August 26, 2020

7 Fastest Ways To Start Your Healthcare Career Now

Healthcare is a field that's continually growing and always expanding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is estimating a 14% growth rate in healthcare occupations by 2028. This means another 1.9 million jobs. So, it's no surprise that a lot of people are looking to get into the healthcare field. 

There are a lot of ways to get into a healthcare career, but some paths will let you get started faster than others. We’ll cover the seven quickest ways to get started working in the world of healthcare.

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1. Medical Assistant

What is a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants act as liasons between patients and the medical staff. They can work in a wide variety of healthcare facilities, and best of all, it's one of the fastest healthcare fields to get into!

How to Become a Medical Assistant

You can start working as a Medical Assistant in just 1 to 2 years. Medical Assistant programs are available both in-person and online, you just want to make sure you go through an accredited program!

>> Related: Find out How to Become a Medical Assistant

How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported their median salary for Medical Assistants in 2019 as $34,800, though salary will vary based on where you work and your level of experience, as well as what certification you have.

Why Become a Medical Assistant?

U.S. News & World Report lists Medical Assistants as the second best job for people without a college degree! It's a great way to get into the healthcare field quickly while allowing you to explore other healthcare options such as nursing.

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2. Medical Coding and Billing

What is a Medical Coder and Biller?

Medical Coders and Billers translate the diagnosis and treatment from a healthcare provider into standardized codes that get sent to insurance companies and government agencies. 

It's an in-demand job with a lot of flexibility. Medical Coders and Billers can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including from home! Some nurses transition into a career in medical coding and billing in order to have a work-from-home position.

How to Become a Medical Coder or Biller

One of the most appealing aspects of medical coding and billing is the fact that you can earn your certification and start earning a competitive salary in less than one year. You'll go through a certification program for either Medical Coding, Billing or both, that can be completed either online or in-person.

>> Related: How to Get Started in Medical Coding and Billing

How Much Do Medical Coders and Billers Make?

The AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders), found that average medical coding salary for both certified and non-certified coders is $54,890, with certified coders earning 33% more than non-certified coders. The salary for Medical Billers is on par with this. 

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3. Phlebotomy Technician

What is a Phlebotomy Technician? 

Phlebotomy technicians, also known as Phlebotomists, draw blood from patients for testing and other purposes. They typically work in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, or laboratories. 

How to Become a Phlebotomist

Becoming a phlebotomist is a relatively fast process. While some states require a certification or license to practice phlebotomy, some facilities train their phlebotomists on the job. Certification is obtained in a one to two-semester program. 

>>Related: How to Become a Phlebotomist

How Much Do Phlebotomy Technicians Make? 

According to Payscale, the average pay for a phlebotomist is $14.50 per hour, or $32,437 per year. The top 90% of Phlebotomy technicians make $46,000 per year.

Skills and Characteristics You Need to Work as a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists must work well with others as they interact directly with patients and often handle frightened or anxious patients. They should be comfortable interacting with patients of all ages, including infants and the elderly. 

Because phlebotomy work requires accessing veins and handling blood and bodily fluids, you can’t be squeamish about needles and blood. 

We Found The Following Schools with Online Phlebotomy Programs

4. Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)

What are Paramedics and EMTs?

Looking for a fast-paced job where you can thrive on adrenaline and work under pressure? Becoming an EMT or Paramedic may be the right path for you. EMTs and paramedics both work as a part of the emergency medical services team, but the primary difference between the two lies in their education and what they are allowed to do. Both Paramedics and EMTs respond to emergency calls, perform medical services, and transport patients. EMTs can administer CPR, glucose, and oxygen. Paramedics can perform more complex procedures, including inserting IV lines, administering drugs, and applying pacemakers.

>> Related: The Ultimate Guide to Paramedic-to-RN Bridge Programs

How to Become a Paramedic or EMT

EMTs and paramedics are certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Certification requires completing a certified education program and passing the national exam. Some states have first-level state certifications that don’t require national certification.

Some EMT programs are non-degree programs, while others last up to two years. Becoming a paramedic requires completion of an Associate's degree program or an accredited on-the-job training program. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed. Programs are offered by 

  • Technical colleges
  • Community colleges
  • Universities
  • Facilities that specialize in emergency care training

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs offers a list of accredited programs for EMTs and paramedics, by state. 

How Much Do Paramedics and EMTs make?

Job growth and career outlook is promising for both EMTs and paramedics at 7% growth. According to ZipRecruiter, the average EMT salary is $29,044 per year or $14 per hour. Paramedics make significantly more, earning $43,344 annually, or $21 per hour. 

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With Achieve's Paramedic to RN "Test-Out Bridge Bridge Program," you can earn your ADN or BSN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs. All applicants must already be a Paramedic.

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5.) Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

Certified Nursing Assistants, CNAs, are a vital part of the nursing team. They assist patients with personal care and activities of daily living in a wide variety of settings including:

  • Long term care facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Rehab facilities

How to Become a CNA

In order to become a certified nursing assistant, you'll need to complete a state-approved training program. These can be found at vocational schools, community colleges, and through the Red Cross, and take approximately 4 to 12 weeks to complete.

How Much Do Certified Nursing Assistants Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median average annual salary for certified nursing assistants in 2020 was $32,050. But keep in mind that wages vary on industry and location. 

Skills and Characteristics You Need to Be a CNA

CNAs are often called "the backbone of healthcare." They must possess compassion and patience. It's important to note many nurses begin their careers as CNAs and continue their education while working.

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CNAs: earn your RN degree in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs with Achieve Test Prep's "Nursing Test-Out Program". All applicants must be a CNA to apply.

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6. Licensed Practical Nurse

What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

LPNs are licensed nurses who complete an accredited, board-approved nursing program and pass the NCLEX-PN. 

Each state has a Nurse Practice Act that defines the scope of practice for Licensed Practical Nurses. Some duties of LPNs include, but are not limited to:

  • Administering medications
  • Performing wound care
  • Inserting catheters
  • Performing lab procedures
  • Coordinating care with patients' interdisciplinary team
  • Supervising CNAs

Additionally, many LPNs work in an administrative and supervisory capacity. Some certifications allow LPNs to broaden their scope and job opportunities. Many registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses began their careers as LPNs. It’s important to note, in Texas and California LPNs are known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNS)

Licensed practical nurses work in various settings:

  • Long term care facilities
  • Rehab facilities
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Physician offices
  • Hospitals
  • Home health
  • Psychiatric facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Schools, colleges, or universities

How to Become an LPN

Most LPNs programs are 12 to 18 months long and give students a certification; however, some programs are longer, and its students walk away with an Associate's degree. LPN programs can are found at

  • Technical schools
  • Community colleges
  • Universities
  • Allied health schools

Some states allow candidates who began registered nursing programs but didn’t finish or pass the NCLEX-RN to test as practical nurses. 

How Much Do LPNs Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects LPN jobs to increase by 11% by 2026. The BLS reports that the median LPN salary in 2020 was $23.47 per hour, or $48,820 per year. 

Search LPN to RN Programs

LPNs: Achieve's Test-Out Bridge Program makes achieving your BSN faster and more affordable, and previous college credits will count toward your advanced degree. All applicants must be current LVN or LPN.

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7. Surgical Technologist

What is a Surgical Technologist?

Surgical technologists are members of operating room teams. Surgical techs work under the authority and supervision of the surgeon unless prohibited by state law or hospital policy. 

How to Become a Surgical Tech

You can become a surgical technician through either a certificate program or an Associate's degree, and then pass the national surgical technology certification exam.

Training is available at community colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and the military. A certificate program can take 12 months, and an Associate's degree program takes two years to complete. 

Eligibility to take the national surgical technology certification examination requires:

  • A graduate of a surgical technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • Military program

How Much Do Surgical Technologists Make?

According to the BLS, surgical technology jobs are projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, and the average pay is $23.90 per hour or $49,710 per year. 

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Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development--while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for her latest. 

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