10 Healthcare Careers You Can Pursue Without a High School Diploma or GED

If you haven’t finished getting your high school diploma or your GED (General Education Diploma), it is difficult to know where to turn for potential employment in healthcare careers. However, the healthcare field has multiple promising career options that don’t always require a diploma to get on-the-job or other training. Check your state’s requirements, and consider the following job opportunities to get your foot in the door of the healthcare field.  

woman using machine to take blood pressure of seated woman indoors

If you are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, but you don’t have a high school diploma or your GED, then consider becoming:

1. A Home Health Aide

  • Description: Home health aides work in people’s homes or care facilities and help them with daily tasks. 
  • TrainingTraining requirements vary depending on the facility and may require certification, which typically takes 75 hours of training. 
  • Job Outlook and Salary: The job outlook in this career is also very promising at 36%. In 2018, the median pay for this career was $24,060/year. 

2. A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

  • Description: A CNA gives basic medical services to patients in nursing homes and hospitals. This may involve helping to lift and move patients with mobility problems. Nursing assistants often help patients who have difficulty with everyday tasks such as bathing or eating. 
  • Training: Generally, a CNA program takes 4 to 12 weeks. 
  • Job Outlook and SalaryThe outlook for this career is looking strong with 9% growth expected over the next decade. In 2018, the median pay for this career was $28,530/year. 

3. A Phlebotomist 

  • Description: A phlebotomist is a person who draws blood for multiple reasons in the healthcare field. They work in a variety of settings, including blood banks or research facilities.   
  • Training: A non-degree certification takes 4 to 8 months.  
  • Job Outlook and Salary: The outlook for this career is expected to expand faster than many other job opportunities at 23% over the next decade. In 2018, the median pay for this career was $34,480/year. 

4. A Massage Therapist

  • Description: Massage therapists massage muscles and soft tissue in order to relieve soreness or provide relaxation. 
  • TrainingTraining for massage therapy varies from just over 300 hours to about 1,000 hours depending on the program. 
  • Job Outlook and SalaryThe outlook for this occupation is 22% over the next decade. The median pay for this career in 2018 was $41,420/year. 
Cropped image of It specialist working on code

5. A Medical Secretary

  • Description: Medical secretaries handle the functioning of medical facilities from a paperwork and communication standpoint. They may be responsible for handling phones, insurance information, and front desk duties. 
  • Training: There is not always required training, but medical secretary programs generally take 1 to 2 years of formal and on-the-job training. 
  • Job Outlook and Salary: The outlook is weak for secretaries in general with a decline of 7% expected in the next decade. The median pay for this career in 2018 was $38,880/year. 

6. A Dental Assistant

  • DescriptionDental assistants perform a number of tasks in the dental office, which may include taking x-rays, providing care, and clerical tasks. 
  • TrainingOn the job training is the only requirement in some states, but formal dental assisting programs take 1 to 2 years. 
  • Job Outlook and Salary: The job outlook in this career is not bad at 11% predicted over the next decade, and the median pay for dental assistants in 2018 was $38,660/year. 

7. A Medical Coder

  • DescriptionMedical coders learn how to use diagnostic and procedural codes to quantify patient diagnoses and services rendered for billing and other purposes. 
  • TrainingCoding programs typically last a few months to 2 years.
  • Job Outlook and SalaryThe job outlook in this career is 11% over the next decade, and the 2018 median pay for this category of employment was $40,350/year. 

8. An Ophthalmic Medical Assistant

  • DescriptionOphthalmic medical assistants take patient histories and administer ophthalmic testing during exams. They also assist the optometrist or ophthalmologist in a variety of clinical tasks. 
  • TrainingCertificates are available to further one’s career, but on-the-job training is typically sufficient for employment. 
  • Job Outlook and SalarySimilar to medical assistants, the job outlook for this field of work is good at 23%, and median pay in 2018 was $33,610/year. 

9. A Medical Transcriptionist

  • DescriptionMedical transcriptionists listen to recorded documentation of patient encounters and convert them to a readable format via keyboarding/typing skills. 
  • TrainingTraining varies but typically includes medical terminology and electronic health record training. 
  • Job Outlook and SalaryDue to technology and voice recognition, the outlook for this career is not great and is expected to decrease by 3% over the next decade. The median pay  for transcriptionists in 2018 was $34,770/year. 

10. An Occupational Therapy Aide

  • DescriptionOccupational therapy aides help people recover and improve normal living and working skills that have diminished as a result of accident or health condition. They do not typically get involved in hands-on care, but rather provide supportive services to occupational therapists and assistants. 
  • TrainingTraining varies based on state and position and may require only on-the-job training. 
  • Job Outlook and SalaryThe Bureau of Labor and Statistics groups Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides together, and they report the outlook of both positions look good, predicting a 31% increase over the next decade. The median pay for aides was $28,160 in 2018. 

There are other healthcare careers available that may not require a high school degree or GED equivalent. Many healthcare employers will state on their job requirements that you need a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Don’t let this discourage you. Look up your state’s requirements for the position for which you are applying, and let the employer know that you are the right person for the job. 

If you are interested in pursuing a healthcare education, check out “How to Learn in the Healthcare Classroom (and ANY Classroom) (in 10 EASY Steps!).” offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy.

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