Top 50 Healthcare Careers for 2023
The healthcare sector is booming due to a growing population that will require increasing care with age.
Baby Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—are retiring at the rate of thousands per day. The Pew Research Center reports that Millennials—roughly ages 25 to 40—overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. This means that a large percentage of the American workforce carries the burden of the economy during their prime childbearing years.
With large segments of the population entering their senior years and others with growing families, health professionals will be in demand to meet these increasing needs.
Fortunately, promising healthcare careers abound in 2023.
Here’s how we broke down the top 50 health careers for 2023:
Career growth (as predicted by the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) was considered since having a positive employment outlook is essential to making a career an attractive path. These measurements included both the projected growth percentage as well as growth in the absolute number of jobs available.
Salary is also a factor, with higher-paying jobs being boosted even if their demand outlook was not as strong.
Flexibility and Return on Investment
Flexibility and return on investment also influenced the selection of careers, although to a lesser degree than projected career growth or salary. Physical therapy, for instance, affords practitioners the flexibility to determine and adjust their schedules.
Unless otherwise specified, all BLS career growth figures are projected increases in jobs in the US between 2021 and 2031, and all salary figures are from May 2022—the most recent data available as of July 2023.
List of Top Careers in Healthcare for 2023
- Physical Therapist – Physical therapy tops this health career list because it is a lucrative position with expected growth in the coming years. It also offers a relatively flexible and comfortable lifestyle. As of May 2022, the median annual wage for physical therapists was $97,720, and demand for these health professionals is expected to grow by 17 percent in the decade preceding 2031. Unlike other health professionals, physical therapists can often make their hours, choose their clients, and be more likely to be self-employed.
- Dental Hygienist – Between 2021 and 2031, more than 19,000 new dental hygienist jobs are expected to be available. That represents an impressive growth rate of 9 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations (5 percent). Dental hygienists earn a median annual wage of $81,400 and typically hold at least associate degrees.
- Nurse Practitioner – In many states, nurse practitioners are licensed to do much of what physicians can do. As the demand for healthcare services increases over the next decade, the demand for nurse practitioners is expected to increase by 46 percent (2021 to 2031). With a median salary of $121,610, this career is even more lucrative than physician assistants (or associates), particularly for in-demand specializations like adult care, gerontology, neonatal, pediatric, and more.
- Physician Assistant – Not to be confused with medical assistants, physician assistants are highly trained health workers with advanced degrees who work closely with medical doctors to diagnose and treat illness. In May 2022, the median salary for a physician assistant in the US was $126,010, helping to make this challenging career one of the most lucrative in healthcare. The demand for physician assistants is expected to increase by 28 percent between 2021 and 2031.
- Physician – Becoming a physician carries great prestige and requires a significant investment of time and financial resources. But the tangible rewards in this field are also pronounced. The median salary for physicians and surgeons in May 2022 was equal to or greater than $208,000 per year. It should be no surprise that this is among the top healthcare careers available. Most physicians require 11 to 15 years of postsecondary schooling and training. They also usually incur substantial student loan debts.
- Registered Nurse – In May 2021, there were over three million registered nurse jobs in the US and that number was expected to swell by 6 percent through the year 2031. Nurses enjoy a median salary of $81,220 (BLS May 2022) for their work providing and coordinating care and educating and supporting patients in their wellness journeys.
- Occupational Therapist – The BLS has noted that the demand for occupational therapists is expected to grow much faster than the average (5 percent) at 14 percent by the year 2031. This growth, coupled with a relatively high median salary of $93,180 (BLS May 2022) per year, makes this a highly desirable career pursuit. OTs typically have at least a master’s degree.
- Home Health Aide – Not every health worker spends their days in a hospital or clinic. Home health aides have the opportunity to assist patients in the comfort of the patient’s homes and, while doing so, enjoy a wide-open employment market with a 25 percent projected growth rate. Although the median salary is just $30,180 ($14.51 hourly), with 924,000 jobs being added by 2031, there are expected to be many opportunities in this field. Highly accessible, the educational requirement for home health aides is a high school diploma or an equivalency exam.
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer – Diagnostic medical sonographers work closely with physicians but do not require nearly as much training, which means a faster track to employment. Demand for diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to grow 15 percent through 2031, translating into ample opportunities for graduating students. Sonographers generally have at least an associate’s degree and certification. They earn a median annual salary of $81,350 (BLS May 2022) and work in hospitals, laboratories, or medical office settings.
- Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse – It’s no secret that the demand for all types of nurses is high, with some even terming the shortage a crisis. In response, the demand for licensed practical and vocational nurses is expected to climb, with nearly 41,300 (6 percent) more jobs being added between 2021 and 2031. Working under the supervision of RNs and physicians, LPNs and LVNs provide nursing care to individuals of all ages. In May 2022, the median salary for licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses in the US was $54,620.
- Physical Therapist Assistant – With the high demand and salary for PTs, it should come as no surprise that physical therapist assistants are not far behind. The median salary for this career comes in at $62,770 (BLS May 2022) and demand is expected to grow by a whopping 26 percent through 2031. Similar to LPNs, PTAs work under the guidance of a physical therapist to assist patients with mobility, physical wellness, and pain management.
- Dental Assistant – The field of dentistry is growing and dental assistants are in demand. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $44,820 (BLS May 2022) and have 8 percent expected job growth between 2021 and 2031. With no graduate degree requirements, this job is a relatively quick way to start working in dentistry.
- Medical Assistant – A medical assistant can work anywhere from a physician’s office to an emergency room, giving this career a lot of variety. More importantly, 117,800 jobs are expected to be added to this profession by 2031, meaning that there will be plenty of open positions in the next decade. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $38,270 (BLS May 2022).
- Medical or Clinical Laboratory Technician – As medical technology expands, the need for trained professionals to maintain and interpret that technology grows. That is why the demand for medical and clinical laboratory technicians is expected to increase by nearly 7 percent in the decade preceding 2031. Professionals in this field can expect to earn up to $57,380 as a median annual salary (BLS May 2022), and with 21,800 jobs to be added between 2021 and 2031, you can expect the positions to be around after students complete their postsecondary nondegree award.
- Pharmacist – While the need for pharmacists is expected to increase just 2 percent between 2021 and 2031, the salary is much higher than most. The median income for this health career is $132,750 (BLS May 2022), making it an attractive opportunity for students willing to pursue an advanced degree. Pharmacists are responsible for filling and dispensing medications and counseling patients on their use.
- Surgeon – A career in surgery is certainly not one to take on lightly. It requires years of schooling as well as specialized training. However, surgeons can expect to earn a median wage equal to or greater than $208,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean (average) annual wages for surgeons in May 2022 was $347,870.
- Radiologic Technologist – Diagnostic imaging techniques such as X-rays have been around for many years, and they’re still one of the most effective ways to diagnose tumors and cancers. Radiologic technologists are expected to be in high demand, with 14,100 (6 percent increase) expected positions added through 2031. Radiographers also earn a decent living at $65,140 yearly (median annual wage) with an associate’s degree.
- Surgical Technologist – While we know that surgeons are well compensated, their assistants, who require much less school and fewer training hours, are also in demand. The demand for surgical technologists, also known as operating room technicians, is expected to grow by at least 6 percent through the year 2031. Their median pay was $55,960 in May 2022.
- Dentist – With more schooling required and less job growth expected (6 percent between 2021 to 2031), dentistry is a bit lower ranked than a dental hygienist or dental assistant. However, on average, dentists make an annual median salary of $155,040 (BLS May 2022) and may own their dental practices, which makes it relatively flexible for scheduling.
- Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic – The life of an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic is certainly never dull. These life-saving health professionals are also in high demand with more than 17,900 (7 percent increase) jobs expected to be added through the year 2031. With training required beyond high school (non-degree), EMT and paramedic services may be a good career path for individuals contemplating a career in the medical field or who thrive on adrenaline and helping others in crisis. Their median annual wage for EMTs was $36,680 in May 2022 and $49,090 for paramedics.
- Nursing Assistant – In another instance of nursing skills being in high demand, more than 62,700 new nursing assistant jobs are expected to be added to the field by 2031. Nursing assistants also have a range of work environments available to them, including nursing homes, hospitals, and private physicians’ offices. Employment is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031. Their median annual wage was $35,760 in May 2022.
- Family Physician or General Practitioner – A physician does not have to be highly specialized to be in demand with an enviable salary. Family physicians and general practitioners, many of whom are self-employed, can earn a median average salary of $211,300 per year. Their mean (average) annual wage was $224,460 in May 2022. Family medicine physicians have an expected growth of 3 percent through 2031.
- Speech-language Pathologists – Also known as speech therapists, speech-language pathologists are certainly in demand with an expected growth rate of 21 percent through 2031. While a master’s degree is required to start this career, speech-language pathologists earn a median annual salary of $84,140 per year.
- Occupational Therapy Assistant – With an expected growth of 25 percent through 2031, occupational therapy assistants are one of the most in-demand careers in healthcare. Occupational therapy assistants earn a median annual salary of $64,250 (BLS May 2022). With a minimum requirement of an associate’s degree, this can be an attractive career for anyone seeking relatively quick employment in a helping profession.
- Anesthesiologist – The only physician specialty that is higher paid, on average, than general surgery is anesthesiology. These highly trained physicians earn a whopping Mean annual wage of $302,970 (BLS May 2022). While the overall demand is less than in some other healthcare careers, the high salary was important when ranking this job.
- Medical Records or Health Information Technician – Not all health professions involve much patient contact. Medical records specialists work to organize and manage health information data, usually far from patients. The demand for these professionals is expected to grow at least 7 percent through 2031, with 12,300 new jobs being added during that period. The median annual wage for medical record specialists in May 2022 was $47,180.
- Nurse Anesthetist – Just as anesthesiologists are in high demand and command high salaries, nurse anesthetists are also needed nationwide. They administer anesthesia and provide care before, during, and after therapeutic, surgical, obstetrical, and diagnostic procedures. Nurse anesthetists garner a median salary of $203,090 (BLS May 2022) and require a master’s degree. Employment is projected to grow 12 percent from 2021 to 2031.
- Cardiovascular Technologist or Technician – Another career specializing in medical imaging is the cardiovascular technologist and technician. These professionals typically work full-time in hospitals, maintaining and running cardiovascular monitoring equipment. The demand for cardiovascular technologists and technicians is expected to grow 5 percent through 2031. These technicians can expect to make a median annual salary of $63,020 (BLS May 2022).
- Phlebotomists – With an expected growth rate of 10 percent (13,900 new jobs added) between 2021 and 2031 and a median annual salary of $38,530 (BLS May 2022), phlebotomists are situated firmly in the middle section of this list. This medical personnel withdraws blood or plasma from patients for various purposes.
- Pharmacy Technician – A pharmacy technician is an assistant to a pharmacist with much less training. As the need for prescription medications expands, so too does the demand for this particular career. About 22,400 jobs (a 5 percent increase) for pharmacy technicians are expected to be added by 2031. Professionals in this field can expect to make a median annual salary of $37,790.
- Athletic Trainer – Athletic trainers prevent, diagnose, and treat bone and muscle illnesses and injuries. They work with people of all ages, from young children to professional athletes. They work under physicians and other healthcare providers. About 5,100 jobs (a 17 percent increase) for athletic trainers will be added by 2031. Professionals in this field can expect to make a median annual salary of $53,840.
- Massage Therapist – Individuals interested in pursuing a health career who want to work for themselves may consider a career in massage therapy, as nearly half of all massage therapists are self-employed. The demand for massage therapists is also high with an expected increase of 20 percent by 2031. The BLS states that massage therapists only require a postsecondary nondegree award and make a median salary of $49,860.
- Optometrist – Another career requiring a doctoral degree, optometrists can expect to earn about $125,590 (median wage) annually. The demand for these specialists is also decent, with more than 4,000 jobs expected to be added by 2031. In addition to performing eye exams, optometrists diagnose and treat problems with vision, eye diseases, injuries, and disorders.
- Respiratory Therapists – These medical professionals help patients to treat the symptoms of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma or emphysema. To pursue this career, students must earn at least an associate’s degree and can look forward to a median salary of $70,540 per year (BLS May 2022). Employment is projected to grow 14 percent from 2021 to 2031. The demand for these specialists is also high, with more than 18,400 jobs expected to be added by 2031.
- Veterinary Technologist or Technician – Of course, not all health careers involve caring for humans. Veterinary technologists care for animal patients of all shapes and sizes and are rewarded for those efforts with a median salary of $38,240. The demand for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow by almost 20 percent by 2031. About 24,100 jobs for Veterinary Technologists or Technicians are expected to be added by 2031.
- Physical Therapist Aide – A physical therapist aide does work that is slightly different from that of a physical therapist assistant, but the position is still in demand. Physical therapist aides assist physical therapists and physicians with administrative, clinical, or scheduling needs. By 2031, a 19 percent increase in demand for this particular career is expected, which means more than 8,300 new jobs around the country. Professionals in this field can expect to make a median annual salary of $31,410 (BLS May 2022).
- Chiropractors – Chiropractors are professionals performing manual therapy to help patients with neck and back pain. They care for patients with health problems in the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These professionals have a job that is expected to see a more than 10 percent increase in demand by 2031. The median annual wage was $75,380 in May 2022.
- Genetic Counselors – These professionals are involved in assessing family or individual risk for various inherited conditions, such as birth defects or genetic disorders. Genetic counselors provide support and information to other healthcare providers, families, and individuals concerned. These professionals earn a median salary of $89,990 per year and there is expected to be an 18 percent growth nationally in opportunities for this medical profession between 2021 and 2031.
- Dietitian/Nutritionist – Working with patients to help them live healthier lives can be extremely rewarding, as any dietitian or nutritionist will know. These professionals have a job expecting to see a more than 7 percent increase in demand by 2031. Dieticians and nutritionists have various backgrounds, but degrees in health or science will help prepare those interested in this field. The median annual wage was $66,450 in May 2022.
- Optician – An optician assists people in finding and fitting eyeglasses and contacts by following the prescriptions provided by ophthalmologists and optometrists. More than 2,800 optician jobs (a 4 percent increase) will be added by 2031. The median annual wage for this occupation was $39,610 in May 2022.
- Internist, General – A general internist, also known as a doctor of internal medicine, can earn about $225,270 (mean wage) per year with the proper training. The primary role of internal medicine doctors is to provide non-surgical treatment of injuries and diseases of the internal organs of their adult patients. The median wage for general internal medicine physicians was $214,460 in May 2022.
- Audiologist – Although audiologists do need an advanced degree, they do not require a medical degree. They usually hold master’s degrees. These hearing and balance specialists earn a median salary of $82,680 per year and there is expected to be a 10 percent growth nationally in opportunities for these medical professionals between 2021 and 2031.
- Veterinarian – Though veterinarians do not have quite the job outlook of their related technicians, they can expect a higher-than-average salary. The median annual salary is $103,260 and 19 percent growth is expected through 2031. More than 16,800 jobs are expected to be added by 2031.
- MRI Technologist – MRI technologists get to work alongside physicians with some of the most sophisticated medical equipment available to diagnose and treat patients. With just an associate’s degree, new MRI techs can enter this well-paid field that is expected to grow by 7 percent by the year 2031. MRI technologists make a median annual salary of $80,090, according to the BLS (May 2022).
- Ophthalmic Laboratory Technician – Another field experiencing a boom in growth is that of Ophthalmic laboratory technicians. The demand for this career in which specialists construct, fit, and repair eyeglasses is expected to grow by 4 percent through 2031. Ophthalmic technicians also counsel patients on treatments, schedule appointments, and assist eye doctors with in-office procedures. Their median annual wage was $36,810 in May 2022.
- Radiation Therapist – Working with cancer patients and individuals with other serious illnesses is not easy, but it can be very rewarding. For their hard work, radiation therapists earn a median salary of $89,530 per year, and 1,000 radiation therapy jobs (a 6 percent increase) are expected to be added nationally by 2031. The job requires a relatively short period of education, only as much as is necessary to obtain an associate’s degree. This is typically for two years.
- Pediatricians – Physicians who specialize in working with children can be among the most compassionate individuals. They can work in hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, and various specialty centers. The median wage for a pediatrician was $190,350 in May 2022.
- Nuclear Medicine Technologist – Nuclear medicine technologists are among the high-paying healthcare careers that do not require an advanced degree, although an associate’s degree and 1,300 practice hours are required. Growth for this career is expected to be 2 percent through 2031, although jobs are concentrated heavily in certain regions, such as California and the District of Columbia. The median pay for these skilled professionals is $85,300 per year, which is equal to $41.01 per hour.
- Orthotist or Prosthetist – Orthotists, prosthetists, or O&P professionals design devices that support patients with medical needs, including prosthetics. The demand for these skills is expected to increase by 17 percent, much faster than average, through 2031. O&P professionals always have master’s degrees and must have completed an internship or residency before employment in the field. The median annual wage was $77,070 in May 2022.
- Psychiatrist – A psychiatrist is a specially trained physician to deal with mental and other psychological illnesses. These physicians can command a median salary of $226,880, depending on location, expertise, and type of practice. Psychiatrists hold doctorates in their fields and usually operate their practices, where they maintain professional relationships with many different clients. There is expected to be a 9 percent growth nationally in opportunities for these professionals between 2021 and 2031.