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

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Health care is a growing field. Learn more about the jobs and salaries that define this industry. 

[Featured Image] Two health care workers standing in front of an instrument

Health care can be as financially rewarding as it is personally rewarding. In addition to helping others and guiding them toward their health goals, the health care industry also has a higher than average salary alongside increased job demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

In a 2022 report, the BLS notes the median annual wage for health care professionals in May 2021 was $75,040, a significantly higher salary than the national median wage of $45,760 for all professions during the same period. Furthermore, they expect the health care industry to grow by 16-percent between 2020 and 2030, suggesting that health care work is here to stay [1]. 

But, not all health care jobs pay the same. While some positions greatly exceed the national median salary many times over, others can fall below it. 

In this article, you’ll learn about the pay range you can expect in the health care industry and find a list of common health care professions, their most common qualifications, and their median annual wage. Health care is a growing industry, so read on to learn if there’s a job that meets your financial goals. 

Health care job pay range 

As noted above, there is a wide range of health care jobs and accompanying salaries. According to the BLS, the highest paying health care jobs are physicians and surgeons, who earned a median salary of  $208,000 or more in 2021. On the lowest end, however, home health and personal care aides made a median salary of $29,430 in 2021 [1]. 

Health care jobs and salaries 

The pay that you can expect to earn in the health care industry is highly dependent on your position. To help you get a better idea of the kind of jobs that meet your financial goals, the sections below cover some of the biggest health care areas followed by a list of associated jobs and their salaries. 

Note: All information is taken from the BLS unless otherwise noted. 

Dentistry

Medical professionals working in dentistry help others take care of their teeth, gums, and mouths. Responsibilities range from cleaning and preparing teeth for medical procedures to diagnosing and treating gum diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis. Typically, dentists operate their own business, set their own schedules, and don’t handle medical emergencies. 

JobDegreeSalary
DentistsDoctoral or Professional degree$163,220
Dental HygienistsAssociate degree$77,810
Dental AssistantsPostsecondary nondegree award$38,660

Diet, exercise, and physical health

Health care professionals working in this area help others achieve their physical fitness goals and treat musculoskeletal ailments. This work is well-suited to individuals looking for health care professions focused on physical health and working closely with patients. 

JobDegreeSalary
ChiropractorsDoctoral or professional degree$75,000
Dietitians and NutritionistsBachelor's degree$61,650
Athletic trainersBachelor's degree$48,420
Exercise PhysiologistsBachelor's degree$47,940

Nurses, aides, and assistants

Medical professionals working as nurses, aides, or assistants directly assist patients and, in some cases, administer treatments. The intimate nature of the work means that it is best suited to those who enjoy close contact with others. The most advanced positions, such as nurse practitioners (NP), often perform many of the same duties as physicians. 

JobQualificationSalary
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$123,780
Registered NursesBachelor's degree, Associate degree, credential$77,600
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational NursesPostsecondary nondegree award$48,070
Medical AssistantsPostsecondary nondegree award$37,190
Nursing Assistants and OrderliesPostsecondary nondegree award$30,290
Home Health and Personal Care AidesHigh school diploma or equivalent$29,430

Optometry  

Those working in the field of optometry help others with their eye health. While in some cases this means fitting them for glasses in others it means diagnosing and treating eye ailments, such as cataracts or glaucoma. 

JobQualificationSalary
OphthalmologistsDoctoral or professional degree$203,450 (as of 2019)
OptometristsDoctoral or professional degree$124,300
OpticiansHigh school diploma or equivalent$37,570

Physicians, surgeons, and other medical specialists

Most of these medical professionals require the highest professional degree in their fields, which often require many years of education. As a result, these professionals are usually qualified to diagnose and treat a wide range of ailments, whether by prescribing medication or conducting surgery. 

JobQualificationSalary
Physicians and SurgeonsDoctoral or professional degree$208,000+
PodiatristsDoctoral or professional degree$145,840
PharmacistsDoctoral or professional degree$128,570
AudiologistsDoctoral or professional degree$78,950

Technologists, technicians, and specialists

Health care professionals working as technologists, technicians, or specialists are qualified to handle technical machinery or programs that support either physicians or hospital administrators. While in many cases this means operating specific machinery such as sonographs or MRIs, in others it might mean creating and maintaining medical records. 

JobDegreeSalary
Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and TechniciansAssociate degree$75,380
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and TechniciansBachelor’s degree$74,870
Radiologic and MRI TechnologistsAssociate degree$61,980
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and TechniciansBachelor's degree$57,800
Surgical TechnologistsPostsecondary nondegree award$48,530
Medical Records and Health Information SpecialistsPostsecondary nondegree award$45,240
EMTs and ParamedicsPostsecondary nondegree award$36,930

Therapists 

Although the term is most often associated with mental health professionals, therapists are actually simply individuals who are trained to treat a variety of disorders. While in some cases these conditions can be psychological, in others they can be physical, respiratory, or something else entirely. As a result of their responsibilities, therapists must be credentialed. 

JobDegreeSalary
Physical TherapistsDoctoral or professional degree$95,620
Occupational TherapistsMaster's degree$85,570
Radiation TherapistsAssociate degree$82,790
Respiratory TherapistsAssociate degree$61,830
Occupational Therapy Assistants and AidesAssociate degree$61,520
Physical Therapist Assistants and AidesAssociate degree$49,180
Recreational TherapistsBachelor's degree$47,940
Massage TherapistsPostsecondary nondegree award$46,910

Start your health career with Coursera

The first step to working with patients, creating treatment plans, and healing illness and injury is gaining the required medical knowledge and training. 

As you are preparing to start your journey toward a health care career, you might consider taking a flexible, online course through Coursera. Rice’s Medical Terminology Specialization introduces course takers to the terms used to describe all ten major organ systems. The University of Colorado’s Become an EMT Specialization, meanwhile, teaches the skills needed to provide first responder emergency medical care. 

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Medical Terminology

Develop your skills in medical terminology. Identify word parts (prefixes, suffixes, and roots) and abbreviations commonly used in the medical field, read and understand health records, and identify terms associated with all 10 major organ systems.

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Article sources 

1. BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Healthcare Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm.” Accessed May 17, 2022. 

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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