Allied Health Careers: Job Options and Requirements

Aug 18, 2010

Degree programs in allied health typically prepare students to pursue a variety of supportive healthcare occupations. Find out about the educational prerequisites for these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary statistics for allied health program graduates.

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Allied health professionals are the people who work in medical and healthcare facilities, but are not nurses, doctors, or pharmacists. There are a wide variety of allied health professions. This article takes a closer look at two such professions: medical assistants and cardiovascular technicians.

Essential Information

Allied health professions include technical and assisting work done in the healthcare industry. These positions often require 2-year degrees, though allied health professionals sometimes pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in order to earn more pay and responsibility in their field.

Career Titles Medical Assistants Cardiovascular Technicians and Technologists
Education Requirements Associate's degree, certificate or diploma in medical assisting Associate's or bachelor's degree in cardiovascular and vascular technology
Certification Recommended Recommended; may be required by some employers
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 23% 7%
Median Annual Salary (May, 2018)* $33,610 $67,080

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Some allied health job options include medical assisting, surgical assisting, blood banking, cardiovascular technology, kinesiotherapy, exercise physiology, medical illustration, surgical technology and exercise physiology. Below are two of the allied health careers available in the U.S. and the requirements of these jobs.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants perform both clinical and administrative tasks within a doctor's office, hospital or other place of healthcare. These professionals' duties often change depending on state law, though medical assistants often prepare laboratories, schedule appointments and perform basic tests under the supervision of a licensed physician.

Medical assistants are required to have earned either an associate's degree or diploma in medical assisting, depending on state requirements. When in these programs, students are required to learn about anatomy, medical terminology, physiology and record keeping. They often complete vocational internships. While certification is not required in this field, voluntary certification is available and may be preferred by employers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 23% rate of employment growth from 2018-2028 for medical assistants, which is much faster than the average projected growth for all U.S. occupations. In May 2018, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $33,610 for these allied health workers.

Cardiovascular Technician

Cardiovascular technicians almost always work on the clinical side of the healthcare field, under the supervision of cardiologists. Cardiovascular technicians may work in noninvasive technology, vascular technology and echocardiography. A 2-year program at a junior college or vocational school is required to work in this field. However, according to the BLS, 4-year programs are also available and often make for increased pay and responsibility in the field. Within a cardiovascular technology program, students are required to understand cardiovascular equipment and surgery, as well as have a solid foundation in the biological sciences.

Certification exams in cardiovascular technology are available. Employers prefer to hire technicians with professional certification, since it's sometimes required for insurance purposes. The BLS expects a 7% increase in cardiovascular technician and technologist jobs for 2018-2028 and reported in May 2018 a median salary of $56,850.

As medical technology progresses, doctors and nurses will continue to rely on allied health professionals such as cardiovascular technicians and medical assistants. They play important roles in hospitals, conducting tests and measurements and recording patient data.

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