As the baby boomer population ages, the overall need for healthcare services is increasing more each year – which means a larger demand for professionals in these fields.
Registered nurses (RNs) make up the bulk of healthcare workers today, but there are many other opportunities to work in the medical industry. Jobs cover a wide range of skills and education, and some don't even require an undergraduate degree.
Check out this list of 8 great healthcare jobs you can get in 2016 without a 4-year degree (ranked by percentage of year-over-year growth). Employment numbers and wages are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' May 2015 figures (released March 31, 2016).
1. Licensed practical nurse (LPN)
What you do: Care for ill, injured or convalescing patients or persons with disabilities. You might work under the supervision of a registered nurse.
Top 3 industries: Nursing care/skilled nursing facilities, general medical/surgical hospitals, physician offices
Education: Licensed practical nurses must complete a state-approved educational program, which typically takes about one year to complete. They must also be licensed.
Job outlook: 16 percent projected growth (2014 to 2024)
Georgia employment numbers: 25,360
Georgia annual mean wage: $38,820
What you do: Draw blood for tests, transfusions, donations or research. You might also explain the procedure to patients and assist with patients who have adverse reactions.
Top 3 industries: General medical/surgical hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, other ambulatory healthcare services
Education: Phlebotomists typically have a post-secondary non-degree award from a phlebotomy program. Almost all employers look for phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.
Job outlook: 25 percent projected growth (2014 to 2024)
Georgia employment numbers: 3,690
Georgia annual mean wage: $30,240
3. Surgical technologist (operating room technician)
What you do: Assist in operations under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses or other surgical personnel. May help set up the operating room, prepare and transport patients for surgery, adjust lights and equipment, pass instruments and other supplies to surgeons and surgeon's assistants, hold retractors, cut sutures, and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments.
Top 3 industries: General medical/surgical hospitals, physician offices, outpatient care centers
Education: Surgical technologists typically need a post-secondary certificate or an associate's degree.
Job outlook: 15 percent projected growth (2014 to 2024)
Georgia employment numbers: 3,250
Georgia annual mean wage: $39,350
4. Medical assistant
What you do: Perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of a physician. These can include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes. Clinical duties may include taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by the physician.
Top 3 industries: Physician offices, general medical/surgical hospitals, other health practitioner offices
Education: Most medical assistants have post-secondary education such as a certificate. Others enter the field with a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training.
Job outlook: 23 percent projected growth (2014 to 2024)
Georgia employment numbers: 20,740
Georgia annual mean wage: $30,020
5. Radiologic technologist (radiographer)
What you do: Take X-rays and CT scans or administer nonradioactive materials into the patient's blood stream for diagnostic purposes. This group includes technologists who specialize in other scanning modalities (MRI, nuclear medicine).
Top 3 industries: General medical/surgical hospitals, physician offices, medical and diagnostic laboratories
Education: Radiologic technologists typically need an associate's degree and must be licensed or certified in most states. Employers usually require or prefer prospective technologists to be certified even if the state does not require it.
Job outlook: 9 percent projected growth (2014 to 2024)
Georgia employment numbers: 4,830
Georgia annual mean wage: $51,770
6. Paramedic or emergency medical technician (EMT)
What you do: EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls and perform medical services before transporting patients to medical facilities. Typical services can include assessing injuries, administering emergency medical care and extricating trapped individuals.
Top 3 industries: Ambulatory healthcare services, local governments, general medical/surgical hospitals
Education: All EMTs and paramedics must complete a post-secondary educational program. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed; requirements vary by state.
Job outlook: 24 percent projected growth (2014 to 2024)
Georgia employment numbers: 9,130
Georgia annual mean wage: $33,050
7. Personal care aide
What you do: Personal care aides help clients with self-care and everyday tasks. They also provide social supports and assistance that enable clients to participate in their communities.
Top 3 industries: Individual and family services, home healthcare services, intellectual and developmental disability/mental health/substance abuse facilities
Education: Most personal care aides are trained on the job. There are no formal education requirements for personal care aides, but most have a high school diploma.
Job outlook: 26 percent projected growth (2014 to 2024)
Georgia employment numbers: 16,370
Georgia annual mean wage: $20,050
8. Medical and clinical laboratory technician
What you do: Perform routine medical laboratory tests for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. You may work under the supervision of a medical technologist.
Top 3 industries: General medical/surgical hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, physician offices
Education: Medical laboratory technologists typically need a bachelor's degree. Technicians usually need an associate's degree or a post-secondary certificate. Some states require technologists and technicians to be licensed.
Job outlook: 16 percent projected growth (2014 to 2024)
Georgia employment numbers: 4,800
Georgia annual mean wage: $37,620
You can learn more about these and other healthcare jobs through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Click here to see the categories available, including healthcare practitioners and support.