The 7 best paying healthcare jobs

The healthcare industry is incredibly large and provides a wealth of rewarding careers. If you’re interested in breaking into the healthcare industry but aren’t sure which route to take, this article is for you. 

We are going to explore the best paying healthcare jobs and take a look at the differences in salary. We’ll also delve into what skills and qualifications you’ll need to land each of the roles listed. 

What is the healthcare industry? 

We’ll be using this term a lot throughout the article, so let’s look at what we can define the healthcare industry as. The healthcare industry encompasses all sectors that provide medical services for the treatment of patients. These goods and services come in a variety of forms but can be categorised into four types of care; preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative.

It’s easy to simply imagine a hospital setting when we think of the healthcare industry, but it is actually incredibly varied. The industry, of course, encompasses hospitals and the pivotal roles of doctors and nurses. However, the healthcare industry also offers a range of specialised roles, as well as roles in areas like drug manufacturing settings. 

Even companies that produce equipment for medical purposes are encompassed within the healthcare industry. 

Why choose a career in healthcare? 

No matter which subsection of the healthcare industry you choose to dive into, there’s one thing that you can be sure of; you’ll be making a difference. All areas of healthcare are in place to provide that crucial care to patients in need and leave a positive impact on the world.

By jumping into an industry that sets out to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the globe, you’ll be leaving a positive impact on the lives of many. Job satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with jobs that leave a positive impact on the world. Whether it’s a physical patient care role or a hospital management role, you’ll be directly making a difference. 

As well as doing a satisfying and impactful job, you’ll be able to earn a decent salary in your role. Jobs in this sector tend to have highly competitive salaries, and these numbers can only increase based on experience and skill. On that note, let’s dive into some of the best jobs in the medical field that pay well. 

1. Nurse anaesthetist 

As the name suggests, these healthcare professionals focus on the introduction of anaesthesia. A nurse anaesthetist is responsible for administering sedatives, pain relief, and of course, anaesthesia. Unlike other nurse roles, anaesthetists are allowed to work independently without direct supervision.

Along with the administration of pain medication, nurse anaesthetists are also responsible for monitoring patients during and after surgery. In this role, you’ll be managing the recovery of patients to ensure a full and healthy recovery and report any anomalies. 

How much do nurse anaesthetists earn? 

Nurse anaesthetists can expect to earn an average salary of £36,654 in the UK. In comparison, the average nurse salary in the UK is £25,586, so it’s evident that specialising in specific areas can enhance your salary. The average nurse anaesthetist salary in the US is $160,732.

What do I need to become a nurse anaesthetist? 

In order to secure your role as a nurse anaesthetist, you’ll need to become a registered nurse. In America, you need a masters degree (often anaesthesia focused) in order to pursue this role, alongside a certification to become a certified registered nurse anaesthetist. 

Let’s look at some of the skills needed to become a nurse anaesthetist: 

Attention to detail – it is crucial to be completely focused and take note of every detail when delivering pain relief to patients, as the correct amount needs to be administered, and there is no room for mistakes.
Ability to remain calm – This is essential for such a patient-focused role; regardless of who you are treating, you should always remain calm and collected. Medical settings can be incredibly taxing and unpredictable environments, so you need to be equipped to deal with stressful situations.
Teamwork – you’ll be working alongside other healthcare professionals in a busy setting, and communicating with your colleagues is vital to ensure that all staff are updated and do not miss any crucial information. 


2. Pharmacist

One of the more well-known healthcare jobs, pharmacists work closely with different types of medication. Typically, a pharmacist will be responsible for dispensing medications to patients (prescription and over the counter). 

However, there are different sub-roles within the pharmacist career path. Hospital pharmacists, general practice pharmacists and hospice pharmacists are just some of the routes you can take. 

As well as dispensing and keeping track of medications, pharmacists are also expected to liaise with doctors and other healthcare professionals. As a pharmacist, you should also expect to offer advice and pharmaceutical information to patients. 

How much do pharmacists earn? 

The average salary for a pharmacist in the UK is £37,551, with more experienced pharmacists earning around £49,000. In the US, pharmacists can expect to earn an average of $116,061. All of the salaries listed throughout this article have been taken from Payscale

What do I need to become a pharmacist?

In order to secure a role as a pharmacist, you’ll need to have the appropriate qualifications and skills. In the UK, the typical requirement for pharmacists is to have a 4-year Master’s in pharmacy degree. This should be followed up by a year-long work placement.

Let’s look at some other skills you’ll need to have:

Strong communication skills – you’ll be conversing with patients on a daily basis and feeding them critical information regarding their medication. Communication skills are essential to make sure that you’re communicating with patients effectively. 
Mathematical skills – since you’ll be dispensing medication, it is incredibly important to have a strong understanding of mathematics in order to effectively prescribe correct amounts of medication.
Critical thinking – being responsible for the distribution of medical substances puts you in a situation where you have to think on your feet, and carefully assess patients and their needs in a timely manner. 

If you’d like to learn more about the basics of pharmacy, check out our Essentials of good pharmacy practice course. 

3. Healthcare manager

As we discussed in our recent healthcare management blog post, this term refers to the overall management and leadership of both public and private healthcare organisations. Management is needed in order to ensure that operations within healthcare establishments are maintained seamlessly. 

This healthcare career is a little different to the others we’ve listed, as it’s very management and administration focused. As a healthcare manager, you can expect to spend your time handling finances, overseeing and directing departments, purchasing new resources and strategically planning the establishment’s objectives. 

This role can also vary depending on the type of healthcare management job you decide to pursue. Types of healthcare managers include healthcare administrators, hospital managers, health coordinators and clinical directors. This career path is perfect for those who are business and management inclined but wish to join the healthcare industry. 

How much does a healthcare manager earn? 

The average salary for a healthcare manager within the UK is £37,842, but this will vary and increase depending on which area of management you choose to get into. For example, a clinical director can expect to earn an average salary of £65,136. Clinical directors in the US earn an average of $79,160. 

What do I need to become a healthcare manager?

To land a role as a healthcare manager, you’ll need to hold a bachelor’s degree, although a Master’s degree would be preferred. Our Master of business administration in the healthcare sector is the perfect degree to get yourself a healthcare manager position. 

Let’s look at some skills that a healthcare manager should have: 

Management – since this role is more management-focused than most healthcare careers, it’s important to have strong management skills. You’ll be managing change and managing large teams and departments, and should be able to do so effectively. 
Mathematical skills – a lot of your role as a healthcare manager will involve budgeting and forecasting finances and revenue within the healthcare establishment. Mathematical skills are crucial for making sure you understand these numbers.
Interpersonal skills – as a manager, you’ll be attending frequent meetings and boards with various colleagues and stakeholders. You’ll be representing the establishment, and should be able to communicate effectively and efficiently. 

If you are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, check out our Introduction to management and leadership health services microcredential. 

4. Optometrist

Healthcare professionals who work in the field of optometry specialize in eye health. Not to be confused with opticians, optometrists are trained to detect any abnormalities, signs of illness and issues with vision. Optometrists can even detect health issues such as diabetes via an eye exam.

Although the role sounds similar to that of an optician, since they are both trained to examine eyes, opticians lack the necessary medical knowledge to fully diagnose issues. Optometrists are highly trained medical staff, and are involved in the preoperative and postoperative care of a patient. 

Optometrists are responsible for carrying out eye examinations, diagnosing health issues and issuing relevant treatment when necessary. 

How much does an optometrist earn?

The average salary of an optometrist in the UK is £37,885, with the potential to reach up to £50,000 with more experience. In the US, the average annual salary for optometrists is $110,630. 

What do I need to become an optometrist? 

If a role in the eye health field interests you, you’ll need to have a degree in optometry. You’ll also need to carry out a supervised work placement with a qualified optometrist for one year before you can secure your first role. 

What skills do you need to succeed as an optometrist? 

An interest in eye health – this role is very focused on one area of human anatomy, so it will be repetitive. It’s important to have a genuine interest in eye care, and a passion to excel in this area to keep you engaged. 
Precision – eyes are a very sensitive part of the body and not always easily accessible. When carrying out examinations and working with eyes in general, you should exhibit exceptional precision skills to work effectively. 
Empathy – a lot of eye conditions can be very painful and stressful for patients, so it’s likely that you’ll deal with distressed patients. You’ll need to be compassionate and understanding when working in such a delicate area of healthcare. If you’d like to build on your empathy skills, check out our Emotional intelligence at work course.   


5. Dentist

If you have a keen interest in teeth, then you might be interested in becoming a dentist. Dentists are doctors that specifically work on mouths and teeth, and specialize in oral health. 

As a dentist, you can expect to examine and diagnose issues related to teeth and gum health. Although the role is specific, it involves a lot of different skills and challenges. Some of the tasks you’ll be doing as a dentist include filling cavities, cleaning teeth, removing unhealthy teeth and taking and reviewing dental x-rays. 

Some dentists choose to progress onto becoming an orthodontist, which requires additional training. Orthodontists are focused more on the movement and structure of your teeth and jaws. Braces and teeth alignment often fall under the responsibilities of orthodontists. 

How much does a dentist earn? 

Dentists in the UK earn an average salary of £51,785, and more experienced dentists can earn around £98,000. If you choose to study for a further three years to become an orthodontist, you could earn an average salary of £77,757 in the UK. The average salary of a dentist in the US is $138,089. 

What do I need to become a dentist? 

To start your journey in the world of dentistry, you’ll first need to get a bachelor’s degree in dentistry, which will take you five years to complete. Once you have your degree, you’ll also need to carry out 1-2 years of supervised training. 

Let’s look at some of the skills needed to become a dentist: 

Patience – since dentistry patients tend to lay down during their treatments and examinations, you’ll be sat down for a large portion of the day whilst you work. You’ll need to be able to keep patient and carry on working without much movement. 
Ability to remain calm – having a fear of the dentist isn’t uncommon, especially amongst children. You will likely have unpleasant experiences with uncooperative and distressed patients, but to provide them with good care, you’ll need to stay calm and deal with the situations appropriately. 
Dexterity – similarly to surgeons and optometrists, dentists need to have a steady hand and carry out tasks precisely. The mouth is a small, sensitive organ that needs to be treated with care. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this area of the healthcare industry and bag yourself one of the most prestigious jobs in the medical field, check out our Discover dentistry course. 

6. Doctor

The title of doctor is a broad term within the healthcare industry, as there are many forms of doctor roles available. However, doctor is often used to refer to general practitioners. General practitioners are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients who are experiencing health issues.

General practitioners can opt for a career in public health or seek out a private practice to offer their skills. A doctor will spend their days diagnosing, prescribing and administering medication and providing advice to sick patients. 

Doctors can also choose to specialise in specific areas of interest. Some of the types of roles available include peadiatrician, dermatologist, neurologist and psychiatrist. Because the role of a doctor is quite broad, your tasks and responsibilities will vary greatly depending on which route you choose to take. 

How much does a doctor earn? 

In the UK, the average salary of a general practitioner is £63,624, with more experienced professionals earning around £102,000. In the US, doctors earn an average salary of  $194,645. 

What do I need to become a doctor? 

To become a doctor in the UK, you’ll need to have a 5-year degree in medicine. You’ll also need to complete a 2-year foundation course in general training. To specialise in your chosen area, an additional 3 years of training is required. 

What skills will you need to become a doctor? 

Communication skills – since this is a patient-facing role, communication skills are key to carrying out your job successfully. It’s important to convey your findings and diagnosis to patients in order to help them, so you need to be able to do this effectively.
Attention to detail – as a doctor, you’ll be required to assess patients for a variety of different issues so that treatment can be given. This treatment should be tailored to patients and should address the medical concern, so it’s important to pay attention to any indicators of types of illness. 
Patience – doctors are known to work long shifts in a setting where they are interacting constantly throughout the day. The work can be stressful, and there are always human factors to consider, so it’s important to remain calm and patient during trickier days within your role. 

7. Surgeon

The role of a surgeon is one of the most prestigious healthcare careers in the industry. To put it simply, surgeons are responsible for carrying out surgery on patients in order to treat illness. These surgeries can range from minor keyhole surgery to complex brain surgery.

A surgeon’s relationship with patients goes beyond the operating table. This role also requires you to carry out initial assessments to determine whether surgery is necessary or not. Surgeons will also manage postoperative care for patients such as monitoring the use of antibiotics. 

Like a lot of healthcare careers, surgeons have the opportunity to specialise in specific areas of interest. Some of the roles available include paediatric surgeons, neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons. 

How much do surgeons make? 

The average salary for general surgeons in the UK is £69,748, with more experienced surgeons earning around £108,000. The average salary for a neurosurgeon in the UK is £97,216, so clearly those who choose to specialise in a specific field can expect much higher salaries. Surgeons in the US can expect to earn an average of $233,009. 

What do I need to become a surgeon? 

The journey to becoming a surgeon takes time, seeing as it’s a role for very skilled and knowledgeable individuals. In order to become a surgeon in the UK, you’ll need to have a 5-year degree in medicine, along with a 2-year foundation programme for training. 

You’ll then need to spend an additional 2 years carrying out core surgical training before starting your role as a surgeon. If you wish to specialise in a specific type of surgery, the specialist training could take up to an additional 6 years. 

So, what skills do you need to succeed as a surgeon? 

Dexterity – since you’ll be opening patients as part of your daily role, it’s vital to have strong levels of dexterity. Precision and accuracy could be the difference between life and death for a patient. 
Problem-solving – a surgeon will often have to carry out exploratory surgery to try and determine why a patient is unwell, so problem-solving skills are crucial as you’ll need to be able to diagnose a patient in good time.
Strong emotional resilience – the act of cutting open patients can be emotionally draining, and there are many other aspects to being a surgeon or doctor that can be emotionally taxing. You’ll need to be strong and resilient to cope with the stress of a hospital environment. 


Final thoughts

Whether a role as a pharmacist or a surgeon has caught your eye, we hope that this article has offered some insight into what your next healthcare role could be. There are an array of jobs in the medical field that pay well, so why not start your healthcare journey today? 

If you’re keen to learn more about the healthcare system, check out our Understanding thinking in healthcare systems course, which gives insight into international healthcare systems.

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