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14 Top-Paying Allied Health Careers

best paying allied health jobs careers

Top-Paying Allied Health Careers
Pictures of Money / Flickr / CC BY

Did you know that the healthcare field is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the US? America’s demand for trained health professionals has increased by an average of 21% in the past decade.

Jobs in the allied healthcare field currently make up 60% of all healthcare positions, while the other 40% is distributed between medicine, nursing, and pharmacy. Allied healthcare jobs might have lower educational requirements than those in the medical field, but they are still expected to command higher paychecks. Even better, you can rely on incredible employment opportunities over the coming decades.

How do we know all this? You can place your trust the US Bureau of Labor Statistics – the agency certainly knows their numbers! Read on to find out which are some of the fastest-growing and top-paying allied health careers, according to the latest governmental data.

14. Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or other health professionals. To find a great job as a pharmacy tech, you should have strong knowledge in areas such as pharmaceutical terminology, proper drug administration, drug classifications, and pharmacy management.

Education requirements: Most states regulate pharmacy technicians, with the process requiring applicants to pass an exam or complete formal education. Some states allow pharmacy technicians to receive on-the-job training from their employer. The strongest alternative, however, is to complete a 6-10 month pharmacy tech certificate program that also comes with a clinical internship.

  • Mean annual salary: $33,060
  • Mean hourly wage: $15.90
  • Employment: 402,500 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: Health and personal care stores (219,070 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 12% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Federal executive branch (mean salary: $43,730)
  • Top-paying state: Washington (mean salary: $42,440)

13. Medical Assistant

medical assistant clinical administrative salary job opportunities

Medical assistants have one of the busiest job descriptions in allied healthcare, managing both administrative and clinical tasks. Their duties vary based on their location, employer, specialty, and size of the practice. MA jobs may involve direct patient care and treatment, or it can revolve around patient records and health information data management.

Most medical assistant training courses include a clinical internship and aim to provide practical training in a real work environment. You can complete a medical assistant program in just 1 year.

Education requirements: Learning through on-the-job training is possible, but most employers prefer candidates with a medical assistant certificate or associate degree.

  • Mean annual salary: $33,580
  • Mean hourly wage: $16.15
  • Employment: 634,400 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: Physician offices (373,620 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 29% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Junior colleges (mean salary: $40,580)
  • Top-paying state: Alaska (annual mean wage: $42,060)

12. Phlebotomists

Phlebotomists, certificate from a phlebotomy program

The primary job responsibilities of phlebotomists are drawing blood and preparing it for lab testing.
Their other duties include managing transfusions, blood donations, and research. They can expect to work closely with patients in hospitals, laboratories, and medical offices.

Education requirements: Requirements vary, with many states not requiring formal certification. That said, a post-secondary certificate from a phlebotomy program is favored by most employers.

However, most employers strongly favor phlebotomists who are professionally certified. Most certificate programs are short and you can easily sign up for a 1-month phlebotomy program.

  • Mean annual salary: $34,714
  • Mean hourly wage: $16.69
  • Employment: 122,700 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: Hospitals and medical laboratories (44,700 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 25% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Outpatient care centers (mean salary: $36,970)
  • Top-paying state: California (mean salary: $43,380)

11. Dental Assistants

Dental Assistants

Dental assistants prepare patients for treatment, sterilize instruments, taking X-rays, schedule appointments, and provide direct patient care. Duties, however, can vary by state and employer (almost all jobs are in dentists’ offices).

Education requirements: Some states have no formal educational requirements. Others require assistants to graduate from an accredited program and pass a state exam.

  • Mean annual salary: $38,690
  • Mean hourly wage: $18.60
  • Employment: 337,160 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: Dental offices
  • Expected growth: 19% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Home health care services (mean salary: $43,600)
  • Top-paying state: Washington D.C. (mean salary $49,210)

10. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

medical records and health information technicians mrhi techs salary

Army Medicine / Flickr / CC BY

Otherwise known as health information technicians, medical records and health information technicians organize and manage patient records and other health data. These professionals use different classification systems to code, categorize, and organize information for insurance reimbursement, database registries, and patient medical histories.

Billing and coding programs are a popular area of specialization, and you can become a registered health information technician in less than 6 months.

Education requirements: Most employers require professional training, such as a post-secondary certificate or an associate degree.

  • Mean annual salary: $42,820
  • Mean hourly wage: $20.59
  • Employment: 204,220 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: General medical and surgical hospitals (68,740 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 13% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Computer systems design mean salary $58,940)
  • Top-paying state: New Jersey (mean salary $58,080)

9. Surgical Technologists

Surgical Technologists

Surgical technologists have an incredibly hands-on job. Also known as a scrub tech, surgical techs might pass tools to surgeons and nurses during procedures, position patients on the operating table, or even hold body parts in place.

These allied healthcare professionals also arrange equipment, distribute surgical instruments during procedures, and play an important role in postoperative care.

Education requirements: Most employers require surgical techs to complete a 2-year (or less) surgical tech certificate program or obtain an associate degree. A handful of states regulate surgical technologists.

  • Mean annual salary: $48,060
  • Mean hourly wage: $23.11
  • Employment: 107,700 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: General medical and surgical hospitals (75,860 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 12% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Medical & diagnostic laboratories (mean salary: $62,080)
  • Top-paying state: California (mean salary: $61,240)

8. Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

medical clinical lab techs and technicians job opportunities salaries

/ / CC BY

Also referred to as medical laboratory scientists, these professionals analyze bodily fluids (including blood, urine, and saliva). Technicians can work in all areas of the clinical laboratory, including blood banks, chemistry, hematology, immunology, histology, and microbiology departments.

Education requirements: Some states require technicians to be licensed, and all employers typically require an associate or bachelor’s degree.

  • Median annual salary: $51,770
  • Median hourly wage: $24.89
  • Employment: 335,700 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: General medical and surgical hospitals (68,840 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 13% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: General medical and surgical hospitals (median salary: $54,670)

7. Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists counsel with their patients about their diets, and provide meal and nutrition plans. With proper nutrition and dietetics, people can choose what to eat (or avoid) in order to achieve specific health- or fitness-related goals.

Education requirements: After gaining a bachelor’s degree in the field, it’s common for graduates to complete additional courses and/or internships before starting work. Most states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed.

  • Mean annual salary: $60,150
  • Mean hourly wage: $28.92
  • Employment: 62,980 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: General medical and surgical hospitals (18,130 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 15% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Animal food manufacturing (mean salary $80,210)
  • Top-paying state: California (mean salary $72,130)

 

6. Respiratory Therapists

Registered respiratory therapists develop treatment plans for patients with breathing conditions and disorders. They have a wide range of responsibilities, including diagnostic tests, carrying out procedures (e.g. chest physiotherapy, tracheostomy maintenance), monitoring progress, and working with patients at home.

Education requirements: Respiratory therapists often hold a bachelor degree, but many find work with an associate degree. Alaska is the only state that does not require respiratory therapists to be licensed.

  • Mean annual salary: $61,810
  • Mean hourly wage: $29.72
  • Employment: 130,200 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing (2,900 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 23% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Outpatient care centers (mean salary $70,210)
  • Top-paying state: California (mean salary $79,680)

5. MRI Technologists

MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines to create diagnostic images. MRI technologists work under the guidelines set by radiologists and ordered by physicians.

Education requirements: There are typically two routes to becoming an MRI technologist. Some techs start out as radiologic technologists and later specialize in MRI. There are also associate degrees and 2-year programs that focus solely on MRI certificate training.

Note: Licensing and certification requirements vary by state. Discover more about the best states to work as an MRI tech.

  • Median annual salary: $70,490
  • Mean hourly wage: $33.89
  • Employment: 37,490 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: General medical and surgical hospitals (21,830 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 13% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Outpatient care centers (mean salary $80,880)
  • Top-paying state: California (mean salary $87,520)

4. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Sonographers can specialize in OB/GYN, abdomen, adult echocardiography, breast, and vascular areas.

Education requirements: Formal training that results in an associate degree or a post-secondary certificate. Some employers require professional certification from sonography programs.

  • Mean annual salary: $73,200
  • Mean hourly wage: $35.19
  • Employment: 68,750
  • Highest levels of employment: General medical and surgical hospitals (41,240 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 17% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Outpatient care centers (mean salary $84,890)
  • Top-paying State: California (mean salary $91,700)

3. Orthotists and Prosthetists

orthotists prosthetists career job salary opportunities

U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Medical orthotists and prosthetists design medical supportive devices like artificial limbs (e.g. arms, hands, legs, and feet), braces, and other medical and surgical devices. These devices often have to be custom-made, according to the patient’s specific needs.

Education requirements: After gaining their Master’s degree (as well as professional certification), orthotists and prosthetists must complete a one-year residency before they can be certified.

  • Mean annual salary: $70,970
  • Mean hourly wage: $34.12
  • Employment: 7,840 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing (2,900 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 22% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing (mean salary $77,400)
  • Top-paying state: California (mean salary $84,820)

2. Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists examine and clean patients’ teeth, check for oral disease, and provide preventative dental care. They also educate patients on how to improve their oral health.

Education requirements: There are a few paths toward this career, including an: associate degree, dental hygienist certificate, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree from a dental hygienist school (that is accredited by the American Dental Association). All states require dental hygienists to be licensed.

  • Mean annual salary: $74,680
  • Mean hourly wage: $35.91
  • Employment: 211,600 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: Dental offices (200,710 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 20% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Dental offices (mean salary: $73,740)
  • Note: Home health care services may pay more, but such positions are extremely rare.
  • Top-paying state: Alaska (mean salary: $107,190)

1. Occupational Therapists

occupational therapists job career salary opportunities

Christiana Care / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Occupational therapists often work with patients who suffer from mentally, physically, developmentally-, socially-, or emotionally-disabling conditions. Patients usually have difficulty performing tasks needed for daily life and work. Occupational therapists work with their patients to improve, regain, and develop these skills.

Education requirements: A Master’s degree is required to work as an occupational therapist. All states require further licensing and/or registration.

  • Mean annual salary: $84,640
  • Mean hourly wage: $40.69
  • Employment: 130,400 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment: Specialty health practitioner offices (33,800 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 24% from 2016 to 2026
  • Top-paying industry: Home health care services (mean salary: $90,890)

Note: Though some industries may pay more, such positions are extremely rare.

  • Top-paying state: Nevada (mean salary $103,280)

 

Want to start in allied health career but want to get it done quickly? Learn how to obtain your allied healthcare certification and start working in under a year!

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