Allied Health Institutes, Careers and Training Programs

Allied Health - Career Information

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The healthcare industry is expected to provide the most new jobs from 2012 to 2022, accounting for the employment of 15.6 million people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, of the 30 top jobs expected to have the largest job growth during that specific decade, 14 of them fall into healthcare, shows the BLS. This is due, in part, to a growing demand for healthcare workers to help address the needs of an aging Baby Boomer population in the U.S. More than 6 million people in the U.S. are employed as allied healthcare workers, reports the Health Professions Network. These allied health care occupations are completely distinct from the medical and nursing occupations, although they all fall under the same umbrella of health care. Allied health professionals are, in fact, clinical healthcare workers who may practice independently or work as part of a team providing evaluation and assessment of patient needs under the direction of a more experienced professional. They may play an important role of keeping attending clinicians informed of a patient's progress and response to treatment.

While some allied health professions, like those for an EMT or paramedic, focus on direct patient care, others are more inherently technical in nature. Despite this, all allied healthcare professionals need to be proficient in a variety of skills. Often, they must be familiar with the fundamentals of medical law and ethics, medical terminology, and the documentation of health care notations and records, since electronic medical records (EMRs) are growing in popularity and use.

Allied health professionals typically are trained as one of two types of workers: either technicians (assistants) or therapists/technologists. Technicians often have an educational background of often less than two years and may be trained to perform specific procedures, but typically under the supervision of technologists or therapists. Workers in this category include medical laboratory technicians, occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants, radiological technicians, recreation therapy assistants, and respiratory therapy technicians.

The educational process for therapists or technologists is more extensive, often requiring at least two years, and may include acquiring a number of different procedural skills. In addition, therapist or technologist students learn how to assist other professionals in the field, such as nurses and physicians.

Top Careers in Allied Health

It is reported that there are more than 200 different allied healthcare professions, some of which include:

  • Cardiovascular Techs and Vascular Technologist
  • Dental Assistants
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Dental Laboratory Technicians
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
  • EMTs and Paramedics
  • Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Home Health and Personal Care Aides
  • Medical Assistants
  • Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
  • Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists
  • Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
  • Occupational Health and Safety Technicians
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides
  • Pharmacy Aides
  • Pharmacy Technicians
  • Phlebotomists
  • Radiation Therapists
  • Radiologic and MRI Technologists
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Respiratory Therapy Technicians
  • Surgical Technologists

Here is a brief description of some of these specialties using data from the BLS:

Career Type What they Do Number Employed in the U.S., as of 2013 Where they Usually Work
Cardiovascular Technologist Utilizes special machinery to help with the diagnosis and treating of cardiovascular ailments. 51,010 Hospitals, physician's offices or laboratories
Dental Assistant Takes X-rays, provides patient care and schedules appointments. 309,540 Dental offices
Dental Hygienist Cleans teeth and examines the mouth for signs of oral disease. 192,330 Dental offices
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Operates diagnostic equipment to produce images of the organs or tissues. 58,250 Hospitals or other healthcare settings
EMT and Paramedic Responds to calls for emergency services and cares for the sick and injured in emergency settings. 237,660 Ambulance services
Home Health Aide Helps those who are disabled, ill or have an impairment. 806,710 Home healthcare services and residential facilities
Medical Assistant Completes both administrative and clinical tasks, such as taking vital signs. 571,690 Physician offices, other healthcare facilities
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Utilizes a scanner to take images of a patient's body. 20,020 Hospitals
Occupational Health and Safety Technician Collects data on the health conditions and safety of workplaces. 13,660 Variety of settings, including offices, factories and mines
Occupational Therapy Assistant Helps patients to develop the skills needed for living and working. 30,450 Occupational therapy offices, hospitals or nursing care facilities
Pharmacy Tech Assists licensed pharmacists in the dispensing of medications. 355,300 Pharmacies
Phlebotomist Does blood draws for tests, transfusions, donations and research. 108,210 Hospitals, doctors offices, donor centers, laboratories
Radiation Therapist Administers radiation treatments to patients. 16,950 Hospital, doctors offices and outpatient settings
Respiratory Therapist Helps provide care for a patient who has trouble breathing. 118,640 Hospitals, nursing care facilities
Surgical Technologist Prepares operation rooms and assists in surgical procedures. 97,930 Hospitals

Allied Health Career Training & Schools

Students interested in a career in an allied health field can typically complete a program leading to a diploma or certificate. A formal education, such as for employment as a home health aide, may not be required, but may be helpful. In some cases, an Associate degree may be needed, but these types of programs can often be completed in two years. In a few cases, a Bachelor's degree may be necessary. Here is a breakdown of the types of education levels required for various allied health careers.

Type of Program Typical Number of Years to Complete Types of Careers that Require This
Diploma Six months or more Dental assisting, medical assisting, pharmacy tech, phlebotomy
Certificate Nine months to two years Dental assisting, medical assisting, phlebotomy
Associate Degree Two years Dental hygienist, nuclear medicine technologist, radiation therapist, respiratory therapy, surgical technologist
Bachelor's degree Four years Medical and clinical laboratory technologists


"Choose an Allied Health Profession," Health Professions Network, http://www.healthpronet.org/docs/1343_AH_K12BrochUpdate_06.pdf

"Economic News Release," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.nr0.htm

Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/

Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

Schools for Allied Health are listed in the column to the left.

Careers and Salary Data

This table shows summary data on occupations in the US. Clicking on any occupation name brings you to a page showing job prospects and salaries for that occupation in hundreds of metro areas across the country, with data updated through 2022.(Where data is denoted by an asterisk (*), summary info was not available.

Click each Occupation title for more details.

Allied Health

Occupation Jobs
Median Pay
% Growth
Anesthesiologists 30,190     N/A     21.0%
Audiologists N/A     N/A     N/A
Cardiovascular Techs and Vascular Technologists 53,760     $55,570     22.2%
Dental Assistants 327,290     $36,940     18.4%
Dental Hygienists 204,990     $72,910     18.6%
Dental Laboratory Technicians 37,110     $37,680     10.8%
Dentists 105,620     $153,900     18.0%
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers 65,790     $69,650     26.4%
EMT and Paramedics 244,960     $32,670     24.2%
Genetic Counselors 2,720     $74,120     28.8%
Health Technologists and Technicians 122,170     $41,070     23.1%
Home Health and Personal Care Aides 814,300     $22,600     38.1%
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians 160,190     $38,950     17.8%
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists 166,730     $61,070     14.0%
Medical Assistants 623,560     $31,540     23.5%
Nuclear Medicine Technologists 19,650     $74,350     1.5%
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists 76,630     $70,920     4.0%
Occupational Health and Safety Technicians 16,560     $48,820     9.1%
Occupational Therapists 118,070     $81,910     26.5%
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides 181,000     $48,970     40.0%
Opticians, Dispensing 75,270     $35,530     23.7%
Optometrists 36,430     $106,140     27.0%
Orthotists and Prosthetists 7,500     $65,630     22.6%
Pharmacists 305,510     $122,230     3.1%
Pharmacy Aides 36,660     $25,240     0.3%
Pharmacy Technicians 398,390     $30,920     9.3%
Phlebotomists 120,970     $32,710     24.9%
Physician Assistants 104,050     $101,480     30.4%
Radiation Therapists 17,450     $80,160     14.0%
Radiologic and MRI Technologists 200,650     $57,450     8.7%
Respiratory Therapists 126,770     $58,670     12.3%
Respiratory Therapy Technicians 10,600     $49,780     -19.2%
Speech-Language Pathologists 135,980     $74,680     21.3%
Surgical Technologists 105,720     $45,160     14.8%
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