Allied health careers offer great rewards

By Erin Eagan

Many people dream of a career in health care, but being a doctor or nurse may not be a realistic choice. Fortunately, there are plenty of other professions in the health care industry that don’t require a decade of schooling and a lifetime of student debt.

What about a career as an allied health professional? Aside from doctors and nurses, nearly every other patient-care career opportunity in health care is considered allied health. For those interested in cardiology, they could study to become a Cardiovascular Technologist. It’s a two-year associate degree program with a starting median salary of $47,622. Aspiring surgeons could instead choose a career as a Medical Equipment Coordinator. With a technical diploma, they could be earning up to $38,799 just six months after graduation.

Today, there are over five million allied health care providers in the United States, who work in more than 80 different professions, including dental hygienist (with an average salary of $72,330 according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics), dietitian ($57,910), pharmacy technician ($30,410), nursing assistant ($25,710) and more. They represent approximately 60% of all health care providers, and according to BLS these numbers are expected to grow 15% to 20% by 2020. That kind of demand means high employability and long-term job security.

In addition to high security and higher pay, consider career satisfaction. Research has shown that health care workers experience higher levels of satisfaction than most other types of workers. In many jobs, happiness equates to success.

Two such students who are pursuing a career in allied health recently shared their experiences of trying to balance school and life, all while chasing down a dream:

Richard Faith is enrolled in the surgical tech program at Waukesha County Technical College:

Tanya Kranski is studying to become a medical lab technician at Northcentral Technical College:

Wisconsin’s technical colleges offer more than 50 health sciences programs that lead directly to many allied health careers with a high rate of success.