The healthcare industry is the fastest growing industry in the country, adding more jobs than any other group of occupations. One particular field that has seen excellent job growth is allied healthcare. Allied health professionals make up the majority of healthcare jobs, providing expertise in everything from medical imaging to respiratory therapy. Here’s what you need to know about a career in allied health.

Why Choose Allied Health?

The demand for allied healthcare professionals has never been higher. In fact, demand in this field has increased by one third since 1999 and continues to grow. Also, allied health jobs currently make up about 60% of all healthcare positions with medicine, nursing, and pharmacy making up the rest. Since many allied health jobs require associate degrees rather than four year degrees, they’ve been a great source of career opportunity for those looking to increase their income and find work in healthcare.

Top Paying Allied Health Careers

There’s plenty of opportunity to earn a great paycheck in the healthcare industry, and it’s no different when you’re looking specifically at allied health. Several allied health professions earn above the median wage for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Here’s a list of the highest paying allied health jobs, sorted by 2015 median wage:

  • Radiation Therapists: $80,220
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers & Cardiovascular Technologists: $63,630
  • Radiologic & MRI Technologists: $58,120
  • Respiratory Therapists: $57,790
  • Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technologists & Technicians: $50,550
  • Surgical Technologists: $44,330

Allied Health Careers in High Demand

There’s more to a career than its annual pay, though. It’s also important to consider the job outlook for allied health professions when determining which one may be best for you going forward. While almost all allied health jobs are growing at a steady pace, some are growing faster than others. In fact, all allied health professions listed below are growing faster than the average for all occupations according to BLS. Here’s a look at the fastest growing allied health careers, ordered by projected growth rate from 2014 to 2024.

  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers & Cardiovascular Technologists (24% job growth): As imaging technology advances, medical facilities will increasingly use ultrasounds to replace more invasive and costly procedures.
  • Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technologists & Technicians (16% job growth): An increase in the aging population is expected to lead to a greater need to diagnose medical conditions through laboratory testing.
  • Surgical Technologists (15% job growth): Advances in medical technology have made surgery safer, leading to an increase in operations used to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries.
  • Radiation Therapists (14% job growth): An aging population has a higher risk of cancer, leading to an increase in demand for radiation therapists.
  • Respiratory Therapists (12% job growth): Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increase of respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.
  • Radiologic & MRI Technologists (9% job growth): As the general population grows older, there will be an increase in medical conditions that require imaging as a tool for accurate diagnoses.

*All median salary and job growth data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics