If you want a career where helping people is the primary aim, many jobs in the medical field can be obtained without a traditional four-year degree. Entry level positions require only an associate degree to begin work. If you have a baccalaureate degree in another field, entry may only require a certification. Community colleges, technical schools and even Internet-based schools make available medical certificate and degree options to help you quickly start your career.
Dental hygienists work with dentists to provide services to patients. Hygienists counsel patients on dental care and provide teeth cleaning and other preventive care. The associate degree program prepares students for their career by giving them a background in microbiology, nutrition, dental hygiene and oral pathology. The coursework also prepares students to take a professional examination required after obtaining their associates degree. A board exam is required for all hygienists in the state where they will pursue employment.
Physical Therapist Assistant
A Physical Therapist Assistant work with registered physical therapists to help patients through rehabilitation after injury. Therapist assistant duties include helping patients through exercise, performing massage therapy or treating injuries with heat or cold packs. Degree and certificate programs are often two years or less, and focus on anatomy and therapeutic exercise procedures. Because of the patient relationship aspect of this career, communications and psychology aspects of patient care are included in some form as part of educational programs.
Medical assistants provide assistance with medical office operations, as well as with intermittent assistance with direct patient care. The course work for an associate degree in medical assisting includes anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, office administration and various aspects of direct patient care. Some degree programs require internships in a medical office setting to help students get a real-world feel for their career path. Most programs vary from two to three years in length, but prepare graduates for immediate entry into the workforce.
Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists with filling patient prescriptions and performing administrative takes in a pharmacy operation. Students in an associate degree program learn medical terminology, pharmacology, law and ethics; as well as daily business aspects of pharmacies. Most programs are 18 months to two years in length, and require a minimum grade point average of a "C" or better for graduation. A certification examination is also required for entry into the workforce after graduation.
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images