The 5 Best Vocational Medical Careers

There are a number of excellent vocational career opportunities in the medical field. As access to health insurance increases and the elderly population continues to grow, more and more medical staffers are needed to accommodate to the rising number of patients. This means finding a job in a vocational medical field is relatively less challenging. Most of these careers offer plenty of opportunities to advance or to specialize in one particular area. Keep in mind you typically need more education if you want to see a larger paycheck. Also, one potential downside of choosing a vocational medical career is that overnight and weekend shifts are pretty common since a hospital needs to be fully staffed at all times. If this isn’t a problem for you, start looking into the five vocational medical careers listed below.

Registered nurses work in all branches of medicine, assisting doctors with providing care to patients. Some are employed outside of hospitals, such as nursing homes, schools, or home health care. They perform a variety of tasks, including speaking to patients about their condition and relaying this information to doctors, helping to conduct medical tests, and instructing patients on how to manage or treat their conditions. Nursing is the largest vocational medical profession there is, with nearly three million jobs in the country. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree along with a license. Once you’ve gained some experience, there are plenty of opportunities to advance in this field. Even more doors open up for you if you’re willing to go back to school, which is why some registered nurses obtain master’s degrees to become an advanced practice registered nurse.

Radiology technicians use X-ray and MRI machines to diagnose various medical conditions. Most radiology technicians work in hospitals. In addition to providing test results ordered by doctors, it’s also part of the technician’s responsibility to protect the patient from overexposure to radiation, which can be very dangerous. An associate’s degree is all that’s needed to get started as a radiology technician but, as with most professions in the medical field, further education is required if you want to advance. Gaining additional certifications or specializing in a certain area is a good way to make yourself more appealing to prospective employers and score a bigger paycheck. The job outlook in this field is optimistic, especially for those who are certified in more than one specialty area. As access to health insurance increases and the aging population grows, diagnostic tests like X-rays will be more frequently required.

Similar to radiology technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers use advanced imaging technology to diagnose a variety of medical conditions. There are several specialty areas to choose from, including abdominal sonography and neurosonography. Each specialty has its own certification exam, and getting certified in multiple areas is a smart move if you’re looking to advance in the field. The number of diagnostic medical sonographer jobs is expected to increase by 46% in the next decade, as this type of technology begins to replace more invasive procedures. Get started with an associate’s degree in sonography and complete the certification exam for the branch of sonography you’re interested in. Like most medical professionals, diagnostic medical sonographers may be expected to work nights or weekends to make sure the hospital is properly staffed, so take that into consideration if you’re interested in this field.

Medical laboratory technicians run tests on body fluids and tissue samples to help doctors determine whether or not a patient suffers from a certain medical condition. Technicians typically work in hospitals or independent diagnostic labs. Larger facilities offer more opportunities to specialize, while you end up doing a little bit of everything in a smaller hospital. The starting pay isn’t very high, but if you’re willing to go back to school to become a lab technologist, that can change. This field is expected to see a lot of growth in the next 10 years, with nearly 50,000 new jobs opening up. As a medical laboratory technician, you regularly interact with both other people and highly advanced technology, so you must possess equally strong people and technical skills to pursue a career in this field.

Respiratory therapists work with patients who suffer from conditions that make breathing difficult, such as emphysema or asthma. They work with all ages in a number of environments, from hospitals to home care to nursing homes, teaching patients how to manage their illnesses. Some also provide emergency care to individuals who have been involved in serious accidents and are having trouble breathing. Like most of the other vocational medical careers on this list, you only need an associate’s degree to get started before passing an exam to earn your respiratory therapist license. Earning a certification on top of that is a good way to improve your chances of finding a well-paying position. This field is projected to grow at an above-average rate in the next decade, with many new jobs opening up in rural and underserved areas. If you’re interested in working in this type of environment, a career as a respiratory therapist is worth exploring further.