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Finding the Right Allied Health School

From researching tuition fees to deciding on a major, finding the right college or university can be daunting. Interested in choosing a major in the allied health field? Here are a few research tips to help you find the right allied health school.

Allied Health

Accreditation is important

There are currently six regional institutional accrediting agencies in the United States. Every few years they examine the colleges and universities in their jurisdiction to make sure they are providing a quality education for their students. Schools that are accredited can receive federal funds for tuition assistance, and students who attend these schools may be able to apply any federal loans they receive towards their tuition. Employers who require applicants to earn a college degree usually only accept information from accredited institutions.

Below is a table with the different agencies and the states they have jurisdiction over:

Accrediting Agency

States of Jurisdiction

Middle States Commissions on Higher Education

Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia

Western Association of Schools and Colleges

California, Hawaii, and the United States territories of Guam and American Samoa

In addition to these, there are also regional agencies that monitor the curriculum of medical schools and degree programs. These can include the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc., the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. When researching potential schools you should check the accreditation agency and the schools current status. For further information on trustworthy agencies, check out the U.S. Department of Education website.

Online, on-campus, or hybrid degree programs

Another decision you will need to make before embarking on your allied health education is how you want to earn your degree. There are a number of different methods available, each with their own benefits:

  • Online degree programs can be beneficial for people currently in the workforce and want to change careers without having to quit their job. The availability of a completely online program will depend on the type of allied health degree you are seeking. This might be the most flexible option as many online courses can be accessed at any time, as long as you have an Internet connection. Professors place lectures, lessons, work, and projects online, and students can access these materials at their leisure.

  • Online courses can be a good way to complete some of the prerequisites needed for a full time, on-campus program, especially those that require laboratory components which cannot be fulfilled online. There may also be a certain amount of clinical hours that need to be reached in order to earn a degree. These cannot be accumulated through online courses either. Some online programs allow you to complete your lab and clinical work at a hospital near your home.
  • On-campus degree programs are the more traditional route to earn a degree. These courses may be a bit more structured than their online counterparts, rigidly scheduled and tightly paced. Students who have taken their prerequisites through online courses may enroll in on-campus programs in order to complete their degree, lab hours, or clinical requirements.
  • Hybrid degree programs are a mixture of online and on-campus components. This option may offer the best of both, as you can have the rigid schedule for clinical and lab hours, while taking prerequisites through online means.

Not all schools offer each of these options. Be sure to contact the schools you are interested in and find out which degree programs they offer.

Types of degrees and potential career options

The following is a list of the various degree options available and the allied health careers that require this degree:

  • Associate degrees usually take two years to complete.

Career Option

National Median Annual Wage (2012)

Potential National Job Growth (2012-2022)

Registered Nurse

$65,470

19%

Physical Therapist Assistant

$52,160

41%

Massage Therapist

$35,970

23%

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

$65,860

46%

  • Bachelor's degree programs typically take four years to complete.

Career Option

National Median Annual Wage (2012)

Potential National Job Growth (2012-2022)

Medical and Health Services Manager

$88,580

23%

Dietitians and Nutritionists

$55,240

21%

Health Educator (K-12)

$48,790

19%

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician

$37,240

30%

  • Master's degree programs can vary in length, depending on the program and whether you are earning it immediately after earning a bachelor's degree.

Career Option

National Median Annual Wage (2012)

Potential National Job Growth (2012-2022)

Substance Abuse Counselor

$38,520

31%

Physician Assistant

$90,930

38%

Occupational Therapist

$75,400

29%

Speech-Language Pathologist

$69,870

19%

  • Earning a doctoral degree can take a varying amount of time as well. Completion depends on how long it takes to finish a dissertation, submit it and defend it.

Career Option

National Median Annual Wage (2012)

Potential National Job Growth (2012-2022)

Psychologist

$69,280

12%

Physician

$220,942

18%

Postsecondary Teacher (Health Specialties)

$81,140

19%


Sources:

  1. "Regional and National Institutional Accrediting Agencies," U.S. Department of Education, http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
  2. "Specialized Accrediting Agencies," U.S. Department of Education, http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg7.html#health
  3. Dietitians and Nutritionists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm
  4. Health Educator, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/Health-educators.htm
  5. Massage Therapist, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-1
  6. Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm#tab-1
  7. Medical and Health Services Manager, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-1
  8. Occupational Therapists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm
  9. Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm#tab-1
  10. Physicians and Surgeons, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm#tab-1
  11. Psychologists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Life-Physical-and-Social-Science/Psychologists.htm#tab-1
  12. Registered Nurses, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm#tab-1
  13. Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm
  14. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm
  15. 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm