We found medical field jobs–beyond the expected doctor jobs–that earn on average $100,000 a year or more. Some do not require formal degrees beyond college. Take a close look. You may be surprised. If medical school or pharmacy school, for example, aren’t options, there are many other ways to make an incredible living in the medical field. We list the 8 highest paying medical jobs with their average compensation in parenthesis.
1. Healthcare CEO’s ($13.9 million/year for America’s top health insurance companies): Despite the institution of the Affordable Care Act, chief executive officers at the most popular health insurance companies are seeing rising compensation packages. Overall, average CEO pay across Fortune 500 health insurers rose from $11.6 million in 2012 to $13.9 million in 2013. The average compensation for the top nine health insurance CEOs rose by more than 19 percent in 2013, while several of the nation’s largest insurers more than doubled CEO pay. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini received $30.7 million in 2013–a 131 percent increase over his $13.3 million compensation in 2012. Mario Molina, of Molina Healthcare, received $11.9 million, up from $5 million in 2012 (a 140% raise), while Centene’s CEO, Michael Neidorff, made $14.5 million, up from $8.5 million. Hospital CEOs also get paid very well. The average salary of hospital CEOs was $386,000 in 2013—not including non-salary compensation which can be in the millions. America continues to value its administrators financially far higher than its healthcare providers. In 2013, American insurers spent $606 per person on administrative costs, more than twice as much as in any other developed country. Prerequisites for being a healthcare CEO are strong leadership skills, significant administrative experience in the healthcare field, and preferably an MBA.
2. Doctors ($100,000+): Putting the prefix “Dr.” next to your name, more often than not, will earn you the right to make a six figure salary (some doctors may have to have years of experience or work in a rural location to earn the six figures). Doctor jobs encompass careers in dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, optometry, chiropractic medicine, podiatry, physical therapy, and a variety of physician specialties requiring medical school, residency training, and sometimes fellowship training. The highest earning doctors in general tend to be orthopedic spine surgeons ($625,000), neurosurgeons ($589,500), and cardiac surgeons ($522,875). Professional school is a requirement for all doctors, extra clinical training, as well as a solid grade point average in rigorous science prerequisites in college.
3. Medical Physicists ($166,112): Medical physicists—also known as radiation physicists–typically specialize in one of three areas: diagnostic, nuclear, or therapeutic medical physics. Although X-rays and CT scans are useful diagnostic tools, they carry risks due to applied radiation. Diagnostic medical physicists work to maintain, regulate, and improve the technology that gathers the diagnostic images. Nuclear medical physicists help determine the effective dosage and application of radioactive materials to the body for imaging and treatment purposes. Therapeutic medical physicists, the most common specialty group, work with radiation oncologists–physicians who treat cancer with highly focused radiation. Therapeutic medical physicists help verify radiation dosages, oversee procedures, and maintain the equipment. They take precautions to avoid radiation contamination to medical staff, and to ensure that the patient receives the proper dosage in the specified location. In order to become a medical physicist, you first need to attend a bachelor’s degree program (in physics or another natural science). Then you must complete a master’s degree (typically two years) or doctorate degree and at least two years of clinical experience (paid residency position) in order to be eligible to take the certification exams in this field.
4. Medical Device Sales ($158,411): Medical device sales are highly sought-after medical field jobs. Surgical and medical device salaries are among the highest in medical sales. Total annual compensation can top out at $300,000 for the best reps. Medical devices include biomedical implants or equipment used in a clinical setting. These include, for example, artificial joints implanted by orthopedic surgeons, heart pacemakers implanted by cardiologists, or dental implants used by dentists and oral surgeons. Depending on the type of medical device they sell, reps may be required to spend time in the operating room advising physicians during surgery on the proper use or installation of their products. Frequent travel can be a challenge in terms of managing their schedule as a medical device sales representative. In addition, meeting sales “quotas” can be a stressful part of the job. Medical device companies are known for their fantastic product training. It regularly takes six months to develop a reasonable knowledge base to sell devices and 18 months until most medical device sales reps are comfortable with the ins and outs of their jobs. Most medical device companies and distributors only consider candidates with college degrees, unless they have a proven track record in the field. Candidates with a strong educational background in anatomy and physiology or with a professional medical background (i.e. surgical technicians and physical therapists) are looked at favorably. But perhaps most importantly, companies are looking for candidates with a strong business-to-business sales background.
5. Nurse Anesthetists ($157,690): Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice nurses who safely provide more than 32 million anesthetics for surgical, obstetrical, and trauma cases each year in the United States. They administer every type of anesthetic, work in every type of practice setting, and provide care for every type of operation or procedure. Currently, there are more than 36,000 nurse anesthetists in the United States – approximately 45% of whom are men (as compared with 8% men in the nursing profession as a whole). CRNAs are the sole providers of anesthesia in approximately two thirds of all rural hospitals in the United States. In some states, CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100% of rural hospitals. Scope of CRNA practice is commonly defined by the practice location’s clinical privilege and credentialing process, anesthesia department policies, or practitioner agreements. In the United States, nurse anesthetists must first complete a bachelor’s degree or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They must be a licensed registered nurse. In addition, candidates are required to have a minimum of one year of full-time nursing experience in a medical or surgical intensive care unit, although a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) may also meet the requirement. Following this experience, applicants apply to a Council on Accreditation (COA) program of nurse-anesthesia. Education is offered as a masters degree or doctoral degree (in Nurse Anesthesia Practice). Program length is typically 28 months in duration, but can vary from 24 to 36 months.
6. Medical Perfusionist ($113,768): Medical Perfusionists—also known as cardiovascular perfusionists or cardio-pulmonary perfusionists–are operating room specialists who conduct cardiopulmonary bypass. That is, they pump and oxygenate the blood of patients whose hearts or lungs are stopped, usually during open heart surgery. Perfusionists may also perform administrative duties, such as equipment and supply purchasing and department management. To be a medical perfusionist, you must be able to handle stressful situations, pay close attention to detail, and stay well-versed in the latest research in the profession. In the United States, a medical perfusionist can be trained through a special bachelor’s degree program, a post-baccalaureate certificate program, or a master’s degree program. There are only a select number of schools offering programs specifically in cardiovascular perfusion. According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), in 2012, there were only 17 accredited perfusion programs available. Most post-baccalaureate certificate programs in the field take between 1-2 years to complete and are open to students who hold bachelor’s degrees in biology or a field related to health care. Employment of perfusionists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations as the volume of cardiac surgery increases
7. Clinical Trials Manager ($105,290): Clinical trials managers lead research programs to develop and evaluate new medical treatments and devices. They are responsible for completing research programs on time and within budget, while complying with ethical and regulatory requirements. Clinical research managers face new challenges from the rapid growth of scientific knowledge and the increasing complexity and pace of scientific research, according to the National Institutes of Health. Clinical research managers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a science or another medical discipline. Higher degrees, such as a master’s in clinical research or a Ph.D, can be beneficial for career development. Experience in leading teams of scientists, excellent writing skills, and management experience is essential. Candidates need to have strong experience in clinical research and strong knowledge of regulatory compliance guidelines and regulations for clinical trials.
8. Medical Dosimetrist ($103,861): When a cancer patient is prescribed radiation therapy, a medical dosimetrist determines exactly how to deliver the prescribed radiation dose. The medical dosimetrist thus plays a vital role on the radiation oncology team, which may include a radiation oncologist, medical physicist, nurses, and radiation therapists. The medical dosimetrist first employs a three-dimensional computer model to calculate exactly where and how to distribute the radiation. To minimize damage to surrounding tissues, the medical dosimetrist may decide to use beam modification devices to better target the radiation. Specialized equipment may be required to cover or immobilize parts of the patient’s body to further protect against exposure. Before the patient receives treatment, the medical dosimetrist runs computer simulations and makes necessary adaptations to make sure the plan can be executed properly. Then the medical dosimetrist supervises the radiation therapist in implementing the treatment plan. Radiation treatment can require one dose or several treatments scheduled over days or weeks. In addition to planning radiation treatment, medical dosimetrists may help calibrate radiation oncology machinery, teach other personnel, and conduct research to help improve the efficacy of radiation therapies. Registered radiation therapists who have at least one year of clinical experience, or individuals who have completed a bachelor’s degree program in the physical sciences, are qualified for admission to a 1-year dosimetrist certificate program.
In conclusion, you are not limited to doctor jobs, if you are looking for the highest paying medical jobs in America. Don’t forget that there are many fantastic ways to earn more than six figures while making extraordinary contributions to the medical field.