highest paying allied health specialties
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Top 10 Highest Paying Allied Health Specialties

Healthcare professionals (HCPs) working in numerous allied health specialties play essential roles in diagnosing, evaluating and treating acute and chronic diseases and delivering healthcare and related services nationwide. They encompass a wide range of HCPs that include many well-known providers in non-nursing, non-physician healthcare fields, such as imaging specialists, diagnostic medical personnel, physician assistants, dental and optometry professionals, counselors, pharmacy personnel, dieticians and therapists covering everything from physical therapy to respiratory care. Although many allied health specialties require less time in the classroom than doctors and nurses, these fields still offer a lucrative healthcare career, and some pay more than others.

Increased Demand for Allied Health Workers

Healthcare is one of the largest and fastest industries in the country. The Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions stated that estimates indicate that allied health professionals make up as much as 60% of the workforce. Depending on the specialty, the Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) projects an increase in the demand for allied health professionals between 7% and 30% by 2030.

Allied Health Specialty Increased % of Demand Total # Required
Chiropractors 7% 61,540
Optometrists 9% 46,730
Opticians 9% 67,290
Community Health Workers 11% 67,560
EMTs and Paramedics 17% 305,770
Clinical Laboratory Technologists 19% 198,440
Pharmacists 19% 359,770
Registered Dieticians 21% 95,540
Occupational Therapists 22% 127,260
Physical Therapists 26% 298,820
Podiatrists 28% 23,290
Respiratory Therapists 30% 144,100

Source: Bureau of Health Workforce

Top 10 Allied Health Specialist Salaries

Allied health professionals may work directly or indirectly with patients, and their salaries vary based on specialty, education, experience, facility and location. The following 10 allied health specialties ranked among the highest paying in the field in late November 2022 based on the average hourly rate of permanent staff jobs posted on Vivian Health over the preceding week.

Our list includes average hourly rates for staff positions within each specialty, with annual salaries calculated on a 40-hour workweek multiplied by the per-hour earnings. We also include the highest hourly rates for staff allied health specialists and the average and highest weekly rates for travel allied health professionals working within each specialty during the same period for comparison. Travel pay can fluctuate daily, so weekly rates often vary significantly from week to week.

To round out your comparison of allied health specialties, our list includes a breakdown of the education requirements to evaluate the time required to enter each field and relevant professional certifications that can help enhance your salary and career in your chosen field.

1. Perfusionist

  • Education Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and completion of an Accredited Perfusion Technology Program
  • Relevant Certifications: CCP
  • Average Hourly Rate: $93
  • Average Annual Salary: $193,440
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $99
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $5,336
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $7,400

Perfusionists, also called cardiac perfusionists or cardiopulmonary perfusionists, specialize in operating and recording the output of a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, also known as a heart-lung machine. They’re responsible for ensuring essential oxygen-rich blood reaches patients’ brains and other vital organs during open-heart surgeries while providing surgeons with a blood-free heart throughout the operation. Perfusionists regulate blood flow and temperature during surgeries, monitor blood and oxygen circulation and analyze blood chemistry throughout procedures to make any necessary adjustments.

2. Physician Assistant

  • Education Requirements:
  • Relevant Certifications: PA-C
  • Average Hourly Rate: $74
  • Average Annual Salary: $153,920
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $87
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $3,968
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $5,081

Physician assistants (PAs) work directly with patients of all ages and within all types of healthcare settings. They can specialize in a wide range of patient populations and fields, examining and diagnosing patients to deliver the required care. PAs may order and interpret tests as needed, counsel and educate patients and their families, access and record a patient’s progress and prescribe medications when necessary. However, a PA’s scope of practice varies based on the state where they’re licensed and practice medicine.

3. Radiation Therapist

  • Education Requirements: Associate or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy
  • Relevant Certifications: T (ARRT)
  • Average Hourly Rate: $65
  • Average Annual Salary: $135,200
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $65
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,546
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $3,725

Radiation therapists specialize in calibrating and operating the machinery required to administer doses of radiation to patients with cancer or other serious diseases that require radiation therapy. They prepare patients for procedures, protecting themselves and their patients from improper radiation exposure. Radiation therapists determine the location of tumors to ensure accurate patient positioning for receipt of the appropriate dose of radiation during treatments. They deliver the correct dosages based on calculations received from the patient’s dosimetrist and work closely with their physician or radiation oncologist to ensure the best outcomes.

4. Pharmacist

  • Education Requirements: Doctor of Pharmacy or PharmD
  • Relevant Certifications: BPS / BCPPS
  • Average Hourly Rate: $62
  • Average Annual Salary: $128,960
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $73
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $3,101
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $3,920

Pharmacists specialize in preparing and dispensing prescription medications and offering their expertise in safely using these drugs. They’re also involved in all aspects of pharmaceutical care and the safe, rational and cost-effective use of prescription drugs. However, daily duties can vary based on their state of practice and work setting. For example, responsibilities within community pharmacy settings primarily include dispensing medications to customers, providing prescription consultations and answering any questions customers might have. Alternately, duties in clinical environments may consist of assessing, initiating, monitoring and modifying patients’ medications to ensure safety and effectiveness while collaborating with other healthcare providers.

5. Dosimetrist

  • Education Requirements: Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences, radiologic sciences, medical dosimetry or a related field
  • Relevant Certifications: CMD
  • Average Hourly Rate: $62
  • Average Annual Salary: $128,960
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $62
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $3,362
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $4,758

Dosimetrists specialize in calculating radiation treatments to deliver the most lethal dose of radiation to precise parts of the patient’s body while promoting the fewest side effects to their healthy organs. They collaborate with the patient’s oncology team and use specialized computer software to create radiation plans to treat cancerous diseases utilizing internal and external radiation sources. Utilizing their expertise, dosimetrists generate, measure and verify radiation dose calculations and distributions for high-level treatment procedures while designing radiation field arrangements that reduce exposure to critical patient structures. They record the radiation doses administered and educate patients on their treatment plans.

6. Radiology Technician

  • Education Requirements: Associate degree in radiologic technology / Bachelor’s degree sometimes preferred
  • Relevant Certifications: R (ARRT)
  • Average Hourly Rate: $62
  • Average Annual Salary: $128,960
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $62
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,678
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $3,768

Radiology technicians specialize in capturing images of patients’ bones, internal organs and soft tissues utilizing X-ray, sonography, CT, MRI and/or fluoroscopy equipment and various diagnostic imaging procedures. They may also assist radiologists with various procedures, such as fluoroscopic imaging or gastrointestinal exams that require them to prepare and inject radiopharmaceutical agents, referred to as contrast media. Radiology techs help doctors diagnose and treat patients with a range of injuries and diseases.

7. Cardiovascular Technologist

  • Education Requirements: Associate or bachelor’s degree
  • Relevant Certifications: CST
  • Average Hourly Rate: $60
  • Average Annual Salary: $124,800
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $62
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,912
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $4,345

Cardiovascular technologists assist physicians in diagnosing and treating heart and blood vessel problems. They perform complex tests to diagnose heart disease, monitoring patients’ blood pressure and heart rates using electrocardiogram (EKG) equipment and alerting their physicians to any abnormalities found during testing.

8. Cardiovascular Operating Room Technologist

  • Education Requirements: High School Diploma/GED and Surgical Technologist Program required / Associate degree sometimes preferred
  • Relevant Certifications: CST
  • Average Hourly Rate: $60
  • Average Annual Salary: $124,800
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $60
  • Salary Range: $ to $
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,450
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $4,425

Cardiovascular operating room technologists, also called CVOR techs or cardiovascular surgical techs, specialize in supporting surgical teams during cardiovascular system operations. They assist cardiac surgeons before, during and after all types of heart surgeries by preparing the CVOR, providing preoperative and postoperative patient transport, assisting the surgical staff during the operation and monitoring the patient throughout their procedure.

9. Registered Ultrasound Technologist

  • Education Requirements: Associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography / Bachelor’s degree often preferred
  • Relevant Certifications: S (ARRT)
  • Average Hourly Rate: $57
  • Average Annual Salary: $118,560
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $62
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,589
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $4,375

Ultrasound technologists, also called diagnostic medical sonographers or sonographers, operate specialized equipment that emits high-frequency sound waves to create digital images of patients’ organs, tissues and/or blood vessels. They may create images to help track a fetus’ development, uncover heart defects, locate tumors, discover various problems within the body and inspect internal structures and functions so that doctors can diagnose. Ultrasound techs prepare the equipment and patient for procedures, record the appropriate part of the patient’s anatomy, review images for quality and coverage and present findings to the patient’s doctor or specialist. They may also assist with ultrasound-guided biopsies and other procedures.

10. Electrophysiology Technician

  • Education Requirements: Associate or bachelor’s degree
  • Relevant Certifications: RCES or RCIS
  • Average Hourly Rate: $56
  • Average Annual Salary: $116,480
  • Highest Hourly Rate: $84
  • Average Weekly Travel Rate: $2,622
  • Highest Weekly Travel Rate: $4,100

Electrophysiology technicians, also called cardiac electrophysiology technicians or EP techs, specialize in helping diagnose and treat cardiac arrhythmias. This subspecialty of cardiology is a growing field within healthcare science and therapy. EP techs prepare patients for procedures, ensure all equipment and instruments are in proper working order and perform diagnostic electrophysiology procedures and interventions, like electrocardiograms. They monitor recordings during procedures and help analyze and interpret the data collected, passing on vital information to the patient’s doctor or specialist. EP techs may also assist physicians with installing and implementing pacemakers and other permanent devices related to cardiac health.

Create a free Vivian Health profile to apply for a position within one of these high-paying allied health specialties and take your healthcare career to the next level today.

moira
Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee is Vivian’s Content Writer & Editor. As part of the Vivian Health team, she strives to help support the empowerment of nurses and other medical professionals in their pursuits to find top-notch travel, staff, per diem and local contract positions.

Comments (8)

What about operation theater and anesthesia technologist.

Reply

Hello Anziya and thank you for reaching out. When this was written, we looked at the average wages of numerous allied health professionals and listed the 10 with the highest average salaries based on the data available. At that time, operating theatre techs and anesthesia techs had a lower average wage than the 10 professions listed. Wage data fluctuates based on demand and many other factors, so when we update this blog later this year, the occupations listed will likely change based on the current data. However, Vivian believes all healthcare professionals are vital to the healthcare industry, no matter their role.

Reply

Audiologists are not listed. Why not?

Reply

Hello Dr. Sobel, and thanks for reaching out. When this was written, we looked at the average wages of numerous allied health professionals and listed the 10 with the highest average salaries based on the data available. At that time, audiologists had a lower annual wage on average than the 10 professions listed. When we update this blog later this year, the occupations listed may change based on the current data. However, Vivian believes all healthcare professionals are vital to the healthcare industry, no matter their role.

Reply

What about Respiratory Therapist that is currently holding the Frontline of healthcare together? Responsibilities in NICU, ICU, STEP DOWN ICU, ED and Floors include Intubations, Ventilation, ABG, Patient ventilator placement and HFV just to name a few.

Reply

What about Respiratory therapy?

Reply

There is no position in this world can beat RN! With an RN, you can branch out in anything! jobs are plenty, and pay is great! if you are young and smart, don’t beat the brushes, go straight to Medical school, if not, just go into RN. This is the only field can open billiards of doors if you out work in it. Very rewarding!

Reply

Why are the Respiratory Therapists always forgotten?

Reply

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