Online Degrees in Healthcare
If you're hoping to join an industry that will likely see rapid growth in the coming years, healthcare may be exactly what you're looking for. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that 1.8 million new job openings in healthcare are expected each year through 2032. This growth will be partly based on an overall increase in healthcare needs nationwide but also on a need to replace healthcare workers who retire with a new generation of workers.
Pay for healthcare careers also tends to be generous when compared to other industries. The BLS figures show that the median annual wage for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (including registered nurses, physicians and surgeons, and dental hygienists) worked out to $77,760, as of May 2022. This compares favorably to the median annual wage for all occupations combined that year, which sits at $46,310.
If you're thinking about going to college to begin a career in healthcare, you'll want to know about all the healthcare degrees you can pursue as well as how long each program takes. Read on to learn about online degrees in healthcare by degree type, as well as factors that set each program apart.
Online Associate Degrees in Healthcare and Certificates
Students who want to enter the workforce quickly can consider online associate degrees in healthcare as well as certificate programs. Many certificate programs can be completed in less than one year, and the majority of associate degree programs require two years of full-time study. That said, some certifications are meant to be pursued after earning a degree in order to increase a graduate's skill set and job opportunities.
Here's an overview of the associate degree and certification programs you can pursue online:
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Healthcare
Online bachelor's degrees in healthcare require four years of full-time study, yet they open the door to higher pay and jobs in a broader range of industries. While some online degrees can be completed entirely online, others require lab training, clinical experience, or both, to finish the program.
Here's an overview of the bachelor's programs in healthcare you can pursue online:
Online Healthcare Programs at the Graduate Level
A variety of online medical degrees are offered at the graduate level, including master's level degrees in many of the same fields you can pursue a four-year degree in. However, earning a master's degree positions students to climb the career ladder in their respective fields and accelerate their earnings at a much faster pace.
While the timeline required to earn a master's degree can vary, most graduate degree programs require at least two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor's degree.
Here's an overview of the master's programs in healthcare you can pursue online:
Careers You Can Get With Online Healthcare Degrees
Is a Degree in Healthcare Right for Me?
While the degrees in healthcare we outlined above can lead to any number of rewarding careers in hospitals and other healthcare settings, some medical degrees truly stand out. As an example, careers in healthcare administration have become increasingly popular due to their high pay and excellent job prospects. In fact, medical and health services managers earned a median annual salary of $104,830 nationally in 2022, and job openings for these professionals are expected to increase by 28% during the decade leading up to 2032.
Becoming a nurse can also be incredibly rewarding, both on a personal level and in a financial sense. After all, nurses get the chance to take care of others during some of the most difficult times of their lives — and all while earning a handsome salary.
The BLS shows that, as of May 2022, the median annual salary for nurses worked out to $81,220 nationally. Meanwhile, the top 10% of nurses earned approximately $129,400 on average. There are many types of nursing careers to consider as well, including careers outside of traditional hospital settings.
FAQs About Online Degrees in Healthcare
Due to the range of skills required to manage the healthcare industry, any number of degrees and certifications can help you enter this dynamic field. Not only does the healthcare industry need nurses, doctors, and specialists but also administrators, data entry specialists, medical transcriptionists, and medical records specialists.
Like we mentioned already, all healthcare jobs combined are expected to see significant growth in the coming decade.
The BLS even estimates that nearly 2 million healthcare jobs will be created or need replacement through 2032, and some healthcare careers will see job openings increase at a much faster pace.
As an example, job openings for health information technologists and medical registrars are expected to increase 16% through 2032, and medical assistant jobs are expected to increase 14%. Meanwhile, job openings for occupational therapists are expected to surge 12% through 2032, and job openings for physician assistants are expected to increase 27%.
Whatever field of healthcare you're interested in, there's a good chance the job that suits you best will come with fair pay and a chance for growth. Fortunately, online healthcare programs are ready to help you work toward the career and lifestyle you really want.
Can I Go to Medical School Online?
Becoming a physician or surgeon means pursuing a Medical Doctor (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) — both of which require participation in internship and residency programs. With that in mind, this is one career you can't begin with online-only coursework.
That said, there are many online healthcare degrees to consider, including the options outlined above.
What Is the Easiest Health Degree To Get?
The easiest health degree to get can be a certification or an associate degree. Where a certification may be completed in one year or less in some cases, most online associate degrees in healthcare require two years of full-time study.
Which Healthcare Degree Is Best?
Before you apply to college, you should take steps to figure out which school and degree is best suited to your learning style and future career goals. Obviously, the outcome will be different for everyone. In the list above, we outline the different options based on degree level, and each description includes a link to more detailed pages that cover each higher education pathway, including employment outcomes, coursework, and more.
What Is the Quickest Medical Degree?
Earning a healthcare certification takes the least amount of time. Although, online associates degrees in healthcare also require as little as two years of full-time study and may be more beneficial in the long-run, especially if you plan to continue your education at some point.
What Is the Easiest 2-Year Degree To Get?
The easiest two-year degree to earn depends on your academic aptitude and drive. If you're a natural learner when it comes to math and science, for example, a two-year nursing program could be easy for you. If you're more interested in the administrative side of healthcare, earning a two-year degree in healthcare administration or medical assisting may make more sense.
What Medical Job Is the Happiest?
According to data compiled by CareerExplorer, nurses are some of the least happy in their careers nationwide. However, professionals in many other healthcare careers were a lot happier overall, including clinical nurse specialists, healthcare social workers, and medical and billing coding technicians.