Written By Erica Robbins
Do you want to be a medical professional? Are you looking for the best paying medical job that can give you more financial stability? The demand for affordable quality health care and the increasing number of the aging American population are driving the employment statistics across all states. Therefore, if you want to choose a life-fulfilling and financially stable profession, then having a medical career is one of the best choices you could possibly make. Listed below are the top ten highest-paying and most fulfilling medical professions in the United States:
1. Physicians and Surgeons
Being a physician or a surgeon ensures you that you will receive the highest wage among the medical professionals. Each year, an average physician earns around $187,200 or more. The reason for this high pay is simple: being a physician or surgeon is not a walk in the park. It entails so much responsibility. Every patient management decision they make needs complex decision-making processes that may mean life or death for the patient they are handling. From the simplest face-to-face diet counseling they do with their patients to the most complex surgical procedure they perform, patients and their families expect doctors to bring the best treatment outcome possible with no margin for any form of error. As of 2012, physicians and surgeons held 691,400 jobs in the United States. Statisticians project that this number of practicing physicians and surgeons will increase by 18 percent until 2022, according to the United States’ Department of Labor.
With more and more kids getting braces each year, there is no wonder why dentists are in demand. Aside from making braces, dentists check and treat their patients’ problems with their teeth, gums and other mouthparts. They also guide their patients on their diet choices to take care of their teeth and gums. To be able to practice as a dentist, a person needs to have a special license. To be able to qualify for a license, applicants must study in an accredited school and pass the written and oral examinations. As of 2012, the median annual wage of a dentist is $149,310 per year. There are 146,800 dentists in the United States today and by 2022, statisticians expect this number to increase by 16 percent.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that there are approximately 286,400 practicing pharmacists in the country today and experts expect this number to increase by 14 percent in another 5 years. Being a pharmacist ensures you of having a high paying job of $116,670 median income per year. The role of a pharmacist is to dispense prescription medications as well as offer their expertise in the safe use of such medications. Aside from this, the public also expects pharmacists to conduct health and wellness screenings and oversee the medicines given to patients. To be a pharmacist, a person needs to finish a four-year professional degree in Doctor of Pharmacy and must have a license that requires passing two major exams as a prerequisite.
With 77 percent of the American people suffering from at least one episode of foot pain within their lifetime, it is but obvious why podiatrists are in demand. People with foot, ankle, and other lower leg problems see their podiatrists; and they expect their podiatrists to properly diagnose their illnesses, treat their lower extremity injuries, and if needed, perform necessary surgery to alleviate their lower extremity pains. A typical podiatrist earns about $116,440 per year. There are approximately 10,700 podiatrists practicing in the United States today and by 2022, there will be 23 percent more jobs for these podiatrists. To be a podiatrist, a person needs to earn a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree and undergo a three-year extensive residency program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that 11 million Americans 12 years and older have some form of vision problem that can improve through proper refractive correction. With this high demand for corrective lenses, the expertise of optometrists is an in-demand skill. Optometrists help people have a clearer eyesight. They examine the eyes, diagnose eye problems, manage certain eye diseases, disorders, and injuries, and prescribe corrective contact lenses and eyeglasses as needed. There are 33,100 optometrists across all states of the United States and many statisticians believe that this number will increase by 24 percent in the coming years. Most optometrists earn about $97,820 per year – that is around $47.03 per hour.
6. Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists are collectively called as the advanced practice registered nurses (also called the APRNs). They provide specialty and primary health care by coordinating with the patients’ physicians. There is no fixed scope of practice for these health care providers. Their job description varies from state to state where they work. To be able to be an APRN, a person needs to have at least a master’s degree in one of the APRN roles on top of a national certification examination and a license issued by the state. An average APRN earns around $96,460 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 31 percent increase in the present number of APRNs (approximately 151,400) within a few years.
7. Physician Assistant
With the growing number of physicians and surgeons practicing in the United States, the number of physician assistants grows as well. The typical salary of a physician assistant is $90,930 per year. There are around 86,700 practicing physician assistants in the country today; within a few years, their number is expected to grow by 35 percent. Physician assistants work under the direct supervision of surgeons and physicians. Doctors expect their physician assistants to decrease their workload in examining and diagnosing their patients and providing patient treatment.
Approximately 164 million households in the United States have at least one pet – the exact reason why the demand for veterinarian services is on the rise across all the states of America. As of 2012, there are 70,300 veterinarians practicing in the United States; and statisticians project this number to rise by 12 percent within seven years. An average veterinarian earns about $40.61 per hour – that is around $84,460 per year. To be a veterinarian, a person must earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and a state license.
9. Physical Therapists
Physical therapists, also called PTs, help ill and injured patients manage their pain, making them an integral part of treatment and rehabilitation of patients with injuries and other chronic conditions. Most physical therapists work in hospitals, private clinics, and nursing homes. To perform their work, they need to be constantly on their feet. Most PTs earn around $79,860 per year. A state license and a degree in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) are essential to practice physical therapy in any state.
10. Radiation Therapists
Approximately 4 percent of patients visiting their physicians end up having a diagnosis of primary cancer, and half of these patients receive radiation chemotherapy during the course of their illness. With the growing number of patients diagnosed with cancer in the United States per year, oncologists, the physicians who focus on treating cancer, are not the only ones who become in demand – even radiation therapists, the medical professionals who administer radiation treatment for these cancer patients, become much in demand too. Radiation therapists work in clinics, outpatient centers and hospitals and most of them work full time. To be a radiation therapist, one must earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy and have a license in the state where he or she plans to practice. The current yearly income of a radiation therapist is $77,560 per year. There are currently 19,100 radiation therapists practicing in the United States and a few year from now, the number of practicing radiation therapists may increase by 24 percent.
Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Healthcare Occupations
American Podiatric Medical Association: New Survey Reveals Majority of Americans Suffer from Foot Pain
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Common Eye Disorders
The Human Society of the United States: Pets by the Numbers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cancer
International Journal of Medical Sciences; Cancer and Radiation Therapy: Current Advances and Future Directions; Baskar, R. et al; 2012