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With the fight for universal healthcare in the U.S. still ongoing, the demand for professionals in the healthcare industry is ever-increasing. And with staffing shortages expected to rise well past 2030, those who choose a healthcare career can expect to be well compensated.
Of course, wages vary for different healthcare positions, so it pays to know which roles pay best before embarking on your healthcare career. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average for a job in healthcare is $61,339 a year, with top earners making $95,000 annually across the U.S.
This page will review the seven best paying jobs in healthcare and the job duties for each role.
Our Top 7 Picks for the Best Paying Jobs in Healthcare
A physical therapist is responsible for helping patients restore their function and mobility as well as managing pain. They use therapeutic exercises to help improve patients’ strength, flexibility, range of motion, balance and coordination. Physical therapists also diagnose physical impairments and develop treatment plans that include manual therapy, modalities and therapeutic activities.
On a typical day as a physical therapist, you’ll assess patients to determine the extent of their injuries and develop individualized treatment plans. Then, you’ll provide hands-on care and use various therapeutic exercises to help improve a patient’s overall functioning. Physical therapists also counsel patients on activities they can do at home to speed up their recovery and return to their pre-injury condition.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists in the U.S. earned an average annual salary of $92,920 as of May 2021. Salaries among these professionals vary depending on experience and location.
Physical therapists can work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools and private practices. Those with advanced degrees and the right certifications can find even more lucrative positions in specialized fields.
A physician assistant, or PA, works with a physician to provide medical care for patients. PAs can perform diagnostic tests, such as X-rays and lab work, diagnose illnesses, create and implement patient treatment plans, prescribe medication and educate patients about disease prevention and healthy lifestyles.
As a PA, you’ll see patients, counsel them on their health concerns and provide follow-up care. You may also order diagnostic tests, interpret results and refer patients to specialists, if needed. PAs are responsible for keeping patient records up to date and ensuring that all procedures, treatments and medications adhere to the standard of care.
Physician assistants in the U.S. earned an average salary of $119,460 per year as of May 2021. PAs with specialized training can earn a higher salary in fields such as pediatrics, geriatrics or surgery. PAs are most commonly employed in hospitals and medical offices but can also work in outpatient care centers, nursing homes, home health agencies and even specialty clinics.
Nurse practitioners, or NPs, are in-demand healthcare professionals who diagnose, treat and manage acute and chronic medical conditions. They often provide primary healthcare services, such as health screenings or health promotion activities, in place of a physician.
An NP usually sees multiple patients from diverse backgrounds with different health problems each day. They take patient histories, conduct physical examinations, order and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose health problems, develop individualized care plans and counsel patients. In some states, NPs are allowed to write prescriptions.
In the U.S., nurse practitioners earned an average salary of $118,040 per year as of May 2021.
A nurse anesthetist specializes in providing anesthesia and monitoring patients during medical procedures. They also manage medications and make sure that the patient’s vital signs are stable before, during and after the procedure.
On any given day, a nurse anesthetist may administer local or general anesthetics, ensure that the patient is responding well to the anesthesia, monitor their vital signs and provide pain relief. They also have an important role in educating patients on preventative care measures before surgery or other medical procedures.
Nurse anesthetists took home an average annual salary of $202,470 as of May 2021. This figure varies depending on experience and location but is often higher than the average salary for most other healthcare industry jobs. Nurse anesthetists can find employment in hospitals, clinics, surgery centers and private practices.
Radiologic technologists use specialized medical imaging equipment to take images of the body and diagnose medical conditions. As a radiology technologist, you may use X-rays, CT scans, MRIs or ultrasounds to take images of patients for diagnosis and treatment planning. In addition, radiologic technologists prepare patients for exams, explain the procedures and answer patient questions. They also help to maintain medical records and may be involved in the maintenance of imaging equipment.
Radiologic technologists and technicians in the U.S. earned an average annual salary of $66,490 as of May 2021.
A genetic counselor specializes in helping patients understand and manage inherited conditions or the risk of an inherited condition. This is one of the best healthcare jobs for those looking to help others, especially now that diseases with genetic components are on the rise.
On a typical day, a genetic counselor will help diagnose genetic disorders, review patients’ family medical histories to identify health risks, provide education and counseling to help individuals make informed decisions about healthcare, and collaborate with their patients’ other healthcare professionals to best serve the patients’ needs.
Genetic counselors earned an average annual salary of $86,640 as of May 2021. With a master’s degree and the right certifications, qualified individuals can often find lucrative employment in universities, hospitals, research labs or private practices.
Diagnostic medical sonographer
Diagnostic medical sonographers use technology to record images of organs, tissues and other body parts. They specialize in producing three-dimensional images of their patients’ anatomy and physiology.
On any given day, a diagnostic medical sonographer may perform ultrasounds, help physicians interpret results, talk with patients and their families about the diagnostic process and keep patient records. They also have an important role in educating patients about health maintenance and preventative care.
Diagnostic medical sonographers pocketed an average annual salary of $80,680 as of May 2021.
Best Paying Jobs in Healthcare Guide
Choosing a career in healthcare all but guarantees a good payoff. But to find the highest paying jobs in healthcare, you need a good understanding of the industry, from what healthcare is exactly to where you should be looking for healthcare jobs.
What is considered healthcare?
Healthcare consists of health-related services that health professionals provide to promote health, prevent diseases and manage health conditions through medications, treatments and other remedies for health problems. Healthcare also includes preventive measures to help individuals maintain their physical, mental and emotional health. Overall, this can range from providing home health services to running a hospital.
Healthcare is provided through the public and private sectors as well as by private individuals. Healthcare personnel includes physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, medical technicians and other professionals.
Types of healthcare jobs
Generally, the healthcare industry can be broken down into three main categories:
- Healthcare providers
- Healthcare administrators
- Healthcare support services
Healthcare providers are the experts who provide medical treatment to patients — doctors, nurses, chiropractors, dentists and psychologists are some examples. Healthcare administrators manage personnel, facilities and administrative duties, such as budgets and financials. Healthcare support services include technicians who conduct testing, imaging or medical record transcription, among others.
Requirements for a healthcare job
The requirements for a healthcare job vary depending on the field. However, all healthcare jobs require a high level of education and training. Generally, a college degree or higher-level exam is required for entry-level positions in healthcare. Depending on the job, candidates may need to attend medical school and pass additional exams or certifications to be considered for certain jobs.
Healthcare jobs can be incredibly demanding and require the ability to stay on top of all relevant medical advances. To grow in the healthcare field, additional certifications or further educational qualifications may become necessary.
In addition to obtaining an appropriate level of education and meeting exam requirements, healthcare professionals must have good interpersonal skills. Communication and collaboration are essential for many healthcare roles, as medical teams work together to diagnose and treat patients.
How to find the highest paying jobs in healthcare
Knowing the best ways to find job opportunities in healthcare can help you maximize your earning potential. Here are some tips for finding the highest paying jobs in healthcare:
Your network of contacts can be a great asset when job hunting in healthcare. Join career-focused groups and attend job fairs to meet professionals in the industry. This will give you access to job opportunities that may have yet to be advertised publicly, including remote healthcare jobs you qualify for. Your network may also prove helpful in finding out how much a job pays before you apply for it.
Use job boards
Online job search sites such as ZipRecruiter can be great resources for finding the best paying jobs in healthcare. You can filter your searches by geography, salary range and other criteria to find jobs that meet your needs. Many of these sites also feature helpful tools for job seekers, such as resume builders.
Brush up on job search skills
Before applying for a job in healthcare, get prepared with the necessary job search skills. Make sure your resume is up to date and tailored to the job description of each position you apply for. Also, learn how to prepare for an interview so you can put your best foot forward.
Seek professional assistance
If you need help in job searching, consider seeking out professional assistance. Many organizations offer job search services that can help to ensure that you find the highest paying job available. They may even refer you to job openings or connections that could lead to a high-paying job in healthcare. If you need basic job skills, such as knowing how to write a cover letter for a job, these coaches can provide invaluable guidance.
Best Paying Jobs in Health Care FAQ
How many jobs are available in health care?
How stable are health care jobs?
Health care jobs are highly stable. Health care is a growing industry and provides ample job security for those in the field. Health care workers are often considered essential employees, meaning they usually have more stability than workers in other industries during economic downturns.
What skills must someone in the health care industry have?
The skills and qualifications needed to land a job in the health care industry vary depending on the position. Health care workers must be knowledgeable about their specialty, have excellent interpersonal skills and be detail-oriented. They also need to stay up to date on new medical advances and technologies.
Is a job in health care a good career path?
How We Chose the Best Paying Jobs in Healthcare
We used several factors to come up with our healthcare jobs list for the highest paying careers in the field. We looked at U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, job trends in the industry and current salary ranges for various positions. We also considered the growth potential and job security of each position when compiling our list. All of these factors played a role in deciding which jobs made the cut and why they are included on our list as some of the best paying healthcare jobs available.
Summary of Money’s Best Paying Jobs in Healthcare