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How to Choose a Healthcare Career

How to Choose a Healthcare Career

Group of five smiling medical professionals wearing scrubs

If you’re passionate about caring for others, working in a medical setting could be right for you. But with so many different paths and specializations in the healthcare sector, it can be difficult to know where to start. Located in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Northwestern College offers several programs for students interested in working in healthcare. Here, we outline a few of the popular careers that are available to students after earning a certificate or degree.

Healthcare Careers That Require a Certificate

You don’t necessarily need to earn a bachelor’s degree to enter the growing field of healthcare. There are some occupations you can pursue after completing a shorter certificate program. These include:

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants work in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices. They perform clinical and administrative tasks under the supervision of physicians and other healthcare personnel. Some work in a front office role, greeting patients, answering phones, and managing medical records. Others work with patients in the exam room, where they record medical histories and take blood samples. If you want to start working in the field of healthcare as soon as possible, medical assisting is a great fit. Northwestern College’s medical assisting program can be completed in just four academic quarters (48 credit hours). We also have an online medical assisting certificate program for students who may already be working full-time or can’t get to campus easily.

Dental Assistant

Dental assistants have some of the same duties as medical assistants: they greet patients, schedule appointments, and update medical records. But they specialize in oral health and hygiene and support dentists and dental hygienists. The dental assisting certificate program at Northwestern College is also comprised of 48 credit hours. Graduates are eligible to take the registered dental assistant (RDA) certification exam offered by American Medical Technologists (AMT). This is a key qualification that healthcare employers look for.

Healthcare Careers that Require a Degree

Earning an associate degree, which typically takes about two years, can open up even more career opportunities. Northwestern College offers three associate degree programs to prepare students to work in the following positions:

Radiologic Technologist

If you enjoy working with both people and technology, consider a career in radiologic technology. Radiographers, commonly known as X-ray techs, use medical imaging equipment to support physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses. They work in all kinds of healthcare settings and can specialize in methods like mammography or computed tomography. The radiologic technology program at Northwestern College prepares students to work as entry-level radiographers and provides a strong foundation in radiographic procedures, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and radiographic pathology.


Nurses provide day-to-day care in hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, and surgical centers. The nursing associate degree program at Northwestern College is open to students who are new to the field, as well as those who have work experience as licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Upon completing the program, students are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is a requirement to become a licensed nurse in Illinois.

Health Information Technology

Technological advancements have the power to improve healthcare delivery. If you’re tech-savvy and like working with data, you may enjoy a career as a medical records technician or health information technician. The health information technology associate degree program at Northwestern College teaches students the fundamentals of health information, statistics, quality management, and ethical standards in health data.

For those who want to take their education a step further, Northwestern College offers a Bachelor of Science in health information management. This online program builds on the skills and knowledge gained through the associate degree in health information technology.

Pursue a Career in Healthcare at Northwestern College

Located in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and serving the greater Chicago area, Northwestern College helps students prepare for exciting and fulfilling healthcare careers. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to student success by offering several career services. Our college advisors and career counselors can help students find the right path, prepare for interviews, and create resumes and cover letters. We boast excellent job placement rates and work to connect students to potential employers through job listings and career fairs. To learn more about our programs and possible career paths, request information today.