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Allied Health Careers

Job Spotlight - Allied Health

Do you want to learn more about jobs in Allied Health but you don’t know where to start? If this is the case, then you have come to the right place. We have covered everything you could possibly want to know about Allied Healthcare professions that you may be interested in. A future in this field can be yours if you follow the right path.
 

Quick Facts: Allied Health Jobs
Occupation 2015 Median Annual Salary Recommended Education 2014-2024 Projected Outlook 2014 Number of Jobs 2014-2024 Estimated Job Growth
Dietitians and Nutritionists $57,910 Bachelor’s degree 16% (much faster than average) 66,700 11,000
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics $31,980 Post-secondary certificate 24% (much faster than average) 241,200 58,500
Medical Assistant $30,590 Post-secondary certificate 23% (much faster than average) 591,300 138,900
Surgical Technologist $44,300 Post-secondary certificate 15% (much faster than average) 99,800 14,700
Occupational Therapist $80,150 Master’s degree 27% (much faster than average) 114,600 30,400
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer $63,630 Associate’s degree 24% (much faster than average) 112,700 27,600
Radiologic Technologist $58,120 Associate’s degree 9% (faster than average) 230,600 20,700
Veterinary Technician $31,800 Associate’s degree 19% (much faster than average) 95,600 17,900

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find an Allied Health Program Near You

Use our quick search feature below to find featured schools near you that are currently accepting students.

Allied Health FAQs

On this page you will find the answers to many of your questions about one of the fastest-growing groups of jobs in the country. Through speaking to experts in these fields and thorough research, we have been able to answer some of the most-frequently-asked questions concerning Allied Health. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

What is Allied Health?

Allied Health is a group of trained professions that assist in providing critical support services for health care teams. This support can be a wide range of responsibilities including direct patient care, diagnostic, therapeutic, rehabilitative, treatment, prevention and wellness and technical services for the betterment of their patients and the medical staff. Those working in the Allied Health fields attend special educational programs and are usually required to be either licensed, registered or certified to be able to work.

The Allied Health professions can be separated in to three distinct categories which include technicians (aides), technologists and therapists. For the most part, technicians have the lowest barrier of entry in to the profession and require supervision from other healthcare workers. Technologists and therapists typically have higher educational requirements and more responsibility.

There are roughly 200 positions that fall under the term “Allied Health” which make up to close to 60% of all healthcare workers. While they do not work as doctors or nurses, they serve as experts in their area of expertise while working with as part of a team, independently or under the direction of other medical staff. Their positions are considered vital to the success and well-being of their patient’s health.

How to Get Started as an Allied Health Professional

If you have been wondering what it takes to get started as an Allied Health Professional, then you have come to the right place. In this section we will go over a few of the more common and paths you could take. Keep in mind that since there are so many different jobs associated with Allied Healthcare, education and other requirements such as licensing and certifications may vary. However, the guidelines we are presenting will give you the basic understanding what you will most likely need to complete. We do offer pages for specific Allied Health jobs for those looking for more specific information.

Typical Requirements for Allied Health Professionals
  • Have a high school diploma or pass the GED
  • Enroll and complete a specialized training program at a vocational school or community college
  • Pass a certification or licensing examination
  • Keep certification or license valid by meeting the set upon requirements
Common Program Prerequisites

Generally there are a few requirements that must be met before you will be able to enroll in any of the Allied Health programs. These requirements are very typical of almost any trade school program, so it should not be much of a shock. Some of the most common requirements include:

  • High school degree or its equivalent
  • 18 years old or older
  • Proof of immunization

Some programs may also require you take a placement test, go through a criminal background check or pass a drug screening. You should ask for specifics on requirements from the admissions department of any program you may be interested in.

Things to Consider

When you have made up your mind that you would like to work in one of the Allied Health fields you will need to find out what type of program you will need to complete. Some jobs require you to earn an associate’s degree while others may only need a certificate. For specific requirements, take a look at our individual pages that spotlight each job. Some of the main questions you need to ask are:

  • What level of education do I need?
  • How long is the program?
  • Do I need a license or a certification to be able to work?
Types of Programs

There are typically a few different types of programs available for those looking to enter one of the many Allied Health fields. Below we will discuss each of the different ones in some detail. We will also give you the pros and cons of each to help you get a better understanding so that you can make a smart decision that best fits your and your goals.

You should take in to consideration that the options listed below may not be available for all of the Allied Health jobs. Some of the Allied Healthcare jobs have specific rules for the type of program that must be completed. We will let you know which of these may not be used for certain jobs.

Formal Education

Most Allied Health professionals get their education at either a vocational school, community college or four-year university. This is due in part to the fact that there are so many schools around the country that offer Allied Healthcare courses, so most students do not have to relocate for them. It should also be mentioned that a majority of these Allied Health positions require at least an associate’s degree for employment and certification purposes.

If you are looking to get started in an Allied Health position that requires an associate’s degree or higher, more than likely you will need to attend a vocational school, a community college or even a university. Even though you may not be required to get an associate’s degree, you may consider earning one to help improve your opportunities. Some reasons that you may want to go ahead and get an associate’s degree even if not required to do so include:

  • Possibly more job opportunities
  • Potentially higher pay
  • Improved chances for advancement
  • Can be used as a stepping stone to higher positions

If you do decide to go to a school or university, you will want to make sure that it has met the qualifications and standards necessary. Find out by either looking on the school’s website or by asking the admissions office if the Allied Healthcare program you are interested in has been accredited by a major organization. Some of these organizations could be:

Depending on your goals or educational requirements, you should be able to finish your Allied Health education fairly quick. Certificate programs usually range in duration from six weeks to nine months, but may take considerably longer depending on the school and your own personal circumstances. Those looking to earn an associate’s degree should expect to spend at least 18 to 24 months. These shorter schooling periods can help you not only get in to the work force sooner, but may also save you money compared to a full four-year university.

Pros

  • Comprehensive program
  • Professionally-reviewed curriculum and instructors at accredited schools
  • Associate’s degree can be a stepping stone for advancement

Cons

  • Tuition may be expensive
  • May have to juggle work and school
  • You must put forth effort to study and pass
U.S. Military

Another option for school comes in the way of serving your country. The U.S. military has been at the forefront of preparing Allied Health professionals for a number of years. As in the civilian world, Allied Healthcare workers are very much in demand in the armed forces. They help provide care and assistance to our uniformed troops around the world.

The experience you will gain by joining the military will be unlike anything you can ever imagine. You may have the opportunity to see the world and pick-up stories that will rival anyone at the yearly family reunion. Plus, you will gain an education in an Allied Health field of your choosing that can be very beneficial when you transition out in to the civilian world.

Enlisting in the armed forces is an extremely honorable way to go. Not only will you be serving to protect this country but you will be learning a marketable trade in the Allied Health field. You will also be able to add veteran on your resume which may give you some bigger opportunities than just going through school.

Pros

  • Get paid while you learn
  • Be able to travel around the world
  • Veteran status can be useful for jobs

Cons

  • Enlistment usually lasts 4 to 6 years
  • Can be sent in to dangerous situations or regions
  • Cannot decide to walk-out and quit legally
Free Classes

If you have been searching online for classes in one of the Allied Health fields you’ve probably come across a webpage that promises “Free Classes”. While the classes themselves may be free, the actual program itself is not. You will have to pay for books and other accessories along with signing an agreement which states that you will continue to work there for a specified amount of time.

Normally these “free programs” are only held for the Allied Healthcare professions that only require a certificate of completion rather than an associate’s degree. For some people this is a great opportunity to get a solid education and training in their field without paying the high tuition costs some schools have. Plus, the experience you will receive working first-hand which may not be possible in all situations.

Pros

  • Little to no tuition cost
  • Working experience with professionals in the field
  • Get paid to learn, in some instances

Cons

  • Cost of class materials may be more expensive
  • Must continue working at the same place after you have finished classes
  • Not available for all Allied Health positions
Course Format

No matter which Allied Health educational path you choose, you will most likely find that your time is split between classroom instruction and hands-on practice. In the classroom you may be taught why certain procedures are done along with a range of helpful medical classes. Some of the classes you will may take include:

  • Anatomy
  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Ethics
  • Safety
  • Communication
  • Basic first aid such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Privacy and Patient Rights

The hands-on practice or laboratory part of the course is where Allied Health students get to practice what they have learned. Typically performed either through an internship in a real medical setting or a campus-based mock clinical office, students are faced with real-world situations so they can gain experience. They often assist with the jobs that are listed as part of their responsibility while under the guidance of professional. Some of the skills that most Allied Health students might learn in the laboratory include:

  • Record keeping and documentation of procedures
  • Communicating with patient, family and staff
  • Making sure the patient is comfortable and safe
  • Help identify problems, symptoms or reactions to treatments
  • Keeping area clean and sanitary
  • Organizational skills
  • How to react in case of an emergency
Certification or Licensing

Most Allied Health professions require either certification of skills or licensing according to state or federal law. This is usually achieved through testing which is both written and a skills demonstration. It is best to contact the state board of licensing to find out what you will need to earn in order to be employed.

Almost every license and certification has a set expiration date that you will need to renew in order to keep it valid. You will find that one of the main ways to keep your license or certification valid is through working a specified amount of time at your position. There may also be regulations that have you attending continuing education classes to keep up the latest information.

There may also be some voluntary certifications available for your career. These extra certifications can prove to be very beneficial when searching for a job or trying to improve your standing. Plus, you may be able to expand your job title and earn some extra money.

Getting a Job

This is what you have been waiting for – time to start working! But how do you go about it? What do you need to know? Where can you find Allied Health jobs?

If you happen to have gone to a school that has a career placement center, you should go sign-up there. This can definitely be a big help since your school may already have working relationships with hospitals and medical offices. This could be an easy way to get your foot in the door without cold calling.

Other methods to find a job in Allied Healthcare include:

  • Check the job listings at local healthcare centers via internet
  • Networking
  • Job fairs
  • Find out if there are any opening at the place you interned
  • Join your profession’s association, if there is one
  • Watch for ads in the newspaper

Our Recommendations

We fully recommend that you should attend a school or university for your education. We feel that it is one of the better ways to get a comprehensive education in the Allied Health career you are looking to get involved in. If school is impossible, then we say fall back to enlisting in the military for the experience and schooling.

We also suggest that if at all possible you should earn at least an associate’s degree in your field. A bachelor’s degree would be even be better. From our research, a college degree should help you stand out especially in a profession that does require one. This can be extremely helpful when looking for a new job. It may also be a bonus for those looking to move up and advance in their profession.

You should also keep your license and certifications valid. If possible, earn voluntary certifications to improve your expertise. Become an expert in your Allied Health profession so that you are both invaluable and marketable if you decide to try for a higher-paying position.

Where Can I Find Allied Health Programs?

One of the toughest parts for those looking to start an Allied Health job is trying to figure out how they should get their education. You want to make sure that you find a program that fits your style of learning and one that can help you get to your goals. But where do you find these programs? Let’s look at some of the best ways to find an Allied Health program that meets your desires.

By far one of the easiest ways to find an Allied Health program is by doing a search on the internet. Not only will you get a slew of localized results but you can also find some helpful information about any of the programs such as accreditation or reviews made by former students. Plus, it makes it much easier to start making a list of prospective programs you may want to enter.

Some other methods of finding a school can include:

  • Asking Allied Health professionals their opinions on programs
  • Talk to your high school counselor
  • Call up a local healthcare center such as a hospital and talk to the human resources department
Accreditation

As previously mentioned, you want to find a program or school that been accredited. An accreditation means that the school or program meets the set requirements set up by the accrediting body. The difference between enrolling in an accredited school versus one that isn’t can be huge. You might waste time and money by attending a school that doesn’t provide you with a quality education. Some of the accrediting bodies that you should look for include:

Other Things to Look For

Accreditation is one of the top things to look for when researching an Allied Health school or program but there are more. Remember you are looking for a school that you can fit in to and feel comfortable so you can do your best in the classroom. Some other areas you may want to look in to can include:

  • Cost of classes and if financial aid is available
  • Location of school – urban or rural
  • Distance to school to see if you need to relocate or can commute
  • Graduation rate of students in program
  • Success rate on certification or licensing exams
  • Employment rate of alumni
  • Length of training program
  • Student to instructor ratio
  • Job placement options
  • Internship possibilities
  • Reputation of school or program
U.S. Military

You have plenty of options when it comes to getting in touch with the U.S. military. You go to their website, visit a local recruiter or even just fill out that form they sent you in the mail when you graduated from high school. When talking to a recruiter in which ever branch you decide, make sure you find out what the requirements are for placement in the program you desire. One the last things you want to do is to enlist and find out you do not qualify.

U.S. Army

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Navy

Free Classes

If you want to go the free route, you may have to do a little searching by contacting the sources such as hospitals or healthcare agencies such as the American Red Cross. The type of place you contact really depends on the Allied Health position you are looking to prepare for. Do a little research and find an institution or agency that provides the courses you are looking for. Take note, that you may be put on a waiting list if it is a popular program.

Are There Any Online Allied Healthcare Classes?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that some Allied Health programs cannot be completed online. It is possible to take online classes for almost any of the Allied Health fields but the problem is that you still have to complete the hands-on or laboratory part of the class.

A growing number of online schools are setting up a system so that their students can get the proper hands-on experience. This is great news and something you will have to check in to if you plan on taking your Allied Health classes online. Make sure you ask the admissions office on how they handle the hands-on or practical portion of the program.

Online courses can be a great way for people who have other pressing responsibilities (i.e. full-time parent, full-time job, disabled, etc…) to start their education. The flexible schedules of distance learning combined with the ability to study at your own pace can truthfully be a big help for a lot of people today. We have nothing but positives to say about online education and we feel that it will only grow stronger over time.

How Long Does Allied Health Education Take?

The amount of time you will spend in school depends mainly on the Allied Health position you are preparing for. There are some programs that can be completed in six weeks. However, a majority of Allied Healthcare jobs are starting to require an associate’s degree which can take two-or-more years to complete. There are even some position that you will need a bachelor’s or higher degree to work in the field.

There are even some Allied Health jobs that require more than an associate’s degree such as certain technologist positions. You may need at least a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree. Find out for sure what requirements you need to meet before you start your education so you are not surprised.

There are other factors that can contribute to the length of time you spend in school. Some of the factors include:

  • Full-time or part-time status
  • Online or campus based program
  • School requirements
  • State or federal requirements

What Types of Classes Are Taught in Allied Health Schools?

Besides your major classes that cover the Allied Health career of your choosing, most programs include some basic classes for every major. Some of the topics include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Medical Law and Ethics
  • Patient Rights and Privacy
  • CPR and First Aid
  • Math
  • Patient Care
  • Safety and Infection Prevention and Control
  • Organizational Skills

Why Should I Earn my Certification?

A certification or license is required for a majority of Allied Health careers. You will need to earn your certification or license in order to work in the field. The reason behind it is simple: to prove that you have the skills and ability to do the job safely and professionally.

If at all possible, you must keep your license or certification active to continue to practice. If you let it expire or do not meet the requirements necessary for renewal, you may be put in to a situation where you have to go through another program to be eligible. This isn’t something you want to find yourself doing not only because you will have to spend extra money to make it active but you may lose out on opportunities by employers who are not happy with your inability to keep your certification valid.

If you happen to be in a field that does not require either licensing or certification or if you are looking to possibly enhance your professional skills, there are some voluntary certifications available. Some of the top reasons you should consider earning your certification include:

  • Expanding your expertise for other job opportunities
  • Can make you stand out when looking for a job
  • Can give you an edge over your competition
  • Potentially higher pay
  • Possible advancement opportunities
  • Can qualify for jobs with higher requirements

Are There Any Tips for Success for Allied Healthcare Workers?

As with any profession, there are ways to help make yourself become more successful and help you achieve your goals. A few of these tips will seem common sense-based, but you can sometimes forget the simple things when you are eyeing your future.

  • Study hard in your classes
  • Practice, practice, practice… practice during labs, on your friends and family
  • Keep learning by keeping up with any changes in your profession such as technology
  • Always be professional when dealing with patients, families or other staff members
  • Take everything as a life or death situation so that you remain serious and efficient
  • Don’t ignore the obvious
  • Become extremely organized
  • Perform duties correctly and timely
  • Be punctual to work
  • Continue taking classes to expand your scope of practice
  • Be a team player but also be able to work independently
  • Don’t be afraid of change
  • Keep your personal life at home
  • Have a good working relationship with co-workers
  • Follow allow procedures to the letter

What Kinds of Job are Available in Allied Healthcare?

There are roughly 200 jobs that are listed under the Allied Health banner. It is safe to say it is a very large category of jobs of which you can choose from. Instead of listing all of the Allied Healthcare jobs out there, we will stick to the jobs that are strongest in demand.

Home Health Aide (HHA) Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Occupational Therapy Assistants
Physical Therapy Assistants Occupational Therapy Aides Physical Therapists
Substance Abuse Counselors Dental Hygienists Athletic Trainer
Physician Assistant (PA) Medical Assistants (MA) Personal Care Aides (PCA)
Cardiovascular Technicians and Technologists Respiratory Therapists Respiratory Therapy Technicians
Surgical Technicians and Technologists Clinical Laboratory Technicians Medical and Health Services Managers
Dietitians and Nutritionists Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
Pharmacy Technicians Nuclear Medical Technologists Medical Secretaries
Medical Equipment Preparers Medical Equipment Repairer Radiation Therapists
Dietetic Technician Audiologist Phlebotomists
Certified Nursing Aide (CNA) Medical Billing and Coding Specialists Medical Transcriptists
X-Ray Technician and Technologists Dental Assisting Gerontologists
Optical Assistant Veterinary Technician Radiological Technician and Technologists

What is the Outlook for Allied Health Jobs?

Allied Health jobs make up 15 of the top 30 fastest growing occupations (see chart below). This trend has a good chance of continuing well after 2024 to meet the rising need in the fields of healthcare. Those who have the right training and qualifications should have an easier time finding the right opportunities for employment.

Top 15 Fastest Growing Allied Health Careers
Ranking Job Title Projected Growth
2 Personal Care Aides 48.8%
3 Home Health Aides 48.5%
6 Diagnostic Medical Sonographers 46%
8 Occupational Therapy Assistants 42.6%
10 Physical Therapist Assistants 41%
11 Physical Therapist Aides 40.1%
13 Physician Assistants 38.4%
17 Occupational Therapy Aides 36.2%
19 Medical Secretaries 36%
20 Physical Therapists 36%
21 Orthotists and Prosthetists 35.5%
25 Audiologists 33.6%
26 Dental Hygienists 33.3%
28 Therapists, all other 31.7%
30 Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors 31.4%

Source: BLS

A combination of an aging and growing population has created a great demand for millions of trained Allied Health professionals. In fact, according to the data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) occupations in Allied Health and other healthcare positions are among the fastest growing in the United States through 2024. This is incredible news for anyone looking to find a job in this growing and rewarding industry.

What is the Median Salary for Allied Health Professionals?

There is a common misconception that only people who have a four-year college degree can make a healthy salary. There are a number of Allied Health jobs that only require an associate’s degree or less that offer above-average pay. The chart presented below list some of the top paying Allied Health positions that require an associate’s degree or less.

Allied Health Salary

You should keep in mind that the salaries listed here are not a guarantee of your actual wages. These are the median salaries as collected by the U.S. Department of Labor. Most jobs in the Allied Health sector have great benefits such as insurance and vacation pay, so you might want to consider that when looking at any job in this field. There are a number of factors to remember when looking at actual salaries. Some of these factors include:

  • Type of place you work
  • The cost of living at your location
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Job market

If you decide that working in one of the Allied Health professions, you may find out that this was the job you were born to do. These jobs can be very rewarding both financially and emotionally as well as knowing that you are there to help others in desperate need of it. There are very few jobs out there that can offer so much!

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