Healthcare Technology Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Info

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What will you learn in a healthcare technology degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Healthcare Technology: Degrees at a Glance

An undergraduate degree in healthcare technology can focus on entry-level qualifications in a specific area of patient care or it can be more of a generalist program that's meant to advance skills in management, administrative or technology. Both the bachelor's and associate's degree programs aim to provide familiarity with healthcare technologies, problem solving, decision making and understanding the different modes of healthcare delivery, but there are significant differences between the two degrees. Associate's degree programs in healthcare technology typically focus on providing the student with skills necessary to provide hands-on care. Bachelor's degree programs in this field are oriented more toward cultivating the knowledge and skills necessary to advance into areas such as management, administration, or education. Standalone non-credit bearing classes are also available. These classes are meant primarily for subject specific training.

Healthcare technology is a broad and growing field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently classifies over 20 occupations as belonging to the field of healthcare technology with most of them showing better than average job growth expectations from 2010-2020.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in acquiring hands-on or administrative health care skills Individuals seeking to advance to management, education or administration positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) -Health information technician ($36,000)*
-Emergency medical technician ($34,000)*
-Medical assistant ($30,000)*
-Medical and health service manager ($96,000)*
-Health educator ($52,000)*
-Administrative Services Manager ($87,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full time 2-4 years full time
Common Graduation Requirements Internship may be required in certain programs Completion of targeted allied health training courses or modules may be required
Prerequisites -High School GPA and/or SAT or ACT scores within a certain range
-Some schools may require a criminal background check.
Some programs may require applicants to have an associate's degree or have completed a hospital-based training program prior to admission.
Online Availability Some courses might be available online Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Associate's in Healthcare Technology

Healthcare technology is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety ofallied health professions. At the associate's degree level, students can expect to find programs that are highly focused on teaching hands-on patient care, laboratory skills or administrative proficiency. The goal of these programs is to provide students with the technical expertise necessary to perform specific tasks within the healthcare industry (within a short amount of time) while still providing a well-rounded education. While jobs in healthcare continue to grow, changes to healthcare administration may negatively impact some allied health roles.

Pros and Cons


  • Projected overall job growth for healthcare and social services at nearly 14% by the year 2020*
  • This degree offers a wide variety of allied health training options
  • Workers in this field have a variety of work settings to choose from


  • Career advancement in healthcare technology may require returning to school for a bachelor's degree
  • Many states require allied health workers to gain and maintain licensure or certification
  • Higher unemployment rates (7.4% in June 2012) for those with an associate's degree versus a bachelor's degree (4.1% in June 2012)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Unless transfer credit is granted, students must complete general educational courses, such as math, English, science and humanities. The number of required credits may vary from one school to the next. Courses more specific to the major might include the anatomy/physiology, healthcare system, ethics or medical terminology. In addition, associate's degree programs in healthcare technology will ask the student to specialize in one or more allied health specialties.

Students may get to pick from specializations like medical billing and coding, Emergency Medical Technician or phlebotomy. Almost all students will have to choose electives both within their allied health program and as part of their general education requirements.

Online Course Information

Given the hands-on nature of the training required in allied health training, it's not likely that a student would be able to find an entire degree program for healthcare technology online. It is, however, likely that individual courses in the general educational and electives component of the degree program would be available in an online format.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Most allied health occupations have professional organizations that represent students as well as established professionals. These organizations offer conferences, workshops and the opportunity for networking. As a student or entry-level professional, it's important to show employers (or potential employers) that you're up-to-date on trends and technologies in your field. In addition, networking with fellow students or professionals may net job opportunities that aren't advertised elsewhere. The American Medical Association offers information and provides lists (with outbound links) of professional associations under the education section of its website.

Other Degrees

While an associate's degree in healthcare technology provides a comprehensive overview of the field, it's not the only way to enter into allied health work as a paraprofessional. Training for highly specialized work such as a paramedic or in medical billing and coding is available at the associate's degree level. These degrees will have a curriculum whose core courses are structured almost exclusively upon the degree's focus.

For example, an associate's degree in surgical technology would structure its anatomy and physiology courses to suit the needs of a surgical technologist instead of providing a general overview. An associate's degree in health information management might replace certain life science courses with classes on computer applications. Associate's degrees in allied health professions can easily be found at community colleges, hospitals or for profit schools. You'll still be required to take general educational credits and a certain amount of electives.

Bachelor's in Healthcare Technology

Bachelor's degree programs in healthcare technology are primarily for those who have already earned their associate's or have completed the majority of general educational requirements for an undergraduate degree. Bachelor's degree programs in this field tend to focus on broadening a student's knowledge base and expanding their expertise in their chosen allied health field. Designed primarily as a career degree, the bachelor's in healthcare science is most commonly an applied science degree that prepares students to take on managerial, educational or specialist roles in their field of concentration.

Pros and Cons


  • Opens the door to new employment opportunities within the allied health field
  • Expanded expertise in a particular area of allied health
  • Most programs admit students as juniors shortening the time to completion


  • Schools may require students to have completed an associate's degree prior to applying
  • Some states may require licensure to practice certain careers (e.g. practical nurses)
  • Bachelor's degree will cost significantly more (around $12,000) than an associate's*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Courses at this degree level focus on research, life and social sciences, communications, ethics and health information management. Bachelor's degree programs that offer health science concentrations explore the technical skills specific to a particular allied health field. In some programs, a capstone course or final project will be required to graduate.

Many schools offering the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Technology don't admit students who haven't completed an associate's degree or a certain amount of general educational requirements. Because the goal of these programs is to turn out graduates ready to assume leadership or expanded roles, the topics taught will be at an advanced level.

Online Course Information

Some schools do offer the entire program in online and distance education formats. Courses will most likely follow the academic calendar of the school and in certain programs, students may be required to make an in-person visit at least once. Schools whose curriculum includes laboratory classes or classes that teach clinical skills would not offer the entire program online but may instead offer non-clinical classes remotely.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Bachelor's degree programs often lend themselves to student involvement in research projects. Professors and other staff members frequently engage in university based research and have students as assistants. By getting involved, you're not only expanding your understanding of the subject but also adding valuable skills to your resume. Potential employees or grad school applicants who've gone the extra mile and engaged in hands-on work that contributed to the outcome of a professional study may stand out from the crowd to an employer or grad school.

Students completing a program online might benefit from seeking internships, mentorships or volunteer opportunities in their allied health specialty. Many healthcare settings offer opportunities for students to observe, shadow or provide supervised assistance. Hands-on experiences like these add to your resume and show potential employers that you're willing to go the extra mile to learn about the field.

Other Degrees

A Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Technology isn't the only 4-year degree in the field of allied health. Majors such as health information management, sonography, nuclear medicine, nursing or nutrition provide focused study in a specific major. Classes aren't meant to compliment or supplement credentials already earned but rather to teach both allied health skills and prepare students for positions that typically require a bachelor's degree such as management, expanded functions or teaching. These degrees typically take four years to complete, usually require a clinical or internship component and they can be very selective in who they accept as students. The National Center for Education Statistics provides a powerful search tool that can be useful in finding 4-year degree programs with health or allied health majors.

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