Alternatives to Getting a 4-Year College Degree

careers that dont require college degrees, alternatives to collegeYou don’t have to get a college degree to prepare for a career

College isn’t for everyone. Some worry about affording a 4-year degree, which can end in years of student loan debt. And others may want to enter the workforce quicker.

Fortunately, today many options for post-high school education can get you started on the career path that better suits you. Options include career and trade schools that specialize in a range of different vocational subjects. Below are some options you may want to consider:

Examples of up to two-year programs:

Medical Assistant When you visit your doctor, often the first and last face you see will be of a medical assistant. Medical assistants perform a variety of roles from administrative to clinical, including filing insurance forms, preparing exam rooms, taking vitals, and administering injections. While some schools offer 1-year programs, others may offer a full 2-year degree program.

Examples of programs 1 year or less:

Dental Assistant A dental assistant helps keep a dentist’s office running smoothly. You may perform several roles or specialize in one area. Dental assistants are typically responsible for helping dentists during exams or procedures, taking x-rays, scheduling appointments, and filing paperwork.

Health Claims Specialist/Medical Billing and Coding If you want a career in the healthcare field but don’t want to work directly with patients, a health claims specialist may be the right fit. These specialists review patient files and assign diagnosis codes, ensuring patients receive the services their insurance plans cover, and the healthcare provider receives payment for services in a timely manner.

Massage Therapy Massage therapists use touch to help clients reduce stress, manage pain, rehab athletic injuries, and improve overall health. You may learn a variety of techniques from Swedish massage to reflexology and work with a variety of clients. Massage therapists may work in different settings, including hotel and spas, physical therapist’s offices, gyms, or private massage practices.

Multi-Skill Health Technician If you don’t want to specialize in one area, a multi-skill health technician offers a lot of variety. You may work in different clinical roles, including as phlebotomist, EKG technician, or physician’s aide. You may help collect and handle blood samples, prep and administer medications, and remove stitches, to a name a few of your duties.

Surgical Technician Surgical technicians assist surgeons during surgeries and medical procedures by preparing operating rooms, setting up equipment, and preparing and transporting patients. They perform essential roles such as cutting sutures, applying dressing, operating diagnostic machines, and ensuring that surgery rooms remain sterile environments.

Phlebotomy Technician Blood specimens are vital to diagnosing and treating medical conditions. A phlebotomist ensures samples are drawn correctly along with keeping patients calm during the blood-drawing process, preparing work areas and instruments, and ensuring samples are properly handled.

Certified Nurses Aide If you are interested in a healthcare profession where you get to interact with patients, a certified nurses aide (CNA) may be a good entry point. CNAs often work in nursing homes, residential care facilities, and hospitals. CNAs help patients with basic care, such as dressing, grooming, and eating. Because they work so closely with patients, they often form strong bonds, making the work rewarding.

Patient Care Technician If you picture yourself working with patients daily, a career as a patient care technician or patient care assistant may be for you. Working closely with nursing teams in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, or another facility that supports patients, you may be responsible for performing EKGs, delivering basic First Aid, or collecting blood specimens.

This list is intended to get you started as you think of the direction you want to take your career. Take the time to research any programs you find interesting more thoroughly, so you know which training program may suit you best. Also use this government website if you are interested in job outlook. We wish you luck as you discover your new career!