12 Hospital Jobs That Don't Require a Degree

December 5, 2019

Work in Healthcare Without a Medical Degree

Let’s face it: With crazy student loans and long training times, medical school simply isn’t for everyone.

From short certifications that pay well, reliably strong job markets, and ample room for upward mobility, there are countless reasons to seek allied health jobs.

The allied health sector is growing by leaps and bounds, so to get the ball rolling, we’ve compiled 12 hospital jobs that don’t require a degree.

What Is Allied Healthcare?

Allied health careers encompass everything from medical billers to phlebotomists to surgical technologists, and there are careers in every single healthcare sector. These professionals are responsible for supporting medical professionals like doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists.

Though some allied health jobs (like occupational therapists or MRI technologists) require advanced degrees, most require certifications that quickly get people into healthcare careers.

Why Allied Healthcare Is More Popular Than Ever

Massive student loans just aren’t appealing to most people, so it’s no wonder that more students are choosing to enter healthcare careers without a degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare sector growth rate is projected to be 14% between 2018 and 2028. This makes it the fastest-growing sector in the US. What’s more, as Baby Boomers reach retirement age, the reliance on these health professionals will only grow.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular healthcare jobs without degree requirements.

1. Cardiovascular Technologists

N A I T / Flickr / CC BY-ND


Cardiovascular technologists work with ultrasound imaging, testing, and surgical procedures involving the heart and vascular system. Technologists usually work in hospitals or clinics, where they work closely with surgeons and doctors. They may also assist with catheterization and other treatments for patients with heart problems.

Cardiovascular technologist training includes both classroom and hands-on study. Graduates eligible for additional certification and registry exams can earn extra credentials.
With the average cardiovascular technologist salary falling just under $57,000, this is an allied health career that pays well.

2. Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists support dentists by cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, and checking for signs of oral disease. They play a crucial role in preventative dental care and work closely with patients to educate them on dental health.
Most dental hygienists work in dentists’ offices, and 2018 earnings averaged more than $74,000. Dental hygienists often start as dental assistants, later obtaining an associate degree (which can 2-3 years of study).

3. Ultrasound Techs

wistechcolleges / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

You might know ultrasound techs as diagnostic medical sonographers (DMS). These professionals prepare patients for appointments, use sonography equipment, and review test results with physicians.

Ultrasound tech training normally requires a certificate and/or associate degree program (which takes around 2-3 years to complete). After passing their professional certification exams, an average ultrasound tech salary falls around $72,500. This is a hospital job that pays well without a degree (one of the best-paid, in fact).

4. EMTs and Paramedics

If you consider yourself an adrenaline junkie and love medical TV shows, it might be great to consider a career as an EMT or paramedic might be for you.

As the first people on the scene of an accident, EMTs and paramedics provide emergency treatment before patients are admitted to the hospital. EMTs can complete 3-month certificate programs and are licensed by their state. American EMTs earned an average $34,320 in 2018.

Becoming a paramedic requires a lengthier 2-year training period, but annual incomes fall just under the $59,000 mark.

5. Massage Therapists

They might seem like they’re all about relaxation, but massage therapy helps to treat injuries and relieve chronic pain. Registered massage therapists (RMTs) receive hands-on training, as well as instruction in anatomy and kinesiology.

Training can take from several weeks to up to two years of study, depending on your certification program and state requirements.

Registered massage therapist salaries average approximately $41,000, and they can work in clinics, doctor’s offices, spas, and other locations.

6. Medical Assistants

Medical Assistant Jobs in the Midwest COD Newsroom / Flickr / CC BY

Medical assistants are an integral part of the allied health team and are trained to work in clinical and administrative sectors. In medical assistant training, students study lab techniques, first aid, clinical and diagnostic procedures, billing, and other skills.

For anyone who loves variety, this is a flexible role that exposes you to many areas of healthcare. Most medical assistants complete a certificate program that takes around a year to complete.

In 2018, the average medical assistant salary was $33,600.

7. Medical Billing and Coding Specialists

If you’re interested in the administrative side of healthcare, medical billing experts provide an important bridge between healthcare providers, patients, and insurance companies.

This is a great path toward finding hospital jobs that don't require a degree or certificate (although completing some form of medical coding education is highly recommended).

You may find yourself working in a hospital, clinic, billing company, or even remotely from home. Working in this sector may also provide a stepping stone to management positions.
Billing and coding specialists earn a median pay of about $40,000.

8. MRI Technologists

Reviewing MRI data pennstatenews / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Like DMS techs, magnetic imaging resonance technologists work with imaging. An MRI technologist, however, operates an MRI machine to take diagnostic images of internal structures.

With an aging population which requires more non-invasive medical testing, there’s no shortage of future positions.

An MRI training program lasts around 2-3 years, (including a clinical internship), but the average MRI tech salary is $71,600 and reflects that involved training.

9. Phlebotomists

You’ll encounter phlebotomy every time you need to get blood taken. Phlebotomists take blood samples for testing and transfusions, assist patients, and handle samples.

This is one of the fastest routes into healthcare careers (certification can take from a few weeks to a few months) and can get you work in hospitals, laboratories, private practices, and mobile healthcare services.

The average phlebotomist earned $34,000 in 2018.

10. Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapist Assistants

If rehabilitative medicine appeals to you, occupational and physical therapy are exciting fields to get into.

Occupational therapy assists patients with skills required for work and everyday life. Using specialized equipment, you might work with people recovering from injuries, managing disabilities, and suffering from long-term illnesses.

Physical therapist assistants work with patients recovering from injuries and illnesses related to movement. They assist patients with exercises and stretching, and observe patients in order to report to the physical therapist.

You can start a career as an occupational therapy assistant or physical therapist assistant with a 2-year associate’s degree (though the competitive field may necessitate going back to school for a 4-year degree).

In 2018, occupational therapy assistants earned an average $60,000 while physical therapy assistants earned a median $58,000.

11. Pharmacy Technicians

U.S. Pacific Fleet / Flickr / CC BY-NC

With student debt for pharmacists rising to over $120,000, becoming a pharmacy technician is a substantially cheaper and faster route into the field of pharmacy. Pharmacy techs prepare and dispense prescription medications, process insurance information, and work closely with pharmacists and patients.

It’s possible to learn through on-the-job training, but many employers are looking for job candidates with formal training. Getting your pharmacy technician certification is a smart move and only takes a couple months to complete.

Pharmacy technicians earn a median salary of $32,700.

12. Surgical Technologists

Another fast-paced career that puts you at the frontline of medical services, surgical technologists work alongside surgeons in the operating room. They may prep patients, operate robotic surgical equipment, provide tools and materials to the surgeon, and assist patients in recovery.
To become a surgical technologist, you can complete a certificate or diploma program within 1-2 years.

The vast majority of surgical techs work in hospitals and earned a median salary of $47,000 in 2018.

Ready to Jump Into an Allied Health Career?

While healthcare jobs without certification certainly do exist, completing an accredited certification course will set you apart from the competition and result in better salary offers. If you’re in the New Jersey area, contact an AIMS Education representative to get the ball rolling on your future career!