Is the inhibitive cost of college standing between you and your dream career? What if we told you that it’s possible to secure an actual career without a college degree? And we’re not talking about some minimum-wage job, but real professions that pay well and have a positive growth path.

Before you dismiss it as a mere fancy of an eternal optimist, here’s what you should know. True that a lot of careers these days require at least an undergrad degree and there are many other tangible and intangible benefits of college education, but let’s leave that discussion for another day or in this case, another article!

The fact is that not all careers out there have to have the same entry requirements aka a college degree. Each profession is unique and has its own set of demands and believe it or not, a college degree may not even be in the picture as far as eligibility criteria for these careers are concerned.

So, let’s cut to the chase and present to you two careers that can be yours without you having to bury yourself in student loan and spending years and years in school:

Medical Assistant

The Job: The Department of Labor has ranked medical assistance as one of the fastest growing occupations through 2018.

It may or may not have something to do with the fact that this profession belongs to the healthcare sector and everyone knows healthcare jobs are hot right now, but the bottom line is that medical assistants enjoy excellent job prospects in the current employment marketplace and that’s unlikely to change in the near foreseeable future.

The job of a medical assistant involves providing a combination of administrative, clerical and clinical support to healthcare practitioners like doctors, chiropractors, podiatrists, etc.

Their day-to-day work schedule may look something like this:

  • Greeting patients into a facility
  • Answering telephone calls
  • Handling correspondence
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Following up on insurance claims
  • Performing basic bookkeeping
  • Carrying out billing related procedures

Depending on the laws of the State they practice in, some medical assistants may also perform a range of clinical duties such as:

  • Recording patients’ vital signs and medical history
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients
  • Preparing patients for examinations
  • Collecting laboratory specimens
  • Administering drugs and injections
  • Drawing blood and removing sutures

Training: Historically, medical assistants were trained on the job. Though even today the job has no formal education or training requirements, it’s advisable to complete a postsecondary vocational course to enhance your employability and earning potential.          

Medical assistant training is available at career schools and typically involves coursework in keyboarding, transcription, medical terminology, anatomy, medical office procedures, healthcare reimbursement methods, etc. Students may also learn laboratory techniques, clinical and diagnostic procedures, first aid administration, etc. as part of some medical assistant training programs.

If you want to start preparing for this career early, recommended high school courses include math, biology, computers, typing, etc.

Compensation:As a medical assistant, you can earn an average of $20,166 - $36,381 per year in total pay, which includes annual salary, bonus, overtime, tips, commission, profit sharing and other types of cash payments.1

Pharmacy Technician

The Job:If you want a job that provides you the flexibility to work part time or in shifts in an environment that is clean to the point of being sterile, then consider a career as pharmacy technician. A pharmacy tech’s core job is to assist a licensed pharmacist in a variety of tasks.

These tasks may involve interfacing with customers, performing administrative and clerical duties or helping your boss prepare prescription medications.

Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings such as hospital pharmacies, retail drug stores, mail order pharmacies, departmental stores that sell drugs, etc. While their specific duties may depend on their employer, but broadly pharmacy technicians are responsible for fulfilling the following tasks:

  • Responding to telephone queries
  • Operating cash registers
  • Receiving prescription requests
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Counting pills and labeling bottles
  • Coordinating with insurance companies
  • Providing information to customers
  • Supervising pharmacy aides

Training: Although there are no standard credentials for this profession, employers may gravitate towards hiring trained and certified pharmacy technicians.

The best place to receive pharmacy technician training is a vocational school. Those enrolled in a pharmacy technician training program can expect to complete coursework in medical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacology, pharmacy related laws and regulations, compounding etc.

If your pharmacy technician training course does not include an externship, then just walk-up to your friendly neighborhood pharmacist and request him to let you assist him. The hands-on experience will earn you some valuable brownie points with potential employers.

Compensation:The average annual total pay of pharmacy techs ranges from $16,787 - $35,115 depending on factors like experience, training, employer, location and certification.2


Sources:

  1. payscale.com/research/US/Job=Medical_Assistant/Hourly_Rate
  2. payscale.com/research/US/Job=Pharmacy_Technician/Hourly_Rate