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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

3 Medical Careers That Pay Off (and You Can Learn in Under 2 Years)

June 23, 2020

3 Medical Careers That Pay OffWhen most people consider pursuing a medical career, they think it takes several years of school before they can start working. That’s not always the case. In fact, there are medical careers that offer decent pay and often take less than 2 years of college to earn an associate degree.

Surgical Technologists

Surgical Technologists assist in surgical operations, preparing operating rooms, arranging instruments and equipment, and helping doctors during surgeries. Surgical Techs may also provide pre, intra, and post-operative care and handle specimens.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national median annual wage for Surgical Technologists was $48,300 ($23.22 per hour) in May 2019, and they estimate that between 2018 and 2028, employment for Surgical Technologists will grow 9 percent.1

Earn an Associate of Science Degree in Surgical Technology in as Few as 15 Months

SJVC students can train in the Surgical Technology program from start to finish and be out working in operating rooms in under 2 years. Learn more about SJVC’s Surgical Technology program.

Dental Hygienists

Dental Hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventive dental care.

The national median salary of $76,220 ($36.65 per hour) in May 2019 for Dental Hygienists is a great benefit to those who work in this career. Employment for Dental Hygienists is expected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028.2

Earn an Associate of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene in as Few as 16 Months

In SJVC’s Dental Hygiene program, students can earn their associate degree in as few as 16 months. While completing their studies, students get hands-on training working with actual patients in the fully equipped on-campus dental clinic.

Students in the Dental Hygiene program must take licensure exams in order to be registered to practice as a dental hygienist in California. View licensure exam pass rates for SJVC graduating classes from 2015 to 2019. Find out more about SJVC’s Dental Hygiene program.

Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory Therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing, for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema.

Between 2018 and 2028, employment of Respiratory Therapists is projected to grow 21 percent, and in a  May 2019 report, Respiratory Therapists were earning a national median salary of $61,330 ($29.48 per hour).3

Earn an Associate of Science Degree in Respiratory Therapy in as Few as 19 Months

SJVC offers a Respiratory Therapy program that can be completed in as few as 19 months. Graduates may find employment in a variety of environments including hospitals, medical equipment companies, home care agencies, physicians’ offices, managed care organization, as well as specialized areas, such as sleep labs and pulmonary function labs. Learn more about SJVC’s Respiratory Therapy program.

While it may take doctors 10+ years to earn their full credentials, Surgical Technologists, Dental Hygienists, and Respiratory Therapists can train for their careers in under 2 years. These medical and dental careers are worth looking into, and SJVC is here to answer any questions you have about our programs. Request information today or give us a call at (888) 918-5287.


Programs not available at all SJVC campus locations. Visit consumerinfo.sjvc.edu for important information on program outcomes.

1[Source: BLS – Surgical Technologists 06.23.2020]

2[Source: BLS – Dental Hygienists 06.23.2020]

3[Source: BLS – Respiratory Therapists 06.23.2020]

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