According to the 2010 U.S. Department of Education report, Allied Health Access, allied health careers requiring an associate’s degree provide the fastest growing sub-sector in the healthcare field. While most jobs in healthcare are expected to increase over the next ten years, allied health jobs in sonography, dental hygiene, radiation therapy and nuclear medicine show the highest increases in long-term employment growth and wages.


Songraphy utilizes imaging technology to produce internal images of patients and plays an important role in medical diagnostics. Sonographers typically work in hospitals, diagnostic laboratorites, outpatient care centers and physician private practice settings. Patients requiring diagnostic tests may feel anxiety or uncertainty about ongoing health issues, which requires sonography techs to maintain a calm and reassuring demeanor while working with patients.

Workers with an associate’s degree in Medical Sonography may choose to work as a general sonography technician or obtain a certificate in a specialty such as OB/GYN sonography or cardiovascular sonography. According to the U.S. Department of Education, cardiovascular technologists earned an average annual salary of $49,410 in 2010. Employment for cardiovascular technicians is expected to increase by 29 percent between 2010 and 2020, adding 14,500 new jobs into the market.


Dental Hygiene

Dental hygienists who have earned an associate’s degree in Dental Hygiene and licensure through the American Dental Association (ADA) earn some of the highest salaries of workers in allied health careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports average annual salaries of $68,250 in 2010 and an expected employment increase of 38 percent from 2010 through 2020.

Dental hygienists typically work in private dental offices and work closely with dentists and dental assistants teaching oral hygiene, cleaning teeth, taking dental x-rays and maintaining patient treatment and care information. Dental hygienists must have excellent interpersonal skills and have the ability to empathize with nervous and anxious clientele.



Radiation Therapy

Workers who enjoy helping people and who also excel in math and science may be interested in a career as a Radiation Therapist. Radiation therapists with an associate degree in Radiation Therapy, in addition to state certification, earned average annual salaries of $74,980 in 2010, according to the BLS. Jobs are expected to increase 20 percent from 2010 through 2020, with most radiation therapists working directly with cancer patients.

As an integral part of the oncology medical team, radiation therapists explain treatment protocols to patients, administer treatment under the supervision of a physician and monitor the patient during treatment. Radiation therapy technologists must exercise extreme care in avoiding overexposure to radiation.


Nuclear Medicine Technology

Nuclear medicine technology provides a high-paying career path for workers with an associate’s degree in Nuclear Medicine Technology. Nuclear medicine technologists may also enter the field with a nursing degree, or other 2-year allied health degree and a 12-month specialty certification. Additionally, some states require licensing for nuclear medicine technologists. Because nuclear medicine is constantly changing due to innovations in the field, nuclear medicine techs must complete continuing education credits to maintain certification.

Nuclear medicine technologists typically work with imaging equipment in hospitals and diagnostic laboratories that utilize nuclear medicine, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and nuclear cardiology (NCT). With the use of a scanner, nuclear medicine techs perform diagnostics by creating images of body tissues, bones and organs. Nuclear medicine technologists must be detailed oriented and have a strong interest in science and math as well as highly developed interpersonal skills.

This article was written by Magnus Keith on behalf of Just Colleges. Check out their website at for more information on their various services for you! Magnus is a writer of various topics regarding education, technology, and life!