5 High-Paying Healthcare Careers — No Medical School Required

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If you’re interested in a medical career, you might consider going to medical school to become a doctor. Those skills are very employable, and doctors can usually command upwards of $150,000 a year on average, according to Payscale.

But while there’s the allure of a big salary, the cost of medical school is certainly a deterrent.

How much does medical school cost? To attend just one year at a public medical school is $34,592 for in-state students and $58,668 for out-of-state ones, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. For private medical schools, you’re looking at more than $50,000 per year — and that doesn’t include extras such as housing, food, or books.

Given that medical school is four years, you’ll shell out at least $140,000 in tuition alone. That’s after four years of undergraduate school, and you still have at least another three years of residency in your chosen expertise where you’ll only make around $40,000 to $50,000 a year.

You could be in tens of thousands worth of debt (if not more) before you’d even be eligible for that big payday.

So, is medical school worth it?

If you answered “no,” but still want a high-paying career in the medical field, don’t worry. Here are five alternatives to medical school you can consider.

1. Physician assistant

If you want to take on many of the same tasks as a doctor, but wonder if medical school is worth it, consider becoming a physician assistant.

You get to treat and diagnose patients, create care plans, and stitch up wounds just like an M.D. The main difference is physician assistants are not allowed to perform surgery. This stipulation means not as much post-secondary schooling is required, but the level of expertise still commands a good salary.

  • Education requirements: You’ll need to complete an undergraduate degree in addition to a physician assistant training program. A typical program takes about two years to 27 months to finish.
  • Cost of schooling: You’re looking to pay between $70,000 and $90,000 for the entire program.
  • Average salary*: The median salary for a physician assistant, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is just over $100,000 a year.

2. Health services administrator

While you might not work directly with patients as a health services administrator, you can still make a huge difference in the medical field.

In this job, you could work in a hospital or private practice to develop policies and structures to make sure the business of patient care runs smoothly. This could involve updating technological systems, understanding changes in healthcare policies, and making recommendations so health-related organizations can provide superior care.

  • Education requirements: Both bachelor’s and associate degrees are acceptable to become a health services administrator, but there are options to advance with an additional master’s degree and a doctoral program. The additional schooling could help you nab an increase in salary and responsibility.
  • Cost of schooling: The cost depends on what type of a degree you pursue and where. In-state programs will typically cost less than private, and two-year programs will cost less than four-year ones. According to U.S. News, an online bachelor’s degree for this field could cost as little as $165 per credit, or as much as $85,000 for a degree from a private college.
  • Average salary: The median pay for a health services administrator is around $96,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

3. Nurse midwife

Midwives have been around for centuries, long before OBGYNs were in practice. Their roles today involve performing gynecological exams, assisting women during labor and delivery, providing post-natal care, and help with breastfeeding.

This important job requires some schooling beyond a two- or four-year program, but is less than that of a doctor.

  • Education requirements: To become a nurse midwife, you typically have to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, although an associate’s degree could be acceptable. Beyond that, many people (82 percent, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives) receive their master’s degree as well, which takes about two years. You must also pass the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) exam.
  • Cost of schooling: This ranges depending on where you go to secure your degree and if you get a bachelor’s or associate’s degree first. Frontier Nursing University, for example, offers a master’s program for around $34,000 and a combined master’s doctoral program for about $43,000.
  • Average salary: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse midwives make a median salary of $107,000 a year.

4. Radiation therapist

A radiation therapist is essential in the medical field and one of the great alternatives to medical school. When a patient has cancer, someone with this job is in charge of administering the proper radiation treatment. You could work in a hospital or outpatient center.

  • Education requirements: You can have either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. You must also be certified by a standardized exam in most states.
  • Costs of schooling: Depending on the type of program you complete, the cost of education can vary. Minot State University, for example, has a bachelor’s program for $13,832 a year, but the average four-year degree costs around $35,000 a year.
  • Average salary: The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median salary for a radiation therapist at around $80,000 a year.

5. Surgical technologist

Surgeons don’t operate alone — the operating room is filled with many people, all with different roles to make sure the surgery goes smoothly. One of those important people is a surgical technologist, who helps prepare the room and assists the doctor throughout the surgery.

What’s great about this career is you get to be in on all the medical action without paying for medical school. In fact, you might not even need a four-year undergraduate degree.

  • Education requirements: In addition to a high school diploma, you’ll need some extra schooling. But this can be an associate’s degree, which can take 13 months to two years, or even military training. A certification may be required, but is usually a one-day test.
  • Cost of schooling: Programs cost between $5,000 and $25,000+ depending on the school.
  • Average salary: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surgical technologists make about $45,000 a year. Plus, the demand for surgical technologists is projected to rise by 12 percent by 2024. That’s almost twice the rate of most professions and a big positive in an uncertain economy.

*Average salaries are based on the most recent data (Dec. 2017) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
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2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
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2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
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2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.