Emerging Allied Health Careers and Education Requirements

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Healthcare is a large and growing industry, fueling the job market and the national economy alike. Opportunities abound for those aspiring to allied health careers. A quick search of leading job sites reveals many openings in this expanding field, and indicators suggest hiring will continue in coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)*, more than 14 million professionals were employed in healthcare in 2008; and an estimated 3.2 million new jobs will be added by 2018.1 That’s more than any other industry tracked by the BLS!

Allied Health Career Opportunities

The healthcare industry encompasses a broad spectrum of diverse job functions. In addition to physicians, surgeons, nurses, dentists, and other medical occupations, there are dozens of different allied health careers – or health-related professions – available nationwide. The allied health field includes such in-demand positions as X-ray technician, medical billing and coding specialist and healthcare management, among others. Allied health professionals may work directly with patients, as in the case of a phlebotomy technician or patient care technician, or serve in a support role with no hands-on patient interaction, as with health information technology jobs. While medical occupations often require a graduate or professional degree, many entry-level positions in the allied health field are available to associate degree and diploma holders.

A career in healthcare can lead to a rewarding and secure future. When exploring your options among the many allied health professions available, an understanding of the education requirements and salary potential can help you make informed decisions about your healthcare education and career choice. Following are a just a few examples of today’s promising healthcare employment opportunities, which you can prepare for with specialized training programs from Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA):

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Medical Billing and Coding

Medical billing and coding professionals are indispensible to hospitals, physicians’ offices, medical centers, nursing care facilities and other healthcare providers. They have a direct impact on a practice’s cash flow by facilitating reimbursement for patient services from insurance companies and the Medicare and Medicaid systems.

One of the typical job duties of a medical billing and coding technician is assigning codes to each procedure, diagnosis and medical supply used in caring for patients. Another important aspect of this position is using specialized software to process claims and update medical records.

The BLS projects that job openings for this in-demand allied health career will increase by 20% through 2018.2

Education Requirements: Entry-level medical billing and coding jobs typically require specialized healthcare education. UMA’s Medical Billing and Coding diploma is a quality training credential that can be completed in under a year. Some employers prefer candidates to hold Medical Billing and Coding degree, which involves additional instruction in business, communications and healthcare courses. UMA’s Associate of Science degree in Medical Billing and Coding equips you with valuable credentials and prepare you to sit for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) exam offered through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

Potential Salary: According to the BLS, the average mean salary for all medical records and health information technicians – including medical billing and coding professionals – was $35,010 in May 2010.3

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Radiologic and X-Ray Technology

If you’re looking for quick entry into the allied health field, UMA’s flexible Basic X-Ray Technician training program can be completed in less than a year. The BLS reports that employment of X-ray technicians and other radiologic technologists is expected to increase by 14% to 19% through 20184 – which means allied health careers in this field may offer good job security and growth potential. X-ray technicians typically work as part of a skilled diagnostic imaging team, preparing patients for X-ray exams by explaining procedures and positioning the patient for optimum imaging. They also operate equipment and transfer images to physicians.

Earning a Basic X-Ray Technician with Medical Office Procedures diploma from UMA will enable you to differentiate yourself from other X-ray technicians, as successful completion of the program also indicates an aptitude for collecting samples from patients, performing laboratory tests and assisting with patient care.

After earning your diploma from UMA, you’ll be prepared to pursue the Basic X-Ray Machine Operator certification in the State of Florida. When you complete the dual-concentration program, you may also pursue Certified Phlebotomy Technician certification.

Education Requirements: For most entry-level X-ray technician jobs, completion of a Basic X-Ray Technician or similar program is required, and certification is often preferred. UMA’s Basic X-Ray Technician with Medical Office Procedures training program can help launch your career in the allied health career in less than one year.

Potential Salary: According to the BLS, the median annual salary for the category X-ray and other radiologic technologists and technicians was $54,340 in 20105. Salary information for Basic X-ray technicians is not available on the BLS. Please contact UMA's Admissions for more information.

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Health Information Technology

According to BLS job classifications, health information technology falls under the same broad category as medical billing and coding. The BLS groups both of these allied health careers under medical records and health information technicians, and projects these occupations to grow 20% between 2008 and 2018.2

Health information technicians ensure that data related to patient care – including patient symptoms, test results and treatment records– is properly assembled, organized and managed. They are typically responsible for some degree of security and accessibility, as well. Many opportunities exist for this healthcare career, with positions available in hospitals, medical centers, physicians’ offices, government agencies and other organizations.

Education Requirements: Many employers require entry-level health information technicians to hold an associate’s degree. UMA’s Health Information Technology degree program allows you to develop the technical skills necessary for a career in this high-demand allied health field. Beyond a strong educational foundation, UMA’s curriculum provides life skills and self-empowerment training – which can create an advantage when competing for sought-after health information technician jobs.

Potential Salary: The BLS reported an mean annual salary of $35,010 for medical records and health information technicians in May 2010.3

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Healthcare Management

Modern healthcare can be a complex and highly competitive business. That’s why skilled healthcare managers are in demand by hospitals, residential care and outpatient facilities, and physicians’ and dentists’ offices. Opportunities for healthcare managers should be strong for years to come, as the BLS predicts 16% growth between 2008 and 2018.6

Entry-level healthcare management positions often involve helping nursing facility or hospital administrators with medical records and health information management. In smaller organizations, entry-level allied health professionals may assist office managers with billing and collection, patient flow, budgets and other day-to-day business activities.

Education Requirements: Healthcare management positions generally require a bachelor’s (or higher) degree and relevant experience. However, an Associate of Science in Healthcare Management degree can help you attain an entry-level position, which can provide valuable experience and possibly lead to employer-sponsored continuing education opportunities. UMA’s 18-month healthcare management degree program is designed to help you build in-demand technical skills and prepare for the Certified Medical Manager-Academic (CMM-A) examination offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM).The personal and professional achievement of earning your associate’s degree and CMM-A certification can help you launch your allied health career with confidence.

Potential Salary: According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for medical and health services managers was $93,670 in May 2010.7 Salary information for entry-level healthcare managers holding an associate degree is not available on the BLS. Please contact UMA's Admissions for more information.

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Are You Ready to Embark on an Allied Health Career?

This article lists just a few of today’s popular allied health careers. With so many options to choose from, you’re likely to find one that’s an excellent match for your talents and interests. The demand for qualified healthcare workers will continue to grow as baby boomers age and medical technology progresses, creating promising employment potential for those with formal healthcare education. UMA’s associate degree and diploma programs offer the healthcare training you need to break into or advance within the exciting allied health field.

footnote:

* All employment projections and salary statistics were excerpted from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Career Guide to Industries, 2010-2011; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition; and Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010.Salary figures represent an average for professionals with varying levels of experience and education, and are not reflective of the entry-level salaries typically earned by new graduates of an associate degree or diploma program. Specific page references appear below:

1 Career Guide to Industries, 2010-2011.“Healthcare.” <http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs035.htm >
2 Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. “Medical Records and Health Information Technicians.” <http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos103.htm>
3 Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010. “Medical Records and Health Information Technicians.”<http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292071.htm>
4 Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. “Radiologic Technologists and Technicians.” <http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2034.02>
5 Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010. “Radiologic Technologists and Technicians.” <http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292037.htm>
6 Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. “Medical and Health Services Managers.” <http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos014.htm>
7 Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010. “Medical and Health Services Managers.”< http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119111.htm>

For information on student graduation rates, retention and placement rates, and student financial obligations visit www.ultimatemedical.edu/consumerinfo

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