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5 Healthcare Degrees and Career Paths Outside Nursing

by Jared Newnam
January 24, 2017

A career in healthcare isn’t only for nurses or doctors. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) expecting the creation of 2.3 million healthcare jobs between 2014 and 2024, you have many options for pursuing a career in healthcare. If you’re drawn to helping others and bettering your community but practicing medicine isn’t for you, below are five healthcare degrees that can prepare you for other rewarding healthcare jobs.

1. Public Health Degree

With a public health degree you can prepare for a career where you work to improve health across local, national, and global communities and to make a large-scale impact on the world.

Public health career options are diverse, with opportunities to conduct disease research, influence legislative and social policy, solve health-related problems, and develop and lead programs that promote healthy lifestyles and teach disease prevention. Job growth and salaries in the field likewise vary, according to the BLS. For example, job growth for epidemiologists (who research diseases) is projected at 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, whereas health educators and community health workers can expect higher job growth at 13%. In 2015, epidemiologists saw a median annual wage of $69,450, with health educators at $51,960 and community health workers at $36,300.

While a Bachelor of Science in Public Health can help you to get started in this field, some public health occupations require a Master of Public Health degree.

2. Healthcare Management Degree

Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare services, with leadership and administrative duties that are critical to the health of institutions and individuals. To prepare you for this responsibility, healthcare management degree programs teach both industry-specific knowledge and foundational management competencies involving critical thinking, analysis, and decision-making.

According to the BLS, medical and health services management is a growing and financially rewarding field, with an above average job growth of 17% and a 2015 median annual wage of $94,500. While a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can equip you for many positions, the BLS notes that some employers prefer individuals who also have master’s degrees.

3. Psychology Degree

Fascinated by what makes people tick? Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is the first step toward a career in psychology, or the scientific study of what drives human behavior. A bachelor’s psychology degree can prepare for you for entry-level positions in psychology—like counselor aide, therapeutic assistant, career advisor, or caseworker—or for continuing on to graduate school. Other jobs, such as psychologist or clinical counselor, require advance studies beyond an undergraduate psychology degree.

While a psychology degree can lead to many careers, the BLS predicts a 19% job growth for psychologists and reported a 2015 median annual salary of $72,580 for this position.

4. Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

A physical therapist assistant career allows you to work one-on-one with patients under a physical therapist’s supervision. In this role, you would support and train patients with therapy exercises and activities, treat patients using special equipment and procedures, and report on patient progress as you help guide them back to health.

Beyond enjoying a fulfilling career, physical therapist assistants can expect to be in demand, with the BLS projecting an impressive 41% employment growth. In terms of median annual salary, physical therapists assistants brought in $55,170 in 2015. To pursue this career, you’ll need to complete an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree program and fulfill state licensing requirements.

5. Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

While physical therapy assistants typically focus on patients recovering from injuries, occupational therapy assistants specialize in helping patients build and recover skills required for daily life. Work under the guidance of an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistants may:

  • Help children with developmental disabilities become more independent
  • Assist older adults with physical and cognitive changes
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment
  • Perform patient evaluations and support ongoing patient care

The BLS also anticipates promising growth for occupational therapy assistant careers with a 43% rise in employment. In 2015, occupational therapy assistants also reported a median salary of $57,870. If you’re interested in this rapidly growing career path, earning an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree should be your first step, followed by pursuing any state licensing requirements.

Explore Your Options for Healthcare Programs at South University

With an academic tradition of excellence that’s lasted over 100 years, South University has helped to prepare thousands of students for success in the healthcare field. Here, you’ll discover over 25 campus-based and online programs that can equip you for a career in healthcare. To learn about the healthcare degrees offered in South University’s College of Health Professions, College of Nursing and Public Health, and even our College of Business (with graduate and undergraduate healthcare management degree programs), call us at 1.800.688.0932 or request information today.

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