Allied Health Careers: Salary and Job Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in allied health. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is the Allied Health Field?

The allied health field encompasses many different jobs that seek to help patients but does not include physicians or nurses. Examples include medical assisants, laboratory technicians, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Medical assistants usually take care of the paperwork before or after a doctor sees a patient. Medical and clinical laboratory technicians may take blood, run breathing tests, or collect various samples for testing and evaluation by a physician. EMTs are trained for urgent situations like car accidents or home emergencies in which they give temporary aid and transport patients to the nearest medical facility.

Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career in allied health is right for you.

Medical Assistant Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician EMT
Degree Required Postsecondary certificate common Associate's degree or postsecondary certificate Postsecondary nondegree award; CPR certification
Education Field of Study Biology, chemistry, anatomy Chemistry, biology, mathematics Anatomy and physiology
Key Skills Analytical, interpersonal, technical skills Ability to use technology, dexterity, physical stamina Interpersonal, problem solving, physical strength, and listening and speaking skills
Licensure or Certification Required Not required, but preferred by most employers Required in some states Required by all states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 23%* 18%* 24% for all EMTs and paramedics*
Median Salary (2015) $30,590* $38,970* $31,980 for all EMTs and paramedics*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Occupations Can I Find in Allied Healthcare?

Allied health professionals work as part of a health care team, providing support services to dentists, nurses, and various medical doctors. Allied health is a broad field, with job options ranging from anesthesia technician or chiropractor to arts therapist or speech-language pathologist. Some common allied health careers you might consider include:

  • EMT or paramedic. These professionals provide emergency, sometimes life-saving, care in the event of an accident or sudden illness.
  • Laboratory technician. These allied health workers draw blood and other fluids under a physician's direction and process these samples to help diagnose and treat illnesses.
  • Dental hygienist. As a dental hygienist, you would clean and inspect patient's teeth, as well as alerting the dentist to any signs of oral disease. You also might assist the dentist during procedures, including replacing fillings or performing extractions.
  • Medical assistant. Often employed in private practices, medical assistants typically take medical histories, keep records and schedule appointments.

Some allied health workers have little or no direct contact with patients, but instead work in specialized clerical and administrative fields, such as medical coding and billing or record keeping.

What Are the Working Conditions?

Where you work will depend on the allied health career that you choose. For example, medical laboratory technicians tend to work in hospitals or private laboratories, while medical assistants usually work in doctors' offices or clinics. EMTs care for victims onsite at fires and traffic accidents and in other hazardous situations, as well as en route from these settings to care facilities.

The BLS notes that the current trend among many hospitals, doctors' offices and other facilities is to hire more part-time than full-time allied health employees. Additionally, some positions, like EMTs, work varying shifts on days, nights or weekends.

What are the Educational Requirements?

Some allied health professions, such as dietician, genetic counselor, and speech-language pathologist, require a bachelor's or master's degree. However, the American Medical Association (AMA) notes that the majority of technician or technologist occupations require either a certificate or associate's degree (ama-assn.org). The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) lists accredited educational programs for many of these occupations (www.caahep.org). Proper accreditation can be important for occupations where you'll need licensing or certification, such as EMT or licensed massage therapist (LMT). The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) are just two of many professional organizations that offer certification options for workers in allied health occupations.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn?

You'll find that there is a wide range in salaries for allied health careers, depending on occupation, amount of training needed and length of time on the job. Geographical location also can be important since large, urban healthcare settings usually pay more than smaller facilities.

The BLS reported that the median salary for medical assistants was $30,590 in May 2015. That same year, the median salary for medical and clinical laboratory technicians was $38,970, while EMTs earned $31,980.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers that require less than a bachelor's degree might include such positions as firefighters, chemical technicians, and medical records technicians. Firefighters are usually the first responders at emergency situations. They put out fires, rescue injured people, and save property. Chemical technicians work with chemists and chemical engineers to research and evaluate chemical processes. Medical records technicians work in hospitals or clinics taking care of patient records. They make sure information is secure and organized as well as easy to access by medical staff and doctors.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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