Whether it is true or not, the common perception in the US is that doctors and medical professionals with many years of schooling are well paid; the reality is much more complicated than that.

Sometimes, those with very little higher education can obtain incomes that meet or exceed those with expensive medical degrees. Choosing the right field is key, though: even crucial services like EMTs and paramedics suffer from extremely low pay considering their importance.

Here are some of the better-compensated healthcare career options if you just don’t have the time or money to invest in a lengthy degree program.

Billing Specialist

An aging population that requires constant medical attention and a system that gets increasingly more complex every day has led to a flurry of administrative roles needing to be filled with talented individuals. Medical billing is a complicated area that requires a good eye for detail, memorization skills, and high personal accountability. Billing errors cost thousands of Americans their credit scores and livelihoods each year; the need for qualified individuals is higher than ever.

Though you won’t have to obtain a full degree, medical billing technicians are expected to complete at least an associate’s level program with an emphasis on medical insurance and billing. The top earners in the billing field can expect to earn around $64k a year, with an average of around $46k a year according to Best Medical Billing Coding.


Dental Assistant

Dentistry is a highly-specialized field; it can take many years for someone on this career path to work on their first client. If you want to get to work in the dental field sooner, then consider becoming a dental assistant.

Generally, there are no education requirements to work with a dentist, but a post-secondary program may help you gain experience and find work. As an assistant, you will be responsible for a range of tasks, including anything and everything to keep the office running.

Expected job growth in the field of dental assistants far outpaces the average in the field. The median wage is higher than average as well in this field, with the top 10% earning more than $50,000 a year.


Medical Sonography

You may know sonography by another name: ultrasound. Ultrasound technicians are crucial in modern medicine, allowing us a glimpse inside the body without having to open it up. Though sonography is often associated with prenatal care, ultrasound technology is utilized in many disciplines. You won’t be required to complete a four-year degree to get into the industry, but you will be expected to complete an associates level or certificate program. Median pay for ultrasound techs is among the highest in medical careers that don’t require a bachelors, making it a very attractive option.

Medical Sonography

Surgical Technologist

If you’re interested in the surgical field, but just don’t have the resources or support to complete school and residency demands, then you may be perfect as an operating room tech. Surgical technologists are responsible for preparing the room and equipment to be used on a patient, as well as assisting the surgeon during the operation. Due to the ever-increasing need for qualified surgical staff, job prospects are looking very good for surgical technologists.

Surgical Technologist

Fields that have a lower bar for entry can offer you a stepping stone to greater opportunities later in life. As the cost for education continues to spiral out of control, it’s more important than ever to look at more reasonable and attainable career options.