Stepping-Stone Jobs in Allied Health

Stepping-Stone Jobs in Allied Health

Getting your feet wet in allied health with a job that requires two or fewer years of training can be a wise move if you want to test the waters in your desired allied-health career field before committing to a longer, costlier educational program.  

Many allied-health support jobs -- such as phlebotomist jobs and medical assistant jobs -- can serve as launching pads to a wide range of more professional jobs in healthcare, experts say. Other jobs in allied health -- like the four described below -- can be excellent stepping-stones to higher positions within the same discipline:

1. Pharmacy Technician to Pharmacist

It is “incredibly beneficial” for an aspiring pharmacist to gain experience by first working as a pharmacy technician, says pharmacist Megan Sheahan, who is director of professional affairs for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.

Sheahan, who worked as a pharm tech for seven years at a community hospital before earning her PharmD degree, says pharmacy schools appreciate applicants who have displayed interest in the profession by working as nationally certified pharmacy technicians. Since pharmacy is a “diverse profession with many specialty areas,” Sheahan says it’s optimal for pharm techs to have worked in a variety of settings -- ranging from community and hospital pharmacies to long-term care -- so they can determine where they want to work as pharmacists.

Employers also value pharmacists who have worked as pharmacy technicians early in their careers because they have a greater understanding and appreciation of their technician colleagues’ contributions, Sheahan says.

Pharmacy technicians who received formal education should contact the school of pharmacy they are interested in attending to determine if any of the credits from their prior educational program will transfer, Sheahan says.

Find pharmacy technician jobs | Find pharmacist jobs

2. Medical Laboratory Technician to Medical Laboratory Scientist

The journey from medical laboratory technician (MLT) to medical laboratory scientist (MLS) can be smooth for those who plot their route carefully.

Generally, an individual who earns an associate’s degree and becomes certified as a medical laboratory technician can continue his education at a four-year college or university and, with the appropriate clinical experience, earn a bachelor’s degree and become certified as a medical laboratory scientist.

“Some MLTs use their degree to work while seeking higher education and some realize after they have been working for a period of time that they want to advance their careers,” says Cathy Otto, a medical laboratory scientist who is president of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.

Many community colleges have agreements with universities guaranteeing that the university will accept courses from the associate’s-degree program as prerequisites for a bachelor’s degree, but it is always best to verify what courses the university program requires, Otto says. “It may take more than two years [for someone with an associate’s degree to earn a bachelor’s], depending upon the courses completed at the two-year level and whether the appropriate general education requirements have been completed,” she says.

Both the MLT and MLS educational programs can be challenging, but the effort pays off with a rewarding career in which you’re providing “a valuable and necessary service to patient care,” Otto says. People thinking about entering the field should have “a love of science, attention to detail, a commitment to lifelong learning, and organizational and problem-solving skills,” she says.

Find medical laboratory technician jobs | Find medical laboratory scientist jobs

3. Registered Health Information Technician to Registered Health Information Administrator

Getting an associate’s degree in health information management, along with the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential, is the best way to gain entrance into the health information management (HIM) field, according to Melanie Endicott, a registered health information administrator (RHIA) and director of professional practice for the American Health Information Management Association. “Entry-level HIM positions are the ideal way for someone entering the field to gain the experience necessary to be able to eventually lead or manage,” Endicott says.

Some students complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in HIM directly (becoming credentialed as an RHIA), but the majority of students begin with a two-year degree and then progress to a four-year degree right away or later on. “Many colleges and universities cater to those students who already have an RHIT and want to progress to an RHIA,” Endicott says.

Typically, most coursework completed in the two-year program is accepted at the four-year level, so students who are already RHITs can complete their bachelor’s degrees in an additional two years, Endicott says. She cautions not waiting too long to begin the four-year program, because some educational institutions may have a time limit for how long a course is valid and can be transferred.

Endicott urges advanced education for highly motivated RHITs. “Having a bachelor’s or master’s degree will open many doors to higher-level positions,” she says.

Find registered health information technician jobs | Find registered health information administrator jobs

4. Dental Assistant to Dental Hygienist

Using a dental assistant job as a stepping-stone to becoming a dental hygienist has its benefits. Not only does the dental assistant gain knowledge of dentistry and the workings of a dental office, but the work experience is also attractive to potential employers when new hygienists apply for their first jobs.

“I think it is an asset for the employer to know that candidates [with experience in dental assisting] obviously liked and understood dentistry and made a commitment to it by pursuing an advanced career,” says Pamela Quinones, a registered dental hygienist who is president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.

Because the education and responsibilities of dental assistants and dental hygienists are very different, the coursework to become a Certified Dental Assistant will not transfer to a dental hygiene program, Quinones says.

“For someone who is not set on becoming a dental hygienist, but wants to test the waters of dentistry, a dental assisting program might serve you well,” Quinones says. However, if you know you want to become a hygienist, Quinones recommends using the year it would take to become a dental assistant to take the prerequisites needed to apply to a dental hygiene program.

Find dental assistant jobs | Find dental hygienist jobs

Learn more about healthcare careers.

Latest Jobs

Universal Hospital Services, Inc.
Posted: 05/26/2015
Catonsville, MD, 21075
Posted: 05/26/2015
Roswell, GA, 30075
Posted: 05/26/2015
San Mateo, CA, 94403
Posted: 05/26/2015
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Posted: 05/26/2015
Holyoke, MA, 01040

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-205