“Allied Health” workers are a unique group of healthcare professionals, not medical doctors, nurses, or pharmacists. There are dozens of job titles in every area of the wellness industry, from physical therapist to healthcare administrator. Each role requires higher education, but you will want to choose a program wisely. The degree or diploma you choose sets your course for the future.
What Degrees Help You Get a Job in the Allied Health Field?
You can get a job in the allied health field with credentials from diplomas to degrees. Each represents a different level of training that will qualify you for various positions with varying levels of responsibility. Careers in allied health have a lengthy career path, and you can always build on your credentials. By taking continuing education courses or getting a higher degree, you can aim for the specific job you want. Education is always a good investment, but the first credentials you earn will put you closer to the finish line.
Bachelor’s degree programs feature comprehensive curricula with extensive coursework in each field, plus general education courses that expand students’ horizons. Typically, bachelor programs take four years to complete. Some universities offer part-time and accelerated options that let you complete classes on your schedule.
Popular jobs in allied health for people with bachelor’s degrees include:
Physical Therapist Assistant
A Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is a healthcare professional who works under the direction and supervision of a licensed Physical Therapist (PT). Their primary role is to assist in providing rehabilitative services to patients who are recovering from injuries or dealing with physical challenges.
Becoming a PTA requires an associate degree. However, a four-year program provides experienced PTAs with a more in-depth education in physical therapy concepts, evidence-based practice, advanced treatment techniques, management skills, and research methods.
PTAs with a bachelor’s degree may have a broader scope of practice depending on state regulations and healthcare facility policies. More training gives them more opportunities for administrative roles, leadership positions, and specialized practice areas.
Job titles may include:
- Senior Physical Therapist Assistant
- Rehabilitation Coordinator
- Physical Therapy Technician Supervisor
- PT Department Manager
- Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant
- PTA Faculty
- Rehab Director
- Business Owner
Health Services Administration
A health services administrator oversees healthcare facilities and organizations’ day-to-day operations and management.
Most students get a bachelor’s degree to become healthcare services administrators. Compared to the associate degree level, the curriculum includes a more comprehensive study of healthcare management, healthcare policy, finance, human resources, ethics, and leadership. Students acquire broader skills, including strategic planning, data analysis, quality improvement, and healthcare policy analysis. Bachelor’s degree graduates are better equipped for entry-level senior or management positions.
- Health Information Managers
- Healthcare Operations Managers
- Medical Services Coordinators
- Clinical Care Administrators
- Healthcare Policy Analysts
- Department Managers
With time, experienced Health Services Administrators with bachelor’s degrees may become candidates for senior leadership positions.
Associate degree programs take two years to complete and provide foundational knowledge in the allied health field of your choice.
Highly sought-after roles for people with associate degrees include:
Physical Therapist Assistant
PTAs with an associate degree perform physical therapy treatments under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Programs cover essential topics in anatomy and physiology, therapeutic exercise, and patient care techniques. The curriculum prepares students for entry-level positions. Job responsibilities include assisting patients with therapeutic exercises, manual therapy interventions, and data collection based on the plan of care developed by the supervising PT.
Graduates with an associate degree can enter the workforce quickly and start gaining practical experience. Jobs in outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals are great opportunities for entry-level PTAs to gain real-world experience. PTAs interested in home health care should have at least one year of experience under their belts. Advancement to leadership roles may come with experience and certifications, but climbing the career ladder requires further education.
Job titles for PTAs with associate degrees include:
- Inpatient or Outpatient Physical Therapist Assistant
- Skilled Nursing Facility Physical Therapist Assistants
- Sports Rehabilitation PTA
Health Services Administration
Healthcare Services Administrators with an associate degree learn the fundamental principles of healthcare management. The curriculum includes introductory and career-specific business and administration courses.
Graduates frequently work in entry-level, lower-management positions that oversee day-to-day operational duties in different departments within a healthcare facility. Tasks include providing administrative support, managing staff schedules, and coordinating supply orders. You will generally implement the policies and procedures drafted by health service administrators with bachelor’s degrees.
New graduates can apply for work as:
- Medical Office Manager
- Practice Coordinator
- Healthcare Billing Manager
- Medical Records Supervisor
Before gaining experience, career advancement for healthcare services administrators with an associate degree is limited. However, with time on the job and continuing education, you might move into a leadership role.
Respiratory therapists specialize in treating patients with breathing and cardiopulmonary disorders under the direction of a physician. They are crucial in providing respiratory care to patients of all ages. The associate degree curriculum covers what you need to know, including anatomy and physiology, respiratory pathophysiology, infection control, and patient care.
Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals where their duties include administering treatments, conducting pulmonary function testing, and teaching patients about medical oxygen and ventilation equipment. A few, however, work in the home health field or for medical equipment companies setting up respiratory equipment for patients at home.
While some employers prefer RTs with a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree is the standard. It is all you need to qualify for certifications and increasingly responsible positions.
Medical Assistant Technology
Medical assistants have a wide range of educational choices. Bachelor’s programs are rare, but most healthcare universities offer associate degrees and diploma tracks.
Associate degree programs cover the broadest range of medical topics and administrative skills. You will get more training in medical billing, for example, than diploma students. Clinical training may be similar, but tasks such as drawing blood and taking EKGs are covered in-depth. Graduates are better prepared to take on more independent and complex roles.
Universities typically offer degrees. However, healthcare-focused institutions may also have diploma programs in the same disciplines, a plus for students who want to get started and return for a degree later.
The in-demand choices include:
Medical assistants with a diploma complete a shorter, more job-focused training program that varies in length from 9-12 months. Graduates are eligible for certification and many of the same jobs, making it a good option if you need more time to devote to getting a degree.
The curriculum covers only the essential skills. You will learn the rest on the job if you find an employer willing to accept that responsibility. Positions typically fall within entry-level tasks such as rooming patients, stocking shelves, collecting specimens, and assisting with minor procedures until you have had significant experience.
Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
Medical billing and coding specialists manage insurance and billing responsibilities in healthcare facilities. As with medical assisting, an associate degree program is an option, but diploma programs are shorter and include most of the same training.
The curriculum covers essential medical coding and billing principles, including medical terminology, anatomy, medical coding systems (ICD-10, CPT, and HCPCS), billing procedures, and healthcare law. With experience, you will master the advanced billing techniques that associate degree students learn in school.
With a diploma from a reputable institution, you can work for a hospital, clinic, private practice, insurance company, or billing service as a:
- Medical Billing Specialist
- Medical Billing and Coding Technician
- Medical Claims Processor
- Medical Records Technician
- Health Information Technician
- Insurance Claims Analyst
A Rehabilitation Aide, also known as a Therapy Aide or Rehab Technician, is a healthcare specialist who works under the direction of physical, occupational, or other rehabilitation professionals. Their role is to provide rehabilitative services to patients recovering from injuries, surgeries, or medical conditions affecting their mobility or functional capabilities.
In a diploma program, students learn theoretical knowledge and practical skills related to patient care and rehabilitation techniques. The curriculum prepares them to work effectively as part of a rehabilitation team in acute and long-term healthcare settings. Topics include anatomy and physiology, therapeutic modalities, infection control, equipment handling, and patient care.
Choosing a career is hard enough without worrying about which degree to pursue, but it is worth exploring the options to give yourself every advantage. There is no wrong way to get an education, but getting off to the best start possible will help you finish stronger.
Eager to Learn More?
Now that you know more about our Allied Health programs, it is time to learn about Florida National University. Start a rewarding career as an allied health professional today and help your community members in the process.
If you are interested in Allied Health, let Florida National University answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our Allied Health programs.