Allergy Technician: Job Description & Requirements
Research the educational and skill requirements needed to become an allergy technician, as well as the job description and employment and salary outlook. Read on to decide if this career is right for you.
An allergy technician is a specialized type of medical assistant who works in allergy medicine. Allergy technicians perform general medical assistant tasks, including appointment setting, taking patients' medical history and vitals, assisting medical staff during examinations and in-office procedures, collecting lab samples, performing basic lab work and preparing examining rooms. Allergist technicians also perform more specialized duties, including allergy tests, pulmonary function and skin tests, speaking with patients about symptom management and preparing medications like allergy serums and injections. Allergist technicians generally work in a medical office setting for a board-certified allergist.
Although some medical assisting jobs require no formal education in the field and mandate only that a candidate hold a high school diploma and complete a period of on-the-job training, competition in the field has made it very difficult for anyone without formal training in the medical field to work as an assistant. In almost all cases, allergy technician positions require that a person hold a 1-year certificate or 2-year associate's degree in medical technology or a related field.
Allergy technicians study anatomy, physiology, pathology, medical ethics, clinical training, medical terminology, insurance processing and pharmacology in the context of medical assisting in general. Depending on the educational institution, specialized courses in allergy medicine and/or immunology may be available. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) advises aspiring medical assistants, including allergy technicians, to look for programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Although most state laws do not require certification of medical assistants, the majority of physicians and allergists prefer to hire individuals with additional qualifications. Medical assistants may choose to be certified by one or more of four institutions: the AAMA offers a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam, the American Medical Technologists offers the title of Registered Medical Assistant, the National Center for Competency Testing has a National Certified Medical Assistant examination, and the designation of Certified Clinical Medical Assistant is offered by the National Healthcareer Association. Formal education is only required for the CMA certification exam.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that allergy technicians need the following qualities:
- Ability to prioritize multiple tasks at once
- Good communication skills with both patients and coworkers
- Outstanding reading, writing and organization skills
- Detail-oriented personality
- Sense of responsibility and compassion
- Creative thinking and problem-solving skills to help determine the cause of unusual allergic reactions
Employment and Salary Outlook
Medical assistants who work in allergy medicine like allergy technicians can expect favorable job opportunities in the future. The BLS reported that the employment of medical assistants was expected to grow 31% from 2010-2020. The median salary of medical assistants is $29,370, as reported by the BLS in May 2012.
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