Health Care Occupations

Each job description is preceded by an indication of which branches of the service the job is available in, as not all branches of the service offer the same careers. For additional information beyond what we offer here, you can also visit: careersinthemilitary.com and todaysmilitary.com/careers.

Cardiopulmonary and EEG Technicians

Army
Navy
Air Force

Military health care includes medical treatment for heart, lung, and brain disorders. Physicians need sophisticated tests to help diagnose and treat these problems. Cardiopulmonary and EEG (electroencephalograph) technicians administer a variety of diagnostic tests of the heart, lungs, blood, and brain. They operate complex electronic testing equipment.

What They Do

Cardiopulmonary and EEG technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Take patients’ blood-pressure readings
  • Attach electrodes or microphones to patients’ bodies
  • Help physicians revive heart attack victims
  • Adjust settings and operate test equipment
  • Monitor dials, graphs, and screens during tests
  • Talk to physicians to learn what tests or treatments are needed
  • Keep records of test results and discuss them with medical staff
  • Operate electrocardiographs, electroencephalographs, and other test equipment

Where They Work

Cardiopulmonary and EEG technicians usually work in hospitals and clinics. In combat situations, they may work in mobile field hospitals.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian cardiopulmonary and EEG technicians work in hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices. Their duties are similar to those performed in the military. They may specialize in either cardiovascular (heart), pulmonary (lungs), or electroencephalographic (brain) testing.

Physical Requirements

Normal color vision is required for some specialties in order to set up and monitor equipment.

Dental Specialists

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

Dental care is one of the health services provided to all military personnel. It is available in military dental clinics all over the world. Dental specialists assist military dentists in examining and treating patients. They also help manage dental offices.

What They Do

Dental specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Help dentists perform oral surgery
  • Prepare for patient examinations by selecting and arranging instruments and medications
  • Help dentists during examinations by preparing dental compounds and operating dental equipment
  • Clean patients’ teeth using scaling and polishing instruments and equipment
  • Operate dental X-ray equipment and process X-rays of patients’ teeth, gums, and jaws
  • Provide guidance to patients on daily care of their teeth
  • Perform administrative duties, such as scheduling office visits, keeping patient records, and ordering dental supplies

Where They Work

Dental specialists in the military usually work indoors in dental offices or clinics. Some specialists may be assigned to duty aboard ships.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian dental specialists work in dental offices or clinics. Their work is similar to work in the military. They typically specialize in assisting dentists to treat patients, providing clerical support (dental assistants), or cleaning teeth (dental hygienists).

Physical Requirements

Dental specialists must sometimes stand for long periods.

Medical Care Technicians

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

The military provides medical care to all men and women in the services. Medical care technicians work with teams of physicians, nurses, and other health-care professionals to provide treatment to patients. They help give patients the care and treatment required to recover from illness or injury. They also prepare rooms, equipment, and supplies in hospitals and medical clinics.

What They Do

Medical care technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Provide bedside care in hospitals, including taking the body temperature, pulse, and respiration rate of patients
  • Feed, bathe, and dress patients
  • Prepare patients, operating rooms, equipment, and supplies for surgery
  • Make casts, traction devices, and splints according to physicians’ instructions
  • Administer medication to patients under the direction of physicians and nurses

Where They Work

Medical care technicians work in hospitals and clinics on land or aboard ships. In combat situations, they may work in mobile field hospitals.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian medical care technicians work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals, or physicians’ offices. They perform similar duties to those performed in the military. They may be called nurses’ aides, orderlies, operating room technicians, orthopedic assistants, or practical nurses.

Physical Requirements

Some specialties in this area require sufficient strength to lift and move patients, and some require a normal skin condition to guard against infection.

Medical Laboratory Technicians

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

Medical laboratories are an important part of the military health-care system. The staffs of medical laboratories perform clinical tests required to detect and identify diseases in patients. Medical laboratory technicians conduct tests on the tissue, blood, and body fluids of patients.

What They Do

Medical laboratory technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Use lab equipment to analyze specimens (samples) of tissue, blood, and body fluids
  • Examine blood and bone marrow under microscopes
  • Test specimens for bacteria or viruses
  • Draw blood from patients
  • Assist in collecting specimens at autopsies (medical examinations of the dead)
  • Record and file results of laboratory tests

Where They Work

Medical laboratory technicians work in medical centers, clinics, and hospitals on land or aboard ships.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian medical laboratory technicians usually work for privately owned laboratories, hospitals, clinics, or research institutions. They perform duties similar to those of military medical laboratory technicians.

Physical Requirements

Normal color vision is required to work with colored chemicals and dyes.

Medical Record Technicians

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

Medical records are important for health-care delivery. To provide proper treatment, physicians need complete and accurate information about patient symptoms, test results, illnesses, and prior treatments. Medical record technicians prepare and maintain patient records, reports, and correspondence.

What They Do

Medical record technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Fill out admission and discharge records for patients entering and leaving military hospitals
  • Assign patients to hospital rooms
  • Prepare daily reports about patients admitted and discharged
  • Organize, file, and maintain medical records
  • Type reports about physical examinations, illnesses, and treatments
  • Maintain libraries of medical publications

Where They Work

Medical record technicians work in admissions or medical records sections of hospitals and clinics. They work in land-based facilities and aboard ships.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian medical record technicians usually work for hospitals, clinics, and government health agencies. They perform duties similar to those of military medical record technicians. However, civilian medical record technicians tend to specialize in areas such as admissions, ward, or outpatient records. Those working in admission or discharge units are called admitting or discharge clerks.

Medical Service Technicians

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

In emergencies or in combat, physicians are not always immediately available to treat the injured or wounded. When a physician is not available, medical service technicians provide basic and emergency medical treatment. They also assist medical officers in caring for sick and injured patients.

What They Do

Medical service technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Examine and treat emergency or battlefield patients
  • Interview patients and record their medical histories
  • Take patients’ temperature, pulse, and blood pressure
  • Prepare blood samples for laboratory analysis
  • Keep health records and clinical files up to date
  • Administer shots and medicines to patients

Where They Work

Medical service technicians usually work in hospitals and clinics on land or aboard ships. Medical service technicians may provide emergency medical treatment in the field.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian medical service technicians work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. They perform duties similar to those performed by medical service technicians in the military. Civilian medical service technicians are known for the type of work they do: Emergency medical technicians treat victims of accidents, fire, or heart attacks; medical assistants work for physicians and perform routine medical and clerical tasks; medication aides administer shots and medicine under the close supervision of physicians; and physician assistants perform routine examinations and treatment for physicians.

Optometric Technicians

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

Optometry, or vision care, is one of the many health benefits available to military personnel. The military operates its own clinics to examine eyes and fit glasses or contact lenses. Optometric technicians assist optometrists in providing vision care. They work with patients and manage clinic offices.

What They Do

Optometric technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Administer screening tests of patients’ vision and record results
  • Order eyeglasses and contact lenses from prescriptions
  • Measure patients for eyeglass frames
  • Fit eyeglasses to patients
  • Make minor repairs to glasses
  • Place eyedrops and ointment into patients’ eyes
  • Keep records in optometry offices

Where They Work

Optometric technicians normally work in optometric clinics.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian optometric technicians work in private optometry offices, clinics, and government health agencies. They perform duties similar to those performed by military optometric technicians. Optometric technicians are also called optometric assistants.

Physical Requirements

Normal color vision is required for some specialties to use optometric instruments.

Pharmacy Technicians

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

Prescription drugs and medicines are important to medical treatment. Patients and physicians depend on military pharmacies to fill their prescriptions accurately. Pharmacy technicians prepare and dispense prescribed drugs and medicines under the supervision of pharmacists or physicians. They also maintain pharmacy supplies and records.

What They Do

Pharmacy technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Read physicians’ prescriptions to determine the types and amount of drugs to prepare
  • Weigh and measure drugs and chemicals
  • Mix ingredients to produce prescription medications
  • Prepare labels for prescriptions
  • Dispense medications to patients
  • Keep records of drugs prescribed
  • Store shipments of drugs and medications

Where They Work

Pharmacy technicians usually work in hospitals and clinics on land or aboard ships. They may also work in field hospitals.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies, drugstores, hospitals, and clinics under the direction of pharmacists. They are usually known as pharmacy helpers and generally do not have responsibility for the compounding and dispensing of drugs. They perform simple tasks, such as storing supplies, cleaning equipment, and delivering prescriptions. While military pharmacy technicians generally have more job responsibilities than civilian pharmacy helpers, they do not have the qualifications needed to become civilian pharmacists. Prospective pharmacists must complete a college pharmacy degree program, pass a state board exam, and serve in a pharmacy internship.

Physical Requirements

Normal color vision is required as is the ability to speak clearly. Some specialties may involve heavy lifting.

Physical and Occupational Therapy Specialists

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

Physical and occupational therapy consists of treatment and exercise for patients disabled by illness or injury. Physical and occupational therapy specialists assist in administering treatment aimed at helping disabled patients regain strength and mobility and preparing them to return to work.

What They Do

Physical and occupational therapy specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Test and interview patients to determine their physical and mental abilities
  • Assist physical and occupational therapists in planning therapy programs and exercise schedules
  • Fit artificial limbs (prostheses) and train patients in their use
  • Provide massages and heat treatments to patients
  • Teach patients new mobility skills
  • Set up and maintain therapeutic equipment such as exercise machines and whirlpools

Where They Work

Therapy specialists work in hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian therapy specialists work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, and community health centers. They perform duties similar to those of military therapy specialists. Civilian therapy specialists often specialize in treating a particular type of patient, such as children, the severely disabled, the elderly, or those who have lost arms or legs (amputees).

Physical Requirements

Therapy specialists may have to lift and support patients during exercises and treatments.

Radiologic (X-Ray) Technicians

Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard

Radiology (the use of X-rays) is a health-care service provided to men and women in the military. X-ray photographs help physicians detect injuries and illnesses. Radiology is also used to treat some diseases, such as cancer. Radiologic technicians operate X-ray and related equipment used in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases. They work as part of a medical team of physicians and specialists to provide health care to patients.

What They Do

Radiologic technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Read requests or instructions from physicians to determine each patient’s X-ray needs
  • Position patients under radiologic equipment
  • Operate X-ray equipment
  • Adjust X-ray equipment to the correct time and power of exposure
  • Process X-ray pictures
  • Prepare and administer radioactive solutions to patients
  • Keep records of patient treatment

Where They Work

Radiologic technicians work in hospitals and clinics. In combat situations, they may work in mobile field hospitals. They follow strict safety procedures to minimize exposure to radiation.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian radiologic technicians work in hospitals, diagnostic clinics, and medical laboratories. They perform duties similar to those of military radiologic technicians. They may specialize in various areas of radiology and may be called X-ray technologists or nuclear medical technologists.