Allergy Technician

Many people suffer from allergies which cause a multitude of symptoms including stuffy or runny nose, scratchy sore throat, sneezing, coughing, itchy, sticky eyes, hives, skin rash, headache, or anaphylaxis, a severe life-threatening medical condition. Allergic reactions occur when the body overreacts to what it perceives as a foreign substance. The immune system releases chemicals known as histamines into the bloodstream in an effort to fight off the invader. This creates the allergic response, and each of the accompanying symptoms.

Job Description

Allergy technicians work as medical assistants in allergy medicine. They must perform medical tasks, which include:

Setting appointments
Taking patient medical histories and vital signs
Assisting staff during patient examinations and any in-office procedures
Collecting samples for lab testing
Performing basic lab work
Preparing examining rooms
Administering allergy tests, skin tests, and pulmonary function tests
Talking with patients about managing symptoms
Preparing medications including allergy serums and injections

Most allergy technicians work in a medical office with a board-certified allergist.

Educational Requirements

While some medical assistant positions only require a high school diploma and a period of on the job training, competition for allergy technician positions makes it very difficult to obtain employment without more formal certification. Allergy technicians can expect to obtain:

1-year certificate or
2-year associate’s degree in medical technology, (or related field)

Courses include: anatomy, physiology, pathology, medical ethics, clinical training, medical terminology, insurance processing and pharmacology as it relates to medical assisting in general. Allergy technicians may also study specialized courses in allergy medicine and immunology.

* The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) advises allergy technician programs be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Certification Requirements

Although the majority of states do not require certification for medical assistants in general, most physicians and allergists prefer to hire those with additional qualifications. Allergy technicians may be certified by one or more of four institutions in medical assistance: the AAMA which offers a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam, the American Medical Technologists which offers the title of Registered Medical Assistant, the National Center for Competency Testing which offers a National Certified Medical Assistant examination, and the designation of Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, offered by the National Health career Association. Specific, formal education is required only for the CMA certification examination.

Required Skills

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) allergy technicians must be able to:

Prioritize multiple tasks at one time
Communicate well with both patients and coworkers
Read, write, and organize well
Be detail-oriented
Be responsible and compassionate
Think creatively/problem solve to help determine the cause of unusual
allergic reactions

Employment and Salary Outlook

The employment outlook for allergy technicians is excellent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with expected growth of 31% between 2010-2020. As reported by the BLS in May 2012, the median salary for allergy technicians was $29,370.

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