When most people think of the healthcare field, they think of surgeons in the operating room, doctors bustling about the hospital, and nurses caring for patients in need. While these are all essential roles in healthcare, they are not the only careers available in its growing scope. The truth is, there are a variety of shoes you can fill within health and medicine – many of which do not require direct clinical care.
Right now, you may have a passion for the medical field and the inner workings of the healthcare system. You may wish to make an impact on other people’s lives and well-being. However, you may not picture yourself on the frontlines, providing that direct, hands-on care. Maybe you prefer to be behinds-the-scenes, putting your administrative skills to work. Or, perhaps you have already worked in the fast-paced ER-type environment, and prefer to take your role to new heights, teaching upcoming staff or advocating for patients in other, non-clinical ways.
No matter your situation, there are a variety of non-clinical healthcare career options today. And the fact is, the availability of these jobs is growing. Across the industry, there is an increasing need for qualified health professionals – not only nurses and physicians, but also those who can help patients with insurance and billing, who can research the latest diseases and treatments, and who can train workers on the newest healthcare technologies. And the list doesn’t end here. There are also department directors, resident educators, patient advocates, medical writers, and more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entire healthcare industry is projected to grow 14 percent by 2028 – adding close to two million jobs, both clinical and not. Below are some of the fastest-growing, highest-paying, and most rewarding non-clinical healthcare careers out there today.
6 Healthcare Careers without Clinical Work
It takes more than just doctors and nurses to run a hospital. It takes more than physicians and technicians to diagnose and treat patients. Today, healthcare relies on a variety of individuals to make great patient care happen. These include:
- Healthcare Administrators
Healthcare administrators, also known as executives or managers, are the backbone of a medical facility. These professionals are responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating health services. They may manage a certain department, a medical practice, or an entire hospital. No matter the workplace, though, their role is consistently dedicated to keeping it running smoothly. This involves:
- Preparing, monitoring, and managing budgets
- Developing organizational goals
- Improving the efficiency and quality of patient care
- Ensuring their facility is up-to-date on technology and compliance regulations
- Organizing records of the facility services
- Supervising, hiring, and onboarding new staff
While healthcare administrators do not work directly with patients on the clinical side, they do work closely with all members of the healthcare team, including doctors, nurses, technologists, and more.
To become a healthcare administrator, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. For example, at Goodwin College, you can take the Healthcare Administration path offered in part with the Bachelor’s in Health Science. Some employers will expect administrators to earn a master’s in a related field, as well, to fully hone their leadership skills. However, it’s well-worth the investment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health Managers and Administrators earn close to $100,000 per year, on average, with those in hospital roles earning well over that. Healthcare administration careers are also growing rapidly, with an 18 percent increase expected by 2028.
- Health Educators
Health education is a non-clinical healthcare career option that still involves working with people. So, if you wish to make a difference, but do not want to work in a clinical setting, this could very well be for you. Health educators are responsible for teaching others about healthy behaviors and disease prevention. They work with specific communities or populations, developing programs and implementing strategies to improve their current state of health. This involves:
- Assessing the community’s needs, collecting and analyzing data
- Developing programs and materials to teach people about health topics
- Supervising the staff who will carry out these programs
- Increasing the community’s access to healthcare, by helping them find the services they need
- Teaching communities about disease management and prevention
The work of a health educator varies by workplace. Most work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, or in colleges, public health departments, non-profits, and private businesses. In healthcare settings, Health Educators can expect to make the highest salary (about $65,000 annually, on average) and encounter the most job opportunity. In addition to working with patients in healthcare facilities, Health Educators can also work to create programs for training medical staff.
- Patient Advocates
Patient Advocates are much like Health Educators in that they work closely with patients, without the clinical involvement. Their name implies a lot about their role. Essentially, Patient Advocates are responsible for bridging the gap between patients and their clinicians. Patient Advocates will communicate with doctors and nurses regarding complicated treatments, and relay this information to their patient in a clear and compassionate way. This helps the patient understand exactly what is going on, without any overwhelming or over-complicated medical terminology.
Patient Advocates may also help patients navigate complex insurance or billing questions, medical paperwork, and scheduling treatment plans. According to Glassdoor, entry-level Patient Advocates can make up to $41,000 per year. However, those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree have even greater earning potential and room for career advancement.
- Health Information Technicians (HITs)
Health Information Technicians are non-clinical healthcare professionals that are dedicated to organizing and managing data. While they do not work directly with patients, they do document patients’ health information, symptoms, test results, and more in electronic health records (EHRs). This ensures that all patient data and records are accessible, accurate, and secure. They are responsible for:
- Reviewing patients’ records for accuracy, completeness, and appropriateness of data
- Organizing this data for clinical databases and registries
- Tracking patient outcomes for quality assessment
- Using industry classification software to assign clinical codes for patient data analysis
- Recording this data electronically for storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
- Maintaining confidentiality of patients’ records
Without Health Information Technicians, the healthcare system (and all the confidential patient data within it) would not be the same. To become a HIT today, you need at least a certificate at the college level. However, most employers are seeking Information Techs with an associate degree or higher. With just two years (or less) in school, you can expect to earn upwards of $40,000 per year. And you can expect to find a career right away. According to the BLS, Health Information Technician jobs will grow 11 percent by 2028 (much faster than the average for all occupations).
- Medical Billers & Coders
Medical Billers and Coders fall under the category of Health Information Technicians, only they specialize in the billing process. Specifically, these professionals use classification systems to code patient information so that it can then be translated and processed by insurance companies. This “code” is a universal, alphanumeric code known across the healthcare industry. For every diagnosis and procedure, there is a corresponding medical code.
Once patient information is coded, it is used to create a bill or insurance claim. Medical Coders and Billers will submit these claims to patients’ insurance companies, so that their facility or healthcare provider can be compensated/reimbursed accordingly.
According to the BLS, Medical Coders and Billers act as a liaison between healthcare providers and billing offices. That said, they have a very critical role. According to Salary.com, Medical Billers and Coders make an average of $94,000, though this varies depending on their specific title and role. Most entry-level Coding and Billing positions (which can be earned with a college certificate or associate degree) earn between $38,000 and $60,000 per year.
- Medical Writers
If you have a passion for medicine and research, but also for the pen, a career as a Medical Writer may just be for you. Medical Writers are responsible for conveying information (through writing) to various audiences, such as healthcare professionals or students looking to learn more about a topic/technology, or to the public, regarding specific pharmaceutical products or health services.
Medical Writers generally work for pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment developers, and healthcare service providers. For example, they may write documentation on how to use a new piece of medical equipment, or how to effectively treat patients using this new technology. Medical Writers may also write documentation regarding new prescription drug research, that the public can understand and digest. In either situation, you must familiar with your subject matter as a Medical Writer. That’s where experience in healthcare and medicine can help!
Most employers today are seeking Medical Writers that have earned a bachelor’s degree in English or a health-related field, such as Health Science. You must have coursework in communications and English, and experience in research, editing, and analysis before pursuing this role. Again, this is another well-worth-it, non-clinical career: Medical Writers can expect to earn close to $72,000 annually.
If you are interested in a non-clinical healthcare career – one where you can make a true difference in health and medicine, without the needles and scrubs – rest assured your options are abundant. As the baby boomer population ages, and as the demand for quality healthcare increases, patients, hospitals, and health companies will require passionate people like you.
Start your career path at Goodwin College, a leader in healthcare education in Connecticut. Goodwin College offers programs in Health Science, Health Administration, Public Health, Medical Billing and Coding, Nursing, and more. Visit us online to request more information.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.