Pathways to middle-skill allied health care occupations



  • Abstract

    Better information about the skills required in health occupations and the paths to career advancement could provide opportunities for workers as well as improved health care.

    Health care has been a “job engine” for the US economy, given the sector’s historically strong job growth, an aging population, and increasing demand for health care due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). Health care professions dominate the list of the 20 fastest growing occupations, with growth rates between 25% and 50%, according to data compiled by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a good demand outlook and the relatively low entry requirements for several of these jobs, health care occupations appear to be a good career path.

    Many of the growing health care professions are “middle-skill,” a term with considerable overlap with the term “allied health,” a category that encompasses a diverse and not precisely defined set of careers. The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions has identified 66 such occupations; the Health Professions Network, a collaborative group representing the leading allied health professions, has identified over 45; and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs provided accreditation in 2010 to 28 occupations. These jobs may or may not involve direct patient care, and some do not require specialized skill at entry. Many require less than a baccalaureate degree for entry.

    The pathway to an allied health career can be unclear, especially in relatively new and emerging positions. Clear career pathways and ladders that lead to socioeconomic success need to be clarified in order to direct investments for attracting and retaining a competent workforce. Our task here, then, is to describe what is known about the career pathways into middle-skill allied health careers and the challenges that exist for individuals seeking such careers.


  • Authors:

    Frogner BK, Skillman SM

  • Journal/Publisher:

    Issues in Science & Technology

  • Edition:

    Nov 2016. Fall, 33(1):52-57

  • Link to Article

    Access the article here: Issues in Science & Technology

  • Citation:

    Frogner BK, Skillman SM. Pathways to middle-skill allied health care occupations. Issues in Science & Technology. Nov 2016. Fall, 33(1):52-57.