11 Healthcare Degrees You Can Earn in 2 Years or Less

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11 Healthcare Degrees You Can Earn in 2 Years or Less

Career Development
Herzing Staff
February 8, 2019

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.

Many healthcare occupations offer stable and secure employment, ample opportunities for advancement and other employer benefits, such as a 401k plan.

Also, 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)

Time: As little 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.

Demand for LPNs is expected to grow by 12 percent through 2026, adding more than 88,000 new jobs.

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.

2. Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

Time: As little as 20 months

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. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 15-percent employment growth for registered nurses through 2026, much faster than the average growth for all occupations.

3. Physical Therapist Assistant (Associate)

Time: As little as 20 months

Physical therapist assistant was ranked #3 on U.S. News’ list of Best Healthcare Support Jobs for 2019 and is expected to experience 30-percent employment growth through 2026. 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.

4. Occupational Therapy Assistant (Associate)

Time: 24 months

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. Employment for OTAs is projected to increase by 28 percent through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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.

5. Dental Assisting Services

Time: 16-24 months

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. Employment in this fast-growing field is expected to increase by 19 percent through 2026.

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.

6. Medical Assisting Services

Time: 10-20 months, depending on degree level

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.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for medical assistants will grow by 29 percent through 2026, making it one of the fastest-growing healthcare careers today.

7. Radiology Technology

Time: 24 months

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.

8. Associate in Surgical Technology

Time: As little as 20 months

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.

Employment for surgical technologists is expected to grow by 12 percent through 2026, adding 12,600 new jobs.

9. Associate in Healthcare Administration

Time: As little as 16 months

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 management bachelor's degree program later in your career.

10. Medical Billing and Insurance

Time: 12-20 months, depending on degree level

Healthcare organizations and insurance companies also need skilled workers to submit medical claims for reimbursement and collect payment for the services provided. With a degree in medical billing, you can pursue opportunities such as insurance specialist, medical billing specialist and medical insurance representative. Employment for these professionals is expected to grow by 13 percent through 2026.

To get started in this field, you need to have a diploma or an associate degree in medical billing. If you want to be ready to enter the job market as soon as possible, you can earn your diploma in as little as 12 months. If you are interested in learning additional principles of business and management, or in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the future, an associate degree option is best.

11. Medical Coding

Time: As little as 20 months

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. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 13 percent through 2026, adding more than 27,000 new jobs.

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.

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