Medical administrative assistants, which require different training than medical assistants, are also necessary figures in the medical field, supporting doctors and physicians while coordinating medical office operations. In small offices, medical administrative assistants may handle everything from appointment setting and office supplies, to insurance billing and patient records. In larger facilities, medical administrators may devote more time to a specific job function or to executive support (calendar management, travel arrangements, research assistance) for a particular physician.
How do I become a medical assistant?
If you want to pursue your online degree in medical assisting, it’s important to seek out an accredited school with a good success rate for graduates. Because you may be performing clerical or clinical tasks under the supervision of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, you may be able to prepare for a medical assisting career in a year or two.[ii]
Medial assisting certification is optional, but may be preferred by employers.[iii] You may be interested in earning one of 5 certification options, such as Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from the National Healthcareer Association.
How do I pursue a career as a certified medical assistant?
The first step to pursuing a career as a certified medical assistant is to earn a degree or diploma from an accredited medical assistant program. Requirements vary depending on the organization offering the certification, but you’ll probably also have to pass an exam before you can become certified. Administrators in your medical assistant program should be able to tell you exactly what you’ll need to complete in order to achieve certification.
Medical Assistant (MA) vs. Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
It’s possible to become a medical assistant, or MA, without certification. In some states, all you need is a high school diploma to get started working in a doctor’s office or other health care practice. But whether or not certification is required in your state, you’ll likely find that certified medical assistants, or CMAs, are highly preferred.[iv]
What courses do I have to take to become a medical assistant?
If you choose to pursue a medical assistant degree, some courses you may be required to complete are:
Billing and coding
Electronic records management
You will likely work towards learning skill areas such as patient interaction, measuring patients’ vital signs, preparing blood for the lab, and completing administrative tasks.
Medical Assisting Careers and Salary Potential
You have probably seen and interacted with medical assistants each time you’ve been to a doctor’s office or hospital. The career of medical assisting is growing very fast and is projected to keep growing 29% through 2022[v].
These medical assisting career and potential salary outlines will give you a perspective on careers that may be available for medical assisting graduates.
Whether scheduling a patient’s appointment or drawing blood for lab work, it is essential for medical assistants to have a calm and friendly demeanor. An understanding of medical terminology, knowledge of medical billing and coding, and the ability to keep up in a fast-paced environment are also important. Medical Assistants typically work in hospitals or physicians’ offices, and employers typically prefer candidates who are certified.
Median annual salary: $29,370
Job projection through 2022: 29% (much faster than average job growth)
Medical Office Manager[vii]
Medical office managers are responsible for running the office of a healthcare facility such as a hospital, medical center, or physician’s practice. They may be responsible for managing records pertaining to patients and the facility, directing office staff in carrying out administrative tasks, creating schedules, and ensuring that the practice runs smoothly.
Median annual salary: $81,080
Job projection through 2022: 12%
Medical Secretaries keep a physician’s practice or healthcare facility running smoothly, with tasks ranging from taking patient medical histories and transcribing reports to processing insurance payments and notifying patients of lab results. Medical secretaries should understand commonly-used medical terms, hospital and lab procedures, and other aspects of the healthcare field.
Median annual salary: $35,330
Job projection through 2022: 12%
Medical Record Technician[ix]
Medical record technicians ensure the accuracy and accessibility of critical patient information, organize patient files, input and retrieve patient information electronically, assign medical codes to patient procedures for billing purposes, and perform other administrative tasks.
Median annual salary: $34,160
Job projection through 2022: 22% (much faster than average)