The ever-changing dynamics in the healthcare industry coupled with technological advancements and breakthroughs in clinical and scientific research have led to a surge in demand for certain healthcare professionals.
The aging population has played a key role in the rise of some of these in-demand healthcare certifications. It has also led to a surge in gerontology careers while posing varying challenges that demand new perspectives to find effective solutions.
That said, we will highlight a few of the in-demand healthcare certifications you can pursue if you’re looking for a medical certification that pays well.
High-paying in-demand healthcare certifications
- Certified nurse anesthetist – $189,190
- Nurse-midwives – $115,540
- Nurse practitioners – $114,510
- Certified health information technician – $109,610
- Geriatric acupuncturist – $97,270
- Genetic counselor – $89,710
- Healthcare data analyst – $88,520
- Occupational therapist – $87,480
- Nuclear medicine technologist – $82,080
- Massage therapist – $79,000
Let’s have a look at each of these high-paying in-demand healthcare certifications, what they entail, and what you need to pursue any of them.
1. Health data analysts
There is a rising demand for health data analysts to help healthcare facilities and companies make sense of the big data.
According to Statista, the global digital health market was worth an estimated $175 million in 2019. That value is expected to rise to nearly $660 million by 2025. The year 2020 saw over $21 billion invested in the digital health industry compared to just over $1 billion in 2010.
In 2019, more than 42% of Americans were using digital health tracking, and this figure is expected to increase with new healthcare needs, scientific breakthroughs, and medical technology growth.
When the lens is shifted to European countries, healthcare professionals have a strong belief that the biggest e-health trend in the coming years will be the use of patient-owned health data.
As you can see, the demand for health data analysts will keep rising due to the need to make sense of such healthcare big data. Their role is to analyze and interpret the data for those in the healthcare industry, including insurance firms, government agencies, and manufacturing companies.
Their skills help in streamlining data patients bring from their personal sensors and online testing kits. In a nutshell, they play an instrumental role in separating the wheat from the chaff which will subsequently help physicians focus on relevant data points when helping patients.
2. Nuclear medicine technologist
Another in-demand healthcare certification is that of nuclear medicine technologist. These specialists prepare radioactive drugs for patients to help with therapeutic or imaging purposes.
They operate the imaging equipment physicians use for patient diagnosis and treatment. They can also help physicians carry out research on the uses of radioactive drugs.
One needs an associate’s degree from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program to become a nuclear medicine technologist. Those with a bachelor’s degree in a related health field can enroll in a 12-month certificate program to become nuclear medicine technologists.
The average annual salary for nuclear medicine technologists is $82,080 with the highest-paid earning more than $109,000 a year.
3. Massage therapists
With a job growth rate of approximately 32.20%, it’s pretty clear there will always be a high demand for massage therapists in the United States.
These healthcare experts provide massage therapy services to treat and/or manage pain, discomfort, injuries, stress, or other conditions clients are suffering from.
There are massage therapists who specialize in particular forms of therapy, such as remedial, relaxation, sports, and pregnancy massage therapy.
To become a massage therapist, one has to complete a postsecondary program of 500 hours of study, although some programs require 1,000 hours or more.
Standards and requirements also vary greatly by state and most require massage therapists to have a license or certification before they start providing massage therapy services to clients.
4. Certified outpatient medical coder
A certified outpatient medical coder is a coding professional who assigns medical codes to medical procedures and services for patients in an outpatient department of a medical facility such as a hospital.
They assign codes to medical procedures and services a patient received during appointments. Their job varies from that of regular medical coding specialists, who perform coding tasks for every day a patient remains admitted in a medical facility.
A certified outpatient medical coder can work in general or specialty hospitals. According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, the average annual salary for certified outpatient medical coders is $62,846.
Medical coding is one of the highest-paying medical certifications in the U.S. and you do not need a bachelor’s degree to become a certified medical coder.
5. Geriatric acupuncturist
Geriatric acupuncture is an alternative therapy for the elderly that involve the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at specific points of the body and to various depths.
Medical research indicates acupuncture therapy helps relieve pain and is oftentimes used alongside other forms of therapy treatments. Acupuncture therapy helps treat and/or manage more than 25 health complications.
Notable health issues that can be treated and/or managed with acupuncture include rheumatoid arthritis, kneck, knee & low back pain, stroke, allergic rhinitis, hypertension, and hypotension.
Geriatric acupuncture is one of the most in-demand healthcare certifications due to the rising aging population in the United States.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, acupuncturists earn an average annual salary of $97,270. It is among the fastest-growing careers in gerontology and can pay as high as $160,000 a year.
6. Occupational therapist
Occupational therapists help people regain or develop the ability to do daily living tasks. The people in question could be those that underwent a major medical procedure and trying to regain the ability to carry out daily living tasks by themselves or patients suffering from developmental disabilities and struggle to be self-dependent.
They help patients do therapeutic exercises, engage patients with developmental disabilities with the goal being to develop coordination and socialization skills, and teach patients the use of equipment that makes their daily living easier.
Occupational therapists create personalized treatment plans for each of their patients and play a key role in their implementation.
Most occupational therapists have a master’s degree in occupational therapy. Their mean annual salary is $87,480 and the highest-paid earn more than $122,000 a year.
Here’s a short video detailing what a regular workday looks like for occupational therapists. Credit: Loma Linda University Health.
7. Respiratory therapist
Another in-demand healthcare certification is that of respiratory therapy. According to national statistics, job opportunities for respiratory therapists will grow by 23% between 2020 and 2030 (appx. 31,000 new jobs).
The aging population is again the main reason why there is a high demand for respiratory therapists in the United States. The elderly face respiratory complications such as pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other restrictive illnesses that affect the lungs.
Respiratory therapists can work in hospitals and other ambulatory care settings such as nursing homes. The mean annual salary for respiratory therapists is $65,640 and the highest-paid earn more than $89,000 a year.
8. Occupational therapy assistants
Occupational therapy assistant is one of the highest-paying careers in gerontology in the United States due to the increasing aging population. The expected growth for employment opportunities for occupational therapy assistants is 36% between 2020 and 2030, which is about 15,600 job openings.
The aging baby boomer population is more prone to health issues such as stroke and arthritis, which limit their abilities to fulfill their daily activities. The role of occupational therapy assistants is to help them improve the skills they need to live and function with less dependency.
Apart from helping the elderly in society, they also help children and young adults with developmental disabilities such as autism. It is one of the most in-demand healthcare certifications and you need an associate degree in occupational therapy assisting, which takes about 16 months to complete.
According to the U.S. BLS, the mean annual salary for occupational therapy assistants is $63,420. The highest-paid professionals earn more than $84,000 a year.
9. Personal care and home health aides
With more than 1.12 million openings projected to be created between 2020 and 2030 due to the aging population, personal care and home health aides will be in demand for the next decade.
These specialists work with older adults, people with disabilities, and those with chronic conditions to help them with daily living. These people often struggle to live independently and rely on the assistance of personal care aides to help them monitor their health and do the usual personal and basic home tasks.
Home health aides can also administer medication or check patients’ vital signs but only under the direction of a healthcare practitioner such as a registered nurse. They may work in long-term care facilities or in patients’ homes.
Home health and personal care aides earn a mean annual salary of $28,060 with the highest-paid earning more than $40,000 a year.
10. Certified health information technician
A certified professional in health information technology (CPHIT) is tasked to plan, select, implement, use, and manage health information technology (HIT) and electronic health record (EHR) applications.
Also called health information technicians, they document patients’ health information. This includes their medical history, symptoms, examinations, test results, treatments, and other relevant information on healthcare services the patients receive.
However, the duties and roles of health information technicians vary greatly depending on the employer and the size of the medical facility in which they work.
According to HIMSS Compensation Survey, the average annual salary of health IT professionals is $109,610.
Note that CPHIT jobs have different job titles depending on the job one does. For instance, health IT jobs include medical records technician, clinical systems analyst, software engineer, coding auditor, and more.
11. Nurse anesthetist
Nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia-related care during surgical, therapeutic, obstetrical, and diagnostic procedures.
Before any of these procedures begin, they review patients’ current medication and health issues such as allergies and illnesses they might have to ensure anesthesia can be safely administered.
Depending on the medical procedure to be done, they can either administer the patient with anesthesia or apply local anesthesia that numbs a specific area of a body. They also remain with the patient throughout the procedure in order to adjust anesthesia if necessary.
To become a nurse anesthetist, one needs a registered nurse license and have at least a master’s degree from an accredited medical program. One should also have at least a year of clinical experience in order to be admitted to an accredited nurse anesthetist program.
A certified registered nurse anesthetist earns an average annual salary of $189,190. The highest-paid earns more than $208,000 a year, which makes this one of the highest-paying in-demand healthcare certifications in the United States.
12. Genetic counselor
Genetic counselors are medical experts who assess the risk of a family or individual suffering from inherited conditions such as birth defects and genetic disorders.
They study patient genes through DNA testing and provide their findings on any inheritable medical conditions to both the patients/families and the healthcare providers.
One needs at least a master’s degree in genetics or genetic counseling along with certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling to become a licensed genetic counselor.
According to job growth projections, the number of job openings will grow by 29% between 2020 and 2026.
Genetic counselors in the U.S. earn an average annual salary of $89,710 with the highest-paid earning more than $126,000 a year.
Nurse-midwives specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth right from adolescence age to menopausal years.
They perform gynecological exams, provide family planning services and when a woman is pregnant they provide prenatal care services, help during childbirth, and provide postnatal care services.
They can provide surgical help to physicians, especially in cases of cesarean births. They also help manage emergency labor situations such as hemorrhaging and repair lacerations.
You need at least a master’s degree from an accredited medical program to become a nurse-midwife. You should also have a registered nursing license prior to pursuing advanced education to become a midwife nurse.
Nurse-midwives earn an average annual salary of $115,540. The highest-paid earns more than $179,000 a year, which makes this one of the highest-paying in-demand healthcare certifications in the United States.
14. Diagnostic medical sonographers
Diagnostic medical sonographers use special imaging equipment to create sonograms and ultrasounds of the human body’s organs and tissues. The images help physicians diagnose medical conditions.
One needs at least an associate degree in a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program along with a basic life support certification to become a diagnostic medical sonographer.
The mean annual salary of these medical experts is $77,790 and the highest-paid get more than $105,000 a year.
15. Nurse practitioners
Certified nurse practitioners are also in high demand in the U.S. They serve as primary and specialty care providers in healthcare facilities and oftentimes work with physicians in advanced cases.
Nurses examine patients to determine the most appropriate way to treat or manage their health conditions. Most choose to specialize in caring for specific needs such as geriatric health, psychiatric health, or pediatric health.
One needs at least a master’s degree to become an advanced practice registered nurse and a registered nurse license is a prerequisite for pursuing an advanced nursing program.
Job growth projections indicate that job opportunities in this field will grow by 36% by 2026.
It is one of the highest-paying medical certifications and their average annual salary is $114,510. The highest-paid nurse practitioners more than $156,000 a year.
These are just a few of the in-demand healthcare certifications you can consider if you wish to pursue a career in the medical field. As you can see, some of these jobs can pay as high as $150,000 a year, which is quite irresistible.