Health Care Jobs that Require Less Education On The Rise and Increasingly Important

Jul 28, 2014

Health jobs that require less than a BA degree on the rise. Brookings Study also shows they could do more to help health care system and lower costs.

  Years of medical school are not needed to get a pretty good job in health care here in Syracuse.  A new study is now showing positions that require less training are on the rise – and increasingly important.

When you think about health care jobs, positions such as doctor or physical therapist or pharmacist might come to mind, though all require advanced degrees and education.  But just about half of all jobs in the field require less than a bachelors degree…and are increasingly important to patient care.  The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program  looked at availability, pay and number of these Pre-B-A jobs…Fellow Martha Ross says many positions that require an Associates degree or less can be good paying.

“Registered nurses in Syracuse with an Associate’s Degree can earn $58,000 (a-year), clinical lab techs can earn 41,000; diagnostic techs, like stenographers and MRI techs can earn in the 60s.  But some of the other occupations like, medical assistants, personal aides and home-care aides do offer much, much lower wages.”

And that’s a problem…Ross says it’s not easy to live on the 26-thousand the average home health aide in Syracuse makes.  That could be turned around though.  Ross envisions these kind of workers doing more to improve patient care –and hold down costs.

“So if you train a home care aide about how to monitor a patient’s condition, how to use an electronic medical record to communicate back with the mother ship about patient condition and see if there’s something they need to do particularly, to do some health care coaching, they may be in a position to contribute to reduced hospitalizations and reduced E.R. visits, which are huge cost drivers.”

She says that would require better utilization but also better pay for these workers. 


  • Expand research and evaluation on the effects of redesigned roles with greater responsibilities among pre-baccalaureate healthcare workers in order to improve care and reduce costs. 
  • Fund a neutral organization to share best practices and data about how healthcare practices are deploying pre-baccalaureate healthcare workers regarding health outcomes, process redesign, training, wages, and cost.
  • Simplify the patchwork, state-by-state rules that govern the services that members of a given healthcare occupation can provide.
  • Develop and strengthen regional healthcare partnerships of employers and educators to meet regional healthcare workforce needs, with a focus on helping pre-baccalaureate workers increase their skills and advance on the job.

Brookings found just about half of all health workers are in 10 Pre-B-A fields.  They do represent opportunity since the number of those positions is growing.