5 Allied Health Careers That Pay More Than $60,000
Allied Health – which includes healthcare jobs other than the core professions of doctor, dentist and nurse — is one area in the job sector that has consistently experienced growth, even during a shaky and sometimes volatile economy.
As the economy continues its recovery, some professionals who were once working in non-healthcare-related careers have returned to school to transition into occupations in the healthcare arena.
Growth, stability and salary are three contributing factors attributed to choosing a career path. Four careers in allied health that meet this criterion, and have salaries that exceed $60,000, are: physician assistant (PA), medical and health services manager, physical therapist, occupational therapist and diagnostic medical sonographer.
A Louisiana news station, KTBS, recently reported that Louisiana State University’s School of Allied Health has ramped up its health services programs to meet increasing demand.
When discussing the benefits of becoming a physician’s assistant versus being a doctor, Dr. Kim Meyer, director of LSU’s physician’s assistant program, said, “You can decide that you want to go into medicine, you want to provide health care for patients, but you don’t have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.”
Myer went on to point out how PAs can change their specialty at any point in time. Conversely, doctors have to train for years before undergoing another board certification.
Training to become a physician assistant (PA) takes between six to eight years of full-time study from bachelor’s to master’s degree completion, as well as the licensing and accreditation process.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the number of physician’s assistants will grow 30 percent by 2020. A physician’s assistant median salary was $86,410 in 2010, according to the BLS.
Medical and Health Services Manager
Medical and health service managers handle the planning, directing, coordinating and maintaining of operations at healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics and laboratories.
Job titles can range anywhere from office manager to executive healthcare administrator. Most jobs come with a high level of responsibility as well as the high level of compensation that comes with decision-making positions.
The latest salary statistics released by the BLS reported the median annual wage for medical and health services managers as $84,270. Even those earning in the lowest 10% reportedly earned around $51,000 annually, while the top 10% reportedly earned more than $144,000 annually.
Healthcare reform and growth are two contributing factors for the BLS projecting 22% growth in this field by 2020.
With an aging population and advances in healthcare techniques, physical therapists are playing an intricate role in a wide variety of treatment areas. Due to new licensing and accreditation standards, it’s becoming mandatory for physical therapists to move past their master’s degree and earn a doctorate.
The BLS projects an astounding 39% increase (one of the highest in allied health) in the number of physical therapists by 2020. As of May 2010, the BLS reported that physical therapists make a median annual wage of $76,310, with the top 10% earning an impressive $107,920 or more.
The job of an occupational therapist isn’t completely the same as that of a physical therapist. The main responsibility of occupational therapists is to help patients get back to performing daily tasks. Unlike physical therapists, occupational therapists are not required to earn a doctorate. However, they are required to earn and maintain accreditation.
The BLS projects 33% job growth for occupational therapists by 2020. The BLS also reported a median annual wage for occupational therapists in 2010 at $72,320, with the top 10% earning more than $102,000.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Diagnostic medical sonographers typically perform procedures such as ultrasounds, sonograms and echocardiograms. Training for this occupation can range from one-year certificate programs (useful to those with degrees in the medical profession) to full degree programs offered by colleges and universities.
Accreditation, licensure and continuing education are requirements for those who work as diagnostic medical sonographers.
Projections from the BLS show growth over the next 10 years at 44%. The BLS reported an annual median salary of $64,380 in 2010 — however, the top 10% of earners made more than $88,000 annually.
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