Careers in the Medical Field that Don’t Require a Medical Degree


Gabriel Brevet, Staff Writer

Medicine is a field ever growing in popularity due to its necessity, growing knowledge, increase in career specialization, and generous salaries. Obtaining a medical degree or an osteopathic medical degree can be brutally expensive (the average debt of all doctors countrywide upon graduating medical school is around $250k), time consuming, and the careers available with these degrees are restrictive, excessively demanding, and severely stressful. With the growth of medical research and specialization, many new jobs are surfacing within medicine that don’t require an MD or a DO. (All information via CNBC and Best Medical Degrees)


Radiation therapist

Median annual wage: $82,000


Part of the oncology team called in for treating cancers, radiation therapists operate machinery that delivers concentrated radiation into specific regions of the body to treat tumors. Responsibilities also include: explaining procedures to patients, determining which parts of the body to apply the radiation therapy to, and checking for unusual or adverse reactions. Most employers do require at least an associates degree in radiology, but in some states even a certificate program is sufficient.


Physician’s assistant

Median annual wage: $109,000


A more commonly known member of the medical team, a PA is responsible for just about everything short of a regular licensed physician. They work as assistants for a medical doctor, examine patients, diagnose injuries, order tests, review patient medical history, diagnose medical issues, and prescribe some medications. This career does require more schooling, you need at least a masters in a PA program and need to be licensed. PAs are able to specialize in fields like surgery, pediatrics, oncology, endocrinology, rheumatology, etc. 


Biomedical engineer

Median annual wage: $86,000


A relatively newer field, there’s not many corners of medicine that biomedical engineering doesn’t cover. A biomedical engineer is responsible for research and development of prosthetic devices, diagnostic medical devices, and pharmaceuticals and can do that work in hospitals, manufacturing, universities, or research facilities. This field only requires a bachelor’s degree, but one is able to pursue a master’s in biomedical engineering if they want to get an edge on other candidates.


Nursing specialties (anesthetist, midwife, practitioner)

Median annual wages:

  • Anesthetist: $168,000
  • Midwife: $104,000
  • Practitioner: $107,000

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia for patients before surgical, therapeutic, obstetric, and diagnostic procedures. Nurse midwives provide prenatal care for pregnant women, deliver babies, and handle medical emergencies during labor (surgical assistance during cesareans, hemorrhaging, and repairing lacerations). Nurse practitioners work independently and in collaboration with PAs and physicians in determining the best course of action to treat a patient’s health issue. All of these specialties are prepared for in the same manner- bachelors in nursing, obtain a nursing license, then pursue a master’s degree for one’s specialization of choice.


Occupational therapist

Median annual wage: $84,000


Occupational therapists help their patients regain or develop mobility skills needed for daily life. They often work with children with developmental disabilities, elderly communities with mobility impairments, and patients in need of movement-based rehabilitation after an injury or diagnosis of a disorder. OTs help teach patients how to use special equipment that make tasks such as eating and walking easier, teach patients stretches and therapeutic exercises, and create and implement each of their patient’s treatment plans. Occupational therapists are most often required to have a masters in occupational therapy.


Speech language pathologist

Median annual wage: $77,000


Often referred to as a “speech therapist”, these professionals diagnose and treat communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults. Both a master;s degree and a license (obtained through supervised clinical experience and a test) are required to practice.


Genetic counselor

Median annual wage: $80k’


Genetic counselors assess individuals for risk of hereditary and genetic disorders through DNA testing. They provide information to both the patient and other healthcare providers on potential conditions and treatment/prevention pathways. A master’s degree in genetic counseling or genetics and a certificate from the American Board of Genetics Counseling are required to practice.


Medical and health service manager/administrator

Median annual wage: $88k

Medical and health service administrators and managers are responsible for the daily operations of a hospital and adapt to changes in both business and medical laws and regulations. A bachelor’s degree in health service administration is required for this position.


Links for more information:

Top 30 U.S. Healthcare Careers That Don’t Require A Graduate Degree