People who work in the medical field have the privilege of making a positive difference in patient's lives on a daily basis. Including medical school, residency and fellowship, becoming a physician in the United States typically takes at least seven years. Yet there are many other medical professions that require significantly less schooling. If you are passionate about helping others and want to start working quickly, consider the careers listed in this guide.

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians are licensed providers who work under the direction of a pharmacist. Pharmacy techs work in hospitals, drugstores and mail-order pharmacies, and they perform duties such as assisting the pharmacist, maintaining inventory, compounding medicines and stocking machines. At drugstores, they interact directly with patients, helping them understand how to take a particular medication and explaining ways to minimize potential side effects. Depending on the type of technician program you choose, becoming a pharmacy technician can take three months to two years. Certificate programs generally take less than one year, and an associate degree in the field can be earned in two years. Pharmacy technician programs are frequently available at community colleges, and some programs are offered almost entirely online. When choosing a program, ensure that it is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

Nursing Assistant

A certified nursing assistant works under the supervision of a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse. Nursing assistants help patients with daily tasks, such as bathing, toileting, dressing, and eating. They are also responsible for recording the patient's vital signs, including pulse and blood pressure, and they assist the patient with exercises to build their range of motion. Nursing assistants help patients walk with canes and walkers, and they assist people in wheelchairs with getting in and out of bed. Hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers are just a few of the places where nursing assistants are needed. It typically takes a year or less to become a certified nursing assistant, and programs in this field are offered at the majority of community colleges. Nursing assistant courses must include a minimum of 75 hours of training, and many programs include at least 120 hours. After completing their training, nursing assistants must pass an exam that includes a clinical component.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Sonographers use ultrasound waves to create live video images of the body that can be used by physicians. Also known as ultrasound technicians, the images that sonographers obtain are used to evaluate the status of pregnancies and detect cancers and cardiac conditions. Images are also used to assess injuries. Sonographers typically work in hospitals and clinics, and they treat patients of all ages. Certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees are available in sonography, and most can be completed online. For entry-level sonography positions, an associate degree is normally required, which is designed to be completed in 18 to 24 months. A period of hands-on training is required after completion of online components, which is generally completed at a local hospital.

If you are interested in any of the careers listed above, do research online to discover more about which job could be the best fit for you. Asking medical professionals in your area for advice and contacting local colleges and health care organizations is helpful too.