dental hygiene students

Health Professions

Proper health care is a central part of our lives, and patients need people around them — not to mention the infrastructure around the support workers — to keep them healthy. Health professions can include those front-line workers who come to mind when you think of a job in the medical professions — nurse, doctor, or medical assistant. It might also include a medical coder analyzing clinical statements. Or a supply chain specialist ordering medical supplies.

Whether you are trying to get healthier, avoid being sick, or recovering from injury, in some way you’re relying on someone in the medical field. If you want to join those ranks, read on to see what your options are in this field — which also happens to be Montana’s largest industry.

Wondering what else is out there? Take our Career Interest Quiz if you’re not sure which pathway is for you.

Healthy Hands-On Training

student riding exercise bike
The Health and Human Performance Lab is an incredible...offering for students. Students can utilize the department’s state-of-the-art health monitoring equipment for their coursework and degrees while also being located in an area with plenty of outdoor activities including fishing, hunting, and hiking.
Joey Paulsonmorgan
Alumni, University of Montana Western
Joey was an active student and highly involved in Peers Advocating Towards Health, a program dedicated to helping people live healthier lifestyles.

Associate Degree/Certificate

One to two years of study
medical assistant student

Medical Assistant

  • Average Salary:  $40,780
  • Job Growth (10 yr):  Very fast
dental hygienist

Dental Hygienist

  • Average Salary:  $84,520
  • Job Growth (10 yr):  Fast

Bachelor’s Degree

Four years of study
nursing students

Registered Nurse (two- or four-year degree)

  • Average Salary:  $78,350
  • Job Growth (10 yr):  Average
medical laboratory technologist student

Medical Laboratory Technologist

  • Average Salary:  $63,400
  • Job Growth (10 yr):  Average

Doctoral Degree

Six+ years of study
Hospital Administrator

Nurse Practitioner

  • Average Salary:  $119,960
  • Job Growth (10 yr):  Very fast


  • Average Salary: $125,220
  • Job Growth (10 yr):  Average

Room to Grow

The medical field is poised for very strong growth, both in the short term and in the long term.
nurse practitioners are projected to experience the fastest employment growth of all occupations over the next 10 years
projected increase in healthcare jobs per year statewide through 2031
employed in the Health Care & Social Assistance industry, the state’s largest industry by over 20,000 employees

Make Your Way Into the Health Field

Whether you’re just exploring in high school, still undecided as a college student, or an adult who is wondering if this field is right for you, you can take steps today to enter the medical field. Find out what you can do no matter where you are.

You can start exploring health careers as early as high school. What are you taking for electives? When you have options for science courses, what are you choosing? Consider some of the following:

  • Exploration of Health Careers
  • Nursing Assistant
  • Care of Athletes
  • Health Care Occupations (also available on MT Digital Academy)
  • EMT
  • Healthcare Work Experience
  • Project Lead the Way - Principles of Biomedical Science
  • Senior Year Math
  • Psychology
  • Chemistry
  • Career Planning
  • Biology
  • Computer Tech Skills

All of our 16 MUS schools offer some type of degree in the medical field. Depending on what your goals are — maybe it’s staying close to home, maybe it’s going to get a four-year degree, or maybe it’s to get a certificate — you can find the best fit for you. Here are just a few programs that might suit you. Use our Program Finder to explore in more detail.

  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy
  • Clinical Laboratory Science
  • Medical Assistant
  • Health Administration
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Medical Claims Specialist
  • Surgical Technology
  • Health Information Technology
  • Medical Reception

Work-based learning provides opportunities for you to get in the field and see what it’s like working in your chosen profession. See what opportunities are available in the health professions field.

  • ​​CPR/First Aid Certification
  • Registered Apprenticeships - Certified Nursing Assistant, CT Tech, Medication Aide, Health Administration, Pharmacy Tech, Medical Claims
  • Job Shadow at a Medical Facility
  • Mentorship
  • Regional Area Health Education Centers - Medstart Summer Camp, AHEC Montana

The number and variety of medical professions crosses a wide gamut, from medical coders to doctors to dental hygienists. Here are just a few that could interest you.

  • Medical Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Physical Therapist
  • Health Information Technology
  • Medical Coder
  • Dentist
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Athletic Trainer
  • Radiologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Surgical Tech

Related Pathways

STEM students
Plan and manage scientific research and technical services. Work in a laboratory setting and conduct testing services and research and development.
Veteran student
Provide support services for human and family needs, such as counseling and mental health services, family and community services, personal care and more.

Explore Dual Enrollment Options