I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou 

If you’re interested in a career in medicine chances are you feel drawn to helping others. This is a good impulse and when paired with a career can be a powerful combination.  Those who want to serve others who do so on-the-job are more readily able to attach meaning to their actions, and find life to be more fulfilling. 

 

Did you know that purpose in life can lead to a longer life? It’s true, and what better way to create a life that you want to live than with a career in medicine?

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Living life as though it has meaning leads to greater happiness and greater success in life. If you are determined to pursue a career in medicine, then great! The medical field is a lucrative field with many of the top-paying jobs growing at a rate that is far faster than the national average.  Not only that but medical jobs tend to pay extremely well and include benefits that make living life a lot more secure. 

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Maybe you’ve heard that it takes a lot of years to pursue a career in medicine. Or perhaps you’re already on your way in a different career and you’re not sure it is wise to turn back now to pursue a career in the field.  Remember that while becoming a physician does require a long commitment to schooling, there are many careers in the field of medicine that do not require quite as much schooling. 


This is why we are going to cover some of the most lucrative careers in medicine as a physician as well as the most lucrative careers in medicine in other areas.  You may be surprised to learn of how many careers there are that cover this area. 

 

Ultimately you determine what kind of medical professional that you want to be. Maybe you like working with a diverse population of people and you wish to pursue a career where you have that opportunity.  Perhaps you enjoy spending time with children and youth and have a passion to make a difference with them.  Or perhaps you already have a skill in another area and want to see if there is a way to combine that skill with the medical profession. Whatever your reason for pursuing a career in medicine, we are here to help you navigate your path towards a successful career. 

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Additionally we want you to also consider the soft skills required for success in the field of medicine.  

In this guide, we’ll look at different lucrative careers in medicine, how people initiate these careers, degrees in the field (including different specializations), and explore applicable content we’ve already created. Before we dive in, let’s consider your history, traits, and personal career goals:

Keep these questions and considerations in mind as you explore this resource:

What have you done so far in your career?  If you haven’t initiated a career as of yet, consider what you have done in college or outside of college that has given you a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. 

What is your highest level of education? Do you have the time and resources right now to return to school? About how many more years do you think you can devote to furthering your education? 

Do you already have some formal training in the field of medicine? Maybe you took a class to become a street medic.  Or perhaps you have taken CPR classes or classes on harm reduction or prevention that have been meaningful? How inspired were you by this formal training? Did it make you excited to do more or do you think that perhaps it wasn’t the best fit for you? 

Medicine and healthcare is a varied field and is often interdisciplinary for example healthcare and technology or biomedical engineering.  Have you been able to narrow down your passions? It’s good to have a focus when pursuing a career or a new career as this helps to minimize wasted time and maximize your time spent pursuing a career that is a good fit for you. 

Do you need to go back to school or is there another path towards this career that would work better for you? Though not common in the field, some professions offer on-the-job training that functions similarly to an associate’s degree with a more hands-on approach. 

If you want to work as a physician, remember it takes about 10-15 years of school in order to achieve this goal. Do you have the time to commit to this career path? Do you have the stamina to work extremely long days (sometimes for 20 hours at a time) as well as study for some very difficult entrance exams? 

Are you interested in speech and language pathology or occupational therapy? Do you have the patience to work alongside populations that think and act differently? Can you be open-minded and positive even when things may feel challenging or parents and other care-givers are not being team-players. 

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As you can see soft skills are important which is why we do spend some time in consideration of soft skills and why they matter so much in a profession. That being said a number of the same soft skills are required for almost every medical profession! 

OK, let’s move on to some of the most lucrative medical degrees and careers:

What are the Highest Paying Jobs in Medicine?

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In this next section we’ll take a look at some of the highest paying jobs in medicine that are not physician jobs. Physicians and especially surgeons are the highest-paid medical professionals. That being said there are many medical careers that pay exceptionally well and are well worth pursuing as lucrative high-paying careers. Let’s take a look: 

Pharmacist

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a pharmacist gets paid a median salary of a pharmacist is $128,000 a year. The job outlook for the 2018-2028 period is 0% which means there is no change. Pharmacists work closely with medications and are required to fill prescriptions as well as communicate with physicians on the proper dosing for their patients. A pharmacist communicates this information with their patients. Additionally a pharmacist may administer flu shots or other vaccinations. Part of this job does require administrative tasks. 

Soft Skills

  • Communication 
  • Problem Solving
  • Time Management 
  • Leadership 

Advanced Practice Nurse 

Advanced practices nurses or nurse practitioners are some of the best-paid in the medical profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that nurse practitioners made a median salary of $115,800 per year. The projected job growth for a nurse practitioner is 26% which is much faster than the national average. Nurse practitioners take and record medical records and learn about their medical history.  The nurse practitioner also performs medical exams on their patients and makes assessments based on observations. The nurse practitioners may also order diagnostic tests as well as create treatment plans. Many states allow nurse practitioners to write prescriptions. Nurse practitioners often provide primary care and in many cases will provide care in the place of a doctor. 

Soft Skills

  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Empathy
  • Problem Solving 

Physician Assistant 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median salary for a physician assistant is $112,260.  This position has a projected growth rate of 31% which is faster than the national average of all other positions that are currently growing at a rate of 5%. Similarly to a physician, the physician assistant will take a patient’s medical history, examine patients, order diagnostic tests such as X rays and blood tests.  The physician assistant may give the treatment including setting a broken bone or immunizing a patient.  Physician’s assistants can prescribe medication and will look in on patients to assess their progress. 

Soft Skills 

  • Detail Oriented
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Calm Under Pressure 
  • Compassionate 
  • Oral and Written Communication

 

Medical and Health Services Manager 

A medical and health services manager is a leadership position that oversees healthcare services. Typically individuals with an MBA take these positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that this position paid $100,980 in 2019. The projected job growth is 18% which is much faster than the national average. This position is in charge of the efficiency and quality of the healthcare services. They do so by developing goals within their department, evaluating the work environment ensuring that it is up to code and safety compliant. The medial services manager may also recruit staff as well as provide the training and supervision necessary to run the medical facility. Additionally this administrative role will create the budget for the facility and coordinate with other senior members of the staff.

Soft Skills

  • Leadership
  • Oral and Written Communication 
  • Organization
  • Time Management 
  • Interpersonal

Radiation Therapist

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a radiation therapist is $85,560. Radiation therapists help to treat cancer and other diseases that call for radiation treatments. This position is very much about communication. The radiation therapist is often working with a vulnerable population and is responsible for explaining the therapy to the patients. Patients may have questions about their treatment and it is the radiation therapists responsibility to answer those questions. Radiation therapists must also operate the machinery that oncologists use to treat the cancer.  This is a multi-faceted role.  

Soft Skills

  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Empathy
  • Interpersonal Skills 
  • Team Player 
  • Detail Oriented

Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a speech language pathologist is $79,120 per year. The job outlook for a speech language pathologist is 27% which is much faster than the national average. As the baby boomer population grows older there will be many more requirements for a speech language pathologist.  Speech and language pathologists diagnose and evaluate the levels of speech language or swallowing difficulty in a child or adult patient. The SLP carries out specific treatment plans that address their client’s needs. Many SLPs work with children and adults to help them to strengthen the muscles they need in order to swallow as a number of speech and language pathologists diagnose swallowing disorders. 

Soft Skills 

  • Patience and Compassion
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Planning and Execution
  • Organized 
  • Team Player

What are the Highest Paying Jobs as a  Physician?

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Invasive Cardiologist 

According to Zip Recruiter, Invasive Cardiologists have a median salary of $404,688. This means that half of all invasive cardiologists make more and half make less. Location as well as years of experience do determine the income for invasive cardiologists.  An invasive cardiologist performs invasive tests and procedures such as cardiac catheterizations to help find blockages of the arteries. This riskier position comes with a much higher pay rate.  In addition to these invasive procedures cardiologists are responsible for heart health and heart health education. The longer an invasive cardiologist spends on the job the higher their pay.  Experience and location are two factors that influence pay in all medical professions.

Soft Skills

  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Team Player
  • Interpersonal
  • Detail Oriented
  • Patient

Orthopedic Surgeon 

The median salary for an orthopedic surgeon is $486,790.  Becoming an orthopedic surgeon is difficult but those who succeed in this profession are rewarded with an extremely high annual salary. An orthopedic surgeon takes care of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and nerves which is everything that makes movement possible.  Many people want to be orthopedic surgeons and largely in part because of sports medicine and of course how lucrative a field this is.  If you are interested in orthopedics you need to be the best of the best so get started early studying for those MCATS. An orthopedic surgeon needs to keep detailed records of patients’ needs when in treatment.  This means an orthopedic surgeon requires exceptional oral and written communication skills. 

Soft Skills 

  • Flexible
  • Team Player 
  • Organized 
  • Oral and Written Communication 

Gastroenterologist 

The average salary of a gastroenterologist varies state by state but is approximately $330,000 a year. Gastroenterologists or GI physicians specialized in treating disease of the gastrointestinal tract. GI disorders are related to the esophagus, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Gastroenterologists are in demand as nearly half of all adults will have digestive issues in their lifetime.  

Soft Skills

  • Leadership
  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Patience 

Other Physician’s positions that are high-paying: 

  • Dermatologist
  • Urologist
  • Pulmonologist
  • Oncologist 

What Degrees Lead To Lucrative Medical Careers?

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As you can see there are a number of opportunities for you to make money in the field of medicine.  The degree, courses, and skills you learn in school make a significant difference. Here are some of your options:

 

Therapy Degrees

If you want to work as a speech therapist (SLP), occupational therapist (OT) or a board certified behavior therapist (BCBA), then you will need to pursue at least a master’s degree in the area of your choice.  All BCBAs undergo training in applied behavior analysis which is a master’s degree program that includes course material on behavioral science as well as a lengthy clinical period.  Similarly, an SLP will need to complete coursework in audiology as well as a supervised clinical period. The occupational therapist will also need to do the same. These programs including their supervised period typically take just 2-3 years to complete.  Finally, all looking to become certified must pass their examinations.  These degrees are a fantastic choice for individuals looking to pursue a high-paying medical career.

Business Degrees

Healthcare management careers require an MBA.  Business administration programs typically include a core set of course material along with a specialization.  Look for programs that specialize in healthcare management and informatics.  All MBA candidates take micro and macro economics courses along with ethics and of course management and leadership courses. This is a good option for individuals who are looking to be in the field of medicine but have found that their skills lie more heavily in leadership, management, and budgeting and planning. 

Pre-Med Degrees 

Most schools don’t actually offer a “pre-med” degree but there are a number of degrees that lead to success in medical school.  Many students looking to become medical students pursue undergraduate degrees in the biological sciences.  Others pursue undergraduate degrees in computational sciences and still others have success with a degree in the humanities.  Philosophy majors tend to have higher success in med school as a lot of the program goes beyond the sciences and requires critical thinking as well as oral and written communication.  No matter what your major be sure to have some experience with lab work as those are often prerequisites to med school. 

Here’s a resource list from DegreeQuery to help set you up for success in a medical career. 

How Can We Help You Find a Medical Degree?

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Here at Degree Query, we’ve created a variety of content to help you determine a career path.  We’ve answered common questions, provided in-depth guides about careers, ranked degrees on many metrics, ranked occupations, and much more. Here’s some of the work we’ve done that applies to working and studying in medicine and adjacent fields:

Rankings

Guides

Common Questions

This is just part of the work we’ve created that discusses medicine and related fields. We invite you to explore our homepage and search functions to further explore relevant content. 

 

Fast Facts About Finding The Highest-Paying Degrees in Medicine

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Before we go, let’s take a look at some employment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on medical occupations:

Occupational Therapists: In 2019 the median pay for these roles was $84,950 annually or $40.84 per hour.

There were 133,000 of these roles in 2018. This was expected to grow by 18% between 2018-28, creating 23,700 new jobs in the field.

The typical entry-level education was a Master’s Degree. Higher pay correlated to location and years of experience. 

Physical Therapists: In 2019 the median annual pay for these positions was $89,440 or $43.00 per hour.

There were 247,700 of these jobs in 2018. This was expected to jump by 22% between 2018-28, creating 54,200 openings.

The typical entry-level education was a Doctoral or professional degree. Higher Pay Correlated Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, Nurse Practitioners: In 2019 the median pay for these workers was $115,800 annually, or $55.67 per hour.

There were 240,700 of these jobs in 2018. This was predicted to climb by 26% between 2018-28, creating 62,000 new roles in the field.

People working in anesthesia, midwifery, and psychiatry were associated with higher pay .

Speech Language Pathologists: In 2019 the median annual pay for these positions was $79,120, or $38.04 per hour.

There were 153,700 of these jobs in 2018. This was expected to grow by 27% between 2018-28, with 41,900 new roles created.

Higher pay was associated with location as well as areas of expertise.

As you can see securing a lucrative career in medicine is not only possible it’s highly likely upon completion of the right degree. These careers are in high demand and some require a lot of schooling where others require a moderate amount of schooling.  These degrees often lead to high-paying jobs but also jobs that bring a sense of meaning and purpose into your life.  

We hope you’ve found this guide refreshing, informative, and invigorating. We’re here to help, but you’ll need to do the hard work to get the job you deserve.

Good luck to you!