High paying medical jobs in allied health

    Olga Knezevic
    Olga Knezevic

    Olga is an in-house editor and writer at She has previous experience as a higher education instructional designer and a university librarian. Olga is passionate about well-crafted sentences, Wikipedia rabbit holes, and the Oxford comma.

    High paying medical jobs in allied health

      Think healthcare is all about doctors and nurses? Think again. It’s a common misconception, but the truth is, these roles make up just a fraction of the healthcare workforce. In fact, allied health professionals – a diverse group of practitioners – account for 60% of the broader healthcare and social assistance industry.

      To grasp the scale of this, consider the following: the healthcare and social assistance sector employs around 20.4 million Americans, making it the nation’s largest employer. When you think about the substantial chunk of this sector allied health professionals occupy, their importance becomes clear.

      And the sector isn’t just large – it’s growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% growth in healthcare occupations between 2021 and 2031, and many of the careers listed here are predicted to grow at an even faster rate.

      The educational landscape for allied health careers is incredibly diverse. Advanced roles might require a graduate degree, but plenty of entry-level positions only ask for an associate degree. There are also hospital jobs that don’t require a degree or previous experience. This wide range of requirements underscores the adaptability of the allied health field, making it an accessible and versatile choice for many career paths.

      What is allied health?

      Allied health (not to be confused with Allied health insurance) refers to a group of workers in the healthcare industry – basically everybody except nurses, physicians, dentists, and pharmacists.

      Allied health professionals provide clinical services, promote wellness, and offer evidence-based diagnosis and treatment for a variety of medical conditions. Allied health careers include occupational therapists, audiologists, speech and language pathologists, dieticians, and physical therapists.

      Allied health professions primarily split into 2 main groups: the technicians, often referred to as assistants, and therapists or technologists. Technicians learn the ropes to perform specific procedures, typically finishing their education in less than 2 years. While they are part of the healthcare team, they usually carry out their tasks under the careful guidance of the more experienced therapists or technologists.

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      High-paying medical jobs with little schooling

      When imagining a career in healthcare, many anticipate years of study before ever stepping into their professional role. However, approximately 30% of the careers defined by the BLS as requiring a “postsecondary nondegree award” are healthcare related. Postsecondary nondegree awards are usually certificates demonstrating aptitude in a vocation, and they can take anywhere from a few weeks to 1 year (or even more in some cases) to achieve.

      EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)

      EMTs are first responders in emergency medical situations. They provide immediate care to the critically ill or injured and transport patients to medical facilities.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) N/A
      Wage estimates
      $28,270 10%
      $30,870 25%
      $36,680 Median
      $44,360 75%
      $56,890 90%

      Medical Assistant

      Medical assistants support the work of doctors and other health professionals by performing routine administrative and clinical tasks such as scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, measuring vital signs, and assisting during patient examinations.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 18.4%
      Wage estimates
      $30,390 10%
      $35,330 25%
      $38,270 Median
      $45,360 75%
      $51,710 90%


      Phlebotomists specialize in drawing blood from patients for medical testing, donations, or research.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 22.2%
      Wage estimates
      $30,250 10%
      $35,020 25%
      $38,530 Median
      $45,280 75%
      $51,610 90%

      Surgical Technologist

      Surgical technologists, also known as surgical techs or operating room technicians, are vital to successful surgeries. Their tasks involve preparing operating rooms, setting up equipment, and assisting doctors during procedures by adeptly “passing the scalpel”.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 8.7%
      Wage estimates
      $38,860 10%
      $47,860 25%
      $55,960 Median
      $64,360 75%
      $78,560 90%

      Dental Assistant

      These professionals assist dentists during procedures by handling instruments, processing X-rays, and performing administrative tasks.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 11.1%
      Wage estimates
      $31,450 10%
      $36,910 25%
      $44,820 Median
      $48,870 75%
      $59,200 90%

      Dental Lab Technicians

      Dental lab technicians design and create dental prosthetics such as crowns, bridges, and dentures.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 12.4%
      Wage estimates
      $30,770 10%
      $36,920 25%
      $46,050 Median
      $58,560 75%
      $74,800 90%

      Careers that require an associate degree in allied health

      Just under 27% of the careers the BLS defines as “typically requiring an associate degree” are defined as allied health. The specific associate program required depends on the job role. For example, to become an ultrasound technician you need an associate degree in sonography.

      careers that require an associate degree in allied health

      Radiation therapist 

      Radiation therapists are medical professionals specialized in administering therapeutic doses of radiation to patients for the treatment of cancer and other diseases.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 9%
      Wage estimates
      $65,760 10%
      $77,930 25%
      $89,530 Median
      $105,760 75%
      $133,260 90%

      Respiratory therapist 

      Respiratory therapists care for patients who have difficulty breathing – for example, from a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma or emphysema. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, stroke, drowning, or shock.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 23%
      Wage estimates
      $51,970 10%
      $62,260 25%
      $70,540 Median
      $81,610 75%
      $100,520 90%

      Dental hygienist 

      Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist’s supervision. They clean patients’ teeth and examine them for signs of oral diseases. More than just our personal smile-polishers, they are also educators, providing preventative dental care and teaching patients ways to improve oral health.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 11.2%
      Wage estimates
      $61,510 10%
      $75,100 25%
      $81,400 Median
      $96,870 75%
      $107,640 90%

      Diagnostic medical sonographer 

      These professionals adeptly handle diagnostic equipment like ultrasounds, generating the images physicians rely on for making medical diagnoses. Sonographers usually specialize on imaging a certain tissue type or body area, such as the heart (echocardiographers) or the musculoskeletal system.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 19%
      Wage estimates
      $61,430 10%
      $68,580 25%
      $81,350 Median
      $97,350 75%
      $107,730 90%

      Nuclear medicine technologist 

      Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer radiopharmaceuticals (drugs that emit radiation) used for both diagnosing and treating certain illnesses and health conditions. They may also act as emergency responders after a nuclear disaster thanks to their experience with safely handling radioactive material.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 7.7%
      Wage estimates
      $64,680 10%
      $76,910 25%
      $85,300 Median
      $100,740 75%
      $114,100 90%

      Radiologic technologist/technician 

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 8.6%
      Wage estimates
      $47,760 10%
      $57,350 25%
      $65,140 Median
      $80,050 75%
      $97,940 90%

      Veterinary technologist/technician 

      Vet technologists and technicians conduct medical tests under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian, assisting in diagnosing the illnesses and injuries of animals. They play a critical role in mending whiskers, wings, and everything in between. With 20% growth expected between 2021 and 2031, this field is booming!

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 14.9%
      Wage estimates
      $29,000 10%
      $34,510 25%
      $38,240 Median
      $46,740 75%
      $54,680 90%

      Occupational therapy assistant 

      Occupational therapy assistants help patients develop or recover the skills needed for daily living and working. They are often directly involved in providing therapy to patients, working under the direction of occupational therapists.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 36%
      Wage estimates
      $47,940 10%
      $57,470 25%
      $64,250 Median
      $76,270 75%
      $85,580 90%

      Physical therapist (PT) assistant 

      Physical therapist assistants, under the supervision of PTs, help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 35.3%
      Wage estimates
      $43,340 10%
      $53,970 25%
      $62,770 Median
      $75,310 75%
      $85,230 90%

      Health information technologist

      Health information technologists organize and manage health information data. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for databases and registries and maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) N/A
      Wage estimates
      $34,970 10%
      $40,930 25%
      $58,250 Median
      $81,410 75%
      $103,380 90%

      Careers that require an advanced degree in allied health

      Many allied health careers require an advanced degree, usually a master’s or a professional doctorate. These positions often command higher salaries and necessitate specialized knowledge in a particular area.

      careers that require an advanced degree in allied health

      Occupational therapist

      Occupational therapists help patients increase their independence in everyday activities. This might include rehabilitation after a stroke or chronic illness, working with patients with developmental disabilities, or helping older adults with cognitive impairment.

      Degree required: Master’s of Occupational Therapy (MOT) or Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (DOT)

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 17.5%
      Wage estimates
      $63,320 10%
      $77,700 25%
      $93,180 Median
      $104,730 75%
      $123,870 90%

      Physical therapist

      Physical therapy is among the fastest-growing allied health professions. This is partly due to the aging population and need for skilled rehabilitation. Physical therapists help people with injury or illness improve their movement and reduce pain.

      Degree required: Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT)

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 20.5%
      Wage estimates
      $67,910 10%
      $80,700 25%
      $97,720 Median
      $107,430 75%
      $128,830 90%

      Speech-language pathologist

      Speech-language pathologists work with patients to improve their communication and swallowing abilities. They focus on helping patients with word sounds, vocabulary, and sentence structure. As well as speech, they may evaluate related problems, such as cognitive or social difficulties.

      Degree required: Master’s in Speech Language Pathology (MSLP)

      Check out our rankings of the best online MSLP programs.

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 28.7%
      Wage estimates
      $56,370 10%
      $66,700 25%
      $84,140 Median
      $104,500 75%
      $126,680 90%

      Dietician or nutritionist

      Dieticians tend to work in medical settings to help with specific conditions, whereas nutritionists usually work in wellness settings. Both roles involve working with patients to help them make better food choices.

      Degree required: Bachelor’s in Nutrition or Dietetics (BSND), although it is predicted that a master’s may soon become the minimum requirement

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 10.7%
      Wage estimates
      $44,140 10%
      $56,490 25%
      $66,450 Median
      $80,430 75%
      $95,130 90%


      Audiologists assess patients’ hearing abilities and help them obtain hearing aids or other assistive devices. Because the ears also help with balance, audiologists may also manage balance disorders and other neurologic problems.

      Degree required: Doctorate in Audiology (AuD)

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 15.3%
      Wage estimates
      $56,990 10%
      $68,750 25%
      $82,680 Median
      $101,100 75%
      $120,380 90%

      Prosthetist or orthotist

      Orthotists and prosthetists design and create medical supportive devices. Orthotists specialize in supportive devices like braces, whereas prosthetists specialize in artificial body parts. Some people perform both roles, whereas others focus on a particular area. The role includes teaching the patient to use the device.

      Degree required: Master’s in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO)

      Projected growth (2020-2030) 18.8%
      Wage estimates
      $40,360 10%
      $54,600 25%
      $77,070 Median
      $93,980 75%
      $110,120 90%

      What is a pre-allied health major?

      Usually offered as an associate of science degree, the pre-allied health major is for students who want to get foundational science coursework but aren’t yet sure which allied health profession they’d like to get into.

      While it can be used as a jumping-off point for a 4-year degree in an allied health specialization, it may be a better option to choose a more focused associate degree in a specific allied health discipline.

      Can I get an allied health degree?

      There are actually 3 generic “allied health” degrees:

      1. Health Services/Allied Health/Health Sciences, General
      2. Allied Health and Medical Assisting Services
      3. Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment Professions

      The third is the most popular and comes with the highest starting salary 4 years after graduation, at $61,082.

      Is allied health a good major?

      Yes! Several of the highest-paid associate degrees are in healthcare-related fields, making allied health a particularly shrewd choice if you don’t want to do a 4-year degree.

      At the bachelor’s level, good options include Medical Illustration and Informatics (starting salary: $66,397), Clinical/Medical Lab Science and Allied Professions ($63,357), Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment Professions ($61,082), and Dental Support Services and Allied Professions ($58,544).

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