Everyone knows that job opportunities in healthcare are booming—from technicians to those on the front lines of patient care. Many of these in-demand, high-paying healthcare careers require just months of college to get started.

But how do you know if a career in healthcare is right for you?

The HELP Professions

P4-PharmacyTechA commitment to good healthcare, strong people skills, and a desire to help others are the most important traits a person should have to be successful in healthcare careers. Compassion for others is important for job satisfaction. Individuals should also possess the ability to thrive in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment.


The first step for most healthcare careers is taking foundation classes in math and science. Many healthcare programs at North Idaho College are competitive entry programs, meaning only a certain number of qualified students who have successfully completed the prerequisites are admitted each year. Once enrolled, check out the prerequisites necessary for the program you’re interested in and tackle those prior to applying to your program. If you’re still deciding which field to enter, focus in on math and science classes required for many programs such as Biology 175, 227, or 228, and Math 102 or 123.

Three-month, one-year, and two-year options

For many, the thought of working while attaining higher degrees is appealing. Some employers will even employ healthcare workers in certain professions and help cover the cost of their pursuit of additional levels of education. That makes NIC a great option for earning the certificate or degree necessary to enter the workforce. For example, you can receive the training necessary to take the state exam for employment as a Nursing Assistant (CNA) at the NIC Workforce Training Center (noncredit course) in as little as three months or in one semester on the NIC campus (credit course). CNAs often move into the NIC Practical Nursing program (11-month intermediate technical certificate) or Registered Nursing program (two-year associate’s degree). Additionally, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree options in nursing are available through NIC’s partner universities without leaving North Idaho.

Online and outreach options

If traveling to campus is a barrier, North Idaho College has several online and outreach options available to students. Online options are offered for the Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technology, Dental Hygiene, and Medical Laboratory Technology programs where the coursework is completed online and students complete the lab component on site or at a partner facility. Additionally, a Practical Nursing cohort will be offered for Fall Semester 2017 at the NIC at Sandpoint center for students who have completed their prerequisites.

Healthcare careers offered at NIC

Nursing Assistant

Nursing assistants (CNAs) help patients with healthcare needs under the supervision of a registered nurse or a practical nurse in hospital and nursing home settings.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $22,010

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases, and provide other preventative dental care.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $72,170

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks in physicians’ offices, urgent care centers, and other healthcare facilities.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $29,330

Medical Laboratory Technician

Medical technologists perform routine medical laboratory procedures and tests and apply preset strategies to record and analyze data.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $29,720

Practical Nursing

Practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic nursing care for the ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, private homes, group homes, and similar institutions. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $38,850

Registered Nursing

Registered nurses (RNs) assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. They also administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $59,890

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians perform all responsibilities under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. The technician will help pharmacists accurately prepare prescription orders, enter patient and order information into the pharmacy system, and maintain storage, security, and inventory of medications.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $31,070

Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical therapist assistants work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $53,880

Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists, also known as radiographers, perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as X-rays, on patients. They explain radiological procedures, evaluate the quality of the images obtained, and follow safety measures to protect patients and staff.

Average Idaho Median Wage: $50,430

For more information on any of NIC’s Health Professions and Nursing programs, contact NIC Health Professions and Nursing Advisor Wendy McIntosh at (208) 769-3373 or [email protected].

All wage data provided by the Idaho Department of Labor and Idaho Career Information System.