Learn how to become a medical assistant. Find information on programs, training, certification, job growth and salary. View popular medical assisting schools that prepare students for careers as medical assistants.
Those interested in becoming medical assistants may enroll in a career diploma, certificate, or associate degree program. A career diploma may be completed in a few months and may provide students with the fundamentals of medical care. A certificate may take one to two years to complete, and it may provide the skills needed to use medical equipment, provide injections, and assist in a medical office. An associate degree may take two years to complete, and it may provide individuals with the training they need to take and record vital signs, record patient’s histories, and maintain medical charts. Popular medical assisting courses may include the following:
- Medical Transcription
- Clinical Procedures Theory
- Anatomy and Physiology
While some employers may provide on-the-job training, medical assistant employment opportunities may require the completion of a formal training program. These programs may provide students with pertinent skills such as professional communication and office management. Training programs may also prepare individuals for medical assistant certification examinations. Towards the completion of medical assistant programs, students may be required to complete an externship which provides hands-on experience in a medical environment.
License & Certification
Graduates of an online medical assistant program may have the opportunity to sit for a certification examination given by the American Association of Medical Assistants. This exam is typically given three times a year to those who recently completed an accredited medical assistant program. This certification, while not required, may be beneficial because certified medical assistants may have greater job options than those who are not. The certification must be renewed every five years.
Job Outlook & Salary
Medical assistants may seek employment opportunities in hospitals, physician’s offices, elder care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and surgical centers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for those pursuing a career as a medical assistant are projected to increase by 31% from 2010-2020. This increase may be due to the rapidly aging population who require frequent medical procedures and tests. The BLS reported that medical assistants earn a median salary of $29,370 and an hourly wage of $14.12 as of 2012.