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Having a rewarding medical career doesn't always have to involve years of training at an expensive university. There are many entry level health care jobs that require only 1-3 years -- or less -- at an affordable junior college or career school.

These often-overlooked medical jobs can provide a satisfying career in the medical field while saving you time and money on education. Click the job titles for more information, including job salary info and education requirements.

Medical assistants

Medical AssistantA medical assistant's job is to work in between doctors, nurses and patients. They provide patients with basic needs like bedside assistance and minor medical treatments, and help doctors by taking patients' vitals, reporting on their condition, and assisting in procedures.

Aside from helping with patients, a medical assistant job also involves working in the front office, doing administrative office tasks like answering phones, scheduling doctor's appointments and greeting walk-in patients. The standard training for this entry-level medical job? One to two years at a community or junior college. (Click for more info)


NurseThough becoming a registered nurse (RN) is more of an undertaking, other types of nursing jobs are attainable for those who don't want to spend the next four years hunched over medical books and exams.

A certified nursing assistant (CNA), also called a nurse aide, is a bedside nurse who takes care of the daily patient interaction and care that registered nurses are often too busy to perform. Besides assisting patients with daily living tasks such as dressing, eating and bathing, CNAs take vitals and assist doctors with medical procedures. (Click for more info)

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is one level above a CNA. Besides performing the job functions described above, LPNs help in the preparation of medical care plans for their patients. They work with registered nurses and other licensed practical nurses, and sometimes the patients' family members, to decide on the best treatment course, creating an actionable treatment plan. (Click for more info)

Besides nurse licensing and certification, one year at a technical school or junior college is enough to get an entry level job as a licensed practical nurse, or only a few months of on-the-job training for nurse aides.

X-ray technologists

X-Ray TechnologistIf playing with medical equipment is your forte, you might enjoy a medical job in x-ray technology. An x-ray technologist, also called a radiologic technologist or radiographer, takes x-rays of patients' bone and tissue structure. The resulting images are then looked over by a doctor or physician, allowing them to make their diagnosis.

Some x-ray technologists specialize in areas such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or mammography, and experience can lead them to a more advanced medical job assisting radiologists. This all comes after only a two-year stint at a college or in a hospital learning course. (Click for more info)

Ultrasound Technologists

Ultrasound TechnologistUltrasound technologists, also called diagnostic medical sonographers, are most commonly known as the doctors who show you the ultrasound image of your unborn baby. Besides fetal imaging, these professionals also use ultrasound to detect ailments such as gallstones, tumors and internal diseases.

Using medical imaging equipment and a handheld instrument called a transducer, an ultrasound technologist's job is to project a beam of high-frequency sound into the patient's body, collecting the reflected echoes and creating an image. The image is then studied by a physician, who makes the final diagnosis. The schooling for this medical job usually takes around two years at a college or university, though one-year certificate programs are available for those who already work in health care. (Click for more info)

Massage Therapists

Massage TherapistThe modern landscape of massage includes over 80 different modalities, and many of them are steadily gaining popularity as forms of alternative health care. Besides working in day spas and health clubs, massage therapists are finding entry-level jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians' and chiropractors' offices. With the idea of holistic healing becoming more popular among the 55-and-older group as well as younger generations, massage's place in health care is growing stronger.

Training for massage therapists varies widely, with most states having their own licensing and training requirements, but most formal training programs last no more than a few months to a year. (Click for more info)

Medical Billing & Coding Specialists

Medical billing & coding specialistMedical billing and coding professionals handle medical records and information, thereby avoiding most patient interaction.

Every piece of treatment information recorded in a doctor's office has to be coded in a way that allows it to be understood universally, whether in another doctor's office or hospital, or in a medical insurance office. This negates any confusion over wordings, misunderstandings or misleading language when transferring information from department to department, as well as providing a way to accurately bill medical insurance companies for treatments and procedures.

Medical billing and coding specialists are the translators of this code language, making them a necessary part of every treatment and procedure performed. Aside from registration and certification, schooling for this entry level medical job takes around two years at a community or junior college. (Click for more info)

Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy TechnicianPharmacy technicians work with pharmacists, preparing medications and prescriptions for clients and taking care of the front-office work their pharmacist counterparts don't have the time for. Pharmacy technician duties range from receiving prescription orders, counting out the correct number of pills and labeling bottles, to answering phones and operating cash registers.

Pharmacy technician jobs are slightly more involved in hospitals and nursing facilities than they are in retail pharmacies, but these technicians usually operate under the supervision of a pharmacist, to whom they also direct the hard questions. A six-month to two-year training program and national certification will get you hired into this entry-level job, though there are no universally agreed-upon training standards. (Click for more info)

Medical Transcriptionists

Medical TranscriptionistDoctors' hands are usually busy, so they often use voice recordings to create reports, write letters, and document patients' treatments. Medical transcriptionists turn these voice recordings into written documents that are then added to patients' medical files or sent wherever they are needed.

Using headphones and a foot pedal to control the recording, medical transcriptionists listen to the doctor's recorded testimony, transcribing it to text and returning it to the doctor, who makes any necessary corrections and signs off on it. The resulting documents can include medical examination or operative reports, autopsy reports, diagnostic studies, doctor's referral letters, and a variety of other medical documents. This in-demand entry-level medical job can be landed with a one to two-year training program and certification. (Click for more info)

Surgical Technologists

Surgical TechnologistsThe surgical technologist's job is an important one. When the surgeon says "scalpel," there'd better be a scalpel. A surgical technologist's job is to assist surgeons in the operating room by monitoring the patient's vitals, handing instruments to the doctors, answering doctors' questions about the patient, and ensuring the surgical process goes smoothly.

This job starts before the surgery does, with the preparation of the patient, the equipment, and the operating room, and ends when the patient is safely in recovery and the OR is outfitted for the next operation. The training requirements for a job as a supporting member of the surgical team, aside from certification, are nine months to two years at a vocational school or junior college. (Click for more info)

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US Labor Bureau Handbook:

Medical assistants

Certified nurse assistants

Licensed practical / vocational nurses

Medical billing and coding

Pharmacy technicians

Medical transcriptionists

Surgical technologist

X-ray technologist

Ultrasound technologist

 Travel Nurses

Massage therapists


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