10 Healthcare Certifications You Can Get in 2 Years or Less
Thinking about starting an allied health career? Over the last decade, healthcare certificate and associate degree programs have become popular due to their affordability, shorter study times, and schedule flexibility.
Many allied health careers can be started in less than two years, and are convenient options for people who are considering a career change later in life.
To check out ten of the best allied health career paths that you can join in under two years, keep reading!
1. Phlebotomy Technician (2 - 3 months)
One of the shortest allied health training programs belongs to the phlebotomy sector. Within two months, you could get your certification to take blood samples and prepare them for laboratory testing.
Many certified phlebotomy techs use their training as a stepping stone towards other health careers (such as medical assistants). Many programs combine phlebotomy and EKG courses which provide a wider variety of practical skills.
Where Do Phlebotomists Work?
Though a large number of phlebotomists are employed by hospitals, the majority of these certified allied health professionals work at medical laboratories, private practices, and blood donation centers.
At smaller clinics and private practices, a standard 9-5 job might be available. Hospitals, however, tend to have a phlebotomist on-call 24/7, so you could find yourself working night or day shifts (or anything in between).
What Is a Phlebotomy Technician Salary Like?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average phlebotomy salary in 2018 was around $35,000. However, the top 10% of earners took home $49,000 per year. The top earners tend to work at outpatient centers and may require additional certifications/training. Just like any career, extra dedication often reflects higher salaries.
2. Cardiac Monitor Technician (3 - 7 months)
Just like many other allied health careers, cardiac monitor techs can be referred to in a variety of ways:
- EKG Technician
- ECG Technician
- Cardiographic Technician
- Telemetry Monitor Technician
Whatever they call themselves, these techs provide accurate test results so physicians can diagnose diseases, birth defects, and other conditions related to the cardiovascular system. From Holter monitoring to EKGs to stress tests, cardiac monitor technicians are responsible for working directly with patients of all ages and backgrounds.
Where Can EKG Techs Work?
Cardiac monitor technicians often work full-time positions at hospitals, private practices, medical labs, and outpatient centers.
What Is the Job Market Like for Cardiac Monitor Technicians?
The cardiac monitor technician sector is projected to grow more than 15% over the next decade, meaning there will be ample positions for entry-level EKG techs. After gaining their certification, these professionals can expect to earn an average annual salary of about $31,000.
3. Medical Billing and Coding Specialist (4 - 12 months)
With the recent shift away from physical documents to digital records, the need for medical billers and medical coders has dramatically increased. If you’re looking for an autonomous position that isn’t patient-facing, becoming a medical records and health information technician might be a great fit.
In these certification programs, you’ll study how to handle insurance billing issues, appeal denied claims, memorize ICD-10 codes, and work with electronic health records.
This will help you handle a wide variety of responsibilities, like ensuring that patients are appropriately billed, denied claims are appealed correctly, and health care providers are accurately reimbursed for their services.
Where Can Medical Billing Specialists Work?
The majority of medical billing positions are full-time at hospitals, private physician offices, clinics, and medical billing companies.
Due to the nature of their career, experienced medical billers and coders are sometimes able to work from the comfort of their home office. This is especially useful for new parents or people with mobility issues.
What Is the Job Market Like for Medical Billers and Coders?
As of May 2018, medical billers had a median annual salary of $40,350, with the top 10% commanding over $66,000.
While there are rumblings about these careers eventually being taken over by artificial intelligence, most reports maintain the importance of having actual humans in this role to interact with patients and insurance companies.
4. Pharmacy Technician (6 - 12 months)
When filling a prescription, you’ll probably interact with a pharmacy technician. Acting as a pharmacist’s right hand, pharmacy techs assist customers (either in-person or over the phone), manage and fill prescriptions, take inventory, and handle a number of other important tasks..
While on-the-job training is an option for some, many employers require formal pharmacy training and certification to ensure that they have adequate knowledge in drug administration and classification.
Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?
Drug stores and pharmacies might be the largest employers for this field, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be relegated to working at Walgreen’s or WalMart. With the right training and experience, you may be able to find an open position at a hospital or online pharmaceutical dispensary.
What Is the Job Market Like for Pharmacy Techs?
For such a quick entry-level position, phlebotomy tech salaries are fair, averaging just under $33,000. The top 10% of earners ($48,000) tend to work at hospitals, which typically requires specialized training in compounding.
5. Sterile Processing Technician (9 - 11 months)
Sterile processing technicians (SPTs) are health professionals known by a few other names, such as:
- Medical Equipment Preparer
- Processing Technician
- Sterilization Technician
- Central Service Technician
These allied health professionals may not regularly interact with patients, but their work has a major impact. SPTs are responsible for guaranteeing that all surgical instruments and equipment are decontaminated and sterilized by applying what they’ve learned through their lessons on microbiology and infection control.
Where Can SPTs Work?
Because SPTs are exposed to the inner-workings of hospitals and clinics, there are great options for upward mobility. With enough experience, some are promoted to sterile processing supervisors while others might go back to school to become laboratory technicians, endoscopy techs, or even surgical technologists. The sky’s the limit!
What Is the Average Medical Equipment Preparer Salary?
Medical equipment preparers in America have an excellent job growth rate, combined with a median annual salary of $34,400 (which works out to $16.50 per hour). For sterile processing supervisors, this increases to nearly $54,000 per year.
6. Medical Assistant (9 - 12 months)
When it comes to flexibility, there aren’t many roles that are more variable than medical assistants. From drawing blood to taking patient information to contacting insurance companies, medical assistants (MAs) work closely with physicians, certified nurses, and other hospital personnel to provide optimal patient care.
During medical assistant training, students are expected to study both administrative and clinical duties like billing, EKG, phlebotomy, anatomy, office practices, and laboratory techniques. Additionally, some accredited medical assistant programs offer specialized training in pediatrics and OB/GYN.
Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
The great part about the medical assistant sector is its duality. Some people might choose to focus on administrative elements entirely while others may choose to dedicate themselves to clinical roles (like taking blood and vital signs).
Just as a medical assistant’s job description can vary, so do working environments. From the quick pace of surgical wards to the relaxed atmosphere of private practices, you’ve got ample locales to choose from.
What Is an Average Medical Assistant Salary?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics places average medical assistant salaries at $33,610. For MAs who are lucky enough to snag jobs at outpatient centers, this amount can increase to an average of $35,600.
7. Dental Assistant (9 - 12 months)
Dental assistants might be relied upon to schedule appointments, maintain records, hand tools to the dental team during exams, operate suction devices, and even take X-rays.
With an increasing number of states starting to require proper licensure, it’s important to consider attending a certification program. Not only will this get your resume at the top of the pile, but you’ll also be prepared to assist your dental team from Day 1.
What Is the Job Market Like for Dental Assistants?
Those who pursue their dental assistant certification have a great job market ahead of them. In fact, over the coming decade, there’s an anticipated 19% growth rate for this field. Even better, the average dental assistant can command more than $38,000 each year.
Many assistants later choose to tackle a 4-year dental hygiene degree, opening the doors up to even greater opportunities and salaries.
8. Neurodiagnostic Technologist (2 years or less)
Neurodiagnostic technologists (NDTs) record and study electrical activity within the human brain and nervous system. Their goal is to help hunt for clues that can be used to diagnose a wide variety of conditions like amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injuries, migraines, and even insomnia.
Through NDT training, students will discover how to perform tests like nerve conduction studies (NCS), evoked potentials (EP), and Intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM). This career might also require recording medical histories, working with nervous patients, maintaining medical equipment, and calculating results.
Where Do Neurodiagnostic Techs Work?
From hospitals to independent laboratories, NDTs have seemingly endless options for finding work. People in this role are always on the move: You could be performing tests at a patient’s bedside one minute and find yourself in the operating room team to assist during a brain surgery on the same day.
What’s the Job Market Like for Neurodiagnostic Technicians?
NDTs have one of the best-paying roles in allied healthcare, with workers pulling in an average of nearly $50,000 each year. Thanks to the increased use of non-invasive procedures, the medical world relies heavily on neurodiagnostic techs to assist in diagnosing various health conditions. These are only a few reasons for why the NDT job market is set to rise by 17% over the next decade.
9. Surgical Technologist (2 years or less)
Looking to get into the operating room but don’t want to spend years in medical school? Joining a surgical technologist training program can get you in the action in 2 years or less – all without a medical degree!
During your training course, you’ll discover everything you need to become a vital member of the surgical team including operating room prep, sterilization methods, and pre- and post-operative patient care. This career is often a stepping stone to other medical careers, and many surgical techs (also called scrub techs) go on to become surgical assistants or registered nurses (RNs).
What Is the Job Market Like for Surgical Technologists?
These entry-level roles place you in the heart of the action, but you’ll also be reimbursed well for your efforts. The median income for surgical techs falls above $47,000 (almost $23 an hour), and the opportunities for employment are well-above nearly every US job sector.