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What are the Top Majors in the Medical Field?

If you want to earn a degree that can help prepare you to work in the medical field, you might consider a bachelor’s or master’s program such as healthcare administration, community health education, health information management, nursing or public health.
A medical professional with a stethoscope having a discussion with others in the medical field

Know before you read
At SNHU, we want to make sure you have the information you need to make decisions about your education and your future—no matter where you choose to go to school. That's why our informational articles may reference careers for which we do not offer academic programs, along with salary data for those careers. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

Have you ever thought about working in the medical field? There are lots of options out there for you to consider. Once you figure out which path is for you and the education you may need, you can begin working toward a rewarding career helping people.

A good starting place may be looking at majors in the medical field and the various types of healthcare degrees and concentrations available to you. Then, you can begin to look at what careers may be an option based on your desired education level and major. This may help you get a general idea of what to expect from your journey into healthcare.

For example, you may be wondering what degree you need to be a nurse. While the answer varies based on the type of nurse, the same holds for other healthcare career paths. While some degrees steer you toward a specific career, many career paths likely remain an option for you as you continue your healthcare education.

What are Some Types of Healthcare Degrees?

If you're interested in working in the healthcare industry, there are a variety of educational paths for you to consider. Whether you're looking to get your bachelor's degree or you want to continue your education through a graduate program, there are tons of opportunities for you. And if you wish to add some extra credentials to your resume, there are also certificates available.

Find Your Program

Types of Bachelor's Degrees

You have several bachelor's degree options available to you. Some degrees focus more exclusively on healthcare while others offer a blend of topics such as technology and healthcare, or business and healthcare, for example.

▸ Healthcare Administration

A bachelor's in healthcare administration is like a concentration in business administration. The main difference between this degree and the concentration is this program focuses more on becoming a leader who can help make decisions to improve patient care.

Concentrations in health information management (HIM) may be available with this program for those interested. Yet another possible concentration is patient safety and quality if you are interested in quality improvement in healthcare.

▸ Community Health Education

A bachelor's in community health education can allow you to gain the skills necessary to assist with community wellness. This type of degree can help you make an impact in communities that need it most.

A potential career for this program of study would be health education specialist or community health worker. Health education specialists earned $59,990 median pay in 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and BLS also expects the field to grow 7% between 2022 and 2032.*

For community health workers, the median pay was $46,190, according to BLS, with a growth projection of 14% between 2022 to 2032.*

▸ Health Information Management (HIM)

A bachelor's in health information management should teach you about the professional skills required for your HIM career, such as the technology and terminology that may be used.

Programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education, such as the bachelor's in HIM at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), are designed with real-world standards in mind. Upon graduation from a CAHIIM-accredited program, you're also one criteria closer to sitting for the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam.

HIM specialists, such as medical records specialists, are responsible for organizing and managing health information data for patients, according to BLS.

Types of HIM specialists include:

  • Medical records specialists
  • Health information technologists
  • Medical registrars

Medical records specialists earned $47,180 median pay in 2022 with an 8% growth in the field between 2022 to 2032, according to BLS.* Health information technologists and medical registrars in 2022 earned a median pay of $58,250, BLS reports, with the need for these positions expected to increase by 16% between 2022 and 2032.*

▸ Nursing

A bachelor's in nursing (BSN) is a degree program that can help you develop your nursing career by teaching you skills such as safe nursing practices and preparing you for lifelong learning in the field, among other things. You'll focus on essential skills and competencies that go into patient care.

Registered nurses made up a little over 3.1 million jobs in 2022, according to BLS, and BLS also expects the field to grow by 6% from 2022 to 2032.*

▸ Public Health

A bachelor's in public health can teach you skills needed to identify public health challenges and then develop solutions for those challenges.

There are many ways you can use a public health degree, such as pursuing a career as an epidemiologist or working in environmental health.

▸ Business Administration

A bachelor's in business administration is a bachelor of science (BS) degree and may come with health-related concentrations such as healthcare administration.

A program like this can provide you with a good mix of business and healthcare foundations.

▸ Sociology

A bachelor's in sociology can help you solve real-world problems using history, experimentation and observation. If community health interests you, there may be a concentration where you can learn skills to help improve the health of individuals and communities.

A yellow and blue infographic piece with the text 4 Types of Degrees: 1. Associate; 2. Bachelor's; 3. Master's; 4. Doctoral

There are other bachelor's degrees that you could consider, such as health sciences or biology, that can help prepare you to work in the medical field.

If medical school interests you, another route you could consider is pre-med. If you want to be pre-med and get into a medical school, then there are a ton of ways to prepare. You could research the courses you'll need to take, required exam scores, extracurriculars and letters of recommendation, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

Types of Master's Degrees

If you are interested in how to get a master's degree, there is no shortage of healthcare graduate programs for you to consider.

▸ Health Information Management

A CAHIIM-accredited master's in health information management is the ideal next step from the bachelor's in HIM. Although, if you are looking to change careers or come from a different educational background, developing your skills in data systems and analysis with a master's in HIM can help open up new career paths for you.

This program can also prepare you for various leadership and management roles in the HIM industry.

▸ Healthcare Administration

A master's in healthcare administration can increase your qualifications in various ways and develop you to be ready to join a variety of new career options, such as leading a healthcare organization.

Take note: There is a difference between healthcare administration and management. Healthcare administrators are usually more involved with organizational management and have less to do with the business side of operations.

▸ Master of Public Health (MPH)

An MPH program can expand your knowledge of the healthcare industry through learning about complex public health issues and how to transform people's lives.

When looking at MPH programs, consider one that is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), such as SNHU's. CEPH is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and their accreditation means that the program has met the standards.

One concentration you may have available to you is global health. With a focus on global health, you can set your sights beyond helping your local communities and look to make an impact on a worldwide scale.

▸ Nursing

A master's in nursing is another step in your nursing education following the completion your BSN. There are several MSNs to choose from based on the type of work you'd like to be doing; a few examples are:

These nursing programs can lead to rewarding jobs in healthcare. For example, nurse practitioners are one of the top growing healthcare jobs, with a 45% growth expected between 2022 and 2032, according to BLS.*

Another nursing career on the rise is nursing instructors and teachers, which is expected to grow 18% from 2022 to 2032, according to BLS.* These outlooks could be a result of a nationwide nursing shortage.

▸ Information Technology (IT)

A master's in information technology can combine your interest in technology and helping people to assist the healthcare system. With a concentration in healthcare informatics, you can transform your IT master's degree into a tool that can help you pursue a broader range of positions in healthcare organizations, including management.

Computer and information system managers are expected to grow by 15% from 2022 to 2032, BLS projects.* BLS also reports they earned a median pay of $164,070 in 2022.*

▸ Management

A master's in management can develop the skills needed to become a manager and effectively manage both people and projects. A concentration in healthcare can help add that particular focus to implementing healthcare quality improvement within the industry.

Medical health and service managers earned $104,830 median pay in 2022, BLS reports, and the field is expected to grow by 28% from 2022 to 2032.*

▸ Master of Business Administration (MBA)

An MBA program can teach you practical decision-making skills and help you develop strategies for business. With a concentration on healthcare management, you can use your business knowledge to learn how you can impact patient care and current healthcare trends with your MBA. BLS expects about 1.1 million job openings per year from 2022 to 2032, across all management occupations.*

A medical clipboard graphic with a yellow cross and a blue background You may also be interested in getting a certificate to help boost your resume or develop your skill set further. Certificates are different than degrees. Certificates can be earned before your bachelor's degree or after your master's degree — or sometimes in-between; it all depends on the certificate's requirements and your own goals.

An example would be a certificate in healthcare quality & safety, a post-master's program. This certificate is one that you could take following your master's degree and can help you further refine your skills in enhancing patient care.

If you desire to earn the highest credential for your healthcare education, you could consider pursuing a terminal degree. A terminal degree is the highest level of education that you can achieve for a specific field. Sometimes it can be a master's, and sometimes a doctoral or professional degree; it depends on your desired area of study.

Which Medical Fields are Most in Demand?

The healthcare field, in general, is on the rise. According to BLS, about 1.8 million healthcare job openings are expected annually from 2022 to 2032, which is much higher than the national average for all jobs.*

Here are 10 growing jobs in the healthcare field and a description of each role, according to BLS:

1. Nurse Practitioners

  • 45% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports* 
  • Deliver primary and specialty patient care
  • Typically requires at least a master's degree from an accredited advanced practice nursing program and licensure as a registered nurse

2. Physician Assistants 

  • 27% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports*
  • Practice medicine with teams of physicians and surgeons
  • Typically requires a master's degree from an accredited physician assistant education program (SNHU does not currently offer a physician assistant program.)

3. Physical Therapist Assistants 

  • 26% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports*
  • Help patients regain movement and manage pain under the supervision of physical therapists
  • Typically requires an associate degree from an accredited program and licensure or certification (SNHU does not currently offer a physical therapy assistant program.)

4. Occupational Therapy Assistants

  • 24% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports*
  • Help patients develop, recover and improve the skills needed for daily living
  • Typically requires an associate degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program (SNHU does not currently offer an occupational therapy assistant program.)

5. Home Health and Personal Care Aides

  • 22% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports*
  • Monitor the condition of patients with disabilities or illnesses
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalent

6. Speech-Language Pathologists 

  • 19% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports*
  • Assess, diagnose and treat to help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders
  • Typically requires a master's degree in speech-language pathology (SNHU does not currently offer speech-language pathology degrees.)

7. Massage Therapists 

  • 18% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports* 
  • Treat clients by using touch to manipulate muscles and tissue
  • Requires a postsecondary nondegree award, usually a certification or licensure (SNHU does not currently offer a massage therapy program.)

8. Genetic Counselors

  • 16% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports*
  • Assess individual or family risk for inherited conditions
  • Typically requires a master's degree in genetic counseling and licensure (SNHU does not currently offer genetical counseling degrees.)

9. Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars 

  • 16% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports*
  • Use electronic healthcare systems to organize, collect and analyze medical information
  • Typically requires at least an associate degree in a program such as health information management (SNHU does not currently offer an associate degree in HIM.)

10. Physical Therapists

  • 15% growth from 2022 to 2032, BLS reports*
  • Help patients improve their mobility and manage pain using techniques such as exercise and stretching
  • Requires a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and licensure (SNHU does not currently offer physical therapy degrees.)

What are the Highest Paying Medical Jobs?

A yellow money symbol on a blue background While money may not be the reason you choose to pursue a career in healthcare, understanding the compensation for the top-paying jobs, broken out by required degree level, could be valuable.

Here are some of the top paying jobs that typically require you to have a bachelor's degree and a description of each position, according to BLS:

(SNHU does not offer programs for the below listed positions, apart from BSN degrees for nurses.)

1. Registered Nurse 

  • $81,220 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients

2. Dietitians and Nutritionists 

  • $66,450 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Plan and conduct food service or nutritional programs

3. Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

  • $57,380 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Collect samples and perform tests to analyze bodies

4. Exercise Physiologists 

  • $51,350 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Develop fitness and exercise programs that help patients recover

5. Recreational Therapists

  • $51,330 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Plan and coordinate treatment plans involving recreational activities that support patient well-being

Here are the top five paying jobs that typically require you to have a master's degree and a description of each position, according to BLS:

(SNHU offers nurse practitioner degrees but does not currently offer programs for other positions listed below.)

1. Physician Assistant 

  • $126,010 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Practice medicine on teams with physicians and surgeons 

2. Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners

  • $125,900 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty care

3. Occupational Therapist 

  • $93,180 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Treat patients who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through therapy

4. Genetic Counselors

  • $89,990 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Assess individual or family risk for inherited conditions

5. Speech-Language Pathologists 

  • $84,140 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Assess, diagnose and treat to help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders

Here are the top five paying jobs that typically require you to have a doctoral or professional degree and a description of each position, according to BLS:

(SNHU does not currently offer degree programs for the below positions.)

1. Physicians and Surgeons 

  • $229,300 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses and focuses on patient wellness

2. Dentists 

  • $159,530 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Diagnose and treat problems with the teeth, gums and mouth, provide wellness care and more

3. Podiatrists 

  • $148,720 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Provides medical and surgical care for the lower leg, including ankle and foot

4. Pharmacists

  • $132,750 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Dispense prescription medications and advise customers

5. Optometrists 

  • $125,590 median pay in 2022, BLS reports*
  • Diagnose and treat visual problems, manage issues with the eyes and provide wellness care

These are just some of the countless jobs available within the healthcare industry. There are tons of paths that branch off these, such as the various types of nursing jobs available.

An infographic piece with the text AACN reports that nursing schools didn't accept 78,191 qualified applications in 2022 due in part to a faculty shortageIt may also help to stay on top of current trends within the industry, such as the nursing shortage. The nursing shortage is caused by several factors, including nurses retiring or leaving the profession and the aging population requiring a higher level of care.

Another reason is the shortage of nurse educators. Approximately 78,191 qualified nursing applications were not accepted in 2022 due in part to the lack of educators available to teach them, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Health education is important whether you are pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree, or even a certificate, and there are countless careers that you can consider pursuing within the healthcare industry.

A degree can change your life. Find the SNHU health program that can best help you meet your goals.

*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.

Nicholas Patterson ’22 is a writer and alumnus of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing. He is currently honing his craft further as he pursues an MFA in Creative Writing from SNHU. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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