what is allied health?

Allied health is an umbrella term for a range of non-medical health professionals. An allied health professional is not a medical doctor, dentist or nurse; they provide healthcare services to patients. Allied health refers to various health-related disciplines aimed at supporting the well-being of patients and supporting a healthy lifestyle and independence. You provide physical therapy or psychological, cognitive and social care to improve a patient's health.

As an allied health professional, you are the backbone of the healthcare system, providing a wide spectrum of medical services. Some of your duties include providing different rehabilitation services for patients. You also offer primary to acute care in both outpatient and inpatient settings. You lend technical support during diagnostics and care for intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Due to your knowledge of all-rounded patient care, you work with medical professionals to identify, assess and treat diseases to ensure quality healthcare service delivery.

Allied health professionals use scientific principles and evidence-based practices for patient diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses. Aside from working in hospitals, you can also work in group homes, clinics and schools, providing patient care.

Would working in allied health suit your compassion and interest in helping people? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an allied health role.

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average allied health salary

According to ONS, allied health professionals receive an average salary of £37,471 per year in the UK. The compensation package varies from entry-level to experienced professionals in the field. An entry-level allied health professional earns a salary of £26,500 annually, while experienced workers take home over £54,000 yearly. The salaries for NHS workers depend on the pay bands.

what factors affect the salary of an allied health professional? 

As an allied health professional, your salary varies based on your qualifications and area of specialisation. When you join the field as a degree apprentice, your earnings are lower than starting with an undergraduate degree. Having a postgraduate degree also increases your remuneration prospects. Entry-level positions attract lower compensation packages and pay bands in the NHS than experienced and mid-level positions, which attract a higher salary.

Your area of specialisation also influences your earnings as an allied health professional. For instance, radiographers and physiotherapists have a higher salary than art or drama therapists. Check the area of specialisation when looking for ways to improve your earning prospects. The size of the hospital also influences your earnings. For instance, working in a public or community health clinic attracts a lower salary than working in a large or private hospital.

smiling female
smiling female

types of allied health professionals

Some of the types of allied health professionals include:

podiatrists: as a podiatrist, you diagnose and treat foot illnesses. You assess various conditions, both long-term and acute, affecting patients. For instance, you meet with patients with diabetes, cerebral palsy and peripheral nerve damage to assess their treatment needs and develop a care plan.

  • dietitians: as a dietitian, you are an allied health professional qualified to diagnose and treat diet and nutritional problems. You use the most up-to-date scientific and public health research on food and diseases. You also offer practical guidance to patients and help them make appropriate lifestyle changes.
  • occupational therapists: as an occupational therapist, you work in community health facilities with people of all ages resulting from developmental, physical and mental difficulties.
  • orthoptist: as an orthoptist, you assist premature infants with vision problems. You also work with adults with eye movement defects caused by terminal illnesses like hypertension, cancer and diabetes. Some orthoptists work in ophthalmic specialities like cataracts and glaucom

working as an allied health

Working as an allied health professional involves helping people and supporting patients with different health conditions. Let's explore some of allied health workers' duties and career outlooks.


education and skills

You will find numerous routes to becoming an allied health professional. Some of the ways to become an allied health expert include:

  • complete an undergraduate degree: you can become an allied health professional through an undergraduate degree associated with the role. For instance, if you want to become a dietitian, complete a degree in nutrition science. Occupational therapists can pursue a degree in occupational therapy. The degree course lasts four years and should be certified by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The entry requirements for undergraduates in allied health professions are three A-Levels and GCSEs.
  • apprenticeship: you can train in some allied health professions through apprenticeship programmes. A degree in apprenticeship involves working and studying, which means you gain practical experience as you complete your study. Internships after the degree also boost your employability.

allied health skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of allied health professionals include:

  • communication skills: as an allied health worker, you require exceptional communication skills to reassure and support patients throughout treatment. Great communication skills help you explain the treatment techniques to patients and their families in simple terms. You also rely on communication to relay instructions clearly to other workers.
  • teamwork skills: as an allied health professional, you require a team player attitude. Most healthcare centres are like sports teams, with people working towards the same goal of improving the well-being of patients. Having teamwork helps you carry out various duties to improve work efficiency.
  • empathy: as an allied health expert, it is important to empathise with patients and put yourself in their shoes to understand their difficult situation. You require empathy to help elderly patients and assist those with developmental disabilities. Empathy is how you show compassion and help the patients throughout their healing journeys.
  • curiosity and interest in learning: as an allied health professional, you work in diverse hospital environments. You should be curious and willing to learn to familiarise yourself with changes in the medical field. Every day exposes you to new situations, and the willingness to learn helps you adapt to the changing treatment techniques. 
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smiling female

FAQs about working as allied health

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of allied health.

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