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Blog>Guides>Careers in the Medical Field: How to Make a Career Change in 2022

Careers in the Medical Field: How to Make a Career Change in 2022

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Overview

  • Discover the variety of professionals in the healthcare industry

  • See how you can prepare to enter a position in the medical field

  • Learn more about the expected salaries of those in the medical field

Introduction

If you enjoy working with people and helping improve their health, a profession in the medical field might be the perfect calling. When people think about medical professionals, they tend to first call to mind nurses and doctors; however, there are a variety of positions in the field. As you can probably imagine, each comes with its own responsibilities and expectations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that most medical and healthcare positions are experiencing a job growth rate that significantly outpaces the growth rate for industries across the board. A variety of factors contribute to this rapid growth rate, including aging members of the baby boomer generation, the number of people expected to retire, and the number of professionals expected to switch careers in the coming years.

If switching to the medical field sounds appealing, you’re in luck. The purpose of this guide is to assist you in making the transition, while making you aware of the different types of careers available should you go through with your decision. Let’s review what you need to know about getting started in a new job in the medical field.

How to Start a Career in the Medical Field

If you want to build a career in the medical field, you will likely need some specialized training and education to prepare you for the new role. Medical professionals range from genetic counselors to occupational therapists. They also include dental hygienists, dietitians, and nutritionists. Each of these professionals impact the daily lives of their patients and the public health of society as a whole in their own unique ways.

Review the different types of career options available to you. Your review should include looking at the different environments where you might work in your healthcare career, such as doctor’s offices or hospitals.

Research the Different Types of Careers in the Medical Field

Before you move forward with education and training for your new career path, review some of the different jobs within the field. Many professionals are needed to take care of patients and advance medical research. Therefore, you can carefully consider your strengths and interests as you evaluate the different types of careers and find the one that fits you best.

To help you evaluate the different career options, you can employ a few strategies to find your preferable niche.

Consider the following ideas:

  • Review our list of common healthcare jobs below to learn more about the different options. For example, if physical therapy and helping people heal after injuries interest you, becoming a physical therapist might be the best option. On the other hand, if dentistry interests you, then becoming a dental assistant might be a better fit.

  • Speak to those who work in healthcare to learn more about their jobs and others who work with them. For example, those interested in working as an EMT will want to make sure they understand the stress involved with the job and how to manage it.

  • Research the type of environment you would like to work in, such as a hospital or rehabilitation center, and learn more about the different roles and responsibilities involved in providing care

  • Contact teachers and professors at the school you'd like to attend to learn more about potential career options in the medical field.

As you work to learn about the different types of careers in healthcare, you will want to ask a few key questions to help you evaluate your chosen career’s potential.

Consider questions such as:

  • “What are your day-to-day responsibilities?”

  • “How involved are you in patient care?”

  • “What type of education and continuing education would I need to do in your field?”

  • “What is the typical salary of a new member of your profession? What is the average salary of a veteran?”

Taking advantage of these different opportunities to ask questions and learn from others can help you evaluate your different career options and find the one that fits you best.

Pursue the Proper Education for a Career in the Medical Field

Depending on what area of the medical field you decide to enter, you will find various degrees and certifications you’ll need to pursue that particular line of work. For example, those interested in becoming medical doctors will need to earn an M.D. On the other hand, certified nursing assistants will require an associate’s degree or certification, and registered nurses will typically want to earn a bachelor’s degree. Nurse practitioners may need either a master’s degree or a Ph.D.

Various jobs and careers, such as medical assistants, ultrasound techs, and different types of nursing positions may require specific certifications. Therefore, the type of field you want to enter will impact the kind of education and training you pursue.

Get the Right Certifications or Licenses

Those in the medical profession greatly impact their patients’ lives and overall health. Therefore, professionals entering this field should expect to need some type of specialized training. As discussed, this training will take various forms, ranging from a technical certification course to a Ph.D. or an M.D.

As you determine the type of career you want to enter, you’ll need to carefully review the kind of education required to work in your chosen field.

What Are the Different Types of Careers in the Medical Field?

Here we will explore some of the common careers in the medical field. This is not a comprehensive list, as there are an enormous variety of careers within the field. Exploring some of these more common career options can help you see the diversity of roles in the sector, giving you a jump-start in identifying the types of careers you might investigate further.

Most Popular Types of Medical Jobs

The most popular jobs in the medical field run the gamut from respiratory therapists to chiropractors, and include people in administrative, clinical, and technical roles. Here are some of the most common careers in the medical field divided by category.

Administrative Medical Jobs

Young female administrator talking on phone in medical clinic setting while sitting and looking on PC monitor.

Administrative medical jobs help support those working in the medical industry. These professionals keep the medical environment organized and business moving forward. These healthcare workers typically require a minimum of a high school diploma, although they may also need some additional training.

A few of the administrative medical jobs you might want to consider include:

  • Administrative medical assistants. These assistants help with billing and scheduling patients and dealing with insurance companies. They also help with maintaining medical charts.

  • Medical billers. Medical billers learn how to calculate and bill insurance companies and patients for the different healthcare services provided. They make sure that the patient information is current and stay on top of invoices to ensure that billing is done on time and accurately.

  • Patient services representatives. These professionals specialize in working with patients and keeping appointments straight. They help with scheduling appointments and follow-ups and maintaining contact with the patient if they need to be updated about delays, wait times, or other unforeseen events.

  • Medical transcriptionist. A medical transcriptionist helps keep patient medical records up to date. Doctors and specialists will use recordings to track what was discussed during patient appointments. The transcriptionist will listen to the recordings and type them out for medical reports.

  • Director of nursing or assistant director of nursing. The director of nursing and assistant director of nursing work together to keep the nursing department working efficiently. Working in healthcare administration, the director will supervise the nursing unit and ensure patients receive the proper care. The assistant director will also monitor the nursing staff and stay on top of regulatory standards to ensure the healthcare facility remains compliant.

Clinical Medical Jobs

A team of surgeons in an operating room working on a patient.

Clinical medical jobs have hands-on roles within the healthcare environment. These positions generally require more advanced postsecondary education and often some form of continuing education. These healthcare providers work in a wide range of roles within the healthcare industry.

Some of the typical clinical medical jobs include:

  • Surgeons. A surgeon is a doctor that has been specifically trained to perform surgeries and treat conditions that may require surgery.

  • Pediatricians. Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in taking care of children and treating pediatric conditions.

  • Physicians. A physician has the training needed to diagnose injuries and illnesses as well as prescribe medications. They know how to perform and interpret diagnostic tests and health histories, take a patient’s vital signs, and administer preventative care.

  • Optometrists. Optometrists specialize in the eyes and conditions related to vision. They can diagnose eye conditions and provide people with eyeglasses as needed.

  • Physician assistant. A physician assistant works side-by-side with a physician to provide care for patients. While these professionals are not doctors, they do prescribe medication and can treat and diagnose their patients.

Technical Medical Jobs

Radiologist with a female patient laying horizontal about to undergo computed tomography.

Technical medical jobs are held by professionals who can help with medical technology, including diagnostic tests and other healthcare duties. This includes tools such as X-rays and blood draws. These positions often require specialized training or classes, so the professionals are prepared to collect the necessary health information accurately.

Some typical jobs in this field include:

  • MRI technologist. These professionals specialize in administering MRIs, including knowing how to produce the images and use the contrast dye to enhance certain types of images.

  • Surgical technologist. A surgical technologist will help to prepare the OR (operating room) before an operation. They will also assist the surgeon during the surgery.

  • Pharmacy technician. A pharmacy technician works with the pharmacist. They will help organize and label medications people need.

  • Diagnostic medical sonographer. A diagnostic medical sonographer uses a sonogram, also known as an ultrasound, to form images of different body parts. Doctors then use these images to provide patients with better healthcare.

  • Phlebotomist. A phlebotomist is a specialized technician that draws blood. These technicians know how to prepare patients for giving blood and collect the samples as well as properly package and store them.

What Is a Typical Salary for a Career in the Medical Field?

The typical median salary in the medical or healthcare field can vary considerably. Although all healthcare professionals are essential in the proper operation of a medical care facility, salaries will reflect the different levels of expertise. A surgeon, for example, has vastly different training and specialized knowledge compared to someone who works in the administrative portions of the healthcare field or as a health aide in a nursing home.

If you look at only healthcare practitioners and those who work on the technical side of medical operations, then the median annual wage is $75,040. Those who work on the support side of healthcare, such as home health aides, have a median annual salary of $29,430.

Here are some more specific examples to give you an idea of some of the different median salaries people might see within the medical field.

What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs in the Medical Field?

Smiling young female doctor standing in a hospital corridor with a diverse group of medical staff standing behind her.

Some jobs within the medical field call for extensive training and expertise and thus pay very well.

Some of the highest-paying jobs in the medical field include:

  • Physicians and surgeons. These two professions call for a high level of expertise. Those in this job have the skills needed to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. The median pay is $208,000.

  • Dentists. Dentists diagnose and treat problems related to the mouth. They also have to go through specialized training and higher levels of education. The median pay is $163,220 per year.

  • Podiatrist. Podiatrists are doctors that specialize in treating the feet and ankles. They can also perform surgery on these specialized parts of the body. The median pay for this position is $145,840.

  • Pharmacist. A pharmacist is an expert on medications. They are tasked with distributing prescriptions to patients and helping them understand potential interactions and manage their medication needs. These professionals have a median pay of $128,570.

What Are the Top Skills Needed to Start a Career in the Medical Field?

While the responsibilities and education needed to succeed in medical professions vary considerably depending on your career, a few skills overlap across the different disciplines.

Some critical skills that you will want to cultivate to excel in the medical field include:

  • An attention to detail

  • A desire to help others

  • A willingness to keep learning

  • Interpersonal skills and communication skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Leadership skills

  • Technical skills needed for the position

Find the Best Careers in the Medical Field on Joblist

If you are ready to find your new medical field position, you can get started right now on Joblist. Whether you want to work with patients in an acute healthcare setting or help people with disabilities long-term, we will help you find a position that is tailored to who you are.

Joblist will help you find your next position with customized job searches. We can then deliver personalized results based on the jobs that fit you best. Thanks to our quiz, we work to learn more about you before you make a job search. Get started finding your perfect medical position right now.

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