Choosing a health and medicine–based major can lead to a lucrative and rewarding career, but it might seem off the table for squeamish students who can’t stand the sight of needles or blood. Not so fast! There are many careers you can pursue beyond traditional Nursing or Physician Assistant Studies that offer substantial salaries in exceptional health care environments. The following majors and degrees require the same critical-thinking skills, communication, organization, teamwork, networking, and knowledge as other medical and health science fields—minus all the broken bones and complicated surgeries.
Athletic trainer/sports medicine
Degree required: Bachelor’s in Exercise Science or Kinesiology; Doctor of Medicine (MD)
Athletic trainers, who may work in high schools or colleges, supply treatments to prevent, manage, and convalesce injuries. To be a certified athletic trainer, all you need is a bachelor’s degree in either Exercise Science or Kinesiology. Though pay may depend on where you’re working, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary of an athletic trainer to be $58,170. However, if you choose to become a sports medicine physician, a Doctor of Medicine (MD) is required—but the average salary goes up to $204,190. With a minimum of eight years of school—including residency, medical school, and a license—sports medicine physicians make astonishing salaries and have great work environments.
Degree required: Associate or bachelor’s in Dental Hygiene
A dental hygienist is the delightful nurse who cleans your teeth and educates patients on how to practice good oral hygiene. Depending on what area you’re working in, a dental hygienist can make anywhere from $57,000–$94,000, with the median pay landing at $77,090. The minimum education required to be a licensed dental hygienist is an associate degree, with certain courses required such as pharmacology, radiology, chemistry, anatomy, microbiology, and clinical dental hygiene.
Clinical nurse leader
Degree required: Master’s or higher in Nursing, Clinical Nurse Leadership, or related field
A clinical nurse leader is a good path for anyone who wants to utilize their strong leadership skills to make a difference in the medical field. A relatively new career, clinical nurse leaders maintain the responsibilities of designing and evaluating patient care while supervising, instructing, and collaborating with their health care teams (from a clinical stance). Their work goes beyond the bedside, mostly focusing on management, budgets, and business duties to help guide their organization's direction and lead a team of nurses. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a clinical nurse leader is $104,07, and the education required is a master’s degree.
Degree required: Bachelor’s in Dietetics, Nutrition, or related field
By majoring in Dietetics, you’ll study human nutrition to pursue a career as a nutritionist or dietician. A nutritionist advises people on certain foods, including what they should be eating and what they should stay away from. A dietician advises their patients on how many calories they should be eating to safely stay in shape or to lose/gain weight. Both jobs create meal plans for their patients to follow on a daily basis in order to stay healthy. Dieticians and nutritionists earn an average salary of $63,090, and you only have to get a bachelor’s degree; a master’s isn’t very common in dietetics.
Degree required: Bachelor’s in Kinesiology
Exercise physiology is another considerable profession for those who want to enter the medical field and focus on exercise. These health care workers spend their time analyzing a patient’s fitness to help them ameliorate their health by evaluation, exercise programs, and stress tests. A bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology is usually the minimum requirement, with some earning a master’s or doctorate. According to the BLS, almost half of all exercise physiologists are self-employed, and the medium income is $50,280.
Nursing is a highly underrated job and one of the toughest professions out there. As a result, it may not be the right fit for people who just can’t stand the sight of blood. Luckily there are many other majors and jobs for students who still want to work in health and medicine. With degree requirements ranging from an associate to a doctorate, you can choose how far you’ll go and how you’ll make your mark in the health care field.
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