Here’s Why More People Are Choosing to Become a Medical Assistant

Not all jobs within the medical world require years of education or thousands of dollars. Some, like medical assistants, can put you to work in just one year.

Medical assistant jobs are booming, and here's why you should join this rapidly growing field.

What is a Medical Assistant? 

Medical assistants are entry-level health care professionals who provide administrative and clerical support across a variety of healthcare settings. Some medical assistants focus solely on administrative tasks like processing medical bills and scheduling appointments. Others focus solely on clerical duties like collecting patient samples and taking vitals. Some pull double duty by covering both areas. 

Why would someone opt to become a medical assistant instead of going to school to become a nurse or doctor? There are many advantages to becoming a medical assistant, including: 

How to Become a Medical Assistant

As far as becoming a medical assistant goes, it’s easier than you probably think. Here’s a basic rundown of what to expect. 

First, you’ll need to complete an accredited training program. Although some employers don’t require medical assistants to be certified, the vast majority do. To become certified, you’ll need to complete an accredited medical assistant training program. The right program will be accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or CAAHEP, or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, or ABHES. Two-year associate’s degree programs are available too and may be advisable for those who want to move into more advanced roles later.

Once your education is complete, you’ll need to gain clinical experience. Many accredited training programs incorporate clinical training. Some require you to find your own internship or externship to complete the program. Even if clinical training isn’t required by your program, you should seek it out independently to put your training to work before officially entering the workforce.

Lastly, you’ll want to consider getting officially certified. To sit for a medical assistant certification exam, you need to have completed an accredited training program or be able to demonstrate that you have enough relevant work experience. The most common certification, Certified Medical Assistant, or CMA, is issued by the American Association of Medical Assistants, or AAMA. The National Healthcare Association, or NHA, offers Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, or CCMA, and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant, or CMAA, certifications.

How Much Can I Earn? 

Becoming a medical assistant is a great investment, especially when you consider the minimal training and educational requirements. These professionals enjoy competitive pay across the country. According to the BLS², the median annual wage for medical assistants as of May 2017 was $32,480, or $15.61 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned $23,830 per year, or $11.46 per hour; the highest 10 percent earned $45,900 per year, or $22.07 per hour. 

Salaries for medical assistants also vary by work environment. Here are some examples: 

Jobs in This Field 

As stated previously, the medical assistant field is expected to grow by 29 percent between 2016 and 2026. This means that more than 183,900 new medical assistant jobs will be added during that time. These jobs span many specializations, so becoming a medical assistant is a great way to become qualified for a number of healthcare positions. Some examples include: 

How to Become a Medical Assistant

As you can see, there isn’t too much time or financial investment involved in becoming a certified medical assistant. Given the competitive pay, job security and opportunities for advancement, you’re sure to find that the investment is more than worth it.

Still, there are hundreds of training programs around the country, and it’s important to find the right one. Likewise, there’s a variety of certifications for medical assistants, and it pays to figure out which ones are right for you. Therefore, plan on doing quite a bit of research before officially starting on this career path.

Like anything, it's always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind..