National Careers Week

How to Become an Allied Health Professional

Deciding on a career path can be a difficult choice. If you are considering a career in healthcare, there are many different options available, and different routes to get to the same profession. This article will provide you with some details on how to become an Allied Health Professional.

What are Allied Health Professions?

Allied Health Professions are a group of different professions that support the delivery of health and social care. They are responsible for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of people to maintain their optimum health.

Allied Health Professionals work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, out in the community, prisons, charities, care homes, to name a few.

Allied Health Professions

There are 14 different professions, and while each profession has their own specific expertise, they may work together as a multidisciplinary team to deliver the best care. The 14 professions include Art therapists, Dietitians, Dramatherapists, Music therapists, Occupational therapists, Operating department practitioners, Orthoptists, Osteopaths, Paramedics, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Prosthetists / Orthotists, Radiographers which can either be a Diagnostic radiographer or Therapeutic radiographer, and Speech and Language therapists.

Our Roles

What is the Salary for an Allied Health Professional?

The yearly salary for an Allied Health Professional can vary and is dependent on the level of experience and the qualifications that you have.  The salary structure of the NHS is divided into nine pay bands.  The salary of an allied health support worker can start at band 2 or band 3 of the pay scale. As you gain more experience and obtain relevant qualifications, you can progress through the pay scale on to Band 8. The NHS pay rates can be found on their website.

How do I become an Allied Health Professional?

To become a registered Allied Health Professional, you will need a degree that is relevant to the profession. There are different ways to achieve this:


Apprenticeships can provide a structured pathway to become a registered Allied Health Professional. There are four levels of apprenticeships available which include level 2 apprenticeships – equivalent to 5 GCSEs at 9-4 (A*-C), through to level 6 or 7 apprenticeships – equivalent to a degree or a Masters degree.

When on a degree apprenticeship programme, you can study at university alongside your job as a support worker. Your employer (such as an NHS Trust) will fund the degree apprenticeship and allow you the time away from your role to study.  Many people apply for support roles such as Occupational Therapy Assistants, or Dietetic Assistants; after gaining some experience in the role, they will then apply for the degree apprenticeship.

Study at university for a degree (undergraduate)

Many universities offer degree courses for specific Allied Health Professional careers.  Most degree courses are completed in 3-4 years when studied full-time, or up to 6 years if part-time options are available.

University degrees often involve attending lectures and seminars on a range of topics. You then get the opportunity to put any skills or knowledge that you have gained into practice on placements. You may spend time at different locations, totalling up to 800-1000 hours of practice-based learning. Placements could be based in a hospital, or other areas where the professional role is emerging. This course finder can help you find a university course that is suitable for you.

Study at university for a Masters degree (postgraduate)

If you have already completed a degree, and wish to change direction, you can study for a Masters degree as an accelerated course in your chosen profession. Masters degree courses typically take 2 years as a full time student, or up to 4 years as a part time student, depending on the course chosen.

Masters degrees are similar to undergraduate degrees.  You will attend university lectures and seminars, gaining the skills and knowledge needed before going on a series of placements. Placements could be 2-13 weeks long and take place in various settings such as hospitals or even voluntary organisations. This course finder can help you find a course that is suitable for you.

How do the different routes compare?

We asked students that are on different routes to becoming and Allied Health Professional. Here is what they had to say.

Amber and Mary are Occupational Therapy Assistants and studying on a degree apprenticeship.

“Why did you choose Occupational Therapy?”

Amber – I have always wanted to work in mental health, I enjoy engaging people, giving them the opportunities they wouldn’t usually have. When I saw the Occupational Therapy Assistant role in this area, I applied.

Mary –  I initially wanted to be a Music Therapist, but when I became an activity coordinator, I felt that residents might prefer other activities, and not just music. This is why I wanted to broaden my opportunities. I considered a Masters degree but given the funding, and that I had a house, the apprenticeship felt a better option.   

 “Could you give any thoughts or details about the apprenticeship route?”

Mary – I get a great experience by working with Occupational Therapists. I will also have 8 hours as non-working hours for learning each week. Here, I could write assignments or do some shadowing to learn the role of an Occupational Therapist. I would then have a week at university. There are also four placements to complete over three years.

Amber – Occupational Therapy is a varied profession, and the placements are varied in their scope. You need to be able to dip your toe in each area to help decide on where you want to go when you qualify.

“What advice would you give to anyone considering their options?”

Amber – Try to get hands on experience; it could be different to how you expect it to be.

Mary – Explore different options; understand what each profession does, don’t assume.


Rachel is a student, studying MSc. In Dietetics.

“Why did you choose Dietetics?”

Rachel – Dietetics was always an option that I have considered, but there weren’t many Dietetic courses available, and courses were difficult to get on to. I completed a BSc. degree in Nutrition and followed a career in food technology. I decided to come back to Dietetics at a later point.

“What are the benefits of studying on the Masters degree route?”

Rachel – The Masters degree course is a fast-track programme, and so I will complete it much quicker than an undergraduate course, or through an apprenticeship route.  My local university runs an MSc. Dietetics course, so it is easy to travel to, and I can spend more time with my family.

“What would you say to someone that is considering the Masters degree route?”

Rachel – it’s hard to know what you want to do for your career, and its okay to keep your options open. Doing a degree in a different area has given me a broad range of knowledge and skills which has helped me during my MSc. degree.

Want to learn more?

Interested in finding out more about the various Allied Health Professions? Take a look at our frequently asked questions page to help answer any further questions you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions