Healthcare continues to be one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the United States. There are many lucrative career opportunities in allied health for those who have earned an associate degree. These professions are not only challenging and exciting, but most pay an average annual salary of more than $50,000, depending on location and experience.
Registered nurses are responsible for direct patient care, health education, and patient advocacy. An RN can practice in a variety of settings, including hospitals, surgical centers, chronic care units, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, hospice facilities, schools, the military, correctional facilities, community mental health centers, and in private homes. An RN must complete an associate degree in a nursing program at an accredited college. Average annual salary: $64,690
Dental hygienists provide teeth cleaning services, examine patients for oral diseases, and educate patients on dental health. They may work in dentist's offices, hospitals, the military, correctional facilities, schools, and extended-care facilities. A dental hygienist needs a license and an associate degree in dental hygiene. Average annual salary: $68,250
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Working with special imaging equipment that uses sound waves, diagnostic medical sonographers perform ultrasound examinations. A sonographer needs an associate degree, but and one-year certificate programs are available for those already employed in healthcare. Average annual salary: $64,380
Using specialized equipment, radiation therapists work with a medical team that provides radiation treatment for cancer patients. Radiation therapists are qualified to work after completing a 12-month certificate program, but most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an associate or higher in radiation therapy. Average annual salary: $74,980
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Using scanners and radioactive drugs, nuclear medicine technologists scan patients for internal physical conditions. Nuclear Medicine Technologists need a license and an associate degree in nuclear medicine technology. Average annual salary: $68,560
Ensuring the efficient operation of a medical facility is the primary responsibility of a healthcare administrator. Associate degree options include an A.S., A.A.S., A.O.S, or an A.A. in Healthcare Administration or Medical Office Administration. Programs include an externship at a healthcare facility. Several programs are available online. Career options include medical secretary, executive administrative assistant, medical transcriptionist or medical office manager. Average annual salaries – medical secretary: $30,530; healthcare executive administrative assistant:$43,520; medical transcriptionist: $32,900.