20 Allied Health Jobs That Pay Top Salaries

It takes a team, including doctors, nurses, and support staff, to provide quality healthcare to patients. These allied health professions, such as therapists and technicians, to name a few, offer solid job growth and top salaries. Let’s explore the top 20 highest-paying jobs and what education you need to enter the field now.

Written By

Shannon Lee

- Bio

Shannon Lee has been a freelance writer, editor, and novelist for over 25 years. Her work has appeared on Fox Business, Forbes, MSN, Bob Vila, Modernize, Nashville Scene, MoneyGeek, MVP Parent, and many other outlets; her writing on home improvement led to an editorial position with The Spruce in 2021. She's written extensively on higher education, relationships, and the intersection of technology, health, and medicine. When she's not freelancing, Shannon also writes fiction novels.

last updated

07/06/2022

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sees healthcare as one of the biggest employment growth areas and by 2030. Roughly 60% of the healthcare workforce consists of allied health positions.

Allied health workers – physician assistants, genetic counselors, physical therapists, sonographers, medical assistants, etc. – assist doctors and nurses in treating and caring for patients. While many allied health positions don’t require more than a bachelor’s or master’s degree, they still offer earnings that rival what some nurses and doctors make.

This guide identifies and overviews some of the top-paying allied health positions and tells you how to get started in each career.

The following information is intended to overview each career; location, education, and demand affect individual opportunities. All data is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of April 2022.

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants (PAs) often work as primary care providers and offer a variety of medical care to patients. They diagnose, examine, prescribe medicine, and interpret test results. PAs usually work with other primary care providers like advanced practice nurses and doctors.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$77,940$121,530$164,620

Physician assistant positions pay well because of the advanced training required. PAs often provide a level of care comparable to what many doctors offer.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 31%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 129,400
  • Career Advancement: Specialty PA, supervisory and management roles
  • Work Schedule: Full time plus additional hours, especially when on call
  • Experience needed: Direct care experience
  • Certifications needed: State license; national certification exam
  • Minimum education: Master’s degree
  • Key skills: Communication, detail-oriented, problem-solving, and empathy
  • Length of education: Six years
  • Work environment: Doctor’s offices, hospitals, and outpatient care facilities.

Degrees to Get You There

All states require that physician assistants be licensed, and the first step is earning a bachelor’s degree in a science or healthcare field. The next step is a PA graduate program that usually results in a master’s degree. Individuals with significant healthcare experience may enroll in a master’s completion program instead and graduate in about half the time. Most PA programs are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA).

Available online? Only the classroom requirements can be completed online. All practical training and experiential learning must be completed in person.

If you’re interested in learning more about this career, check out our guide on How to Become a Physician Assistant.

Medical and Health Services Manager

Health and medical services managers coordinate and oversee the financial and business aspects of healthcare providers. Only a bachelor’s degree is usually necessary, but many medical and health services managers have master’s degrees for the additional training in management and business topics it provides.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$60,780$101,340$205,620

The demand for healthcare services is expected to grow for the foreseeable future. Efficient and profitable medical providers are necessary for meeting this increased need, and medical and health services managers play a critical role in the process.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 32%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 429,800
  • Career Advancement: Higher-level executive and management positions with a master’s degree
  • Work Schedule: Most medical and health service managers will work a typical 40-hour week. But some of these hours could take place at night or over the weekend.
  • Experience needed: Not always required for entry-level positions, but familiarity with related health care services is ideal.
  • Certifications needed: Various certifications for specialty areas (e.g., nursing homes) exist and are recommended but not usually needed.
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Key skills: Communication, interpersonal, analytical, and leadership
  • Length of education: Four years
  • Work environment: Hospitals, doctor’s offices, and assisted living facilities

Degree to Get You There

Only a bachelor’s degree is usually needed, but experience in business management, finances, and/or the health care industry substantiates classroom learning. Many online master’s level health and medical services management programs allow students with several years of full-time health care or corporate experience to advance their skills.

Available online? Yes. Students seeking a bachelor’s or master’s degree in medical or health services management can work full-time in the corporate or medical field while earning their health or medical services management degrees online.

If you’re interested in becoming a medical or health services manager, check out our information on healthcare administration and healthcare management online degrees.

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers design, install, support, and research medical technology. This might include creating an artificial organ or consulting with doctors and identifying modifications necessary to improve existing medical equipment. A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum required, but some positions expect a graduate degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$60,680$97,410$154,750

Biomedical engineers are well-paid because they must become experts in two separate science fields, such as biology and computer science or mechanical engineering.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 6%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 19,300
  • Career Advancement: Managers, business executives, and patent attorneys with additional education
  • Work Schedule: 40- to 50-hours a week
  • Experience needed: None
  • Certifications needed: None
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Key skills: Math, critical thinking, analytical skills, and originality
  • Length of education: Four years
  • Work environment: Medical equipment companies, in collaboration with medical, production, and science professionals

Degrees to Get You There

A bachelor’s degree in engineering with a focus or specialization in bioengineering or biomedical sciences is common. For some positions, such as those involving research, a graduate degree may also be necessary. Your degree should be from an ABET-accredited engineering program.

Available online? Yes. Most online biomedical engineering programs are at the master’s level. Undergraduate degrees are mostly in person.

If you’re interested in learning more about an advanced biomedical engineering degree, check out our Guide to Online Biomedical Sciences Master’s DeSgrees.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists (PTs) work directly with patients to reduce pain and/or improve mobility. A PT’s skillset includes reviewing patient medical history, diagnosing conditions, and assisting patients with physical exercises. A physical therapist needs a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$61,930$95,620$127,110

This position pays so well because it requires a graduate degree, but a larger reason is the increasing demand for PT services. With an aging population comes increased patient loads. Combine that with existing physical therapists expected to retire, and the demand for physical therapy easily outpaces the availability of DPTs.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 21%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 239,200
  • Career Advancement: Clinical residency, fellowship, and/or board certification to focus on a specialty
  • Work Schedule: Full-time, 40-hour weeks with night and weekend work possible
  • Experience needed: One-year clinical residency to specialize
  • Certifications needed: State license; national certification exam
  • Minimum education: Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Key skills: Compassion, physical endurance, dexterity, problem-solving, and adaptability
  • Length of education: Seven years
  • Work environment: Hospitals and physical therapy offices

Degrees to Get You There

A Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program usually takes three years, and students learn about pharmacology, biomechanics, and anatomy. Most incoming students have a bachelor’s degree in fitness, sports, or another healthcare field. Most DPT programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Available online? Yes, but they’ll usually be hybrid programs with classes taught online and practical skills in-person.

If you’re interested in becoming a DPT, check out our guide to Online Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists (OTs) use everyday activities and special exercises to help patients recover from illness, injury, or disability. Like other therapy positions, becoming an occupational therapist requires a master’s or doctoral degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$60,680$85,570$123,840

With the aging population’s increasing need for healthcare services comes a growing demand for occupational therapists. Becoming an OT can take up to four years of additional training beyond a bachelor’s degree.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 17%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 131,600
  • Career Advancement: Through specialization in pediatrics or mental health
  • Work Schedule: 40-hours a week with nights and weekends
  • Experience needed: At least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork as part of a master’s degree program
  • Certifications needed: State license; national certification exam
  • Minimum education: Master’s degree
  • Key skills: Patience, interpersonal, compassion, dexterity, and out-of-box thinking
  • Length of education: Six to eight years
  • Work environment: Hospitals and occupational therapy offices

Degrees to Get You There

After earning a bachelor’s degree, becoming an occupational therapist requires completing a master’s or doctoral program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). OT master’s programs take two to three years while doctoral programs take three to four.

Available online? While didactic studies can be virtual, an accredited master’s program for occupational therapy requires in-person, supervised fieldwork.

If you’re interested in becoming an occupational therapist, check out our guide to Online Master’s Programs in Occupational Therapy.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists provide specially calibrated doses of radiation to patients as a part of treatment, mostly for reducing the size of cancer tumors. Becoming a radiation therapist generally requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$61,030$82,790$128,550

Projected growth for radiation therapists is above the national average for all other occupations. The growing demand for healthcare services is expected to increase the need for radiation therapists.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 9%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 17,700
  • Career Advancement: Medical dosimetrists or other specialty position
  • Work Schedule: 40-hour, full-time workweek
  • Experience needed: Supervised fieldwork
  • Certifications needed: State license or certification for most states; national certification exam
  • Minimum education: Associate degree
  • Key skills: Attention to detail, compassion, communication, and familiarity with technology
  • Length of education: One to two years minimum, usually more
  • Work environment: Hospitals and doctor’s offices

Degree to Get You There

Become a radiation therapist by obtaining an associate or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy or a related field. Ideally, programs will be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). A certificate program is acceptable for some positions, but this is not the norm.

Available online? Yes, but most accredited programs have in-person clinical training requirements in addition to the online classroom portion.

If you’re interested in becoming a radiation therapist, check out our Guide to Accredited Online Radiation Therapy Schools.

Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors advise families and individuals about genetic disorders, which are often related to congenital disabilities, by educating current and prospective parents about inherited conditions. Genetic counselors typically need master’s degrees.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$49,120$80,150$121,070

Because of the complex nature of this job, genetic counselors are relatively rare. As technology progresses and understanding of human genetics increases, the field will expand. Genetic counselors can take advantage of these developments by advancing their skills in understanding and conveying findings to patients and clients.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 26%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 2,400
  • Career Advancement: More likely with certification
  • Work Schedule: A standard 40-hour workweek
  • Experience needed: Supervised fieldwork
  • Certifications needed: Many states require licensing; most employers require certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
  • Minimum education: Master’s degree
  • Key skills: Communication, critical thinking, and compassion.
  • Length of education: Six years
  • Work environment: Hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical and diagnostic labs.

Degrees to Get You There

Becoming a genetic counselor requires first earning a bachelor’s degree in a science-based field of study. Then, obtain a master’s degree in genetic counseling or genetics from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling.

Available online? Much of the classwork requirements can be remote, but there will also be in-person clinical requirements.

If you’re interested in becoming a genetic counselor, our guide to the Top Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Available Online can point you in the right direction.

Speech-Language Pathologist

You need a master’s degree to become a speech-language pathologist. Job tasks include examining, diagnosing, and treating children and adults with communication and swallowing disorders.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$51,310$79,060$125,560

As the population in the U.S. ages, speech and swallowing disorders caused by strokes, dementia, and other illnesses will increase. Additionally, there’s an increased need to identify speech and communication issues in young children. Both mean a dramatic increase in demand for speech-language pathologists.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 29%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 158,100
  • Career Advancement: With specialization or teaching certificate to work in schools.
  • Work Schedule: A typical 40-hour full-time workweek
  • Experience needed: Supervised clinical experience
  • Certifications needed: State license
  • Minimum education: Master’s degree
  • Key skills: Communication, interpersonal, listening, critical thinking, compassion, and attention to details
  • Length of education: Six years
  • Work environment: Speech therapy and audiology offices, educational services, and hospitals

Degrees to Get You There

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, becoming a speech-language pathologist requires a master’s degree in speech pathology from a program accredited by Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). Some master’s programs require a bachelor’s degree in healthcare or a similar field.

Available online? Yes. Clinical and supervised fieldwork requirements must be completed in person, but classroom requirements can usually be met through distance learning.

If you’re interested in becoming a speech-language pathologist, check out our guide to Online Master’s Programs in Speech-Language Pathology.

Audiologist

In addition to helping patients with hearing issues, audiologists also work with patients suffering from balance and other ear-related problems. Becoming an audiologist requires a doctor of audiology degree obtained after earning a bachelor’s degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$58,920$78,950$120,210

As the population in the U.S. ages and access to healthcare improves, there will also be a growing demand for professionals who can assist patients with hearing problems. An increasing understanding of hearing disorders in young children and audiologists will add to this demand.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 16%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 13,700
  • Career Advancement: Specialization through certification
  • Work Schedule: 40-hour week with some weekends and/or nights
  • Experience needed: Supervised clinical experience
  • Certifications needed: State license
  • Minimum education: Doctor of audiology degree
  • Key skills: Empathy, patience, critical thinking, communication, and unconventional thinking
  • Length of education: Eight years
  • Work environment: Doctor’s offices, hospitals, and speech therapy and audiology offices

Degrees to Get You There

After earning a bachelor’s degree students enroll in a doctor of audiology program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). The curriculum includes both classroom training, which is sometimes online, and in-person training through clinicals and practicums.

Available online? Yes. Many doctor of audiology courses can be completed online, but the programs usually also have in-person clinicals or practicums.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear medicine technologists handle radioactive drugs and medications. They prepare and administer these drugs to patients to assist in medical imaging and treatment. Becoming a nuclear medicine technologist usually requires an associate degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$60,550$78,760$105,530

Improved access to healthcare and an aging population means a need for more medical imaging. Improvements to existing technology and new technology developments will also change how patients get diagnosed.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 8%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 18,300
  • Career Advancement: With additional certifications for additional equipment and procedures
  • Work Schedule: Regular business hours and a 40-hour week with some night, weekends, and on-call hours possible
  • Experience needed: Supervised clinical experience
  • Certifications needed: Certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board is not required but recommended
  • Minimum education: Associate degree
  • Key skills: Familiarity with technology, attention to detail, communication, empathy, and physical stamina
  • Length of education: Two years
  • Work environment: Hospitals and doctor’s offices

Degree to Get You There

Most nuclear medicine technologists earn an associate degree in nuclear medicine technology, but certificates in nuclear medicine or a related field are also possible. You can also earn a bachelor’s or associate degree in a healthcare field, then complete a one-year certificate program in nuclear medicine technology. All nuclear medicine programs must be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT).

Available online? Yes. Traditional class materials can be conveyed online with clinical experience gained through in-person training.

If you’re interested in becoming a nuclear medicine technologist, check out our Guide to Nuclear Medicine Technologist Online Programs.

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists provide various forms of preventative oral care. Much of their work revolves around looking for signs of dental issues like gingivitis and oral hygiene tasks like cleaning teeth. Becoming a dental hygienist requires completing an accredited dental hygiene associate degree program.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$60,100$77,810$100,200

A primary reason for dental hygienists’ high pay is their increasing roles in the dental office. They conduct much of the preventative care dental work, which allows dentists to focus on other issues. There also is an increased need for access to dental services because of an aging population.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 11%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 206,100
  • Career Advancement: College-level teaching opportunities with a master’s degree
  • Work Schedule: Full-time and part-time work during regular business hours
  • Experience needed: None
  • Certifications needed: State licensure
  • Minimum education: Associate degree
  • Key skills: Physical stamina, dexterity, interpersonal, observation, and attention to detail
  • Length of education: Three years
  • Work environment: Dentist and orthodontist offices

Degrees to Get You There

After earning a high school diploma or equivalent (e.g., GED), you must complete a dental hygiene program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. These programs often take three years and usually offer an associate degree, though a bachelor’s degree is sometimes possible.

Available online? Yes. Classroom portions of the curriculum can be virtual, but hands-on training must occur on campus or at approved sites.

If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, check out our step-by-step guide to Becoming a Dental Hygienist and our listing of The Best Online Dental Hygiene Schools.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians review workplace procedures and settings to ensure worker safety. They make sure regulations, laws, and rules are followed and conduct tests aimed at finding ways to reduce risks to workers. Specialists usually need a bachelor’s degree, while technicians normally have a certificate or associate degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$44,040$77,560$118,510

In addition to existing occupational safety and health technicians and specialists retiring and changing fields, more people working later in life means more time in the workplace over a lifespan and an increased chance of workplace injuries. This creates a higher demand for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians to make necessary changes and investigate injury causes.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 7%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 119,200
  • Career Advancement: Specialization and certain work environments with certification
  • Work Schedule: Full-time with some night and/or weekend hours plus travel
  • Experience needed: None prior but on-the-job training when hired
  • Certifications needed: Optional but available from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene
  • Minimum education: Post-secondary certificate
  • Key skills: Physical endurance, observation, technical, attention to detail, and communication
  • Length of education: One to two years
  • Work environment: Government, manufacturing, and construction, including in hazardous conditions

Degrees to Get You There

Occupational health and safety specialists need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or a comparable field. A master’s degree in industrial hygiene or physical health is necessary for some jobs. Occupational health and safety technicians usually need a certificate or associate degree.

Available online? Yes. Most required courses can be completed online without coming to campus.

Radiologic and MRI Technicians

MRI and radiologic technicians use various diagnostic imaging equipment to help doctors and other healthcare providers examine patients. Radiologic technicians work primarily with X-ray machines, while MRI technologists focus on magnetic resonance imaging. An associate degree is needed to become a radiologic or MRI technician.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$59,110$77,360$100,870

This job pays well thanks to an increase in the accessibility of medical care and an aging U.S. population.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 9%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 254,000
  • Career Advancement: Specialization with certificate
  • Work Schedule: Full-time during regular business hours with some weekends and nights
  • Experience needed: Supervised fieldwork
  • Certifications needed: Most states require state licensure or certification for radiologic technologists, but only a few require it for MRI technologists.
  • Minimum education: Associate degree
  • Key skills: Technical, communication, math, attention to detail, and physical endurance
  • Length of education: Two years
  • Work environment: Hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical and diagnostic laboratories

Degree to Get You There

Becoming an MRI or radiologic technologist or technician requires earning an associate degree. The accrediting body for radiography programs is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), and the accrediting body for MRI programs is the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). A less common education pathway involves earning a bachelor’s degree or graduate certificate in MRI technology or radiologic studies.

Available online? Yes. Online classwork is supplemented with in-person clinical training. Fully online programs also exist, but they are bridge programs for those with previous work experience and formal training in the MRI or radiologic fields.

If you’re interested in this field, check out our information on online rad tech programs.

Orthotic and Prosthetics Professionals

These professionals design, manufacture, and fit orthotics and prosthetics for patients. A master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics is required after earning a bachelor’s degree covering prerequisite science and math classes.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$41,730$75,440$124,040

Growing demand for prosthetics and orthotics is anticipated as the baby boomer generation ages and has greater access to healthcare services. There is also an increase in certain chronic diseases like diabetes that lead to loss of limbs.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 18%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 10,100
  • Career Advancement: Often available when certified
  • Work Schedule: Full time and regular business hours
  • Experience needed: One-year residency
  • Certifications needed: Some states require licensure
  • Minimum education: Master’s degree
  • Key skills: Dexterity, interpersonal, critical thinking, patience, attention to detail, and creative problem solving
  • Length of education: Seven years
  • Work environment: Medical supply and equipment manufacturers, healthcare stores, and ambulatory healthcare services.

Degrees to Get You There

Almost any bachelor’s degree will complement a master’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics if the bachelor’s degree covers foundational mathematics and science courses. Most prosthetics and orthotics master’s programs last two years and are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). After graduation, you must complete a one-year residency accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE).

Available online? Yes. Much of the classwork can be completed online. However, there may be on-campus intensives to complete orthotics and prosthetics labs.

If you’re interested in becoming an orthotics or prosthetics professional, our guide to the Top Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Available Online can point you in the right direction.

Chiropractors

Chiropractors focus on treating nerve, bone, muscle, tendon, and ligaments issues, especially those in the back and neck. Treatment often includes spinal adjustments to relieve pain. You must complete an accredited doctor of chiropractic program to become a chiropractor.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$37,400$75,000$128,750

There is an increasing need for medical services and a desire to reduce the cost of providing this care, especially when treating chronic pain. Chiropractors offer treatments that don’t involve medication and are less invasive than traditional medical treatments. More people are also realizing the need to remain as active as possible for as long as possible, and regular chiropractic care may aid them in doing so.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 11%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 51,400
  • Career Advancement: Private practice after significant experience
  • Work Schedule: A typical week of 40 hours with nights and/or weekends possible
  • Experience needed: Supervised field experience
  • Certifications needed: State license; national exam
  • Minimum education: Doctor of Chiropractic degree
  • Key skills: Dexterity, physical stamina, communication, attention to detail, and decision making
  • Length of education: Eight years
  • Work environment: Chiropractor’s office with, rarely, some in-home care

Degrees to Get You There

You need a Doctor of Chiropractic from a program accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education to become a chiropractor. These programs take four years to finish and include extensive hands-on clinical and classroom training. Most students have a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare or biology-related major before enrolling. Minimally, they’ve completed at least 90 credit hours of undergraduate study.

Available online? Only a relatively small portion of the curriculum can be completed virtually because of the hands-on nature of the training. Most accredited programs are almost entirely through in-person classes and clinical experiences.

Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists treat patients who have trouble breathing. Patients range from premature infants to young adults with asthma to older individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Most respiratory therapist positions require an associate degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$47,380$61,830$95,540

There’s an increase in people who suffer from respiratory ailments, largely due to an aging population. There’s also a rise in demand because of increased access to medical services. To meet this demand and keep costs down, respiratory care may be offered in-home or at a doctor’s office by respiratory therapists.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 23%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 135,100
  • Career Advancement: Possible with certification
  • Work Schedule: Full-time hours plus overnight, evenings, and weekends for emergencies
  • Experience needed: Supervised fieldwork
  • Certifications needed: Most states require state licensure.
  • Minimum education: Associate degree
  • Key skills: Communication, compassion, attention to detail, patience, and critical thinking
  • Length of education: Two to four years
  • Work environment: Hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing care facilities

Degree to Get You There

Minimally, you need an associate degree from a program approved by the American Medical Association or accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). These programs also exist at the bachelor’s level.

Available online? Yes. However, entirely online programs are usually offered at the bachelor’s level and only for students with an associate degree in respiratory therapy. At the associate level, any online program will also include in-person clinical training.

If you’re interested in becoming a respiratory therapist, check out our information on Online Respiratory Therapy Programs.

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Nutritionists and dietitians use their knowledge about food and how the body functions to improve patient health. They also use nutritional knowledge to treat and manage disease and/or illness. Even though a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to become a dietician or nutritionist, many ask for a master’s degree.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$42,530$61,650$93,640

Many health problems facing Americans are because of chronic diseases and illnesses caused by poor diet. To help prevent and control these conditions, and therefore reduce the need for extensive medical care, there is a growing need for nutritionists and dietitians.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 11%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 73,000
  • Career Advancement: Available with professional credentials (e.g., registered dietitian, registered dietitian nutritionist, and certified nutritionist) or with specialization
  • Work Schedule: Full-time with some night and weekend hours to accommodate client schedules
  • Experience needed: Post-graduate supervised fieldwork
  • Certifications needed: State license
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Key skills: Interpersonal, organizational, critical thinking, communication, and attention to detail
  • Length of education: Four years
  • Work environment: Hospitals, government agencies, nursing care facilities, and outpatient care clinics

Degree to Get You There

A bachelor’s degree in dietetics, nutrition, or comparable major is the minimum degree necessary to become a dietitian or nutritionist.

Available online? Yes. Only the classroom components can be completed online. Experiential learning must be completed in person.

If you’re interested in becoming a dietician or nutritionist, our Guide to Earning Your Nutrition Bachelor’s Degree Online can point you in the right direction.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians (including Vascular Technologists)

Medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians use medical imaging equipment to help doctors and other health professionals assess, diagnose, and treat patients. Most use ultrasound equipment to produce images of structures inside the human body. Education varies, but most diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technicians and technologists have a postsecondary certificate or associate degree in vascular technology or sonography.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$29,910$60,570$98,070

An aging population means more people need healthcare services for chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease. There’s also an increased need for medical imaging without using radiation.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 14%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 134,100
  • Career Advancement: Possible through specialization in a particular area (e.g., imaging certain parts of the body)
  • Work Schedule: Full-time during normal business hours with evening and weekend hours common
  • Experience needed: Supervised fieldwork
  • Certifications needed: Not required in all states, but many employers will only hire certified technicians
  • Minimum education: One-year certificate
  • Key skills: Manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, communication, technical, and attention to detail
  • Length of education: One to four years
  • Work environment: Hospitals and doctors’ offices

Degrees to Get You There

Those interested in becoming medical sonographers or cardiovascular technicians have two options. They can enroll in a one-year certificate program offered at a hospital or vocational school, or they can get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in sonography or cardiovascular and vascular technology. Regardless of the path, any program must be accredited by the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Available online? Yes. Only classroom portions are online, but substantive training will occur in person both on-campus and at clinical sites.

If you’re interested in learning more about ultrasound technology, check out our information on top online sonography and ultrasound tech schools.

Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Also called medical laboratory scientists, clinical laboratory technologists and technicians collect, process, and analyze samples (e.g., blood, urine, body tissue, etc.) from patients. Generally, technologists perform more advanced tests than do technicians. A bachelor’s degree is needed to become a technologist, while technicians need an associate degree or certificate.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$30,280$57,800$79,340

Clinical laboratory technicians and technologists are paid well because of an increase in patients seeking medical services, many of which involve medical tests. This increased need for testing comes from greater access to healthcare, an aging population, and a shift to treating chronic diseases.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 11%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 335,500
  • Career Advancement: Bachelor’s degrees, certification, specialization, and experience can all lead to advancement
  • Work Schedule: A 40-hour full-time work week with night and weekend hours possible
  • Experience needed: Supervised fieldwork
  • Certifications needed: Some states require licensing or certification; most employers prefer certification
  • Minimum education: Certificate
  • Key skills: Attention to detail, technical, quantitative, dexterity, and physical endurance
  • Length of education: One to four years
  • Work environment: Hospitals, medical laboratories, and doctor’s offices

Degree to Get You There

To become a clinical laboratory technician, you usually need an associate degree in clinical laboratory science or a similar field. However, certificate programs are available for those in the military or through vocational schools. Becoming a clinical laboratory technologist typically requires a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or a comparable major. Programs should be accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Available online? Yes. Online classes will usually be prerequisites, foundational lessons, and general education courses. Hands-on training from labs and clinical training will typically take place in person at approved medical institutions.

Surgical Technologist

Also called operating room technicians, surgical technologists prepare operating rooms, sterilize equipment, and help doctors during surgeries. They are vital in keeping a sterile environment to help prevent patient infection. You need an associate degree from an accredited surgical technology program to become a technologist.

Salary Range (2021)

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$36,930$48,530$75,940

An aging population raises the demand for healthcare services like surgeries, joint replacements, or cataract removals to help baby boomers be healthier and live longer. Surgeries also increase as technological advances make them safer, meaning more surgical technologists are needed to staff operating rooms.

  • Growth estimate (2020-2030): 9%
  • No. of jobs (2020): 109,700
  • Career Advancement: Move into another healthcare position or become an instructor with additional education
  • Work Schedule: Full-time with extended shifts, nights, weekends, and holidays necessary in hospitals
  • Experience needed: Supervised clinical work
  • Certifications needed: Some states require a license; certification ideal
  • Minimum education: Associate degree
  • Key skills: Communication, detail-oriented, and stress management
  • Length of education: Several months to two years
  • Work environment: Hospitals, doctor office, and outpatient care centers

Degrees to Get You There

Becoming a surgical technologist requires an associate degree or postsecondary nondegree award from an accredited program. The primary accrediting body is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program.

Available online? Any program with an online component will be hybrid where classwork is completed online and clinicals in person.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a surgical technologist, check out some top schools with online programs.