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4 Nondegree Medical Salaries that Can’t Compete With a PTA Salary

Updated on October 18, 2015

Top 5 Paying Salaries for Assistant Positions in the Medical Field

When I was a kid I remember being told that Doctors made a lot of money. So, I naturally assumed that all medical professionals had high paying salaries. But what about those nondegree medical professions, like dental, physical therapy, nurse, and occupational therapy assistants? Well, it turns out I was right when it came to them too, most medical salaries are high compared to other industries, even for nondegree positions. So, even if you don't have the resources or interest in going through a traditional 4 year bachelor program plus medical school, you can still have a health care career and be compensated well.

This is great for people working in medical positions involving physical therapy, hospitals and emergency rooms, pharmacy, dentistry, and nursing. These medical areas offer very competitive salaries in today’s job market. Let’s take a closer look at each of the top 5 medical assistant salaries.

#5 – Nursing Aides: Average Salary: $25,420

Nursing Aides offer support to the entire medical team in a clinical setting. A Nursing Aide performs basic day-to-day tasks under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse, or in some cases some other medical staff.

To become a Nursing Aide, you need to complete a state-approved education program to get your certification. The job market is great for grads, in 2012 there were 1,534,400 Nursing Aide jobs with an expected 21% growth over the next 10 years.

#4 – Pharmacy Techs: Average Salary: $30,430

Pharmacy technicians, Pharmaceutical Technicians, or Pharm Techs, are simply healthcare providers working under the supervision of Pharmacists performing a number of pharmacy related functions. Most work full time with some working part time, and you can find them working in pharmacies in hospitals, grocery and drug stores.

To become a Pharmacy Tech you will need to check your states requirements. Once you meet the requirements, you should be able to land a job with 355,300 jobs in 2012 and a 20% growth rate over the next 10 years.

#3 – Medical Assistants: Average Salary: $30,550

Medical assistants work with many types of physicians and health professionals to support and assist them during their procedures. Most often you find medical assistants working in a clinic setting side by side with healthcare professionals and physicians.

The entry level education to become a Medical Assistant is a postsecondary non-degree award, meaning no degree is awarded upon completing the education but a certificate or other award is granted. There is an optimistic job outlook for graduates, with 560,800 Medical Assistant jobs in 2012 with an expected 29% increase during the next 10 years.

#2 – Dental Assistants: Average Salary: $35,080

A Dental Assistant does exactly what you think, assists the Dentist. This consists of prepping the patient before the Dentist begins working with them, sterilizing dental instruments, and passing the instruments to the dentist while the dentist is performing their dental procedures.

The entry level education required of a Dental Assistant is a Post-secondary non-degree award, meaning no degree is earned upon completing the required education but the program will offer a certificate or other award. In 2012 there were 303,200 dental assistant jobs and the projected 10 year growth at that time was 25%.

But the highest salary goes to...


#1 - Average PTA Salary: $52,160!

Physical Therapist Assistants, or PTAs, assist Physical Therapists. PTAs work with patients offering physical therapy rehab services under direct supervision of the Physical Therapist.

Physical Therapist Assistants utilize a number of Physical Therapy techniques during their work implementing treatment plans for patients. Some of the techniques used include: functional training, ultrasound, therapeutic exercise, deep soft tissue and/or sports therapy massage, and electrotherapy. In certain cases, PTAs also work with individuals on lifestyle changes that help to prevent mobility loss. A PTA may implement wellness and fitness programs for the patient to adopt, promoting a healthier lifestyle.

So there you have it, 5 of the top paying nondegree medical salaries. Although the Physical Therapist Assistant salary comes out on top, all of the salaries are competitive. Especially when you consider that none of them require a degree to get into the position. Completing 1-2 years of post-secondary education can have you earning more than most teachers who go through 4 years of college.

Curious to read more salary info for Physical Therapist Assistants? For more information in your state or city you can go here to research the average PTA salary by region.

Also, for more information on each of the above 5 careers, go here to research info from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Healthcare Careers.

Which cities pay PTAs the most?

If you were choosing between the available assistant positions within the medical field, and you were only looking at compensation, then you would go with the highest paying position which would be a Physical Therapy Assistant. This would take about 2 years of schooling and some clinical training as well as passing the NPTAE (National Physical Therapy Assistant Exam) before obtaining your certificate and state license to practice.

Ok, so once you have met the requirements to become a PTA you may want to consider learning some of the regions that offer the most competitive salaries. especially if the high compensation is what motivated you to choose this career. Here are the top 3 highest paying cities when it comes to the Average Physical Therapist Assistant Salary.

Highest Paying Cities for PTA Salaries

Top 3 PTA Salaries by City

  • Lakeland, FL $77,230 is the Avg. PTA Salary
  • San Antonio, TX $75,840 is the Avg. PTA Salary
  • McAllen, TX $75,490 is the Avg. PTA Salary

For more of the top paying PTA Salaries by city and state, checkout the PTA Guide's handy Physical Therapy Assistant Salary Research Tool or use their jobs search tool to find PTA Jobs in your area to see salaries.

Audience Poll: What is Your Health Care Salary Range?

Which salary range does your health care career offer?

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