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Educational Requirements to Prepare for a Career in Healthcare

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There are a variety of jobs in the healthcare industry. You can often obtain work as a medical coder or biller without years of education, but most careers will require extensive educational backgrounds.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare employment is projected to add more than two million new jobs between now and 2029 – more than any other occupation. An aging population is leading to greater demand for healthcare services. New advances in medicine and technology are also creating a greater need for researchers and medical scientists.

Here are some of the top jobs in medicine and what you should know if you are considering choosing healthcare as a career path, including the educational requirements.


A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is responsible for providing essential care for patients in helping them eat, dress, and bathe. LPNs may also administer medication and check patient vital signs, such as blood pressure. They also assist Registered Nurses (RNs) and physicians in detailing medical records, working with patients and families, and alerting RNs and doctors to changes in a patient’s condition.

An LPN requires a nursing certificate from an accredited program, which can take a year or more to complete. LPNs will also have to pass the National Licensure Exam (NCLEX-PM) to become licensed.

A Registered Nurse (RN) oversees the work of LPNs and other healthcare aides. RNs are involved in treating patients, coordinating patient care plans, and working closely with doctors.

RNs can be licensed by taking the NCLEX-RN exam after completing either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or completing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Depending on the program these degrees can take 2-4 years of study.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) include nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners that provide both primary and specialty healthcare. APRNs are required to pass national and state certification exams and hold a master’s degree.

Medical Scientist or Researchers

Medical scientists study diseases and causes to develop new treatment and prevention therapies. Medical scientists can have a medical degree or Ph.D. in biology or related life science. If you plan to do patient-facing work, you may be required to obtain a medical degree.

Medical researchers typically work for universities, hospitals, research facilities, or private companies, such as pharmaceutical manufacturers. Scientists develop a hypothesis, plan and execute experiments, and may conduct clinical tests to analyze outcomes.

Most researchers and medical scientists will also need specialized training in their field beyond general medical training. Those wishing to pursue research in genomics, gene modification, or DNA sequencing may need to take additional training.

If you are interested first in taking an introductory type course in gene editing applications, look into taking the CRISPR course.

There are a variety of jobs in the healthcare industry. You can often obtain work as a medical coder or biller without years of education, but most careers will require extensive educational backgrounds.Click To Tweet


The requirements for becoming a doctor can vary significantly depending on specialties. Typically, physicians will complete a four-year undergraduate degree program and then another four years in medical school. During the final two years of medical school, students often go through rotations at clinics and hospitals. Afterward, they will be required to complete a residency training program which can last from three to seven years before becoming eligible for licensing.

The American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes 12,000 accredited residency programs with varying requirements. For example, physicians studying internal medicine or pediatrics are required to complete a three-year residency. Anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry require four years. General surgery, radiation oncology, and child neurology require five years while plastic surgery, neurological surgery, and interventional radiology can take six to seven years to complete.

Doctors typically complete their coursework in general medicine and choose specialties during their residency. Most states require at least one year of a residency program and passing a board-certified exam in the specialty of choice.

Other Jobs in Medicine and Healthcare

There are other jobs in medicine and healthcare that may be of interest to you. Here are some of the highest-paying jobs and the educational requirements.


Pharmacists dispense prescription medication and provide patient education in the safe use of medicines. Pharmacists need a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and are licensed.

 Physician’s Assistant

A physician’s assistant (PA) examines, diagnoses, and treats patients. PAs are required to complete a Master’s Degree.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists help patients manage pain and improve their range of motion, often after an injury or illness. Therapists do assessments, create treatment plans, and work directly with patients. PTs need a bachelor’s degree in health science, complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). PTs are also required to be licensed.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists treat sick, injured, and disabled patients to recover the skills they need for living or working. A Master’s Degree is a minimum requirement.

 Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists administer radiation doses to help treat cancer and other diseases. A minimum of an Associate’s degree is required. In most states, radiation therapists are also required to be licensed or certified.

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