Allied Health - Career Information

Allied Health picture    Allied Health image

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

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 ProgramTypical Number of Years to CompleteTypes of Careers that Require This
DiplomaSix months or moreDental assisting, medical assisting, pharmacy tech, phlebotomy
CertificateNine months to two yearsDental assisting, medical assisting, phlebotomy
Associate DegreeTwo yearsDental hygienist, nuclear medicine technologist, radiation therapist, respiratory therapy, surgical technologist
Bachelor's degreeFour yearsMedical and clinical laboratory technologists


"Choose an Allied Health Profession," Health Professions Network,

"Economic News Release," Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

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

Median Pay
% Growth
Anesthesiologists31,010    >$208,000    4.5%
AudiologistsN/A    N/A    N/A
Cardiovascular Techs and Vascular Technologists56,110    $57,720    6.6%
Dental Assistants351,470    $40,080    11.2%
Dental Hygienists221,560    $76,220    10.8%
Dental Laboratory Technicians34,460    $41,340    10.7%
Dentists110,730    $155,600    7.6%
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers72,790    $74,320    19.5%
EMT and Paramedics260,600    $35,400    7.1%
Genetic Counselors2,390    $81,880    27.0%
Health Technologists and TechniciansN/A    N/A    N/A
Home Health and Personal Care Aides3,161,500    $25,280    36.4%
Medical and Clinical Laboratory TechniciansN/A    N/A    N/A
Medical and Clinical Laboratory TechnologistsN/A    N/A    N/A
Medical Assistants712,430    $34,800    22.6%
Nuclear Medicine Technologists18,110    $77,950    6.9%
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists92,780    $74,100    6.2%
Occupational Health and Safety Technicians20,580    $51,550    7.5%
Occupational Therapists133,570    $84,950    17.9%
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides198,660    $52,910    27.0%
Opticians, Dispensing72,330    $37,840    7.3%
Optometrists39,420    $115,250    9.5%
Orthotists and Prosthetists9,830    $68,410    19.8%
Pharmacists311,200    $128,090    N/A
Pharmacy Aides37,280    $27,850    -12.1%
Pharmacy Technicians417,780    $33,950    7.5%
Phlebotomists128,290    $35,510    23.0%
Physician Assistants120,090    $112,260    31.1%
Radiation Therapists17,860    $85,560    8.5%
Radiologic and MRI Technologists207,360    $60,510    9.0%
Respiratory Therapists132,090    $61,330    20.8%
Respiratory Therapy Technicians331,790    $42,630    -57.5%
Speech-Language Pathologists154,360    $79,120    27.3%
Surgical Technologists109,000    $48,300    8.7%
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Selected Schools for Allied Health (including any online schools)

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