How do I get an Allied Health Degree?

Sandra Koehler

Attaining an allied health degree offers you the training to provide direct or indirect patient care. Allied health careers are broken down into two main categories – therapists or technologists, and technicians or assistants. Degree programs range from post-secondary training to post-doctorate studies. Allied health degree program can range from two to seven plus years of higher education.

In order to attain an allied health degree, a person must attend an accredited school.
In order to attain an allied health degree, a person must attend an accredited school.

Allied health careers are broken down into two main categories – therapists or technologists, and technicians or assistants. To become a technician requires two years or less for training and education. These professionals attain either a certification or degree-level of higher education. Certified or licensed, technicians typically assist technologists, therapists, physicians or nursing, and require some form of supervision to carry out tasks.

An optometrist is an allied health professional who offers eye exams and prescribes glasses and contacts.
An optometrist is an allied health professional who offers eye exams and prescribes glasses and contacts.

Therapists and technologists, on the other hand, typically can work independently so would require more extensive training and attain a degree ranging from a bachelor’s to a doctorate degree. Since therapists and technologists evaluate, develop treatment plans, and in some instances diagnose, an additional two to five years of education and training is often necessary.

In order to attain an allied health degree, you must attend an accredited school. Accreditation should come from CCAHEP, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Education Programs. Though not mandatory for some allied health careers, attending an accredited school assure that the quality of education received and the quality of educators teaching meet with the standards for the health care profession. An allied health degree from an accredited program also assure you to be eligible to sit for any certification or licensing exams that may be necessary to practice in the chosen profession.

In order to get an allied health degree, you must research prospective schools and decide on the major of choice. Since there are hundreds of allied health professions out there, your individual preferences often play a key role in deciding which career path to take. Allied health professionals can work in almost every sub-division of healthcare including but not limited to veterinary studies, alternative medicine and traditional venues such as physical therapy and radiology.

An allied health degree can be attained through traditional campus based higher learning institutions or distance learning venues. In order to get an allied health degree, you must meet the requirements of the school of choice. In order to practice as an allied healthcare professional, you must meet the requirements of the career of choice. In other words, some allied health professionals require certification in order to legally practice, whereas other professionals are required to obtain and maintain licensure.

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