The Many Paths to a Career in Healthcare: Going Back to School for Healthcare Opportunities

Ever thought about becoming a nurse or doctor? Or wondered about all the other opportunities in the growing healthcare field? Well there many different paths available from pharmacist to radiologist technician from dietitian to physical therapist. The level of education for healthcare positions is as varied as the jobs themselves from short term certificate training programs to Doctoral or professional degrees. Below are some of the many positions available and the level of education needed:

Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. An Associate Degree is needed for a career as a dental hygienist.

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. A Bachelor’s degree is required for nutritionist.

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice. A certificate program is strongly recommended for a career as a medical assistant.

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), provide and coordinate patient care and they may provide primary and specialty health care. The scope of practice varies from state to state. A Master’s degree is required.

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries. A professional degree is needed.

Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as x rays, on patients. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images. An Associate Degree is required.

Speech-language pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients. Speech, language, and swallowing disorders result from a variety of causes, such as a stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, a cleft palate, cerebral palsy, or emotional problems. A Master’s degree is needed.

This is just a small sampling of the many careers available in the growing field of healthcare. Please contact DegreesMatter for help in finding the right program, school, college, or university for your goals at

- jobs descriptions from the Occupational Outlook Handbook at the U.S. Department of Labor