Your Complete Guide to

Online Healthcare Degrees

The best medical field programs, benefits, list of universities, rankings, FAQs and everything you ever wanted to know.
Grant Aldrich on August 05, 2021

Why We Love Them

  • Fast Growing Industry
  • High Employment Demand
  • Great Salaries
  • Impactful Daily Work

Pursuing your college degree is a wonderful way to improve your life and your family’s financial situation. But selecting the right degree for you can be challenging. And it’s easy to feel a lot of pressure. After all, the degree you choose is going to have a BIG impact on your career trajectory and earning potential.

Obtaining a healthcare degree is one of the smartest decisions you can make for a variety of reasons. To start, the healthcare industry is the fastest growing industry worldwide, and for this reason, there are fantastic job opportunities for a wide variety of careers.

Second, healthcare degrees often lead to very good incomes. While there are myriad positions available to someone with a healthcare degree, on average, someone in the healthcare field can expect to earn between $35,000 and $93,000 depending on the position they occupy.

And finally, obtaining a healthcare degree prepares you for graduate school, should you choose to go this route. For example, obtaining a doctorate degree in the sciences will prepare you to teach or conduct research someday. These positions and others that require a graduate degree command an even higher salary.

As you can see, a healthcare degree can lead to an exciting and prosperous future for you and your family. So, you’ll definitely want to read this entire article because we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about earning a healthcare degree. We’ll cover the 7 best healthcare degrees that offer the biggest career potential. We’ll also compare online programs to traditional campus programs and take a look at some of the differences between Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees, as well as certification training.

Be sure to read this ENTIRE article because I’m also going to give you some tips and insider secrets how you could save time and money on your tuition!

Let’s get started…

7 Best Online Healthcare Degrees

Before we dive into the specific online healthcare degrees that we feel are worth your time and effort, it’s important to share with you first just why we believe these degrees offer students the best outcomes.

They are Economically Viable

These healthcare degrees will likely set you on a lucrative career path. No matter what the economy is doing, you will have obtained the skills that a variety of healthcare institutions seek in candidates. Also, if you are looking for a career that leaves room for growth and advancement, we encourage you to give these healthcare degrees your attention.

Ideal for a Career Change

Are you an adult that has been in the workforce for quite some time? Are you looking to change careers? Maybe it’s time to make a switch that will allow you to earn more for your family? The following healthcare degrees are perfect for those adults looking to make a change.

Flexibility and Affordability

We’ve decided to focus on the healthcare degrees that can be earned online because they allow busy working adults the ability to make a positive change in their lives. An online program will allow you to study from home and during those times when it is most convenient for you.

Now that you know why we chose the online healthcare degrees that we did, let’s take a look at them:

Healthcare Administration

Doctors and nurses tend to get all the glory in the medical industry, but the reality is, these professionals couldn’t do their job properly if it wasn’t for the healthcare administrators working tirelessly in the background.

A bachelor of science in healthcare administration prepares you to oversee the entire operations of a healthcare facility. Graduates will have obtained the leadership skills necessary to become a valuable team member within hospitals, nursing homes and private doctor’s offices, ensuring excellent service is given to each and every patient.

Career Outlook

Thanks to an aging baby boomer population, the healthcare industry is booming and many jobs within this industry are in high demand. To meet these growing needs, hospitals, nursing homes and doctor’s offices will require the help of qualified and skilled healthcare administrators.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Have you been dreaming about becoming a registered nurse? Then a BSN program is definitely for you. A bachelor of science in nursing will prepare you to take the NCLEX exam. This is the national exam that ultimately leads to licensure as a registered nurse.

BSN students will learn a variety of topics, including liberal arts courses to education in medical practice. You’ll not only study the topics online, but also take residencies and internships in the field.

Career Outlook

Well, we already mentioned that the healthcare community in general is already experiencing large growth thanks to the aging baby boomer population. On top of this, we continue to experience a nursing shortage. The rapid demand for more nurses combined with many aging out of the profession has caused a huge demand. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. This is great news for nursing students as there are jobs aplenty!

Also according to the BLS, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $73,300 in May 2019.

Nutrition

There was a time when doctors gave little attention to how diet affects health. But in recent years, as more studies have been conducted and the results have shown a direct link between food and disease, there has been an increased demand for nutritional coaches and dietitians.

In a bachelor of science in nutrition science program, you’ll gain the skills and knowledge needed to build a career as a dietitian or nutritionist. Your degree will allow you to work in a variety of settings. You may work in gyms and health centers, working with individuals who need to lose weight. You may also work in hospitals and other medical facilities with patients who need to adjust their diets to manage a chronic disease.

Career Outlook

The general public has become aware of the importance of healthy eating to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent and manage disease. As this awareness has grown, so has the demand for these professionals. In fact, according to the BLS, employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Graduates with this degree can expect a median annual income of $61,270, according to the BLS.

Health Information and Data

As the healthcare industry has evolved over the years, technology has played a large part in ensuring patients get the best possible care and outcomes. On any given day, the average patient in this country may receive care from as many as a dozen different people. All of these specialists work together to help the patient recover from an injury or disease. But all of this specialization requires an increase in information coordination, and it is health informatics that allows this coordination to happen efficiently and seamlessly.

Health informatics combines the fields of medicine, information science and information technology to develop comprehensive systems for generating, validating, securing, and integrating health-related data. A degree in health information and data will help you to use information technology and information management skills to improve the efficiency and quality of health care services.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, employment of health managers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2028. Graduates with this degree can pursue a variety of career paths in a variety of settings including hospitals, primary care facilities, physician offices, insurance companies, and pharmacies. Also according to the BLS, the median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians was $42,630 in May 2019.

Healthcare Certifications – Another Excellent Option

Okay, we admit, we’ve called the title of this article “Online Healthcare Degrees” but the truth is, there is another way for you to have a rewarding and lucrative career in healthcare that doesn’t require you spend 4 years obtaining a degree. A certification program offers students only those skills and information necessary to land a specific job in a specific industry.

There are a plethora of benefits to earning certification instead of earning a degree, especially for busy working adults. Here are some of the top benefits of earning certification:

Certification Takes Far less Time

If the idea of spending 4 years obtaining your bachelor’s degree isn’t appealing to you, you’ll love to know that obtaining certification can happen far quicker, usually in just 6 months!

It’s More Affordable

When you can shave off years of your education, you can expect to shave off cost as well. On average, certification will cost you about five times less than earning your degree.

You’ll Start Earning Faster

Not only will you pay less for certification training, you’ll also be able to enter the workforce far faster, which means you’ll be able to start earning right away. You’ll be able to pay off the cost of your certification training in much less time.

Here are just a couple of examples of exciting careers you can have through certification:

Medical Billing and Coding

When a patient visits a doctor, that visit is assigned a specific medical code. This code ensures the patient’s insurance company can be billed correctly. Medical billing and coding professionals manage mounds of patient data, making sure that each and every healthcare procedure and diagnosis is coded correctly. These professionals can work in a variety of settings including in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, administrative support centers, and even medical laboratories.

Career Outlook

As the healthcare industry relies more and more on data-driven outcomes, medical billers and coders will be needed to help maintain patient records. The BLS estimates that employment for medical billers and coders will grow 11% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the national average. The BLS also reports that these professionals had a median annual salary of $40,350 in 2018.

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians perform a variety of tasks on a daily basis. They may manage areas of the pharmacy such as dispensaries, assemble medicines to have prescriptions filled, supply medicines to patients and also offer the patients important information regarding their medications.

While the community pharmacy is the primary work environment of these professionals, it is not the only location pharmacy techs may choose to work. They may also choose to work in hospitals, nursing homes, compounding pharmacies, and more. Wherever pharmacy techs work, they play a critical role in the healthcare industry and are well-compensated for the value they provide.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Also according to the BLS, the medial annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $35,300 as of June 2020.

Online Vs Traditional Campus Healthcare Degrees

This entire article is about online healthcare degrees, so you may be wondering what the real differences are between getting your education through an online learning platform versus getting your education at a traditional brick and mortar college campus.

There are 3 very important benefits of earning your degree or certification online, and these are particularly true if you are an adult with a full-time job and family responsibilities.

1. Flexibility

When you’re a busy adult with a full-time job and family obligations, it is incredibly challenging, if not downright impossible, to stick to a rigid learning schedule where you are expected to show up to campus classes X times per week. With online healthcare degrees, you’re able to study from the comfort of your own home during those times that are most convenient for you.

You’ll also never have to miss any important family or work functions.

2. Affordability

You’ll find that online programs are far cheaper than traditional campus courses. This is because online platforms don’t have the massive overhead that brick and mortar colleges do. And traditionally these expenses are passed off to the student.

In addition to these savings, online degrees don’t require the cost of room and board, or even gas money to get to campus.

3. You Can Continue to Work While You Learn

Not many adults have the ability to quit their day job so they can pursue higher education. Online degrees allow adults to continue to work and provide for their family while pursuing a degree that can ultimately lead to career advancement.

Benefits of a Healthcare Degree

Here are just a few benefits of obtaining a healthcare degree or certification:

Increased Industry Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is currently experiencing exponential growth, and that trend isn’t expected to change anytime soon. In fact, it is believed that 8 out of the 20 fastest growing careers are in the healthcare industry. This means that graduates can expect to land a solid job.

Great Pay and Benefits for Medical Professionals

You can expect great earning potential within the healthcare industry. We’ve already covered some of the salaries that these 7 degrees will get you. In addition, the benefits offered in this industry tend to be much higher than positions in other industries.

A Rewarding Career

If you are someone that has always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, a career in healthcare will be incredibly rewarding. Whether you are a nurse providing hands on care, a healthcare administrator ensuring the hospital runs efficiently or a nutritionist helping patients manage their disease through food, you will know every day that you are really helping people.

Cost and Tuition of Obtaining a Healthcare Degree

Higher education is a huge financial burden for most families and individuals. According to a US News and World Report, the average yearly cost of a traditional public college is $9,687. That same education at a private college will cost $35,087.

If your heart just sank a little reading those figures, **don’t worry**, there are absolute ways you can gain a quality education without having to pay an arm and a leg.

Read our article on 5 ways you can save on college tuition, and also use our free Smartplan to find ways to save at various schools across the country by taking advantage of free courses, discounts and more. In fact, that’s why we created OnlineDegree.com so that everyone could have access to an affordable education.

Choosing the Right Type of Healthcare Degree

So far we’ve talked about obtaining a bachelor’s degree or certification in a healthcare field. But those aren’t your only options. Let’s take a look at some other higher education pathways.

Associates Degree in Healthcare

There are quite a few healthcare degree jobs available for those students who obtain an associate degree. You can actually become a registered nurse by getting this degree as opposed to a BSN degree that we covered earlier. The main differences are that an associate degree is only a 2-year program as opposed to the 4-year BSN degree. Usually those candidates with a BSN will command a higher salary. You may also become a dental hygienist, radiologic technologist, and medical sonographer with an associate degree.

Associate degrees require 60-65 credits and typically take two years to complete. This may be a good option for someone with limited time or budget who wants to enter the workforce sooner.

Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare

The majority of degrees we’ve covered so far in this article were bachelor’s degrees. These degrees generally require 120 credits and take 4 years to complete. Most employers tend to look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree, which is why we’ve focused on the degrees we have. Also, obtaining a bachelor’s degree will allow you to continue with your higher education, which will ultimately help you to command a higher salary.

Master’s Degree in Healthcare

If you see yourself someday in a leadership position within the healthcare industry, then you’ll want to eventually obtain your Master’s degree. For instance, if you think you would like to be a nursing instructor, you will need to obtain this degree. Master’s degrees typically require 30-40 credits (on top of your 120 credits) and take 1-2 additional years to complete.

Doctoral Degree 

Doctoral degrees lead to some of the highest earning professions within the healthcare industry. Should you decide one day you’d like to become a doctor, you’ll need to obtain an M.D. You may also want a career as a medical researcher, in which case you’ll require a Ph.D. Admission requirements for doctoral programs in healthcare include a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution and usually GRE or GMAT scores.

An M.D. will require an additional 4 years of post-baccalaureate study and will prepare you for a residency program and then a career as a doctor in your chosen specialty. A Ph.D. takes an additional 4-6 years to complete and 90 credits.

Choosing the Correct University or College for Your Healthcare Degree

Now that you have a good idea of which online healthcare degree interests you, it’s time to find the right school to complete your higher education. The following criteria are important, we feel, particularly for adult students:

  • Online Programs
  • $0 application fees
  • Doesn’t require SAT/ACT testing
  • Faculty and professors that understand adult students’ needs
  • Offer discounts or scholarships
  • Convenient enrollment dates year-round (so you don’t have to wait for Spring or Fall)
  • Accredited

Now we should warn you, finding adult-friendly schools that offer these criteria can be very challenging! And it’s for this reason we created Smartplan.

Our Smartplan can help you find the school that offer the specific criteria you’re looking for. This makes pursuing your degree that much easier.

Register today to get your free Smartplan and compare different colleges! >>

Salary Data for Healthcare Professionals

We’ve already covered some of the careers a healthcare degree offers you and looked at those salaries. But a healthcare degree can lead to a wide variety of career paths within the industry. So let’s now take a quick look at some of the other careers you might consider pursuing and the salaries of each, according to the BLS:

Director of Nursing

This professional manages the entire nursing department of a large hospital. You would need to obtain not only your BSN but also complete your master’s degree for this position.

The average salary for these professionals is $173,000 per year.

Health Care Consultant

Healthcare consultants visit different facilities to help them address key issues and identify inefficiencies. These professionals may help to design new medical products, boost patient satisfaction, or devise systems to increase financial efficiency.

The average salary for this particular position is $96,000 per year.

Hospital CFO

Chief financial officers are responsible for the full financial operations of the hospital they work for. These professionals keep financial records, plan budgets, report to the Board of Directors and the CEO, and generally manage all financial risks.

The salary for a hospital CFO can vary greatly depending on where the hospital is located, but the salary range is between $95,000 to $300,000 a year.

These are just a handful of potential career paths awaiting you once you earn your initial healthcare degree. As you can see, the healthcare industry offers an abundance of interesting careers that all pay very, very well!

FAQs

Q: How does a healthcare certificate differ from a degree?

A: Certificates are more specialized than degrees and as such, they take far less time to earn. Certificates typically can be earned in less than a year whereas a bachelor’s degree requires 4 years to complete. This drastic difference in timeframes boils down to one main thing: degrees include general education courses whereas certificate programs only require you learn skills and knowledge directly related to your chosen field of study.

 Q: Is there any reason to earn a healthcare degree AND certification?

A: Great question! Yes, there are those instances where someone may earn their degree first, and then later become certified. This tends to happen when a healthcare professional needs to gain additional competencies and credentials, or if they want to transition to a slightly different role within the industry.

Q: Do employers prefer candidates with degrees over medical certification?

A: That really depends on the position you are going for. There are some employers that may look for a 4-year degree over certification. But understand that most employers want whichever candidate has the right skills. Since certification is so focused on specialized skills and not general education, you will have what it takes to land a great job.

How to Get Started

Wow, we’ve just covered a LOT of information. You may be wondering what you should do next.

We think right now you should take a few moments to use our Smartplan to find the right school that offers all of the criteria you’re looking for.

We’ve provided this helpful and free tool for you to help you make the right decision, and find ways that could end up saving you THOUSANDS of dollars toward your business degree!

Register today for free >>

About the Author
Grant Aldrich
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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