allied health career as an Electrophysiology technician
Allied Health

The Fastest Growing Allied Health Careers in 2024

Allied health professionals support patient care and rehabilitation, ensuring a multidisciplinary approach to healing that enhances the quality of patient outcomes. They also contribute to patients’ holistic well-being, helping them recover from injuries, manage chronic conditions and maintain overall health. Depending on their specialty, allied health workers may perform diagnostic tests, administer therapies and provide essential assistance to doctors, nurses and other providers in various medical settings. They may find staff allied health jobs in hospitals, private practices, clinics, diagnostic imaging centers, long-term care facilities and home health services.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts significant job opportunities in various allied health professions from 2022 to 2032. Keep reading to uncover the hottest allied health careers listed by rising demand.

12 Allied Health Specialties with Growing Demand

If you’re looking to embark on a new career, more than 80 allied health specialties exist for your consideration. The demand for allied health professionals varies within each specialty based on the growing need for medical care or advanced testing and turnover rates of allied health workers changing careers or retiring.

According to BLS projections, the following 12 allied health specialties provide some of the best employment opportunities for growth and annual open positions through 2032. All salary information and job listings are sourced from Vivian Health during the week of November 20th, 2023. The BLS website provides the data used on growth percentages and estimated annual job opening statistics.

1. Physician Assistant

Physician assistant

  • Percentage of Growth: 27%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 12,200
  • Average Hourly Wage: $77.56
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $3,400
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 28
  • Education Requirements: Master’s degree from a recognized Physician Assistant program
  • Relevant Certifications: PANCE

Physician Assistants (PAs) work under physician supervision, providing a broad range of medical services. These services can include physical exams, diagnostic test interpretation, diagnosis and treatment, prescribing medications, treatment plans and patient education. Per the BLS, the growing U.S. population continues to increase the demand for PAs to fill the gap left by physician shortages. As the population ages, this demand is expected to rise even faster. Because PAs can finish their training much faster than doctors and states continue to expand their autonomy, their use in various healthcare settings should become even more common.

2. Occupational Therapist Assistant

Occupational therapist

  • Percentage of Growth: 23%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 8,600
  • Average Hourly Wage: $45.19
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $1,515
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 646
  • Education Requirements: Associate degree accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education
  • Relevant Certifications: COTA

According to BLS, an aging population is driving the skyrocketing demand for Occupational Therapist Assistants (OTAs). Although OTAs work with individuals in all age groups, they mainly support aging adults in reclaiming essential life skills and improving their overall well-being. Working under the direction of Occupational Therapists, OTAs aid clients in dealing with diverse challenges by implementing personalized treatment strategies, offering assistance with exercises and utilizing adaptive equipment. 

3. Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical Therapist Assistant

  • Percentage of Growth: 19%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 24,300
  • Average Hourly Wage: $32.19
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $1,407
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 1,550
  • Education Requirements: Associate Degree in Physical Therapy Assisting 
  • Relevant Certifications: NPTE

As the aging population, especially the baby-boom generation, remains active later in life there’s a growing demand for physical therapy to address health needs, chronic conditions and mobility-related issues. Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs) collaborate with licensed physical therapists to aid patients in regaining mobility and alleviating pain through therapeutic exercises and interventions. According to the BLS, in long-term care settings, physical therapists will likely rely heavily on physical therapist assistants in the coming years to reduce costs while increasing services. PTAs are crucial in educating patients on proper exercise techniques and ensuring a safe therapeutic environment. 

4. Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech language pathologist salary guide

  • Percentage of Growth: 19%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 13,200
  • Average Hourly Wage: $45.65
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,077
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 3,164
  • Education Requirements: Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology
  • Relevant Certifications: CCC-SLP

The BLS predicts that speech pathology jobs will be among the fastest-growing allied health specialties. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), commonly known as speech therapists, diagnose and treat communication disorders, addressing issues like speech, language, fluency and swallowing across all age groups. Their vital role includes developing personalized treatment plans and utilizing therapeutic techniques to improve patients’ communication skills and overall quality of life.

5. Physical Therapist

Occupational Therapist / occupational therapy licensure compact

  • Percentage of Growth: 15%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 13,900
  • Average Hourly Wage: $48.29
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,095
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 14,119
  • Education Requirements: Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT
  • Relevant Certifications: OCS / SCS / BCPR

Physical Therapists (PTs) are crucial in aiding patients with physical impairments, crafting personalized treatments and exercises to improve mobility and alleviate pain. Their responsibilities encompass assessing patients, creating treatment plans and administering exercises and therapies. Educating patients and their families on self-care and monitoring progress for treatment adjustments is another key aspect of their role. As one of the fastest-growing and higher-paying allied health fields, physical therapy is essential for addressing mobility issues resulting from injuries, illnesses, chronic conditions, surgical procedures and pain. 

6. Medical Assistant

Medical assistant

  • Percentage of Growth: 14%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 114,600
  • Average Hourly Staff Rate: $38.70
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $1,121
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 107
  • Education Requirements: Certification 
  • Relevant Certifications: CMA / RMA-AMT 

Medical Assistants provide essential support to doctors and other healthcare providers by performing administrative tasks like appointment scheduling, patient record management and billing alongside clinical duties, such as taking vital signs, preparing patients for examinations and aiding in minor medical procedures. As the older generation ages and increases demand for medical services, hospitals, medical offices, clinics and other primary care facilities will see an even greater need for medical assistants to perform routine clinical duties to free up other healthcare staff.

7. Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapist

  • Percentage of Growth: 13%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 8,600
  • Average Hourly Wage: $40.06
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $1,951
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 1,131
  • Education Requirements: Associate degree or higher from an accredited respiratory therapy program (Bachelor’s or Master’s preferred)
  • Relevant Certifications: CRT / RRT

Respiratory therapists (RTs) assess, treat and educate individuals with lung and respiratory issues. Their responsibilities include providing oxygen, administering medication and delivering emergency care. According to the BLS, the rising number of older adults significantly contributes to a higher need for RTs to address various respiratory conditions, creating more RT jobs. All states, excluding Alaska, regulate this field and require professional licensing. 

8. Occupational Therapist

travel occupational therapy jobs

  • Percentage of Growth: 12%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 9,600
  • Average Hourly Wage: $48.93
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,036
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 4,282
  • Education Requirements: Completed an accredited program in Occupational Therapy, then earn a Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree in Occupational Therapy 
  • Relevant Certifications: OTR

Occupational Therapists (OTs) assist individuals in overcoming physical, cognitive or emotional challenges to attain greater independence. Per the BLS, the aging baby boom generation is causing an increased demand for OTs as they play a crucial role in aiding older adults in maintaining their independence. They recommend home modifications and strategies for smoother daily activities, devise personalized treatment plans to enhance independence and improve the overall quality of life through therapy.

9. Audiologist

Audiologist performing ear exam

  • Percentage of Growth: 11%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 900
  • Average Hourly Wage: $46.05
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $3,012
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 21
  • Education Requirements: Doctor of Audiology or PhD in Audiology
  • Relevant Certifications: CCC-A

Audiologists work in various settings, specializing in diagnosing and treating hearing and balance disorders. They use specialized tools and develop personalized treatment plans to address challenges related to auditory and vestibular functions. Their expertise extends to providing comprehensive care for individuals experiencing issues with hearing and balance, ensuring optimal outcomes through tailored interventions and advanced diagnostic techniques. Although hearing issues are often inherent in older adults, audiologists work with clients of all ages.

10. Cardiovascular Technologist

Cardiovascular tech doing heart ultrasound

  • Percentage of Growth: 10%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 9,600
  • Average Hourly Wage: $50.90
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,622
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 283
  • Education Requirements: Certificate or diploma, advancing to Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Cardiovascular Technology
  • Relevant Certifications: CCT-CCI / RCS-CCI / ACS-CCI / RDMS-RVT

Cardiovascular technologists specialize in cardiac and vascular diagnostics, conducting tests in hospitals or outpatient facilities. They’re integral in diagnosing and treating heart and vascular conditions, ensuring patient care and diagnostic precision. As the aging population grows, the demand for cardiovascular technologists is predicted to increase as heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Their ability to provide radiation-free alternatives to certain imaging techniques in healthcare settings makes them one of the highest-paid allied health professionals.

11. Registered Ultrasound Technologist

Obstetric sonographer

  • Percentage of Growth: 10%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 9,600
  • Average Hourly Wage: $46.51
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,495
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 4,167
  • Education Requirements: Associate Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography or related field (Bachelor’s recommended)
  • Relevant Certifications: R.T.(S)(ARRT) / R.T (VS)(ARRT) / ACS / RCS 

Ultrasound technologists, or diagnostic medical sonographers, utilize high-frequency sound waves and specialized equipment to generate images of internal body structures to diagnose and monitor medical conditions. Their responsibilities include operating ultrasound equipment, preparing patients, collaborating with physicians and maintaining patient records. Ultrasound technologists may specialize in various areas such as obstetrics, cardiac, abdominal or vascular sonography, making them in demand in a large array of healthcare settings.

12. Phlebotomist

Phlebotomist doing blood test

  • Percentage of Growth: 8%
  • Estimated Number of Openings Annually: 19,500
  • Average Hourly Wage: $17.54
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $1,666
  • Number of Open Jobs on Vivian Health: 85
  • Education Requirements: High School Diploma or equivalent and Phlebotomy Training Program 
  • Relevant Certifications: PBT-ASCP / RPT-AMT

Phlebotomy jobs may be an ideal fit for those looking for an in-demand allied health specialty they can enter quickly. Phlebotomists work in hospitals, medical laboratories, private medical practices, outpatient clinics and other settings, drawing blood for diagnostic testing. They also manage records and prioritize patient comfort and education, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a sterile and organized work environment. State requirements for phlebotomists vary. Some only require the completion of an approved training course, making it quick to get to work and fill the growing need in this field. 

What Are Travel Contracts in Allied Health Careers?

Travel allied health jobs offer an alternative to staff positions, with varied demand based on specialty and staffing needs at a given facility. Travel contracts exist for nearly every allied health specialty, allowing them to work for an employer for a predetermined period, often 13 weeks. The demand for temporary staff often fluctuates when healthcare facilities need to fill staffing gaps during labor shortages, cover for workers on leave or strike or experience significant upticks in patients due to seasonality or unprecedented pandemics.

In many cases, allied health professionals earn more than their counterparts in staff positions. The table below compares the average weekly rates of staff jobs versus travel contracts for various allied health professionals. We calculated the average weekly rates in staff roles by multiplying the average hourly rates by 40 hours to compare them with the average weekly travel wages in the same specialties.

Allied Health Specialty Average Staff Weekly Wages Average Travel Weekly Wages
Physician Assistant  $3,102 $15,330
Occupational Therapist Assistant $1,807 $1,515
Physical Therapy Assistant $1,277 $1,407
Speech-Language Pathologist $1,826 $2,077
Physical Therapist $1,932 $2,095
Medical Assistant $1,548 $1,121
Respiratory Therapist $1,602 $1,951
Occupational Therapist $1,957 $2,036
Audiologist $1,813 $3,011
Cardiovascular Technologist $2,036 $2,622
Registered Ultrasound Technologist $1,860 $2,495
Phlebotomist $702 $1,666

Source: Vivian Health Salary Data, November 20, 2023

Travel contracts allow allied health workers to experience life in new places and learn new skills in varied settings while still earning a living. Working for different employers may help travelers remain outside the workplace drama, reduce the risk of burnout and enable individuals to try new allied health careers without making a long-term commitment to one employer.

Explore exciting allied health professions on Vivian Health and kickstart your journey into a high-demand career!

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in December 2022 and has been updated annually to reflect the most recent data. The allied health specialties currently listed were the fastest-growing based on demand through 2032.

amandafarq
Amanda Farquharson, BSN, RN

Amanda Farquharson, BSN, RN is a registered nurse, travel nurse, writer and wellness warrior. She practices from a holistic lens with a focus on health promotion and prevention. Amanda has been actively engaged with the wellness community for over 15 years, supporting and developing activities that strengthen individuals' and communities' emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.

Comments (4)

What about Surgical Technologist??
First Assistant Surgical Tech…S.A.??

Reply

Update 2024: Surgical Technologist didn’t make the list this year as they were no longer among the fastest growing allied health careers but this could change over the course of the year.

Original Reply: An oversight that has been corrected. Thank you Laura! We added Surgical Technologists but didn’t include SAs since the BLS lumps them together to keep the list as well-rounded as possible.

Reply

I am a food & nutritionist professional and not licensed. I have great experience in my career. I also have hands-on skills including CPR, Phlebotomist, and lab technician. I love healthcare services and want to be part of the team contributing support and health to society, communities, and the nation. I am also a traveler and can work under little or no supervision at all.

Reply

Hello Beatrice and thanks for reaching out! If you’re seeking a new travel position, Vivian is here to help. Visit our travel job board for allied health professionals, found here: https://www.vivian.com/allied-health/travel/ to see if we currently have any jobs posted that interest you within your areas of expertise. If you have any questions about our website, please feel free to use the “Contact Vivian” option under the Resources tab to reach our 24/7 help desk.

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