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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.

Demand for allied healthcare professionals, in particular, has increased by one-third since 1999. Jobs in this field currently make up 60% of all healthcare positions, while the other 40% are distributed between medicine, nursing, and pharmacy.

Allied healthcare jobs have lower educational requirements (compared to medicine, for example), and they open up pathways to many opportunities for advancement. Even better: your paychecks are also expected to grow over the years.

How do we know all this? Well, you can trust the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those guys know their numbers!

Read on to find out which are some of the fastest growing and top-paying allied health careers, according to the latest BLS 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 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. The process may require applicants to pass an exam or complete a formal education or pharmacy technician training program.

  • Mean annual salary: $32,170
  • Mean hourly wage: $15.47
  • Employment: 398,390 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: Pharmacies/drugstores, health and personal care stores (192,290 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 9% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Federal executive branch (mean salary $42,710)
  • Top-paying state: Washington (mean salary $42,170)

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 will vary based on location, employer, specialty, and size of the practice.

MA jobs may involve direct patient care and treatment, or management of patient records and health information data.

Most medical assistant training courses include clinical internship and aim to provide practical training in a real work environment.

Education requirements: High school diploma. Learning through on-the-job training is possible, but many employers prefer candidates with a certificate or an associate degree.

  • Mean annual salary: $32,850
  • Mean hourly wage: $15.79
  • Employment: 623,560 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: Physicians’ offices (361,890 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 23% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry:  Junior Colleges  (mean salary $36,670)
  • Top-paying state: Alaska (annual mean wage: $41,340)

12. Phlebotomists

Phlebotomists, certificate from a phlebotomy program

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

Education requirements: Post-secondary certificate from a phlebotomy program. The requirements vary from state to state; many states do not require formal certification, but most employers strongly favor phlebotomists who are professionally certified.

  • Mean annual salary: $33,750
  • Mean hourly wage: $16.22
  • Employment: 120,970 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: Medical and surgical hospitals (41,230 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 25% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top paying industry: Individual and Family Services (mean salary: $40,760)
  • Top paying state: California(mean salary $41,360)

11. Dispensing Opticians

dispensing optician eye care professional salary job opportunities

These eye care professionals are trained to dispense and fit glasses and other optical aids, using a prescription from a ophthalmologist or optometrist. They also help customers select eyeglass frames or lenses. Opticians also advise people how to wear and care for their eyewear.

Education requirements: High school diploma (or equivalent) and on-the-job training. Associate degrees and certificates from a community college or technical school are common. Some states require applicants to be licensed.

  • Mean annual salary: $37,860
  • Mean hourly wage: $18.20
  • Employment: 75,270 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: Offices of specialized health practitioners (mean wage $35,470)
  • Expected growth: 24% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing  (mean salary $59,590)
  • Top-paying state: Massachusetts (mean salary $60,740)

10. Dental Assistants

Dental Assistants

Duties vary by state and employer (almost all jobs are in dentists’ offices). Assistants help dentists by preparing the patient for treatment, sterilizing instruments and providing direct patient care.

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: $37,890
  • Mean hourly wage: $18.22
  • Employment: 327,290 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: Dentists’ offices (298,320 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 18% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Specialty hospitals (mean salary $42,750)
  • Top-paying state: Minnesota (mean salary $47,210)

9. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

medical records and health information technicians mrhi techs salary

Army Medicine / Flickr / CC BY

Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage patient records and other health data. These professionals use different classification systems to categorize information for insurance reimbursement purposes, database registries, and maintaining patients’ medical histories. Medical billing and coding programs are a popular area of specialization.

Education requirements: Post-secondary certificate or associate degree. Many employers require professional certification.

  • Mean annual salary: $41,460
  • Mean hourly wage: $19.93
  • Employment: 200,140jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: General medical and surgical hospitals (68,820 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 15% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services (mean salary $56,390)
  • Top-paying state:New Jersey  (mean salary $60,000)

8. Surgical Technologists

Surgical Technologists

Surgical technologists have a hands-on job, where they may pass tools to surgeons and nurses, hold body parts in place and more. Their job is to prepare the operating room, arrange equipment and distribute surgical instruments before the procedure. They also play an important role in postoperative care.

Education requirements: Post-secondary surgical tech certificate or associate degree. Only a few states regulate surgical technologists.

  • Mean annual salary:$46,800
  • Mean hourly wage: $22.50
  • Employment: 105,720 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: General medical and surgical hospitals (73,540 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 12% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Medical & Diagnostic Laboratories  (mean salary $61,300)
  • Top-paying state: Nevada (mean salary $60,640)

7. Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

medical clinical lab techs and technicians job opportunities salaries

/ / CC BY

These professionals perform analyses on 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

Education requirements: Associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. Some states require technicians to be licensed.

  • Mean annual salary: $50,930
  • Mean hourly wage: $24.48
  • Employment: 160,190 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: General medical and surgical hospitals (68,840 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 16% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Pharmaceutical/Druggist Merchant Wholesaler(mean salary $79,230)
  • Top-paying state: Rhode Island (mean salary $57,690)

6. Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists advise people on their diets, meal and nutrition plans. These professionals help people choose what to eat or avoid to achieve a specific health or fitness-related goal.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree. Most graduates complete additional courses or an internship before starting work. Many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed.

  • Mean annual salary: $59,670
  • Mean hourly wage: $28.69
  • Employment: 61,430 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: General medical and surgical hospitals (17,840 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 14% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Residential and Substance Abuse Facilities  (mean salary $70,230)
  • Top-paying state: California (mean salary $71,430)

5. Radiologic and MRI Technologists

radiologic mri technologist jobs salary opportunities

/ / CC BY

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 two routes to becoming an MRI technologist. Some techs will start out as radiologic technologists and then specialize in MRI later in their careers. There are also associate degree and certificate programs that focus solely on MRI training.

  • Mean annual salary: $69,240
  • Mean hourly wage: $33.29
  • Employment: 35,850 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: General medical and surgical hospitals (20,670 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 9% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Scientific research and development services (mean salary $80,930)
  • Top-paying state: Nevada (mean salary $88,660)

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

4. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Vascular and Cardiovascular Technologists

These healthcare professionals use sonography equipment to perform diagnostic examinations under the direction of a doctor. Sonographers can specialize in multiple areas including OB/GYN, Abdomen, Adult Echocardiography, Breast, Vascular, and more.

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

  • Mean annual salary: $71,750
  • Mean hourly wage: $34.49
  • Employment: 65,790
  • Highest levels of employment in: General medical and surgical hospitals (39,130 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 24% from 20142 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Outpatient Care Centers  (mean salary $82,940)
  • Top-paying State: California (mean salary $93,350)

For more information visit our Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography and Diagnostic Medical Sonography training program pages.

3. Orthotists and Prosthetists

orthotists prosthetists career job salary opportunities

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

Orthotists and prosthetists design medical supportive devices like artificial limbs (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: Master’s degree as well as professional certification. Both orthotists and prosthetists must complete a one-year residency before they are certified.

  • Mean annual salary: $69,920
  • Mean hourly wage: $33.62
  • Employment: 7,500 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing (2,890 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 23% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Physician offices (mean salary $76,960)
  • Top-paying state: Oklahoma (mean salary $102,940)

2. Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists examine patients, clean teeth, check for oral diseases and provide preventative dental care. They also provide patient-specific oral hygiene instructions and educate patients on how to improve their oral health.

Education requirements: Associate degree, 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: $73,440
  • Mean hourly wage: $35.31
  • Employment: 204,990 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: Dentists’ offices (194,830 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 19% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top paying industry: Dentists’ offices (mean salary $73,740)*Note: Some industries pay more, but such positions are extremely rare.
  • Top-paying state: Alaska (mean salary $102,890)

1. Occupational Therapists

occupational therapists job career salary opportunities

Christiana Care / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Occupational therapists work with injured, ill or disabled people. Most patients suffer from mentally, physically, developmentally, socially or emotionally disabling conditions. Patients usually have difficulty performing tasks needed for daily life and work. Occupational therapists lead their patients therapeutically through everyday activities.

Education requirements: Master’s degree. All states require occupational therapists to be licensed or registered.

  • Mean annual salary: $83,730
  • Mean hourly wage: $40.25
  • Employment: 118,070 jobs
  • Highest levels of employment in: Offices of specialty health practitioners (31,030 jobs)
  • Expected growth: 27% from 2014 to 2024
  • Top-paying industry: Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services (mean salary $98,680)
  • Top-paying state: Nevada (mean salary $101,870)

If you need help picking the right allied health career, check out the 12 Fastest Growing Allied Health Careers.