Written by Penelope Farthing
A common phenomena observed across all races are for parents to encourage their children to be doctors. And why not? It is a high-flying, “glamorous” (on the surface), well-paid career that will not be automated for a good long while, and has job security in spades. But, there is a dark side to medicine. For instance, not everyone wants to live a life on call (for many specialties). Stress levels can really impact daily life, and even though the salary is high, it is a hard sell to want to start a professional life saddled with a mortgage worth of debt. Nursing is a second option, but the market is slowly getting saturated, as it is an easy entrance into the medical field with a pretty good salary, minimal school, and a family-friendly schedule. However, there are other medical professions out there with good salaries and good hours that don’t get the press of Dr. Pepper or Nurse Joy. If you are entering (or reentering!) college and you know medicine is where you want to be, but were wondering about other options, look no further.
I admit, I had never heard about this medical career until I started doing research for the blog. Perfusionists are responsible for operating the heart-lung machine in surgeries that require cardiac bypass. Their hours may be a bit hit and miss, and it’s not the least stressful of the occupations on this list, but it is definitely still worth considering.
Education: Bachelor’s degree to cover typical science prerequisites, a 2-year Masters degree in Cardiovascular Perfusion, and 2 certification exams, the Perfusion Basic Sciences Exam (PBSE) and the Clinical Applications in Perfusion Exam (CAPE).
Salary: According to Glassdoor, the average perfusionist salary is just over $100,000, with the low end around $80,000 and the high end at $140,000.
A sample plan of study at Quinnipiac University is linked here.
If direct patient care is not your thing, and you aren’t keen on high-pressure environments, a career in Medical Lab Science (MLS) could be up your alley. Medical Lab scientists perform all kinds of tests on every bodily fluid imaginable. MLS forms a critical part of the diagnostic process because without them, clinicians on the front line would have no tests to help make a diagnosis.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Medical Lab Sciences and a certification exam.
Salary: Glassdoor reports the low end of the MLS salary scale is around $44,000, and the high end is in the mid $60,000 range, with an average of $54,000 per year.
A sample curriculum from the University of North Dakota is linked here.
So if you don’t like high stress, and the thought of dealing with a stranger’s blood and poop make you gag, perhaps consider a career in Speech Language Pathology (SLP). Speech-language pathologists are specialists in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders. They also play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of autism.
Education: A Masters Degree from an accredited school is an entry level requirement, followed by state licensure and certification.
Salary: SLP salaries can range from $49,000 to $93,000, with an average of just over $66,000.
A sample curriculum from the University of Wisconsin- Madison is located here.
So you still like the idea of medicine, but bristle at the thought of being directly responsible for a stranger’s life in such a potentially significant way? Well, why not try medical device sales? These specialized sales representatives try and sell their company’s product, whether it is the latest biomedical device, or the newest drug to come to the market. While companies prefer for applicants to have a healthcare related background, it’s not a must-have. Other degrees like marketing or business could help land a gig as a rep. If you are interested in this career and go the non-clinical degree route, courses in Medical Terminology and Health Policies may give you a leg up on the competition. This is also a good way to get to see the country (or the world) without having to spend a whole lot of your own money.
Education: A Bachelors degree in anything, clinical preferred, but others can be considered.
Salary: The average medical sales rep salary is around $61,000, but can vary due to commissions, bonuses, and other factors.
Most allied health professional careers do not offer the mid to high six figure salary like the neurosurgeons and the concierge doctors to the stars get, but the trade off for that is long hours, stressful days at work, and debt as far as the eye can see. If you are about to enter college, or are thinking about switching professions, perhaps one of these majors pique your interest if you are interested in the healthcare space.