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Economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predict the number of health care jobs will increase by 16 percent—around 2.6 million new jobs—between 2020 and 2030. Of those 2.6 million jobs, around 1.7 million are jobs that do not require a degree. 

Using BLS salary data released in April 2022, we analyzed health care jobs that do not require a degree and ranked them by average salary. For all of the jobs listed, the typical entry-level employee is required only to have a high school education or to have completed a certification program.

Key findings: 

  • It's possible to earn an above-average salary without getting a degree. Four of the 18 careers analyzed have average salaries that are higher than the average salary for all occupations in the U.S. The rest earn less than the national average.  Hearing aid specialists $59,500 per year, surgical technologists, Licensed Practice and Licensed Vocational Nurses ( $48,070 per year) and massage therapists ($46,910) all make more than the national average ($45,760 per year), which includes those with college degrees. 
  • The fastest growing job is also the lowest paying job. The number of home health aide jobs will increase faster than any other health care job that does not require a college degree over the next 10 years. The number of home health aide jobs will grow by 33 percent, from 3.5 million jobs to 4.6 million jobs between 2020 and 2030. According to the BLS, the need for home health aides is a result of an aging population. Even so, home health aides are the lowest paid health care workers—they earn $29,430 per year or $14.15 per hour.
  • Don't become a pharmacy aide. The BLS estimates that the number of pharmacy aide jobs will decrease by 15 percent between 2020 and 2030, from 38,900 jobs to 33,200.

1. Hearing Aid Specialists

Average Salary: $59,500 per year or $28.61 per hour

Typical Education Level: High school diploma or equivalent

Hearing aid specialists help customers select and fit hearing aids. They earn more on average than any other health care profession that does not require an associate's or bachelor's degree. However, there are relatively few hearing aid specialist jobs in the U.S. The BLS estimates that there are only 8,000 hearing aid specialists in the United States.

2. Surgical Technologists

Average Salary: $48,530 per year or $23.33 per hour

Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award or certification

Surgical technologists assist with surgeries. They are members of a surgical team and work with doctors and nurses. During operations, surgical technologists are often responsible for setting up and assisting in the operating room. Some responsibilities include preparing patients for transport, holding instruments or maintaining a proper sterile field during the surgery. They are also known as: Certified Surgical Technicians, Certified Surgical Technologists (CST), Surgical Technicians or Surgical Techs

3. Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LPN or LVN)

Average Salary: $48,070 per year or $23.11 per hour

Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award

LPNs and LVNs take care of patients and perform nursing duties—such as charting or basic patient care—under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses. They often work in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. To become an LPN or LPN, you typically must first complete a state-approved diploma  or certificate program before obtaining a license. LVN and LPN programs typically take a year to complete. 

Read more: What's the Difference Between an LPN and an RN

4. Massage Therapists

Average Salary: $46,910 or $22.55 per hour

Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award

Through kneading, stretching or manipulating their clients' muscles and soft tissue, Massage therapists are able to improve their clients' general health and wellness. Massage therapists  touch, knead or manipulate muscles and other soft tissue on their clients' bodies. 

Most states regulate massage therapy and require massage therapists to complete a certification program before taking a licensing exam such as the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Massage therapy programs typically require students to complete at least 500 hours of study and experience.

5. Dental Assistants

Average Salary: $38,660 per year or $18.59 per hour

Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award or on-the-job training

Dental assistants work in dental offices. Some of their responsibilities include taking care of patients, maintaining medical records or taking x-rays. Licensing requirements differ by state. Some require graduation from an accredited program, while others allow on-the-job training. 

Read more: How to Become a Dental Assistant, a Complete Guide

6. Medical Equipment Preparers

Average Salary: $38,220 per year or $18.37 per year

Typical Education: High school diploma or equivalent

Sterile environments are crucial for hospitals and other health care facilities. Medical equipment preparers, also known as Central Processing Technicians  (CPT) or Central Sterile Supply Technicians (CSS Technicians), are responsible for sterilizing, installing and cleaning health care and laboratory equipment. 

7. Opticians

Average Salary: $37,570 per year or $18.06 per hour

Typical Education Level: High school diploma or equivalent

Using prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists, opticians help clients select glasses or fit them for contacts. Around half of opticians work in doctor's or optometrist offices. The other half work in stores selling glasses or contacts. Some states require opticians to be licensed. 

8. EMTs and Paramedics

Average Salary: $36,930 per year or $17.76 per hour

Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are also known as first responders. They're responsible for administering medical aid to patients and transporting them to hospitals. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed, though the requirements differ by state. 

9. Pharmacy Technicians

Average Salary: $36,740 or $17.66 per hour

Typical Education Level: High school diploma or equivalent

Pharmacy technicians work with pharmacists to help dispense medication. They typically work in pharmacies, which can be found in hospitals, grocery stores and other locations. Most states regulate pharmacy technicians by requiring them to pass a test or completing a program. 

10. Phlebotomists

Average Salary: $37,380 per year or $17.97 per hour 

Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award

Phlebotomists, also known as phlebotomy technicians or registered phlebotomists, draw blood from patients. They take blood samples for lab work or they draw blood for transfusions or donations. They primarily work in hospitals and diagnostic laboratories (think: LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics). Most phlebotomists have completed a course—the Red Cross has a popular one—and have earned a certification. 

Read more: How To Become A Phlebotomist: Education, Salary And Job Requirements 

11. Medical Assistants

Average Salary: $37,190 per year or $17.88 per hour

Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award

Medical assistants work in physicians offices, hospitals and other health care facilities. They perform clinical tasks such as measuring patients' vital signs, heigh and weight. They also perform administrative tasks such as recording patient medical information. Some medical assistants  have completed a certificate program, but are able to learn on the job. 

12. Ophthalmic Medical Technicians

Average Salary: $37,180 per year or ​​$17.87 per hour 

Typical Education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Ophthalmic medical technicians assist ophthalmologists. Some possible job responsibilities include: administering eye exams, administering eye medications or teaching patients how to use and care for contact lenses. 

13. Medical Transcriptionists

Average Salary: $30,100 per year  or $14.47 per hour 

Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award

Medical transcriptionists listen to reports by physicians or other medical professionals. They transcribe and translate the reports into an understandable form. Many medical transcriptionists first complete a 1-year medical transcription program where they learn medical terminology, how to use transcription software and other skills. 

Read more: How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

14. Pharmacy Aides

Average Salary:  $29,930 per year or $18.37 per hour

Typical Education Level: High school diploma or equivalent

Pharmacy aides work in pharmacies. They help manage inventory and often operate the cash register. They’re also known as pharmacy assistants, pharmacy clerks or drug purchasers. 

15. Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Average Salary: $36,230 per year or $17.42 per hour

Psychiatric Technician - Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award

Psychiatric Aide - Typical Educational Level: High school diploma or equivalent

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for patients with mental illness. They work in hospitals, mental health facilities or other health care facilities. Technicians typically must obtain a certificate, while aides can be trained on the job. Aides and technicians have many overlapping responsibilities, though technicians' responsibilities can extend past caretaking. For example, they often lead patients in therapeutic exercises or dispense medicine.

16. Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Average Salary: $30,290 per year or $14.56 per hour

Nursing assistant: - Typical Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award

Orderly - Typical Education Level:  High school diploma or equivalent

Nursing assistants and orderlies help care for patients and support them in their daily living. Most states require nursing assistants to be certified. The certification courses typically cover the basic principles of nursing and patient care. Orderlies have a more limited scope of practice and thus can rely on on-the-job training. 

Read More: How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

17. Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Annual Salary: $29,780 per year or $14.32 per hour

Typical Education Level: High school diploma or equivalent

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers take  care of animals in veterinary offices or labs. Some typical responsibilities include: feeding animals, cleaning cages or collecting blood samples. 

18. Home Health and Personal Care Aides

Average Salary: $29,430 per year or $14.15 per hour 

Typical Education Level: High school diploma or equivalent

Home health aides help the elderly, people with disabilities or people with chronic illnesses with daily living activities. They typically work in clients' homes or group homes. Most positions do not require certification, but some health or hospice agencies require its employees to complete a formal training or to pass a standardized test. The BLS estimates the number of home health aide jobs will increase from 3,470,700 in 2020 to 4,600,600 in 2030, a 33% increase.

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