Lesser-known healthcare careers and specializations you need to know

Have you thought about pursuing a healthcare career but felt overwhelmed by the many available options? While some professions in this field are well-known and popular choices, there are lesser-known healthcare careers and specializations that are equally important and rewarding. From genetic counselors to athletic trainers, these professions offer diverse opportunities to make a difference in the patients’ lives and communities. This guide provides a complete list you may want to learn more about. Whether starting your career journey or looking for a change, these hidden gems are worth considering. Read on!

Genetic counselor

A genetic counselor helps individuals and families understand and manage genetic conditions. They work closely with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to identify and assess genetic risk factors for various medical conditions, such as congenital disabilities, cancer, and inherited diseases.

One of the primary roles of a genetic counselor is to provide information and support to patients and families facing genetic-related concerns. This may include family history, medical review, results test interpretation, and treatment discussion. A genetic counselor also offers education on managing and reducing genetic risks and resources for coping with genetic conditions.

Besides working with patients, a genetic counselor may involve in research and education efforts to advance the genetic field. They may work in hospitals, clinics, research facilities, or other healthcare settings and can specialize in specific areas such as pediatrics, oncology, or reproductive health.

A genetic counselor requires a master’s degree and certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling. As a genetic counselor, you must stay up to date with the latest developments in the field, and it’s best to continue your education courses and maintain certification.

Medical Illustrator

You create visual materials for medical education and patient communication as a medical illustrator. You use your artistic skills and scientific knowledge to develop accurate and compelling visuals to convey complex medical information clearly and understandably.

A medical illustrator can work in various settings, including hospitals, universities, research institutions, and medical publishing companies. They create multiple materials, such as anatomical diagrams, surgical illustrations, medical animations, and patient education materials.

Typically, you require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in medical illustration or a related field, such as biology, anatomy, or art, to become a medical illustrator. Many programs need an internship or other practical experience. Some medical illustrators choose certification by the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI), which requires a portfolio review and passing a written exam. Other vital skills to excel in the medical illustrator career include:

  • Technical skills
  • Strong visual communication
  • Digital imaging
  • Sculpting
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity

Home care assistant

If you love the idea of helping the elderly, disabled, or individuals recovering from illness to overcome their health issues, working as a home care assistant might be rewarding. Your job involves assisting patients with daily needs, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and medication management. You may also offer companionship, transportation, and other support services to help patients maintain their independence and quality of life.

If you choose this career path, you may work in patients’ homes, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. You handle patients with chronic conditions, disabilities, or terminal illnesses. To become a home health aide, you must complete a training program ranging from a few weeks to several months.

Many programs include classroom instruction and hands-on training. You can complete them in a community college, vocational school, or healthcare facility. In some states, you might require certification and licensing to work as a healthcare assistant, which involves additional training and exams.

Travel nurse

Are you a nurse looking for new adventures and the opportunity to see different parts of the country (or world)? You should become a travel nurse. These registered nurses work on temporary assignments at healthcare facilities in various locations. These assignments can range from a few weeks to several months, and you can serve in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and schools.

You can work with different patients and healthcare providers as a travel nurse. This allows you to gain valuable experience in various settings and environments. As a travel nurse, you can explore new cities and regions and experience different cultures and lifestyles. Many professionals enjoy freedom, flexibility, and increased pay if they land a permanent job opportunity.

You must be a registered and licensed nurse to achieve a competitive advantage in this field. You should be flexible and adaptable to work in unfamiliar environments and settings. Excellent self-motivation and organization allow you to manage your arrangements and schedules appropriately.

Clinical nurse leader

If you want to take on a leadership role in the healthcare field, becoming a clinical nurse leader might be an exciting option. Clinical nurse leaders are responsible for leading and managing patient care teams. You work with patients, families, and other healthcare providers to offer high-quality, coordinated care.

As a leader, your primary duties are to oversee patient care and coordinate with other healthcare professionals. You can use your position to mentor and support others to provide exceptional patient care. To work in this role, you must be a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. If you want to stand out from other candidates, consider a master’s degree.

What can I do with a master’s in nursing? With this educational background, you gain more skills and stand out from your peers, allowing you to pursue advanced and lucrative roles in healthcare. For example, pursuing a master’s degree from Carson-Newman Online University equips you with knowledge and skills to work in multiple healthcare careers, including:

  • Primary care provider
  • Clinical research nurse practitioner
  • Public health nurse practitioner
  • Nurse practitioner

Physical therapist

According to a 2020 report by, physical therapists earned an annual median salary of $90,010. If you are looking for a lucrative and exciting career in the healthcare sector, you might want to pursue physical therapy.

Your daily duties involve helping patients to overcome chronic conditions, disabilities, or injuries. Physical therapists use various techniques, such as exercise, stretching, and massage, to help patients increase strength and flexibility, reduce pain, and improve overall movement and function. Job opportunities may be available at hospitals, clinics, schools, and nursing homes.

To become a qualified physical therapist, you must earn a doctor of physical therapy degree and a state license. DPT programs last three years and include classroom instruction and hands-on clinical training. Once you complete a DPT program, you must pass a licensure exam to practice as a physical therapist. Other skills to help you succeed include strong communication and interpersonal skills. This allows you to handle patients successfully and meet their goals.

Medical social worker

Medical social workers assist patients with social and emotional issues related to illness or healthcare. They can work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and community health centers. Medical social workers provide counseling, case management, and advocacy services to help individuals deal with illness or disability challenges.

If you love helping people deal with social issues, you may pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work and earn a state license to provide services. This can be a demanding career, requiring strong interpersonal and communication skills.

Medical emergency technician

A role as an emergency medical technician is fast paced but exciting work. Experts are the first respondents to offer emergency medical care and transportation for patients. They are the first healthcare professionals to arrive at an accident scene or medical emergency and use their training and skills to assess and stabilize patients waiting for advanced care.

If you pursue this career path, expect to work with different patients, from newborns to the elderly. Your responsibility is to provide life-saving care, allowing patients to overcome tragic events. You collaborate with other healthcare professionals, including doctors and paramedics, to achieve coordinated patient care.


Acupuncturists work with patients seeking relief from health issues, including pain, stress, anxiety, and insomnia. You evaluate patients’ health histories, perform physical exams, and develop treatment plans that involve acupuncture and other traditional medicine techniques.

You can seek employment in private acupuncture clinics, hospitals, and health centers as a professional. You may also work with doctors, nurses, and physical therapists to deliver excellent patient care.

Working as an acupuncturist may seem demanding as you interact with patients regularly. However, many acupuncturists find the work rewarding, as they use their skills to help individuals improve their quality of life and achieve better health.


Nutritionists help clients to understand the relationship between food and health and make informed and healthy dietary choices. You can work in private practice, hospitals, schools, and community organizations. Your daily activities may include the following:

  • Assessing individuals’ and groups’ nutritional needs and developing appropriate dietary plans to address deficiencies or imbalances
  • Educating clients on the importance of proper nutrition and guiding healthy nutritional choices.
  • Working with clients of different ages and approaching their needs according to their health situations
  • Keeping up to date with the latest research and developments in nutrition science and current dietary guidelines and recommendations
  • Managing the administrative aspects of your practice, such as scheduling appointments, managing finances, and marketing your services

Dental Hygienist

If you are passionate about oral health and wellness, consider a dental hygienist career. Your skills will be integral to your dental team as you work with other oral health professionals to provide preventive and therapeutic services to patients. Services in this role include cleaning teeth, taking X-rays, and offering education on oral hygiene and nutrition. You play a vital role in identifying and treating the early stages of oral disease.

Dental hygienists must complete an accredited dental hygiene program and pass a national licensure exam. Cultivate proper communication skills, allowing you to stand out by offering reliable patient care. Work opportunities are available in public health clinics, hospitals, and dental offices. A dental hygienist career can be fulfilling as it provides flexibility and a chance to change other individuals’ health.

Biomedical engineer

Biomedical engineers work in the engineering and medicine industries. They use technical skills to design and develop medical equipment, devices, and systems to improve healthcare. If you pursue this career, you may work on various projects, including designing artificial organs, developing diagnostic tools, and creating software to analyze medical data.

To become a biomedical engineer, you must have a strong math and science foundation and a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or a related field. The profession requires problem-solving, critical thinking skills, and the ability to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals.

Family nurse practitioner

A family nurse practitioner is a highly skilled nursing professional who provides primary and specialty healthcare services to patients of all ages. Responsibilities include:

  • Conducting physical exams
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Diagnosing and treating illnesses
  • Managing chronic conditions

If you choose this career path, you will work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive patient care.

You must earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a Master of Science degree specializing in family practice to work in this role. Build collaborative and communication skills as you work with a team to offer the best care to patients. Family nursing is growing in popularity, and you can find a lucrative job in clinics and hospitals.


An audiologist career can be rewarding as it allows you to impact individuals with hearing and balance disorders. You work with patients of all ages, providing multiple services to help them overcome their challenges and improve their overall quality of life.

An audiologist’s daily activities include evaluating and treating hearing loss, tinnitus, and vestibular disorders and educating patients and their families. Becoming a professional in this field requires a doctoral degree in audiology and state licensure.

Besides strong academic and clinical skills, you need excellent communication and interpersonal skills to handle patients’ issues. An audiologist can specialize in a specific area, such as vestibular disorder or pediatric audiology.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapists empower people to lead fulfilling and independent lives. You work with patients to solve their mental, physical, and developmental challenges. You create and implement individual treatment plans in this role, incorporating therapeutic activities and exercises.

Naturopathic doctor

Naturopathic doctors use natural and holistic approaches to help patients achieve optimal health and wellness. They may use multiple treatment options, such as herbal medicine, nutrition, and lifestyle counseling to prevent and treat various conditions. These may include chronic diseases, allergies, and stress-related disorders.

You must complete a 4-year naturopathic medical program to qualify as a professional. Colleges and universities offer these programs under accreditation by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). You must pass licensure exams to practice in the field.

Speech-language pathologist

Speech therapists treat individuals with communication and swallowing disorders to improve their skills and abilities. They work with children, adults, and the elderly, providing multiple services, including swallowing therapy, cognitive-communication therapy, and speech therapy. You can find work in clinics, hospitals, or schools if you are a qualified professional.

Qualification for a speech-language pathologist role involves a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. Are you interested in helping individuals with communication and swallowing disorders improve their skills and abilities? You might find this a rewarding and fulfilling career.

Physician assistant

As a physician assistant, you work with doctors to provide healthcare to patients. The career training equips you with skills to handle tasks such as medication prescription, diagnostic testing interpretation, and conducting a physical examination.

To work as a physician assistant, you must complete a physician assistant program, which takes about three years. Once you finish the program, you must pass a certification exam to practice in the field. Here are the essential qualities you require to excel in a physician assistant role:

  • Adaptability
  • Calmness
  • Approachability
  • Strong communication
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Detail oriented
  • Decisiveness

Medevac pilot

Medevac pilots fly medical evacuation (medevac) missions, which involve transporting critically ill or injured patients to medical facilities for treatment. These pilots can work for hospitals, medical transportation companies, or military organizations.

To become a medevac pilot, you will typically need to obtain a commercial pilot’s license and undergo specialized training in medevac operations. The training includes specialized medical equipment, navigation and communication systems, and emergency procedures. Once you complete the required education, you can seek employment in multiple industries. These include agriculture, helicopter training, law enforcement, armed forces, and emergency services.

Medevac pilots must understand weather patterns, aircraft performance, and flight planning. This allows them to respond to changing circumstances effectively. Skills you need for a role in this field may include:

  • Good vision
  • Excellent hearing
  • Mathematical ability

To sum it all

The healthcare field offers many career options that are lesser known but no less critical in impacting patients’ lives or leading a fulfilling profession. From genetic counselors and medical illustrators to home health assistants and travel nurses, these careers offer unique opportunities for those interested in making a difference in patients’ lives. If you are considering a healthcare career, don’t be afraid to explore the many lesser-known options available. You never know where your passions and skills may lead you!

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