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20 Highest Paid Non-Physician Jobs in Healthcare

By Kristen Fescoe
Published November, 2014

Non-physicians fill some of the highest paid jobs in the Healthcare Industry. With the dramatic rise in the need for Healthcare Managers and Executives, higher and higher salaries are being paid to these managers found within the field of healthcare. While Healthcare Managers and Executives do not provide direct patient care, their role is critical to the function of the Healthcare Industry as a whole. This article will look at the 20 highest paid non-physician jobs in healthcare, according to the 2014 edition of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook. We will outline the median salary, the predicted rise in employment rates, necessary education, the details of the position and any other relevant information regarding the career.

20 Highest Paid Non-Physician Jobs in Healthcare

#20 – Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists treat patients who have difficult breathing. This could be in the more serious cases such as chronic respiratory disease, or a milder respiratory issue such as asthma or emphysema. The patients they treat range from premature neonates with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who suffer from lung disease. Respiratory Therapists may also give emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, other cardiac events, accidents, drowning, shock or many other emergent situations.

Median Salary: $55,870

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 19% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Associate’s Degree

Additional Information:
Respiratory therapists are responsible for the following (and more):

  • Interview and examination of patients suffering from breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Consult with doctors to develop patient treatment plans
  • Perform diagnostic tests such as measuring lung capacity
  • Treat patients using various methods, including chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications
  • Monitor and record the progress of treatment
  • Supervise respiratory therapy technicians during tests and evaluate the findings of the tests
  • Teach patients how to use home treatments

#19 – Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors are responsible for assessing individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. These highly skilled professionals offer information and advice to other healthcare providers, as well as to individuals and families concerned with the risk of inherited conditions.

Median Salary: $56,800

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 41% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Master’s Degree

Additional Information:
The field of Genetic Counseling is seeing a much faster than average rate of growth, with a prediction of almost 1,000 new positions nationwide by 2020.

#18 – Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, operate special, technologically advanced imaging equipment to create images or conduct tests. The images and test results help physicians assess and diagnose medical conditions. In some cases these technologists will help physicians and surgeons during surgical procedures.

Median Salary: $60,350

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 39% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Associate’s Degree

Additional Information:
This varied field is expecting much faster than average rates of growth, with a prediction of approximately 42,700 new positions nationwide by 2020.

#17 – Orthotic and Prosthetics Professionals

Orthotists and prosthetists, often referred to as O&P professionals, design medical supportive devices and measure and fit patients for these helpful aides. These devices include artificial limbs (arms, hands, legs, and feet), braces, and other medical or surgical devices.

Median Salary: $62,670

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 36% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Master’s Degree

Additional Information:
With the number of injured veterans in the United States, this field of employment will see significant growth over the next ten years. It is also expected that the salary level for the O&P profession will also grow.

#16 – Insurance Underwriter

Insurance underwriters are the people responsible for deciding whether or not to provide insurance to individuals and under what circumstances. They evaluate insurance applications and determine coverage amounts and premiums.

Median Salary: $62,870

Predicted Rise in Employment: This field is currently seeing a declining trend of -6%

Required Education: Minimum of Bachelor’s Degree

Additional Information:
While this field is seeing a declining trend due to the increased use of computer programs, there will still be a need to replace workers who retire or transfer to a different occupation. This will create many additional job openings over the next ten years. Job opportunities will be most readily available for those with a background in finance, and strong computer and communication skills.

#15 – Registered Nurse

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate direct patient care, educate patients and their families as well as the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Median Salary: $65,470

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 19% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Associate’s Degree

Additional Information:
Employment of registered nurses is expected to see a rate of growth upwards of 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than average growth for all occupations nationwide. Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including the increased emphasis on preventative care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and the rising demand for healthcare services from the baby boomer population, as they live longer and more active lives.

#14 – Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

Occupational Health and Safety Technicians are responsible for collecting data on the safety and health conditions of various workplaces. These highly trained technicians work with occupational health and safety specialists to conduct tests and measure hazards to help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment, and the general public.

Median Salary: $66,790

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 11% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Bachelor’s Degree

Additional Information:
Positions in the field of Occupational Health and Safety Technology is expected to grow eleven percent from 2012 to 2022, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. This rise is in large part due to new environmental regulations and laws, which will require new or revised procedures in the workplace.

#13 – Speech Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists (also referred to as speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients of all ages. Speech, language, and swallowing disorders result from a variety of causes, such as a stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, a cleft palate, cerebral palsy, or emotional problems.

Median Salary: $69,870

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 23% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Master’s Degree

Additional Information:
Employment of Speech-Language Pathologists is expected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is considered faster than the average growth for all occupations. As the average age of the “baby-boom” population advances, there will be more instances of health conditions that cause speech or language impairments, such as strokes and hearing loss. Additionally, speech therapists are important for young children suffering from language or speech delays.

#12 – Nuclear Medicine Technician

Nuclear Medicine Technologists use a technologically advanced scanner to generate images of various areas of a patient’s body to help treat various conditions. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients undergoing the scans. The radioactive drugs cause abnormal areas of the body to appear different from normal areas in the images.

Median Salary: $70,180

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 20% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Associate’s Degree

Additional Information:
Nuclear medicine technologists must hold a minimum of an Associate’s Degree in nuclear medicine technology. Higher education programs in nuclear medicine technology or related healthcare fields can lead to a certificate, an Associate’s degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. These technologists must hold licensure in some states; these requirements vary by state.

#11 – Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists (OTs) treat injured, sick, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. OTs help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. These skills include tasks such as eating, grooming and normal day-to-day functional skills.

Median Salary: $75,400

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 29% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education:

Additional Information:
Employment of Occupational Therapists is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than average growth for all occupations. Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, or the loss of a limb.

#10 – Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases in patients by administering radiation treatments.

Median Salary: $77,560

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 24% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Associate’s Degree

Additional Information:
Employment of radiation therapists is expected to rise 24 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is considered much faster than average growth for all occupations. Because it is a small, highly specialized field, the fast growth will result in only about 4,500 new jobs over the 10-year period.

#9 – Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning patients teeth, examining patients for signs of oral diseases or decay such as gingivitis, as well as providing other preventative dental care measures. They are also responsible for educating patients on how they can improve and maintain good oral health.

Median Salary: $70,210

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 33% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Associate’s Degree

Additional Information:
Dental hygienists must minimally hold an Associate’s Degree in dental hygiene. All states require dental hygienists to be licensed.

#8 – Physical Therapist

Physical therapists, often referred to as PTs, aid injured or ill people to help improve their movement and manage their healthcare pain. These therapists are an intregal part of the rehabilitation process and help with treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries.

Median Salary: $79,860

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 36% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Doctoral or professional degree

Additional Information:
Employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 36 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. The need for physical therapy services will come, in large part, from the aging baby boom generation, who are staying active later in life. Physical therapists will also be needed to treat people with mobility issues stemming from common chronic conditions, such as diabetes or obesity.

#7 – Bio Medical Engineer

Biomedical engineers are responsible for analyzing and designing solutions to problems in biology and medicine. The goal of this field is improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care.

Median Salary: $86,960

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 27% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Bachelor’s Degree

Additional Information:
Employment of biomedical engineers is expected to grow 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is considered much faster than the average. The need for these professionals will grow largely because of an aging population with a need for more medical care and because of increased public awareness of biomedical engineering advances and their benefits.

#6 – Medical and Health Services Manager

Medical and Health Services Managers, also called Healthcare Executives, Healthcare Administrators or Healthcare Managers are responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating medical and health services. They may manage an entire facility or specialize in managing one specific clinical area or department. Some of these professionals may also manage a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must also be able to become accustomed to rapid changes in healthcare laws, regulations, and technology.

Median Salary: $88,580

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 23% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Bachelor’s Degree

Additional Information:
Most medical and health services managers hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree before entering the field. Master’s and Doctoral degrees are commonly found among higher-level professionals in this field.

#5 – Physician Assistant

Physician Assistants, also referred to as PAs, are medical practitioners who operate as part of a medical team, under the supervision of physicians and/or surgeons. They receive graduate training to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment.

Median Salary: $90,930

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 38% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Master’s Degree

Additional Information:
All Physician Assistants are required to complete an accredited educational program. These programs typically lead to a Master’s Degree. All states require physician assistants to be appropriately licensed. Employment of physician assistants is expected to grow 38 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than average growth for all occupations. This increase stems from the growing and aging population and widespread chronic disease, combined with a shortage of physicians, will result in increased demand for healthcare providers, such as physician assistants.

Tied for #2 – Nurse Practitioner

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, are all comonnly referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). These three APRN’s are often combined when evaluating their level of salary, required education and job outlook. All three are responsible for providing and coordinating patient care and they may provide primary and specialty health care. The scope of practice varies from state to state. A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has completed advanced coursework and clinical education beyond that required of the generalist registered nurse (RN) role.

Median Salary: $96,460

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 31% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Master’s Degree

Additional Information:
Nurse Practitioners must hold at least a Master’s Degree in one of the APRN roles. They must also be licensed in their state and pass a national certification exam.

Tied for #2 – Nurse Midwife

Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) are advanced practice registered nurses who provide medical care and counseling during pre-conception, pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. CNMs and their colleagues, certified midwives (CMs), also provide family-centered primary healthcare to women throughout their reproductive lives.

Median Salary: $96,460

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 31% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Master’s Degree

Additional Information:
Employment of nurse midwives is expected to grow 31 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is considered much faster than average growth for all occupations in the United States. This growth will occur largely because of the effects of healthcare legislation, an increased emphasis on preventative care, and demand from the large, aging baby-boom population for healthcare services as they live longer and more active lives than previous generations.

Tied for #2 – Nurse Anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist is a nurse who specializes in the administration of anesthesia during surgery or medical procedures. In the United States, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has acquired graduate-level education and board certification in anesthesia.

Median Salary: $96,460

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 31% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Master’s Degree

Additional Information:
Nurse anesthetists work in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, physicians’ offices, nursing care facilities, schools, and clinics.

#1 – Pharmacist

Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of these prescriptions. They may also provide advice to patients on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, and oversee the medications given to patients.

Median Salary: $116,670

Predicted Rise in Employment: Predicted 14% Rise between 2012 and 2020

Required Education: Minimum of Doctoral or professional degree

Additional Information:
Pharmacists must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), a 4-year professional degree. They must also possess a state license, which requires passing two exams. Employment of pharmacists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2012 to 2022. The rising demand for prescription medications will lead to more demand for pharmaceutical services.

Opportunities in the Healthcare Industry

With so many excellent options, there are a variety of non-physician job opportunities to be found in the Healthcare Industry. Everything from supportive staff, to more direct patient care, anyone interested in a healthcare job can find what they are looking for. With salaries steadily rising and more and more positions available, the time to prepare for a career in the healthcare industry is now.

About the Author

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University and then a Master of Science in Clinical and Forensic Psychology from Drexel University, Kristen Fescoe began a career as a therapist at two prisons in Philadelphia. At the same time she volunteered as a rape crisis counselor, also in Philadelphia. After a few years in the field she accepted a teaching position at a local college where she currently teaches online psychology courses. Kristen began writing in college and still enjoys her work as a writer, editor, professor and mother.

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