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Health Careers for High School Graduates

June 4th, 2021

The healthcare field offers many different career paths for high school graduates in the United States, but it can be difficult to know where to start. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers typically hire workers for 103 different jobs without a high school diploma. For those with high school diplomas, that number jumped up to 322 occupations – meaning that those with a high school diploma have more career options and more growth opportunities because they meet the minimum requirement.

15 Jobs for High School Diploma Earners in the Healthcare Field

Many healthcare jobs are available for qualified applicants with a high school diploma. Many do not even require previous experience, but most do require at least a high school education. Explore some of the options below before entering the hiring process!

Infographic for Grad Solutions about healthcare jobs

1. Patient Care Aide

Home Health and Personal Care Aides are projected to be the fastest-growing healthcare field for students without a college degree and are one of the fastest-growing career fields regardless of education level.

  • What they do: Monitor the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities
  • Projected growth: 22% (much faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $30,180 per year, or $14.51 per hour

2. Ambulance Driver

First, on the scene, Ambulance Drivers are often the difference between life and death. It’s also a great way to break into the healthcare industry at an entry-level position.

  • What they do: Drive ambulances or assist in transporting sick, injured, or convalescent persons
  • Projected growth: -1% (little or no change)
  • 2022 median salary: $44,830 per year

3. Crematory Operator

It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a career in health, but Crematory Operators are a growing field that works in coordination with the healthcare industry.

  • What they do: Operate crematory equipment to reduce human or animal remains to bone fragments under state and local regulations
  • Projected growth: 4% (average growth)
  • 2022 median salary: $40,360 per year
Infographic for Grad Solutions about healthcare jobs part 2

4. Medical Assistant

Medical assistants provide essential support to healthcare providers, facilitating efficient patient care, managing administrative tasks, and helping to ensure the smooth functioning of medical facilities.

  • What they do: Complete administrative tasks, clinical tasks, and take patient vital signs
  • Projected growth: 14% (Much faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $38,270 per year

5. Pharmacy Tech

Many Pharmacy Technicians begin as aides but can advance and decide whether they want to continue their education and further their career in pharmacy.

  • What they do: Help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals
  • Projected growth: 6% (Faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $37,790 per year, $18.17 per hour

6. Opticians

Don’t forget about eye health when considering careers in the healthcare industry. Opticians can find work without a college diploma while out-earning the national average for all careers.

  • What they do: Fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists
  • Projected growth: 2% (average growth)
  • 2022 median salary: $39,612 per year, $19.04 per hour
Infographic for Grad Solutions about healthcare jobs part 3

7. Lab Tech / Appliance Tech

Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians do a variety of work in hospitals, storefronts, and private practices. Whether you want to perform surgical procedures one day, understand medical terminology, or get your foot in the door of healthcare, you’ll need a high school diploma to start. Average salaries are above the national average for all careers. 

  • What they do: Construct, fit, or repair medical appliances and devices
  • Projected growth: -1% (little or no change)
  • 2022 median salary: $41,180 per year, $19.80 per hour

8. Medical Equipment Preparer

A necessary component of many hospitals, Medical Equipment Preparers ensure that doctors and nurses have the clean equipment they need in operating rooms. Unlike a surgical technologist, they don’t work with patients but instead provide essential behind-the-scenes support.

  • What they do: Prepare, sterilize, install, or clean laboratory or surgical instruments; may perform routine laboratory tasks and operate or inspect equipment
  • Projected growth: 5% (faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $66,700 per year

9. Dental Assistant

Dental assistants are important because they play a crucial role in supporting dental professionals, ensuring smooth operations, assisting in patient care, and maintaining a clean and organized environment within the dental office.

  • What they do: Patient care, take X-rays, organize records, schedule appointments
  • Projected growth: 7% (faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $44,820 per year, $21.55 per hour
Infographic for Grad Solutions about healthcare jobs part 4

10. Medical Secretary

Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants do standard clerical work in a medical setting. This could involve processing claims and payments from insurance companies, scheduling appointments, and more.

  • What they do: Perform routine clerical and administrative duties
  • Projected growth: – 10% (decline)
  • 2022 median salary: $44,080 per year, $21.19 per hour

11. Health Education

If you have great communication skills and you’re looking to work with students and your community, become a Health Education Specialist or Community Health Worker

  • What they do: Health education specialists develop programs to teach people about conditions affecting their well-being
  • Projected growth: 7% (faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $59,990 per year, $28.84 per hour

12. Physical Therapy Assisting

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides help those recovering from injury and illness get back on their feet while making a great average wage in a fast-growing field. 

  • What they do: Help patients regain movement and manage pain after injuries and illnesses
  • Projected growth: 19% (much faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $57,240 per year, $27.52 per hour
Infographic for Grad Solutions about healthcare jobs part 5

13. Hearing Support

Don’t forget about your ears! Hearing Aid Specialists have a rewarding career in the healthcare industry with great earning potential for employees without a college degree.

  • What they do: Select and fit hearing aids for customers, administer and interpret tests of hearing, and assess hearing instrument efficacy
  • Projected growth: 14% (much faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $59,020 per year

14. Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides are an important part of recovery and daily living for many people. They have great earning potential and are among the fastest-growing of all career fields.

  • What they do: Help patients develop, recover, and improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.
  • Projected growth: 23% (much faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $63,450 per year, $30.51 per hour

15. Occupational Health Tech

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians are usually former aides and assistants who have gained more experience. They have great earning potential – the highest among healthcare careers for high school diploma earners, and almost double the national earning average!

  • What they do: Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures.
  • Projected growth: 13% (much faster than average)
  • 2022 median salary: $75,240 per year, $36.17 per hour

While statistics are just one place to start, they can be a great guide when exploring and deciding upon your future career. Once you’ve selected a career path in healthcare services, you will be able to learn more about the specialties that appeal to you.

The Importance of a High School Diploma

Getting your high school diploma is an important start to your healthcare career. It represents your hard work and earning one provides valuable experience that will serve as a foundation for further education and training. A high school education also paves the way for you to get an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or other advanced degrees or certificates if you choose to do so.

Infographic about Grad Solutions showing classroom pictures

Go Back to School with Grad Solutions

Grad Solutions is here to help you take the first step toward a healthcare career. If you have dropped out of high school and want to go back, we offer free, online education to students ages 16-21 in Arizona. Enroll today

If you do not qualify for Grad Solutions, please explore our partner program for all ages and locations: Smart Schools.

















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