinical or specialty pharmacy practices where they are usually required to complete research projects. Fellowships provide pharmacists with more specialized training in particular fields of study.
Pharm.D. graduates are also required to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination as administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) in order to demonstrate the skills necessary to safely distribute medicine. Most states also require graduates to pass the NABP’s Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination on federal and state laws.
Read the in depth guide on Med Career Hub to becoming a pharmacist.
A pediatrician is professional who is knowledgeable about infant, child and young adult healthcare. Many pediatricians work in private practices and the pediatric units of hospitals and medical facilities. Some pediatricians hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), and they provide general medical services. Other pediatricians hold a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.), and they specialize in specific sub-specialty areas of pediatrics.
Pediatricians are required to follow the same medical training as other doctors. They gain their expertise by acquiring a bachelor’s degree, completing medical school, completing an internship and then a residency. Undergraduates are encouraged to complete studies in English, biology, chemistry and physics in order to gain admission to medical schools. Undergrads must submit their MCAT scores and transcripts for admission.
All pediatricians are required to complete four years of medical school and three to eight years of internships and residencies. The M.D. program includes the study of anatomy, biochemistry, psychology, physiology and pathology as well as methods of documenting medical histories, performing patient exams and diagnosing acute or chronic illnesses. The D.O. program not only includes traditional M.D. coursework, but it also includes coursework that emphasizes the role that locomotor systems have on overall health and well-being. Upon graduation, all pediatricians must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) in order to practice medicine as physicians. Pediatricians who specialize in sub-specialty areas must complete an additional two to six years of residency in the chosen specialty and gain certification through the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Candidates for D.O. may begin a 12-month internship with clinical rotations prior to joining a residency program.
Read our full guide on becoming a pediatrician.
A radiologist is a physician who specializes in using medical imaging techniques, such as X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to diagnose and treat diseases or injuries. A radiologist interprets information gathered through imaging techniques, communicates results with doctors and patients, writes medical reports and explains treatment risks, benefits, and alternatives to patients. A typical radiologist oversees a team of imaging technicians and assistants. Radiologists need to stay abreast of the latest innovations and developments in radiology through continuing education.
Radiologists are required to earn a bachelor’s degree that is inclusive of the study of biology, chemistry and physics. These are the prerequisites for entry to a four-year medical school. Medical school includes two years of classroom instruction in the sciences and two years of clinical rotations in different areas of medicine.
Following medical school, prospective radiologists must complete four years of a radiology residency. A residency includes a combination of specialty medical education and paid on-the-job training where residents complete clinical rotations in the different sub-specialties of radiology. They attend lectures and conduct research. Radiologists who which to specialize in certain sub-specialty areas are required to complete additional training.
All radiologists must be licensed to practice medicine, and licenses must be renewed periodically. Licenses are earned by passing the USMLE or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX). In addition, many radiologists are certified through the American Board of Radiology (ABR) or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (AOBR). Board certification is optional, but radiologists must engage in continuing education in order to maintain certification.
Find out how to become a radiologist by reading this awesome article.
A dentist provides oral health services to adults and children. Dentists work with their patients to promote good dental health. Dentists will diagnose and treat oral health issues and inform patients of methods of preventative care and treatment. Many dentists are general practitioners who perform routine services, such as exams, filling cavities and extracting teeth. However, there are also dentist who specialize in one or more of the sub-specialties of dentistry, such as orthodontics. Some dental school graduates work for established dental offices while others establish and setup their own practices.
No specific undergraduate degree is required to become a dentist, but coursework in biology, anatomy, chemistry and microbiology will assist with progressing in education. Prospective dentist will need to submit Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores with their application for dental school and ensure that they enroll in a dental school that is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). Dental school programs offer either Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degrees. Dental schools offer study in general dentistry as well as specialized areas of study, such as oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics or pediatric dentistry.
DDS degree programs are four-year programs that include in-class, pre-clinical and clinical instruction. The first two years are composed of lab and class instruction while the final two years include dental rotation externships. These externships are conducted in dental clinics that are affiliated with the dental school, and they provide for students to treat patients under supervision. Postgraduate programs for dentists wishing to specialize in specific areas of dentistry require an additional 2-6 years of education, dependent upon the chosen specialty. Some specialties may also require a residency.
A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment and care of skin. A dermatologist will diagnose and treat skin conditions associated with the scalp, hair and nails. Though not required, many dermatologists engage in continuing education to keep abreast of advancements in processes, methods and instrumentation used in the field of dermatology.
Dermatologists are required to acquire a bachelor’s degree and then enroll in a viable four-year medical school. All dermatologists must earn a M.D. before practicing dentistry. Coursework may include the study of human health, disease, immunology, epidemiology and the nervous system. Upon graduation from medical school, a dentist may pursue three to four-years of specialized training. Experiential dermatology training through a dermatology program includes advanced coursework and a residency. The residency provides hands-on clinical training. Dermatologists interested in pursuing an academic or scholarly position may pursue a Ph.D. in a related field