Quiz: Which Allied Health Career Should You Choose?

Healthcare is an ever-growing landscape and job opportunities will continue to increase, including roles in a variety of allied health fields. But which career path is right for you? Keep reading as we help you figure out how to answer this question for yourself.

Written By

Angela Myers

- Bio

Expert Contributor

Cassie Spencer

- Bio

To give you more insight on what to expect as you pursue your degree and start your allied health career, we sat down with Cassie Spencer. As a career coach, Cassie has worked with hundreds of students, young professionals, career changers, and job seekers to prepare them to make their next career move. Prior to working full time as a freelance career coach, Cassie worked on college campuses, coaching students in career exploration, managing internship programs, and providing students with the tools and resources to develop resumes, write cover letters, search for jobs, and explore their career options. Cassie is the co-host of the podcast Your Career GPS and is the host of Happenstance the Podcast. She also shares career-related content on social media at @CareerCoachCassie.

last updated

08/04/2022

Allied health professionals play a crucial role in the medical world. These careers are usually in-demand and often pay well for the level of certification or education. In fact, many available jobs in allied health professions are expected to grow by 16% over the next four years, according to recent statistics by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Allied health is a huge, ever-changing field. With so many career options, it can be tricky to decide which path to take. Before we dive into the details of each of the Allied Health professions we outline here, take our quick quiz and discover which allied health careers may be a good fit for you based on your goals and preferences. Then, keep reading for an overview of each profession including education needed and salary data. Once you’re done, you’ll be better equipped to make the important decision of which allied health career is right for you. Get started with the quiz below!

Take the Quiz

1 / 10

Do you want to work with patients directly?

  1. Yes
  2. Maybe
  3. No

How quickly do you want to begin your career?

  1. < 2 Years
  2. 2+ Years

Do you prefer an active job or a desk job?

  1. Active
  2. Mix
  3. Desk

Do you prefer to work as part of a team, independently, or a mix of both?

  1. Team
  2. Mix
  3. Independently

Do you like a consistent daily routine or more variety?

  1. Routine
  2. Variety

How do you react in an emergency situation?

  1. Composed
  2. Panicky
  3. Uncertain

Are you a detail-oriented person?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Is a high salary important to you?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Do you prefer to be behind-the-scenes or a part of the action?

  1. Behind
  2. Action

What type of work schedule do you prefer?

  1. Set
  2. Varied

Recommendations

  1. Healthcare Management
  2. Healthcare Administration
  3. Veterinary Assistant

Snapshots: Careers & Degrees in Allied Health

Now that you know which careers are a good fit for you, it’s time to research the education requirements and professional experience needed to enter each allied health field. To get you started on your search, we created career snapshots that outline what each job entails, the average salary, and the education requirements. These snapshots are just a beginning; to learn more about each profession, check out our in-depth guides for any field you’re interested in.

Behavioral Health Technician

Psychiatric or Behavioral Health technicians work with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to care for patients. Often, they work in mental health facilities, psychiatric hospitals, and larger mental health facilities. Typical duties include monitoring patient well-being, helping patients keep up with personal hygiene, and assisting with rehabilitation programs. In this role, expect lots of patient interaction and time on your feet.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$36,230

Est. Growth Rate:

11%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Psychiatric Technician Programs Online

Biomedical Technician

If you like to tinker with technical equipment, you might find a career as a biomedical technician fulfilling. These technicians maintain and repair healthcare technology. They deal with critical equipment in healthcare practices; the demand for individuals with this skill set is rapidly growing.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$49,910

Est. Growth Rate:

7%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Biomedical Technician Degrees Online

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant provides care alongside a dentist and dental hygienists. Dental assistants are responsible for taking x-rays, keeping records, and managing appointments. Their job is critical for the everyday operations of dental offices. The demand for dental assistants is growing faster than most fields.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$38,660

Est. Growth Rate:

11%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Dental Assistant Programs Online

Dental Hygienist 

Like a dental assistant, a dental hygienist works in a dentist’s office. Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning teeth and examining patients for various dental conditions, such as gingivitis or cavities. They also provide dental hygiene care in most offices.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$77,810

Est. Growth Rate:

11%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Dental Hygiene Programs Online

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic medical sonographers often work in cardiology or OB GYN departments, though they can work anywhere that utilizes sonography procedures and ultrasounds. Often they perform the tests, though a doctor reads and interprets the results. Specific technical knowledge is needed and an associate degree is required for this role.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$75,380

Est. Growth Rate:

14%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Sonography and Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Online

Dialysis Technician

With more Americans fighting kidney disease than ever before, the demand for dialysis technicians is growing. A dialysis technician helps operate specialized equipment for kidney dialysis. Many certificate programs needed for this job can be completed in as little as three months.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$44,090

Est. Growth Rate:

8.5%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Dialysis Technician Programs Online

EMT

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are responsible for getting patients to the hospital in emergency situations. They not only respond to emergency calls, but they also perform medical procedures as they transport patients to the hospital in ambulances. The demand for this service is high, with minimal training needed to enter the field.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$36,930

Est. Growth Rate:

11%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: EMT Programs Online

Nutritionist

A nutritionist educates the public on healthy living practices; one path into this field is a degree in nutrition. Health education specialists or nutritionists work one on one with patients or perform large, community-based health interventions. The demand for health education specialists is expected to grow rapidly in the next ten years.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$48,860

Est. Growth Rate:

17%

Education Required:

Bachelor’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Nutrition Degree Programs Online

Health Information Management Clerk

Health information management clerks manage patient records, test results, and appointment schedules. Often they work in bigger facilities and must coordinate between different medical departments. They are less likely to work with more complicated informatics technologies and less training may be required as compared to the training needed to become a medical informatics technician.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$45,240

Est. Growth Rate:

9%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Health Information Management Programs Online

Histotechnician

If you want to enter the field of histology, or the study of microscopic anatomy, becoming a histotechnician might be a good job for you. These professionals study the anatomy of cells from animals and plants and often work in medical research facilities. This job makes an impact in the field of medical research instead of through patient interaction.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$57,800

Est. Growth Rate:

11%

Education Required:

Bachelor’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Histotechnician Degree Programs Online

Home Health Aide

Home health aides serve those who wish to live in their own home but are unable to perform everyday tasks without help. Most patients are senior citizens or those with special needs. Because a home health aide’s role is in the home, their hours can be different from a traditional office job and may require more one-on-one contact with a patient compared with other allied health careers.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$29,430

Est. Growth Rate:

33%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Home Health Aide Certificate Programs Online

Human Service Assistant

Human service assistants work in a variety of fields, though most often in social work facilities. They may also work in the offices of psychologists and in rehabilitation centers. Often, their work includes providing client services.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$37,610

Est. Growth Rate:

17%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Human Services Degree Programs Online

Kinesiology

Kinesiologists focus on preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries and illnesses that affect the muscles and bones. Kinesiologists often work at schools, hospitals, fitness centers, physicians’ offices, and for sports teams.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$48,420

Est. Growth Rate:

23%

Education Required:

Bachelor’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Kinesiology Degree Programs Online

Massage Therapist

Massage therapists manipulate muscles and skin tissue to help clients get relief from physical pain caused by a variety of conditions. The demand for specialists in this field is growing faster than other fields. Massage therapists work in spas, fitness facilities, hotels, and hospitals.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$46,910

Est. Growth Rate:

32%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Massage Therapy Programs Online

Medical Administrative Assistant

A medical administrative assistant performs a variety of administrative duties in medical facilities. They often must have an in-depth knowledge of medical terminology. Because of this, an associate degree is usually required.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$39,740

Est. Growth Rate:

22%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Medical Administrative Assistant Programs Online

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant completes different administrative and technical duties in medical offices. They work in any size medical facility, from smaller physician’s offices to hospitals. Many enter the field with only a high school diploma, but an associate degree is often needed for more technical medical assistant positions.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$37,190

Est. Growth Rate:

18%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Medical Assistant Programs Online

Medical Biller and Coder

A medical biller works in financial operations for a medical facility. Medical billers process bills, discuss bills with patients’ health insurance companies, and complete other billing responsibilities. Many code and sort medical information as well.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$45,240

Est. Growth Rate:

9%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Medical Billing and Coding Programs Online

Medical Health and Services Manager

A Medical Health and Services Manager performs a variety of administrative functions at hospitals and smaller medical facilities. Unlike managers in other industries, Medical Health and Services Managers need specific training in medical terminology and management. Their job often includes acting as a liaison between medical professionals, administrative professionals, and the public.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$101,340

Est. Growth Rate:

32%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Healthcare Administration Degree Programs Online

Medical Informatics Technician

A medical informatics technician helps healthcare facilities organize their healthcare information, sorting, coding, and organizing data so it’s usable across hospital departments. These technicians spend most of their days in front of a computer, so some technical knowledge is required. Often you can get the needed technical knowledge in a certification or associate’s program.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$45,240

Est. Growth Rate:

9%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Health Informatics Programs Online

Medical Lab Technician

A medical lab technician works in a medical laboratory. This technician interacts with patients to perform tests, collect samples, and analyze the results. Usually a medical doctor delivers results to the patient.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$57,800

Est. Growth Rate:

11%

Education Required:

Bachelor’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Medical Lab Technician Degree Programs Online

Medical Scientist

A medical scientist investigates medical problems in a clinical setting. Their work involves less patient interaction and their contribution to the medical field is often through medical research papers and clinical experiments. A PhD typically is needed to be a medical scientist.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$95,000

Est. Growth Rate:

17%

Education Required:

Doctoral Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Health Science Programs Online

Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists play an important role in medical facilities. Typically, they listen to recordings from medical appointments and transcribe them for administrative services and patient use. Some work in hospitals while others work for third-party transcription services.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$30,100

Est. Growth Rate:

-7%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Medical Transcription Programs Online

Nuclear Medical Technologist

A nuclear medical technologist works in a radiology lab or office. The nuclear medical technologist prepares nuclear drugs that are used for imaging services; sometimes they also help prepare drugs for nuclear treatments. An associate degree is required for this field.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$78,760

Est. Growth Rate:

8%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Nuclear Medical Technologist Programs Online

Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist helps patients recover from injuries that affect their ability to work or carry out everyday functions. Occupational therapists are employed in a variety of healthcare facilities, from occupational therapy offices to hospitals to assisted living centers. A master’s degree is required to enter this profession.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$85,570

Est. Growth Rate:

17%

Education Required:

Master’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Occupational Therapy Programs Online

Occupational Therapy Assistant

An occupational therapy assistant works in a nursing care facility or an occupational therapy practice. These allied health professionals help patients recover from injuries and adapt to everyday life and work. Occupational therapy assistants also help set up technology and equipment in offices.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$61,520

Est. Growth Rate:

34%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs Online

Ophthalmic Technician

An ophthalmic technician helps ophthalmologists set up equipment and assists with patient appointments. Ophthalmic technicians educate patients on how to use corrective lenses, they administer eye exams, and they help patients with eye medications. An associate degree is often required to enter this field.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$41,120

Est. Growth Rate:

12%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Ophthalmic Technician Programs Online

Paramedic

Paramedics respond to emergency calls and are often the frontline response for emergency health situations. They transport patients to the hospital in ambulances and work with EMTs to provide any needed medical care in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. A postgraduate degree is required to work as a paramedic.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$36,930

Est. Growth Rate:

11%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Paramedic Programs Online

Pathology Assistant

Pathology assistants work alongside pathologists in medical labs and other healthcare facilities. In pathology labs, assistants and pathologists analyze body tissues to diagnose medical conditions. Pathology assistants also work in specialized fields, such as surgical pathology. A master’s degree is required for this career.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$121,530

Est. Growth Rate:

31%

Education Required:

Master’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Pathology Assistant Programs Online

Patient Care Technician

A patient care technician is the perfect role for someone who wants a fast-paced job in the medical field. Patient care technicians are constantly on the move, going from one patient room to another to make sure all equipment is set up properly and to provide care to patients. Typically, this profession requires an associate degree.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$30,290

Est. Growth Rate:

8%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Patient Care Technician Programs Online

Patient Finance Manager

Looking for a job that combines finance and healthcare? Consider becoming a patient finance manager. Typically, these individuals not only handle appointment billings, but they also coordinate with health insurance companies to make sure they are billing patients properly based on what their insurance plan covers. This job often requires a bachelor’s degree in health management.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$101,340

Est. Growth Rate:

32%

Education Required:

Bachelor’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Healthcare Management Degree Programs Online

Pharmacy Technician

Interested in healthcare and medications but unsure you want to go through the schooling to become a pharmacist? Then consider becoming a pharmacy technician. These individuals work alongside pharmacists to provide patients and healthcare facilities with necessary medications. A postsecondary certificate is often required to work in this field.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$36,000

Est. Growth Rate:

4%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Pharmacy Technician Programs Online

Phlebotomist

A phlebotomist draws blood, facilitates transfusions, and helps at blood donation clinics. Phlebotomists interact closely with patients and often work alongside medical researchers, who analyze the blood samples phlebotomists draw.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$37,380

Est. Growth Rate:

22%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Phlebotomy Degree Programs Online

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists help people get back on their feet–literally. They often work in physical therapy offices, at hospitals, and in patients’ homes to help them recover from physical injuries. Often, their job requires both technical knowledge and insight on different exercises patients can perform. A doctorate of physical therapy and significant work experience is needed to join this profession.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$95,620

Est. Growth Rate:

21%

Education Required:

Doctorate of Physical Therapy

For a Deeper Dive: Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree Programs Online

Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical therapy assistants work alongside other physical therapy professionals to help patients regain mobility and minimize pain from injuries. They guide patients through different physical therapy activities and assist with equipment in physical therapy offices. Physical therapy assistants are always supervised by a physical therapist. They receive on-site training, though an associate degree is required.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$49,180

Est. Growth Rate:

32%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Physical Therapy Assistant Degree Programs Online

Physician Assistant

Looking for a fulfilling role in healthcare but don’t want to attend medical school? Consider becoming a physician’s assistant (PA). PAs work in hands-on roles with patients to provide excellent medical care. While they are supervised by a doctor, they have significant autonomy to diagnose conditions and provide treatment plans.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$121,530

Est. Growth Rate:

31%

Education Required:

Master’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Physician Assistant Programs Online

Radiation Therapy

A radiation therapist usually works in a radiology office or radiology department of a hospital. They administer radiation treatment to those with critical conditions, such as cancer. This work often requires specific training and an associate degree.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$82,790

Est. Growth Rate:

9%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Radiation Therapy Degree Programs Online

Radiology Technician

If you’re looking to work in radiology and love operating and tinkering with technology, becoming a radiology technician might be the job for you. These professionals set up and conduct maintenance on radiology technologies, such as x-ray machines. Specific technical knowledge is required for this role.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$66,490

Est. Growth Rate:

9%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Radiology Tech Programs Online

Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists work with patients who have trouble breathing or have respiratory conditions such as asthma. Often, they work in hospitals or doctor’s offices and administer care directly to patients. An associate degree is required for this career.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$61,830

Est. Growth Rate:

23%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Respiratory Therapist Programs Online

Speech Language Pathologist

A speech language pathologist diagnoses and treats communication, speech, and swallowing disorders. Typically these professionals work in schools and hospitals.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$79,060

Est. Growth Rate:

29%

Education Required:

Master’s Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Speech Language Pathology Master’s Degree Programs Online

Speech Language Pathology Assistant

A speech language pathology assistant helps a speech language pathologist. Often, they facilitate patient care and make sure all equipment is ready. This career has above-average job growth.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$37,740

Est. Growth Rate:

15%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Speech Language Pathology Assistant Programs Online

Sterile Processing Technician

If maintaining the highest levels of safety and quality of care is important to you, consider becoming a sterile processing technician. These professionals coordinate with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to make sure medicine and equipment is transported to the right place at the right time. They also ensure all equipment and medication is free from contamination and ready for use.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$38,800

Est. Growth Rate:

6%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Sterile Processing Technician Programs Online

Surgical Technician

Becoming a surgical technologist allows you to assist in surgeries without going to medical school. These professionals set up equipment for surgeries and are often present to help with anything needed during a surgery. Sometimes they assist in patient care after surgery as well.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$48,530

Est. Growth Rate:

9%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Surgical Tech Programs Online

Veterinary Assistant

If you’re looking for a job where you can be near animals all day, consider becoming a veterinary assistant. These allied health professionals work with a veterinarian to provide quality care for pets. They also can check pets’ vitals and perform other medical and administrative tasks in the office.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$29,780

Est. Growth Rate:

14%

Education Required:

Postsecondary Certificate/Diploma

For a Deeper Dive: Veterinary Assistant Programs Online

Veterinary Technician

A veterinary technician works in a veterinary office or hospital. This role typically includes performing tests that help veterinarians diagnose medical conditions in pets. Vet techs are also sometimes responsible for maintaining veterinary equipment.

Avg. Salary (Annual)

$36,850

Est. Growth Rate:

15%

Education Required:

Associate Degree

For a Deeper Dive: Vet Tech Programs Online

Interview with a Career Advisor

To give you more insight on what to expect as you pursue your degree and start your allied health career, we sat down with Cassie Spencer. As a career coach, Cassie has worked with hundreds of students, young professionals, career changers, and job seekers to prepare them to make their next career move. Prior to working full time as a freelance career coach, Cassie worked on college campuses, coaching students in career exploration, managing internship programs, and providing students with the tools and resources to develop resumes, write cover letters, search for jobs, and explore their career options.

Cassie is the co-host of the podcast Your Career GPS and is the host of Happenstance the Podcast. She also shares career-related content on social media at @CareerCoachCassie.

Q: Who should consider an allied health career?

A: Anyone who has an interest in helping others, working in a more hands-on environment, or working in healthcare settings should consider allied health as a career path.

Q: There are so many different allied health careers. What strategies do you recommend for people to choose the right one for them?

A: Taking the time to research and learn about the different career options within allied health is a great first step. Speaking with professionals who are currently working in or who previously worked in the different roles that you’re considering is a great way to not only expand your network but also to learn even more about your options and how others have navigated their own decision making when entering the allied health profession. When possible, shadowing, volunteering, or completing internships that allow you to get that first-hand experience in different settings is also a great way to really solidify your interests.

Q: What do people need to know before entering an allied health career?

A: Before entering any field or industry, I think it’s important for students, career changers, and job seekers to truly evaluate what’s important to them, what they value, and the lifestyle they want to have outside of work. Every career, job, and industry comes with different benefits and challenges. Knowing what’s important to you at work and outside of work can help you make career decisions that align with both.

Q: What career development tools are available to those pursuing an allied health career?

A: There are a number of professional organizations and associations dedicated to allied health and the various specialties within the field. Many professional organizations and associations provide networking opportunities, certifications, professional development, and continuing education courses, in addition to job boards and other career resources.

Q: What is one way that students can set themselves up for a successful allied health career?

A: The number-one way that students can set themselves up for a successful allied health career is to gain experience. Seeking out opportunities to work in different healthcare-related environments and to work with different populations is a great way to explore your options and to gain experience that will set you up for success. It’s also important to remember that “gaining experience” can be done in a variety of ways. Shadowing, volunteering, internships, and part-time jobs are just some examples.