Allied Health Certification: Do I Need It?
One of the most interesting things about allied health careers is that many options don’t require certification or licensure. With such a competitive market, however, is on-the-job training really the best option? Will a certificate in allied health make your career outlook any brighter?
1. Some States Require Allied Health Certification
It’s true that many allied health careers are open to those without certification or licensure. You might be able to find work as a cardiographic technician, medical assistant, occupational therapist aide, or a dental assistant. That said, entry requirements often differ from state to state.
Pharmacy technicians might need to register with the state board of pharmacy in certain states. It could just be a simple process of filling out a form or completing a background check. In some places, you might need to get your pharmacy technician certification to complete your registration process.
Even when it’s not a state requirement, the majority of employers have started asking for certification to find the best candidates for the role.
2. Find Better Job Opportunities
If the position you’re applying to doesn’t require a training certificate, the employer may have hundreds of other applicants to consider. How are you going to stand out? When applying for any job, you always want to make sure that you are the most attractive candidate for the role, and anything you can do to put yourself at the top of the selection pile is worth the time.
For example, getting your medical assistant certification through a formal training program requires you to gain practical experience through a clinical internship. If you’re up against someone without certification, it just makes sense for employers to choose you since you’ve already demonstrated a commitment to the profession.
Not only does an allied health certification increase your chances of being selected for a job in the first place, but it also means that you could qualify for jobs at institutions, medical practices, and organizations that demand extremely high standards.
3. Earn a Higher Salary
If you are certified, you will be in a better position to ask for higher starting salaries and even annual raises.
For medical billing and coding specialists, certification may not be required, but it is strongly advised. AAPC, one certifying body for medical coders, states that certified medical billers typically earn 20% more than their non-certified counterparts.
4. More Opportunity for Career Advancement
Allied health training lets you hit the ground running, and can allow you to progress further and quicker within your chosen field. It can even encourage easier transitions into related healthcare fields.
Accredited programs usually include intensive internship periods that provide practical training in a clinical environment. By the time you graduate from your allied health certification program, you’ll already have the knowledge and practical skills required for your future career – all before you even start searching for open job positions.
This also means that you can start expanding your scope of practice and knowledge from day one. For example, 24% of certified medical assistants go on to become registered nurses, but some other possible career paths include licensed practical nursing and medical office management.
5. Be Recognized as a Professional
Allied health certification is often seen as a mark of excellence and is evidence that the individual has demonstrated a certain level of mastery of knowledge and skills in their field.
Certification also necessitates ongoing learning and skill development and confirms an individual’s dedication, competence, and capabilities to their employers, colleagues, and patients.
6. Give Your Patients Peace of Mind
When patients visit a doctor or medical center, they’re putting their trust in qualified, knowledgeable, and experienced professionals.
From the medical assistant they meet at the front desk to the phlebotomy technician taking their blood sample to the cardiographic technician monitoring their heart activity, certification is an indicator of quality. It provides even more reassurance that patients are in capable hands.
7. Feel Accomplished Every Single Day
There’s no denying the pride that comes from accomplishing your allied healthcare training.
It’s your new profession’s official recognition of achievement, expertise, and clinical judgment, and it can enhance your own personal confidence in your abilities.
How to Become an Allied Health Professional
There are a variety of training facilities, educational centers, and colleges providing flexible training program options. Some programs can be taken full-time, part-time, or over a series of weekend courses.
The length of your certification program depends on your field of interest, state regulations, and the time you’re able to dedicate to your studies. For example, three-month certificate programs for cardiographic technicians are common in weekday programs (but may run upwards of six months through a weekend program).
Most allied health careers, however, can be completed within two years.
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