Explore Medical Assisting Programs & Careers

Basics of Becoming a Medical Assistant

Have you always wanted to have important responsibilities in the medical field? Medical assisting is a fast-growing career[i] that may allow you to be a crucial part of a medical team, working with physicians as well as patients. Other important responsibilities of medical assistants may include taking patient history and vitals, assisting the doctor with exams, giving injections, preparing blood for lab tests, or scheduling appointments.

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.

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.

Is an Online Medical Assisting PROGRAM FOR YOU?

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.


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.(i)


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 2026 (i).

These medical assisting career and potential salary outlines will give you a perspective on careers that may be available for medical assisting graduates.

Medical Assistants (i)

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 Salary: $32,480 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 29% (Much faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Medical Transcriptionists (ii)

edical transcriptionists, sometimes referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. They also may review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology. Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.

  • Median Salary: $32,250 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: -3% (Decline)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians (iii)

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 Salary: $39,180 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 13% (Faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

(i) bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm | (ii) bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm | (iii) bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm