Healthcare careers can combine the advantages of a great occupational outlook with a chance to make a difference in people’s lives. If you’re like me, the downside is that many of the jobs in healthcare are … well, they’re kind of gross.
Growing up with a nurse as a parent, I am fully aware of some of the hazards that can keep those of us who are a bit squeamish away from some of the more traditional healthcare careers. The brave surgical nurses, proctologists and phlebotomists of the world have my undying respect and appreciation, but there is literally no amount of money you could pay me to cut into a beating heart for a living.
If sinking your hands into the less savory realms of healthcare is your thing, good on you. If not, here are some jobs for the rest of us:
Median Pay: $47,000
Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Cleanliness Rating: Bring a Towel
Most Likely to Get Dirty From: Treadmill Wipe-down
Description: Exercise physiologists are kind of like personal trainers who are more concerned with your health than if you can get your lats all swole in time for bikini season. For the most part, the job is pretty clean, although any time you have patients coming in for exercise tests, they are probably going to get at least a little sweaty. One would hope they are semi-civilized and know to wipe down their own machines. But if you’ve ever spent time in a gym, you know we have some real monsters in the world.
Median Pay: $180,000
Cleanliness Rating: Temporary Corpse-Touching
Most Likely to Get Dirty From: Med School
Description: Like psychologists, psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental illness. Unlike psychologists, they can prescribe drugs and make a whole lot more money (as in over twice as much on average!). The price you have to pay is that you have to go to med school just like every Tom, Dick, and aspiring cardiothoracic surgeon. That means you’ll be forced to take part in the unsavory parts of the job for a couple years.
Median Pay: $121,000
Education: Professional Degree
Cleanliness Rating: Clean
Most Likely to Get Dirty From: Clean-up, Aisle Seven
Description: A pharmacist’s job seems extremely simple at first. They put the right pills into a bottle and give them to someone. But when you consider the ramifications if they let any old fool hand out the pills, then it kind of makes sense to pay them the big bucks and require a whole bunch of school. Aside from pill dust (if that’s even a thing), the only way most pharmacists are going to get dirty is if they work in a neighborhood pharmacy and someone knocks over a pallet of energy drinks and it sprays their pant leg.
Median Pay: $73,000
Education: Master’s Degree
Cleanliness Rating: Clean
Most Likely to Get Dirty From: Improperly Wrapped Burrito at Lunch
Description: Modern genetics has advanced so quickly that most people don’t really have a good understanding of the ways that even minor genetic abnormalities can have a profound impact on their health. Genetic counselors screen patients for genetic markers and family history, and then counsel them about the results, which should be pretty self-evident from the name of the position. Since samples are generally collected and processed by other specialists and technicians, the genetic counselor’s job is mostly based around analyzing data and talking to people. That means the risk of getting dirty in the line of duty is usually limited to lunch-centric mishaps.
Median Pay: $58,000
Education: Associate Degree
Cleanliness Rating: Have an Emergency Mop Around
Most Likely to Get Dirty From: Vomit Clean-up
Description: If you spend too much time thinking about it, sitting in an X-ray or MRI machine can get a bit nerve-wracking. That’s a whole lot of energy being shot through your body while you’re just lying there. The thought of being overcooked or transformed into a mutant or CHUD is enough to make anyone a bit queasy. I’ve got to imagine that every once in a while, a sick or nervous patient throws up in one of these machines. Short of that, if you’re looking to be a tech, you’re likely to stay pretty clean.
Medical Records and Health Information Technician
Median Pay: $37,000
Education: Associate Degree or Certificate
Cleanliness Rating: Clean
Most Likely to Get Dirty From: Bleeding Paper Cut
Description: Medical records used to be so much simpler. A doctor would scribble something illegible onto a sheet of paper, which would be promptly shoved into a deep, dark hole and (possibly) retrieved when the pertinent information was needed. If you needed your records somewhere else, you’d go and get them or ask for them to be mailed. Then, computers came along and people realized it would be nice if there was some kind of system where records could be shared so people didn’t die because someone lost the sticky note that said, “Don’t give this person morphine because it makes them die.” That’s the (made up) history of the medical records field. Since many medical records people don’t work anywhere near patients, the chances of getting dirty are slim.