32 Jobs in the Medical Field: An Industry Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover various medical jobs, educational qualifications for jobs in the medical field, salaries, and how to get started in your medical career.

[Featured Image]:  A female, wearing a blue uniform and a stethoscope around her neck, stands in a medical office examination room.

The medical field is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the United States. Discover more about different medical job categories, specific job roles, required education, salary data, and how to choose a career in the medical field.

Many jobs are available in the medical field, from doctors and nurses to therapists and pharmacists. An aging population and advances in medical technology are increasing the demand for qualified workers. 

Medical jobs are available to fit various skill sets and preferences. The educational qualifications for jobs in the medical field are equally varied.

Types of medical jobs and roles

Several categories of jobs and roles are in the medical field. Each category has diverse job opportunities and career paths you can choose to pursue. 

  • Administrative medical jobs are roles in which medical professionals manage the business aspects of a health care facility or organization. These roles can include hospital administrators, office managers, and billing specialists.

  • Diagnostic and treatment medical jobs involve examining, diagnosing, and treating patients in a clinical setting. These are specialized roles typically performed by highly-educated health care professionals who have completed training to practice medicine. Examples are physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, and pediatricians.

  • Health care and medical education jobs involve a variety of roles and responsibilities, such as teaching, research, and management. It’s a broad area that describes work that educates people about health and wellness. This includes teaching self-care to patients, helping them make informed decisions about their treatment options, and explaining the science behind treatments and medication. 

Health care education professionals may also be involved in research activities, such as clinical trials or medical studies. Health care education jobs are in hospitals, schools, government agencies, universities, clinics, businesses, and nonprofits. Examples include health educators, health counselors, dietary managers, community outreach coordinators, and family services, specialists. 

  • Rehabilitation therapy medical jobs entail helping patients recover from injury or illness. Rehabilitation therapists work with patients who have suffered from a chronic or acute disease or have experienced an injury. They help patients overcome physical and mental hurdles throughout their recovery. 

The role of rehabilitation therapists involves assessing the patient's needs and helping them cope with the impact of their condition. The therapist also helps them reach their maximum potential in function, mobility, strength, and independence. Examples of professionals in this field are physical therapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, and speech-language pathologists. 

  • Support medical jobs are roles in which medical professionals provide non-clinical support services to patients and families. These positions include certified nurse assistants, dieticians, and home health aides.

  • Affiliated medical jobs are not typically associated with the traditional medical profession. These jobs include medical assistants, social workers, biostatisticians, and sports trainers. Many of these positions require science or social science-based training. Requirements often include a bachelor’s or associate degree, although some roles may require a PhD. 

Why choose a job in the medical field?

Among the many reasons to work in the medical field is the satisfaction of helping others. As a medical professional, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your patients. You can provide comfort and care to the sick and injured and help people avoid illness and injury through preventative interventions.

Medical professionals also enjoy a great deal of job satisfaction. You’ll know that your work makes a difference in the lives of others, and the jobs can help you develop strong connections with colleagues. In addition, you’ll often have flexible schedules and good working conditions. 

More reasons you might want to consider working in the medical field are: 

  • The medical field typically offers good job security.

  • The medical field is continually growing and changing, so there are always new opportunities.

  • You can specialize in a particular area of medicine to focus your career.

  • The pay is often good in the medical field.

  • You can be part of a team that makes a difference in people's lives.

  • You can meet people from different cultures.

Health care is a diverse field, and educational qualifications for jobs in the medical field vary by specialization. For example, becoming a doctor takes years of hard work and patience. Most who want to pursue a medical career expect to spend four years completing their bachelor’s degree, followed by three to four years of medical school and three to seven years of residency. Accelerated routes include two or three years at college and four years at medical school plus residency.

In contrast, many different associate degrees can lead to entry-level careers in the medical field, such as entry-level nursing or pharmacy positions. However, to become a certified nurse, you’ll need to complete an accredited nursing program that typically takes two years following a college degree. Licensure requirements vary by state.

To become a qualified pharmacist in the US, you’ll need to complete a four-year degree program and major in a field like biochemistry, organic chemistry, or medicinal chemistry. You may also be admitted to a pharmacy program after completing e three years of undergraduate coursework.

Next, you’ll take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) and apply to earn a PharmD doctoral degree in a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). You’ll then need to complete internships and residencies, licensure exams, and continuous professional development.

What is the outlook for careers in the medical field?

The medical field is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the United States. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate in the medical field is expected to grow by 16 percent from 2020 to 2030 [1]. This growth can be attributed to an aging population and advances in medical technology. 

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32 examples of medical jobs

Many types of medical jobs are available. Positions are available for those who want to work with patients, conduct research, teach, and work in health care administration. Take a look at the medical jobs you might like to consider.

1. Dietary aides work in food service settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes, and help prepare and serve meals. 

2. Home health aides provide basic care and assistance to people who cannot care for themselves, such as the elderly or disabled. 

3. Veterinary assistants work in animal hospitals and clinics and assist veterinarians with examinations, surgeries, and other procedures. 

4. Medical records clerks organize and maintain patient medical records. 

5. Patient care technicians work in hospitals and other health care facilities and provide basic patient care, such as taking vital signs and assisting with activities of daily living. 

6. Nursing assistants provide basic nursing care to patients in hospitals and nursing homes. 

7. Certified nursing assistants have completed a training program and must pass a certification exam. They provide basic nursing care to patients in hospitals and nursing homes under the supervision of a registered nurse. 

8. Medical scribes work alongside physicians in medical environments documenting the physician’s notes into the patient’s medical record electronically.

9. Medical receptionists are responsible for greeting patients, scheduling appointments, and answering phones in a medical office.

10. Medical secretaries provide clerical support to doctors and other medical staff.

11. Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to support the work of doctors and other health professionals.

12. Athletic trainers work with athletes to prevent, diagnose, and treat injuries.

13. Licensed practical nurses provide basic nursing care under the supervision of registered nurses or doctors.

14. Nutritionists develop eating plans and advise people on how to improve their diet and nutrition habits.

15. Registered nurses provide direct patient care and coordinate the activities of other health care team members.

16. Health administrators plan, direct, and coordinate the delivery of health care services.

17. Ultrasound technicians use sound waves to create images of internal organs and tissues for diagnosis or treatment purposes.

18. Physical therapists help patients regain movement and function after an injury or illness.

19. Audiologists diagnose and treat hearing impairments.

20. Occupational therapists help patients regain independence and improve their quality of life after an injury or illness.

21. Directors of nursing oversee the care of patients in a health care setting.

22. Neonatal nurses care for newborn infants in the hospital setting.

23. Veterinarians provide medical care for animals.

24. Pharmacists dispense medications and advise patients on the proper use of drugs.

25. Pediatricians provide medical care for children from birth to adolescence.

26. Dentists prevent, diagnose, and treat problems with teeth and gums.

27. Physicians are medical doctors who diagnose and treat patients.

28. Surgeons are medical doctors who perform surgery.

29. Medical directors are responsible for the overall management of a medical facility.

30. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health.

31. Chief medical officers are responsible for the overall medical care of an organization.

32. Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who specialize in anesthesia.

What is the average salary for a medical professional?

The average salary for a medical professional in the US is $76,632 annually, according to Glassdoor [2]. However, medical job salaries vary widely depending on the specialty, education, and experience and the location you work as a medical professional. You’ll also see salary variance within jobs. For example, a doctor who works in a hospital may make more money than a doctor who works in private practice. The average annual salary for a medical doctor in the US is $180,473 [3], while the average yearly salary for a registered nurse in the US is $105,785 [4].

Read more: What Do Health Care Jobs Pay? Salaries, Job List, and More

Choosing a career in the medical field

To choose from among the many different careers in the medical field, think about what motivates you, your personality, and your existing skill set. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Do I want to work with patients? 

  • Would I prefer to work behind the scenes?

  • Do I want to work in a technical or people-focused position?

  • Am I willing to commit to a long educational path? 

  • Am I looking to get working quickly?

Next, consider your lifestyle and how you want your job to look. Certain jobs may not be for you if you don’t want to work weekends. Here are some questions to think about.

  • Do I want a career that will allow me to have a flexible schedule? 

  • Will I be comfortable working shift patterns and nights?

  • Would I prefer a nine-to-five job? 

Finally, think about your future goals. 

  • Do I want to advance my career and achieve the highest possible level? 

  • Do I want to settle in the same position for a long time? 

Consider your goals and choose a medical career to achieve them—research what you’ll need to reach your career destination. 

Learn more about the medical field

Learning the basics of anatomy is a great place to begin your medical career or learn more about the medical field. By understanding how the human body works, you’ll be better equipped to understand how diseases and injuries occur. Additionally, studying anatomy can help you understand common treatments and procedures. You might like to consider the Anatomy Specialization offered by the University of Michigan on Coursera. 

To build a high-level understanding of the US health care system, consider the Introduction to Healthcare Specialization offered by Stanford on Coursera. 

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Article sources

1

US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Healthcare Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm.” Accessed June 4, 2022.

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