How to Skip Med School: 8 Medical Careers That Don’t Need 4-Year Degrees

You could spend up to $66,000 per year attending medical school. Since it takes a minimum of eight years to earn your degree, you’re looking at some serious student loans.

So, what do you do if you want to work in a hospital but don’t want to spend the rest of your life paying off your student loans? Or, maybe you just want to start your career as soon as possible.

Either way, you’re in luck. There are plenty of medical careers that don’t require a four-year degree. In fact, some of these don’t require a degree at all!

Keep reading to find out more about these hospital jobs that won’t put you deep into debt!

1. Dental Hygienist

You can earn an associate’s degree to become a dental hygienist in just two years. The responsibilities of a dental hygienist are to clean teeth, look for signs of periodontal disease, and provide preventative care to patients.

As a dental hygienist, you’ll work closely alongside the dentist to ensure the dental health of every patient that comes through the door. In many clinics, the duties of a hygienist extend to assisting in advanced dental procedures like root canals and cavity fillings.

Since many children and even adults are nervous about visiting the dentist, having a great attitude and being able to keep patients calm will help you succeed in this career.

2. Patient Care Technician

If you simply love helping people, you should consider working as a patient care technician. Also known as nursing assistants or orderlies, this position involves providing basic care to patients.

Some duties of a patient care technician include bathing patients, moving patients as needed, and assisting nurses and other medical professionals with the treatment of patients.

There’s no degree required, but having some training in medical terminology and other basic medical classes can help you land a position in a hospital, residential care facility, or nursing home.

3. Radiation Therapist

This is another medical job on our list that requires a two-year degree. Radiation therapists need to work well with other people as they will be expected to be part of an oncology team.

The primary responsibility of a radiation therapist is to administer the radiation treatments as prescribed by a medical doctor. These may take place in a hospital, private physician’s office, or in an out-patient facility.

When working with cancer patients, compassion is essential. Most people who work as radiation therapists will have terminal patients, so you need to know how to interact with them appropriately.

4. Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

Record keeping is an important part of ensuring a hospital is running smoothly. Medical billing and coding specialists help ensure patient records are correct and work with insurance companies to handle payments.

Because of the knowledge needed of the language used in this part of the medical field, it’s vital to get some training beforehand. However, most training programs are inexpensive and short. You can get more details here.

Another shared trait of medical billing and coding specialists is organization. You’ll be expected to keep large amounts of information organized in a way that they’re easily accessible to medical personnel that need them and not accessible to anyone else.

5. Surgical Technologist

If you love the idea of being in the operating room but not so much that you want to be a surgeon, consider working as a surgical technologist. Most people that pursue this career first pursue a two-year degree, but it’s not required.

We do recommend getting as much training and hands-on experience as possible when looking to work as a surgical technologist, however. Because of how important their duties are, hospitals prefer individuals with extensive training.

As a surgical technologist, you’ll be getting the operating room ready, preparing patients to be operated on, and handing tools to surgeons.

6. Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical therapy assistants work alongside a physical therapist to help rehabilitate patients that have been in accidents or had other medical conditions that require a recovery period.

To become a physical therapy assistant, you will need a two-year degree. Then, you’ll be able to jump right into helping people recover, manage pain, and improve their mobility.

Another responsibility you’ll fulfill as a physical therapy assistant is to educate patients about how they can continue their therapy at home. For this reason, you’ll only want to pursue this career option if you’re good with people.

7. Medical Lab Technician

Most medical lab technicians work in hospitals, but others may find work in dedicated medical laboratories, or private practices. Wherever you find work, you’ll have to pursue a two-year degree first.

The importance of a degree in this area of the medical field can’t be stressed enough. You will be using medical equipment and microscopes to look at bodily fluids to help diagnose patients.

This job is a crucial part of patient care as doctors rely on accurate results from the medical lab technicians to determine what type of treatment a patient needs.

8. Registered Nurse

If you’re looking for flexibility in job options after graduation, you may want to get an associate’s degree to become a registered nurse. Then, you can find work in private practices, hospitals, nursing homes, or even with the military.

A registered nurse always works under the direction of a physician to provide treatment to patients. You may do things like place IV catheters, draw blood, and administer medications.

Nurses also tend to spend more time with patients than doctors, which is part of what makes them a valuable member of the medical team. A registered nurse is trained to recognize potential problems in patients so they can alert physicians.

Want More Medical Careers?

You now have a list of eight medical careers that don’t require a four-year degree. But, maybe none of these sound like something you could see yourself doing.

If you’re looking for some more options, be sure to check out our list of 15 of the best jobs in the medical field. Hopefully, you’ll find something there that will allow you to pursue a career that you’ll love.

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