Find Your Future
Get started on a path towards a rewarding career in healthcare. Not sure where to start? Explore different career paths in healthcare below offering endless opportunities for growth and advancement.
Find more information on careers in healthcare in the 2022-2024 Virginia Health Careers Catalog.
Average Salary: $74,380
Nursing is a challenging and highly rewarding career that will continue to be in high demand well into the future. Registered nurses (RNs) work closely with physicians and other professionals as part of a healthcare team. RNs use a broad knowledge base to assess and understand problems, administer treatments, and make decisions about patient care.
2-or-4 year degree from an accredited program, and state licensure from the Virginia Board of Nursing
Areas of Specialization
There are many work environments, patient populations, and medical conditions in which an RN can specialize, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, psychiatric/mental health, maternal health, public health nursing, and informatics.
Licensed Professional Nurse
Average Salary: $47,410
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work under the supervision of a physician or a registered nurse to provide nursing care. Their duties may include collecting specimens for laboratory tests, changing dressings, evaluating patient needs, and implementing care plans. LPNs often check vital signs such as temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure. In some states, they may administer prescribed injections, medications, and intravenous fluids. They also observe patients and chart their reaction to medications and treatments
Completion of two years of high school or its equivalent, and Completion of an approved practical nursing program, and Pass a written examination; and, state licensure from the Virginia Board of Nursing
Average Salary: $77,230
A diagnostic medical sonographer uses ultrasound equipment to produce dynamic images of internal structures - including the heart, blood vessels, abdomen, and breast- as well as to measure fetal growth and development in expectant mothers. Diagnostic medical sonographers prepare patients for exams, explain procedures, select appropriate equipment, and operate the ultrasound machine. They display images on a video monitor and are able to identify the anatomy and pathology of various organs. The images they produce are reviewed and interpreted by a physician to assess and diagnose abnormalities or medical conditions.
A certificate or an associate's degree from an accredited educational program, and voluntary certification through national radiologic registries (optional)
Areas of Specialization
You can specialize in the following areas within imaging: Abdomen, Breast, Cardiac, Obstetrics and gynecology, Pediatric cardiac, Vascular
Average Salary: $37,430
Phlebotomists are trained to draw blood without increasing possible anxiety and discomfort to the patient. They have a great deal of patient contact and help calm nervous patients before beginning the blood collection process. Because they risk exposure to diseases, phlebotomists are trained in laboratory safety and careful collection of blood. They are usually supervised by a clinical laboratory scientist.
A high school diploma or equivalent, and Completion of a certificate program (preferred). There are currently no licensure or certification standards for phlebotomists in Virginia but voluntary certification through national associations are available (optional)
Average Salary: $179,180
Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia and provide care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures. They also provide pain management and some emergency services. Before a procedure begins, nurse anesthetists discuss with patients any medications the patient is taking as well as any allergies or illnesses the patient may have, so that anesthesia can be safely administered. Nurse anesthetists then give a patient general anesthesia to put the patient to sleep so they feel no pain during surgery or administer a regional or local anesthesia to numb an area of the body. During the procedure, they monitor the patient's vital signs and adjust the anesthesia, as necessary.
A minimum of a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree, a current nursing license, and one year's experience as a registered nurse in critical care required for admission to a nursing anesthesia program; A master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited educational program. All programs will be required to graduate students at the doctoral level by 2025.
Required registered nurse license from the Virginia Board of Nursing, and required registered nurse practitioner license from the Virginia Board of Nursing, and required national certification from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists for the CRNA credential
Average Salary: $95,170
Occupational therapists (OTs) help people of all ages lead independent, productive, and satisfying lives. Many of their clients have physical, developmental, social, or emotional conditions that impact their ability to engage in everyday activities such as self-care, education, work, and play. OTs enable them to function in their chosen environments, including home, work, school, and community, by teaching new skills and/or design splints, special devices, and assistive technology to promote and maintain independent functioning.
A master's or doctoral degree including field work from an accredited educational program, and Required state licensure from the Virginia Board of Medicine and Required national certification from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (www.nbcot.org) for the Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR) credential.
Areas of Specialization
Driving and community mobility; Environmental modification; Feeding, eating, and swallowing; Gerontology; Low vision; Mental health; Pediatrics; Physical rehabilitation; School systems
Average Salary: $59,380
Respiratory therapists treat patients who have breathing difficulties due to cardiopulmonary (heart-lung) problems. The field of respiratory therapy has been transitioning from its roots in technology to a role that more closely resembles disease management. Treatments include temporary or long-term therapy for lung disorders such as asthma, COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, or pneumonia, and emergency care for those with heart failure, chest injuries, stroke, shock, premature birth or post-surgical complications.
A minimum of an associate degree and graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, and must pass a national exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Therapy to earn a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential, and have required state licensure from the Virginia Board of Medicine. Graduates are eligible to earn the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.
Average Salary: $52,610
Surgical technologists prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment. They check that all surgical equipment is working properly. Surgical technologists bring patients to the operating room and get them ready for surgery by positioning them on the table, covering them with sterile drapes, and washing and disinfecting incision sites. And they help the surgical team put on sterile gowns. During an operation, surgical technologists pass the sterile instruments and supplies to surgeons and first assistants. They might hold retractors or set up robotic surgical equipment. Technologists also may handle specimens taken for laboratory analysis. After the operation is complete, surgical technologists may apply bandages and other dressings to the incision site. They may also transfer patients to recovery rooms and restock operating rooms after a procedure.
A high school diploma or equivalent, and a certificate, diploma, or associate degree from an accredited surgical technology program, and state registration from the Department of Health Professions.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
Average Salary: $50,800
Counseling is defined by the American Counseling Association as a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. Depending on their specialty, counselors may help people struggling with substance use disorders or other addictions such as gambling; help people with emotional, mental, physical, or social challenges become more self-sufficient; or help individuals, couples, and families work through conflicts by improving communication and relationships.
A master's degree (at minimum) including supervised clinical work, and required state licensure from the Virginia Department of Health Professions and required state certification from the Virginia Board of Counseling. Specialist and doctoral programs are available; Some areas of specialization require a PhD or both counseling and teaching certificates
Areas of Specialization
Addiction counseling; Career counseling; Children and adolescents counseling; Clinical mental health counseling; Gerontological counseling; Marriage, couple, and family counseling; Pastoral counseling; Rehabilitation counseling; School counseling; Student affairs and college counseling.
Doctor of Medicine
Average Salary: $205,720
Doctors of medicine, also known as allopathic physicians or MDs, are trained to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, prescribe appropriate medications and lifestyle modifications, and perform therapeutic procedures. Physicians usually are the leaders of the healthcare team. They advise people on how to care for themselves by helping them to understand the effects of diet, exercise, and aging. In addition to caring for patients, physicians may choose to teach or to research new ways to diagnose, control, and cure diseases.
- A bachelor's degree with a strong foundation in math and science and completion of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are required for admission to medical school
- A doctoral degree from an allopathic medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education
- Completion of a residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
- Specialty training requires 3-5 years
- Subspecialty training requires an additional 1-3 years
Required state licensure from the Virginia Board of Medicine
Voluntary national specialty and subspecialty certifications
Most physicians specialize in an area such as family medicine, obstetrics, pediatrics, or surgery.
Community Health Worker
Average Salary: $47,980
A community health worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health and social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. A community health worker also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy.
A high school diploma or equivalent is not required for certification in Virginia; Employers will have their own requirements regarding educational attainment
Certification as a community health worker is voluntary in Virginia and can be obtained by completing 60 hours of core competency training, 2,000 hours of experience in the field, and a 120-hour practicum that can be concurrent to the experience requirement
Additional information, updates, and answers to questions can be provided by the Virginia Certification Board at vacertboard.org
Average Salary: $125,390
Pharmacists serve as medication specialists on patient care teams by providing information to assure optimal health outcomes with drug therapy. Pharmacists partner with physicians to assist patients in managing chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Pharmacists may provide immunizations, do some laboratory tests and even initiate treatment for some conditions. They educate and counsel patients on aspects of their disease or condition and the medications used to treat it. Many pharmacists own or manage pharmacies and may have other duties such as supervising pharmacy staff and purchasing medications and other health-related supplies.
Completion of two to three years of prepharmacy undergraduate coursework and of the Pharmacy College Admission Test for admission to a pharmacy program, and a doctoral degree in pharmacy (PharmD) from an accredited educational program, and required state licensure from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy
Optional: one to two years of residency training for clinical and specialty practice, voluntary national specialty certifications
Did you Know?
You can start your healthcare journey in many positions with little-to-no training required. See below for a chart summarizing the experience and training required for each position. Learn more about schools in Virginia offering diverse healthcare programs.
This information was repurposed with permission from the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority from the Virginia Health Careers Catalog 2022-2024. This catalog is a tool designed for students and professionals with an interested in healthcare careers. Find more information about school preparation and required training, average salary, and other resources in the full catalog.