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2020 Health Professions Degree Guide

The Health Professions field is a large field with many different occupations available to students. If you are interested in pursing a career where you can work with other patients, assist medical professionals, or provide unique medical services, consider majoring in one of this field's areas of specialization.

Students in the Health Professions field will take a variety of classes that focus on their area of study. In addition, almost any major in this field can expect to take classes in biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, psychology, medical terminology, health care systems, public health, and medical law and ethics.

Within the Health Professions field are many unique specialties. One of the most popular fields is that of Nursing, a program where students are prepared to assist doctors in the diagnosis, treatment and healing of patients.

Students interested in assisting a dentist in dental work or oral surgery may major in Dental Support Services, while those more interested in the health of animals and pets can major in Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Services.

A major in the Allied Health Professions prepares students for a variety of careers in everything from cardiovascular technology, to physician assistant or athletic trainer.

Students who want a good preparation for further education can major in Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences in order to become a pharmacist. Or, if your dream is to become a medical doctor, you can major in Health/Medical Prep which prepares students for medical school.

For students interested in alternative health, there are plenty of programs available in this field. Some of these include Alternative Medicine and Systems, Somatic Bodywork and Therapeutic Services and others. Explore all the majors available to find the one that is of most interest to you.

#1 Most Popular Major
9k Degrees Awarded
0.5% Increase in Graduates

In 2017-2018, health professions was the 1st most popular major nationwide with 960,002 degrees awarded. This is approximately the same as the 955,240 graduates the prior year.

The United States has 1,665 different schools where you can get a degree in health professions. This year's Best Colleges for Health Professions ranking compares 591 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Explore this or one of our many other custom health professions rankings further below.

Requirements for Getting a Degree in Health Professions

Students who pursue a degree in Health Professions should have strong interpersonal and communication skills. You will be working closely with patients and must keep them relaxed and comfortable of your skills. Students who are successful in this field also have strong critical and analytical skills. As a medical professional, you must observe patients' symptoms and decide how to best treat them. Attention to detail will ensure you properly note all observations and help patients who are in pain or ill.

Depending on the career path you would like to pursue, you may have to receive an advanced education, certification, or licensing in your field. Students who intern, work summer jobs, or participate in summer field programs will be able to work closely with health professionals and learn what is required for a successful career in that field.

Prior Education for a Health Professions Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most health professions degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. Specific health professions careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Types of Health Professions Degrees

There are various different levels of health professions degrees. You can get anything from a award taking less than 1 year in health professions to the highest health professions degree, a professional practice doctorate. The time it takes to complete a health professions degree varies depending on the program.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to health professions, with approximately 21.7% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for health professions workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 21.5%
Master’s Degree 17.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 16.6%
High School Diploma 10.8%
Post-Secondary Certificate 8.9%

61.1% of health professions workers have at least a bachelor's. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in health professions careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the health professions career you are seeking.

Health Professions Careers

High Number of Jobs
$44k Average Starting Salary
18% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Health Professions graduates work in a variety of health related occupations. Many are employed at hospitals, while other work in clinics, medical centers, physicians' offices, nursing homes, schools, veterinary clinics, and in the armed forces. A degree in this field prepares students to aid the public and provide medical services to those who need it.

High Growth Projected for Health Professions Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your health professions degree? Health Professions careers are expected to grow 17.7% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to health professions.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Registered Nurses 3,393,200 14.8%
Personal Care Aides 2,793,800 38.6%
Nursing Assistants 1,683,700 11.5%
Office and Administrative Support Worker Supervisors 1,557,400 3.4%
Home Health Aides 1,342,700 47.3%

Health Professions Degree Salary Potential

Recently graduated health professions students earned an average of $44,034 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $2,700 to as high as $231,200. As you might expect, salaries for health professions graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Health Professions Careers

Salaries for health professions graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers health professions grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons $242,370
Orthodontists $225,760
Family and General Practitioners $211,780
Physicians and Surgeons $203,880
Prosthodontists $191,400

Getting Your Health Professions Degree

With over 36,470 different health professions degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased health professions school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Health Professions

Health Professions Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Nursing 293,633
Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services 104,465
Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants 90,916
Health & Medical Administrative Services 87,058
Allied Health Professions 86,125

View All Health Professions Related Majors >


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