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11 Healthcare Degrees You Can Earn in 2 Years or Less

You can earn these 11 healthcare degrees in 2 years or less. Discover the types of jobs you can get and how much you could make in short order.

Healthcare is the fastest-growing career field today, with more than 2.4 million new jobs expected by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Many healthcare occupations offer stable and secure employment, ample opportunities for advancement and other employer benefits, such as a 401k plan - and you don’t necessarily need a four-year degree to get started in your healthcare career.

Here are 11 healthcare degrees you can earn in two years or less:

1. Diploma in Practical Nursing (DPN)

Program length: as few as 12 months

Nurses at every level are in high demand, and earning your diploma in practical nursing is the fastest way to jumpstart your nursing career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). LPNs provide basic nursing care and work closely with registered nurses (RNs) and physicians in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, hospice and urgent care clinics.

There are several pathways to nursing career advancement through higher education. Many nurses start out as an LPN before choosing to advance their education and nursing career through an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree program.

Further reading: How to become an LPN; Are LPNs in demand?; Average LPN salary

2. Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

Program length: as few as 20 months

  • Job title: Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Job demand: Proj. 12% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS)
  • Average salary: $75,510 per year, $36.30 per hour (BLS)*
  • Online? On-campus schooling required, some online classes incorporated.
  • Campus availability: Akron, OH; Birmingham, AL; Orlando, FL

You can become a registered nurse (RN) in just two years with your associate degree in nursing (ASN). RNs are the first line of care in many healthcare settings, and they are in increasingly high demand as healthcare organizations strive to accommodate a growing patient population.

Further reading: How to become an RN

3. Physical Therapist Assistant (Associate)

Program length: as few as 20 months

  • Job title: Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)
  • Job demand: Proj. 27% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS)
  • Average salary: $57,750 per year, $27.77 per hour (BLS)*
  • Online? On-campus schooling required, some online classes incorporated.
  • Campus availability: Brookfield, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Orlando, FL

Physical therapist assistant was ranked #3 on U.S. News’ list of Best Healthcare Support Jobs for 2019. PTAs help patients of all ages – from newborns to the elderly – improve strength and mobility through a range of therapeutic exercises and training. To become a PTA, you’ll need to earn your associate degree.

Further reading: How to become a PTA; Average PTA salary; OTA vs. PTA difference; What does a PTA do?

4. Occupational Therapy Assistant (Associate)

Program length: 24 months

  • Job title: Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)
  • Job demand: Proj. 33% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS)
  • Average salary: $60,410 per year, $29.04 per hour (BLS)*
  • Online? On-campus schooling required, some online classes incorporated.
  • Campus availability: Minneapolis, MN

Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) work under the supervision of an occupational therapist to help people of all ages regain, develop, or master the strength to perform everyday skills so that they can live independent, productive and satisfying lives. As the baby boomer population ages, demand for OTAs will continue to grow.

To become an OTA, you will need to earn an associate degree from an accredited OTA program, which typically takes about two years to complete. With experience, OTAs can advance to administrative and management positions in hospitals and private practices.

Further reading: Average OTA salary in Minnesota; OTA vs. PTA

5. Dental Assisting Services

Program length: 16-24 months

  • Job title: Dental Assistant
  • Job demand: Proj. 11% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS)
  • Average salary: $39,770 per year, $19.12 per hour (BLS)*
  • Online? On-campus schooling required, some online classes incorporated.
  • Campus availability: Minneapolis, MN

Dental assistants work closely with and under the supervision of dentists, and many are taking on a greater role in patient care as the demand for dental services expands.

Most dental assistants have an associate degree or a diploma in dental assisting, which can take between 16 and 24 months to complete. For many, this entry-level occupation provides basic dental assisting training and experience and serves as a steppingstone to more highly-skilled and higher paying jobs, such as a dental hygienist.

Further reading: How to become a dental assistant; Skills of a dental assistant

6. Medical Assisting Services

Program length: 10-20 months, depending on degree level

  • Job title: Medical Assistant
  • Job demand: Proj. 23% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS)
  • Average salary: $34,540 per year, $16.61 per hour (BLS)*
  • Online? Yes! Also available on-campus in Akron, OH.

Medical assistants are an important part of the healthcare team, providing support for physicians and assisting with administrative and clerical duties as needed. You can start your career as a medical assistant in as little as 10 months by earning your diploma in medical assisting services, or earn your associate degree in as little as 16-20 months to pursue roles with greater responsibility.

Further reading: How to become a medical assistant; Average medical assistant salary; Medical assistant skills; What does a medical assistant do?; Medical assistant career path

7. Radiology Technology

Program length: 24 months

  • Job title: Radiologic Technologist
  • Job demand: Proj. 9% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS)
  • Average salary: $61,540 per year, $29.59 per hour (BLS)*
  • Online? On-campus schooling required, some online classes incorporated.
  • Campus availability: Orlando, FL

Radiology technologists are a critical part of the medical imaging team. They work alongside doctors and nurses and help to perform X-ray exams and other diagnostic imaging procedures. With experience, radiology technologists can pursue careers in MRI and CT imaging, mammography, nuclear medicine and more.

You need to have at least an associate degree in radiologic technology to work in entry-level radiology positions at hospitals and physician offices. A bachelor’s degree in radiology is often required in order to advance to supervisory or specialized positions.

Further reading: Become a radiologic technologist; Radiologic Technologist vs. Radiologist; What does a radiologic technologist do?

8. Associate in Surgical Technology

Program length: as few as 20 months

  • Job title: Surgical Technologist
  • Job demand: Proj. 9% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS)
  • Average salary: $49,040 per year, $23.58 per hour (BLS)*
  • Online? On-campus schooling required, some online classes incorporated.
  • Campus availability: New Orleans, LA

Surgical technologists (STs) are members of the operating team who handle the instruments, supplies and equipment necessary during a surgical procedure. Nurses, surgeons and patients rely on STs to ensure that the operation runs smoothly. With an associate degree in surgical technology, you can prepare to work as an ST in a hospital, outpatient care center or ambulatory surgical facility.

Further reading: What is a surgical technologist?; How much surgical technologists make

9. Associate in Healthcare Administration

Program length: as few as 16 months

  • Job title(s): Medical Secretary, Administrative Coordinator, Patient Service Rep
  • Job demand: Proj. 16% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS – Medical Secretaries)
  • Average salary: $37,090 per year, $17.83 per hour (BLS – Medical Secretaries)*
  • Online? Yes!

There are also plenty of in-demand jobs on the administrative side of healthcare. With an associate degree in healthcare administration, you can pursue opportunities as an administrative support specialist, administrative coordinator, medical secretary or patient service representative. You’ll be responsible for ensuring the day-to-day operations of an organization, which could include staffing, patient relations, scheduling or inventory control.

This degree also provides you with a foundation to continue your education if you want to enroll in an online healthcare administration bachelor's degree later in your career.

Further reading: Healthcare Administration vs. Management

10. Health Information Management (Associate)

Program length: 20 months

  • Job title(s): Medical Records / Health Information Technician
  • Job demand: Proj. 11% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS – Health Information Technician)
  • Average salary: $44,010 per year, $21.16 per hour (BLS – Health Information Technician)*
  • Online? Yes!

Healthcare providers are charged with keeping secure electronic patient records. It’s up to specialists who can code and digitize patient records and manage the process. A career in health information management offers may unique paths in science, business and information technology. This is a versatile, growing field with many opportunities for advancement.

You can earn your associate degree in health information management in less than 2 years.

Further reading: Health information management salary; Careers in health information management; Skills of a health information manager; Health information management certifications

11. Medical Coding

Program length: as few as 20 months

  • Job title(s): Medical Coder, Health Information Technician
  • Job demand: Proj. 11% increase from 2018-2028 (BLS – Medical Records Technician)
  • Average salary: $44,010 per year, $21.16 per hour (BLS – Medical Records Technician)*
  • Online? Yes!

As the healthcare system moves towards electronic patient records, there is a growing demand for specialists who can code and digitize patient records, as well as health information professionals to manage the entire process and check for accuracy. These individuals are known as medical coders or health information technicians.

Medical coding professionals work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, long-term care settings, consulting firms, government agencies, health insurance companies and more. An associate degree in medical coding often serves as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree in health information management, which allows for career advancement.

Ready to get started in your healthcare career? With a healthcare degree from Herzing University, you’ll graduate with the right skills and credentials for lifelong career opportunities.

* - In the case of all estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, figures are not entry-level wages. You will need to work towards reaching these average levels of pay.

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Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. Herzing does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salary.

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