Careers and beyond

careers in the medical field

The medical field has an extremely broad range of careers – there are many types of medical professionals that specialize in the different types of wellness. We’ve gone over the path through medical school to becoming a physician, but not all careers require a medical degree. Whether students choose to pursue medical school or not, there are alternative always careers.

Here is a small list of careers with information about the time needed in education. Some of these are specialized doctors while others have completely different tasks and requirements. You can always conduct personal research or consult your school’s guidance department for more insight on possible careers in any field.

Job Title

What they do

Schooling time + Medical School?


Anesthesiologists will be required to administer anesthetics to patients. They will need to work together with the surgery team and make adjustments to anesthetics if necessary. Good attention to detail is required as they need to recognize potential life threatening emergencies and intervene in a timely manner.

11-13 years, 1 year fellowship after residency


Medical School? YES


Cardiologists are required to diagnose and treat diseases of the cardiovascular system. They carry out tests for diagnosis and procedures such as heart catheterizations, angioplasties or insertion of a pacemaker

– 13 to 16 years, 3 to 5 years fellowship after residency


Medical School? YES


Nurses are required to care of patients while observing and recording their conditions. They will require good communication skills as they act as a conduit between doctors and patients. They are also responsible for the administration of certain medication and advising patients on out of hospital living.

Different durations based on three different levels: ADN, BSN, MSN


– ADN: 2-year program

(OR) BSN: 4 year undergraduate degree


– ADN and BSN can be furthered to a MSN degree


Medical School? NO


Physicians are required to examine patients by reviewing medical history. They will perform diagnostic tests, conduct analysis and solve any medical problems that occur. They are also responsible for the prescription of medication.


[Umbrella term for doctors of all kinds]

10 to 15 years. Most doctors will opt for additional years in fellowship to become more specialized, like in family medicine or pediatrics.


Medical School? YES


Optometrists are required to provide comprehensive eye exams to determine the health of eyes. They will need to detect, diagnose and treat any basic eye related issues, referring them to a specialist if necessary. They are also responsible for providing eyewear products such as glasses or contacts.

7 to 9 years (Requires Optometry School)


Medical School? NO


Paramedics are required to care for the sick and injured in emergency settings. They will respond to emergency calls, perform medical services and transport patients to medical facilities

3 years (including a 2-year associate program)


Medical School? NO


Pathologists are required to study the causes and nature of diseases by studying bodily fluids and tissues. They will perform biopsies and autopsies to discover disease or genetic information, relaying this information back to a variety of people (Doctors or Legal)

11 to 13 years (5 years of residency/fellowship)


Medical School? YES


Pharmacists are in charge of the distribution of prescription drugs. They will advise others on dosages, interactions and side effects of medication. They are also responsible for watching patients who are on medication. Sometimes, pharmacists will assist with the development of new drugs.

7 to 8 years (4 years pharmacy school)

Medical School? NO


Psychiatrists are required to diagnose, treat and prevent mental and behavioral disorders. They will perform various forms of therapy and work with patients to create specific treatment plans.

11 to 12 years (with 4 year residency)


Medical School? YES


Psychologists are required to analyze thoughts and behaviors of others in order to help patients understand and change their behavior. They will also conduct research in faculties and assist others with diagnosis

8 to 12 years (with 4-5 years of graduate school)


Medical School? NO


Surgeons are required to operate on patients in order to treat injuries. They will plan the diagnosis and postoperative care for patients. They are often the leaders who will work to ensure cooperation with others in the surgical team.

10 to 16 years (with 3 to 8 years of residency and training)


Medical School? OF COURSE.

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists are required to clean the teeth of patients. They will examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis. The will also educate patients on dental health and provide preventative dental care.

Varying, option to take just a 2 years associates program or a 4 year bachelor’s degree along with then a 2 year master’s program


Medical School? NO


Orthodontists are required to assist patients with the straightening of their teeth. They will first identify issues with the teeth and mouth, then use tools to solve alignment issues (tools include braces, invisalign, headgear)

10 years (4 years of dental school and a 2 year postdoctoral program)


Medical School? NO

Biomedical Scientist

Biomedical Scientists will analyze body samples in labs to develop solutions for diseases. They will also help diagnose patients using different technologies. Sometimes, they will help evaluate the effectiveness of different treatment methods.

9 years minimum (needs a Ph.D, medical school is optional)


Medical School? OPTIONAL


Pediatricians are required to monitor and maintain the health of individuals from birth to 18. They will deliver vaccines/immunizations and monitor development.

10 to 11 years (With three years of residency)


Medical School? YES


Chiropractors are required to use hands-on spinal manipulation to heal the body. They will take medical history and lab tests to determine and create a proper back treatment plan with the patient.

7 to 8 years (4 years of chiropractic college)


Medical School? NO


Prosthetists are required to design prosthetics for patients based on their condition and medical history. They will work together with physicians to ensure the best outcome for the patient

6 to 7 years (with 2 years of graduate school and a year of residency)


Medical School? NO


Veterinarians are required to examine animals to diagnose and treat health problems. They may need to perform surgery on animals or operate medical equipment if needed. They are also responsible for advising owners about animal well-being.

7 to 9 years (with 4 years of veterinary school and additional residency)


Medical School? NO


Dermatologists are required to evaluate skin condition of patients and diagnose diseases such as skin cancer. They will treat diseases of the skin, hair and nails via. continuous maintenance and prescription of proper medication.

11 to 13 years (with 3-8 years of both residency and fellowship)


Medical School? YES

As we’ve discussed, one of the most common examples of careers that requires medical school is the physician (doctor). Physicians are required to obtain an undergraduate, an M.D. and 3-7 years in residency, spending a total of around 10 to 15 years in school. There are a variety of specializations, common ones being internal medicine (The care of all adults) and family practitioner (care of family, includes pediatrics). Physicians are required to examine patients, help diagnose illnesses and assist with treatment, they are what many people associate as doctors.

Medical school is only one of the options for entering the medical field, many careers in medicine don’t actually require an M.D. One such career would be nursing, which only requires a 2 year associates program. After a student completes the 2 year associates program, they can get licenced as an RN (registered nurse). As soon as they are licenced, they can start working in medical facilities as nurses, caring for patients and acting as a conduit between patient and doctor. Nurses can undergo additional schooling in order to obtain the BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or even the MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing). Nurses with a BSN or an MSN can take on more complex jobs, upping their salary in the process. There are also specialization options for nurses, including nurse midwives or nurse anesthetists. This is an example of a many great careers that don’t require medical school.

Conclusion + Note from the PuMP Team

Becoming a medical professional is not a straightforward process. Hopefully this resource has helped you clear up some facts, or provided you with some insight on this amazing field of careers. The road may seem long, but no journey is too difficult in the face of hard work and passion. We strongly recommend that you further explore this, and other career paths, with personal research and discussion with adults who have been there and done that.

On behalf of the PuMP team, thanks for reading and using our first resource. Stay up to date with us on social media for updates on the latest around the organization!


Pathway Project Home