If you’re interested in a professional health career but are worried about how long you could be in school and the cost, you may want to consider medical careers that require two years of college or less. You can obtain entry-level positions in careers such as nursing, dental hygiene, respiratory therapy and medical assisting by completing a two-year associate degree or a certificate program. Employment in the field of health care overall is expected to increase by 29 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and there many exciting career options that you can pursue.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

A sonogram can show a developing baby and the sonographer check for any abnormalities as well as gender and approximate size.
A sonogram can show a developing baby and the sonographer check for any abnormalities as well as gender and approximate size.

Sonographers use specialized imaging equipment and high frequency sound waves to help diagnose medical conditions and produce visual images of organs and tissues inside the body. Typically, a diagnostic medical sonographer completes two years of education and certification as an ultrasound technician. Sonographers can specialize in imaging particular areas of the body, such as the abdomen and its organs, breast tissue and the female reproductive system, especially during pregnancy. As patient demand for minimally invasive diagnostic procedures increases, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for sonographers will increase 44 percent by the year 2020.

Cardiovascular Technician

During a stress test, a patient walks on a treadmill while a technician monitors changes in his heart.
During a stress test, a patient walks on a treadmill while a technician monitors changes in his heart.

Using imaging techniques, cardiovascular technicians work with physicians to diagnose heart problem or issues with blood flow through vessels. Cardiovascular technicians are trained to administer electrocardiograms which record the electrical activity in the heart, and they can also help administer stress tests to determine the effect of exercise and exertion on the heart of a patient. Most cardiovascular technologists hold associate degrees, but one-year certificate programs are also available. The projected increase in jobs for cardiovascular technicians is approximately 29 percent by the year 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Massage Therapist

One advantage to a career in massage therapy is that it is portable.
One advantage to a career in massage therapy is that it is portable.

Many massage therapists enter the field because of the potential to run their own business, but the can choose from employment options that include private spas and physiotherapy clinics. Massage therapy helps patients reduce stress, relieve pain and rehabilitate their body after injury. Massage therapists receive intensive training including approximately 500 hours of hands-on training. There are a variety of massage programs that take one to two years to complete, followed by one of two national licensing exams. As people become more interested in alternative and holistic medicine, the demand for massage therapists is expected to increase by approximately 20 percent by the year 2020.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapy can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and sometimes surgery as part of a treatment course for cancer.
Radiation therapy can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and sometimes surgery as part of a treatment course for cancer.

As the population ages and cancer risks rise, the demand for radiation therapists is expected to increase by approximately 20 percent by the year 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using a machine called a linear accelerator; radiation therapists focus high-energy X-rays on a cancerous tumor to shrink it. While it is possible to become a radiation therapist through a yearlong certificate program, most employers prefer therapists that have obtained at least an associate degree. Most states require radiation therapists to be licensed, which involves passing a certification exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.