Getting into health care doesn't necessarily require a doctoral degree. It's possible to help people feel their best and care for their health with a bachelor's degree.
A bachelor's degree can help you form a solid career in health care or take you to the next step in pursuing a postgraduate degree. Consider the following health-care jobs that require only a bachelor's degree.
1. Athletic trainer*
What they do: Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating muscle and bone injuries and disorders. They work with people of all ages and skill levels, including children, soldiers and professional athletes. Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor's degree, although both bachelor's and master's degrees are common. In most states, athletic trainers need a license or certification.
Projected job growth: Employment is expected to grow by 30 percent between 2010 and 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. As people become more aware of sports-related injuries in children, demand for athletic trainers is expected to increase, most significantly in schools and youth sports leagues.
Median annual pay: $41,600
2. Dietitian and nutritionist
What they do: Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. Although all dietitians and nutritionists do similar tasks, there are several types, including clinical dietitians, management dietitians and community dietitians. Most dietitians and nutritionists have a bachelor's degree and have participated in supervised training. Also, many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed.
Projected job growth: Employment is expected to increase by 20 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.
Median annual pay: $53,250
3. Medical and clinical laboratory technologist and technician
What they do: Medical laboratory technologists -- also known as medical laboratory scientists -- and medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue and other substances. Educational requirements for technologists and technicians differ. Technologists typically need a bachelor's degree; technicians usually need an associate degree or a postsecondary certificate. Some states require technologists and technicians to be licensed or registered.
Projected job growth: Employment of technologists is expected to grow by 11 percent between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of technicians is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as average.
Median annual pay: Medical laboratory technologists: $56,130; medical laboratory technicians: $36,280
4. Occupational health and safety specialist
What they do: Occupational health and safety specialists analyze work environments and procedures. They inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health and the environment. They also design programs to prevent disease or injury to workers and damage to the environment. Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor's degree. All specialists are trained in the specific laws or inspection procedures through a combination of classroom and on-the-job training.
Projected job growth: Employment is expected to grow by 9 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is slower than average.
Median annual pay: $64,660
5. Recreational therapist
What they do: Recreational therapists plan, direct and coordinate recreation programs for people with disabilities or illnesses. They use a variety of techniques, including arts and crafts, drama, music, dance, sports, games and field trips. These programs help maintain or improve a client's physical and emotional well-being. Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor's degree. Most employers require therapists to be certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation.
Projected job growth: Employment is expected to grow by 17 percent, about as fast as average. As baby-boomers age, they will need recreational therapists to help treat age-related injuries and illnesses, such as strokes.
Median annual pay: $39,410
*Job descriptions, projected growth and median annual pay from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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