The health care industry offers many opportunities for individuals who don't want to go to a four-year college. A variety of allied health professions require only an associate degree and pay competitive salaries, and one of the most attractive aspects of allied health careers is that the health care industry is growing quickly and many of these professions are heavily in demand.
Medical Assistants in Demand
A job as a medical assistant requires a one-year certification program or two-year associate degree in allied health. Medical assistants take the vital signs of patients and collect important information before the patient sees a physician. They find employment in a variety of health care settings, such as general hospitals, outpatient clinics and physicians' offices. Medical assisting is also a quickly growing field -- while the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the U.S. economy will add jobs at an average rate of 11 percent from 2012 to 2022, it estimates the number of medical assisting jobs will grow by 29 percent. As of 2012, medical assistants reported median annual salaries of $29,370.
Paramedics a Growing Field
While basic emergency medical technicians may only need to complete a one-year certification program, employers often require paramedics to complete a two-year associate degree. Both paramedics and EMTs provide ambulatory medical care until accident victims can reach a hospital, but paramedics are able to provide more advanced care than basic EMTs. For instance, they are able to give medications. The BLS estimates that number of paramedic and EMT jobs will increase by 23 percent between 2012 and 2022, roughly twice as fast as the average rate of job growth for all professions. As of 2012, paramedics earned a median salary of $31,020.
High Wages for Radiologic Technologists
Radiologic technologists operate a variety of diagnostic imaging equipment, such as X-ray and MRI machines and CT scanners. According to the BLS, the most common educational path for aspiring radiologic technologists is an associate degree. The BLS estimates that this in-demand profession will experience job growth of approximately 21 percent between 2012 and 2022. Radiologic technologists reported a median salary of $55,910 in 2012.
Specializing in Billing and Coding
An associate degree can lead to a career as a health information technician. Health information technicians, sometimes called medical billers or coders, organize paper and electronic patient health records in hospitals, physicians' offices and other health care settings. The BLS estimates that the number of health information technician jobs in the U.S. will grow by 22 percent between 2012 and 2022. As of 2012, this job offered a median salary of $34,160 per year.
Medical Sonographers in High Demand
Sonographers use ultrasound technology to look inside the human body and help physicians make more accurate diagnoses. An associate degree in allied health is a common educational path for those who aspire to enter this profession. The BLS estimates the number of sonographers will increase at a very fast rate of 39 percent between 2012 and 2022. As of 2012, sonographers earned a median annual income of $60,350.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Assistants
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: EMTs and Paramedics
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Radiologic and MRI Technologists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists