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How to Become a Medical Assistant

medical assistant

How to Become a Medical Assistant

Are you interested in entering a career in the medical field? If so, you might want to consider a position as a medical assistant.

These individuals work closely with doctors and other medical professionals, handling both clinical and administrative tasks, and keep doctor’s offices, medical clinics, and hospitals running smoothly and efficiently.

The job description of a medical assistant varies greatly depending on the office or clinic he or she is employed with. Some may be required to perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, maintaining medical records, scheduling patients, filing recordings, and typing up letters and bills for patients.

Others may be required to perform more clinical aspects, such as:

  • Applying bandages
  • Examining patients
  • Taking patient’s vital signs and assessing their height and weight
  • Running basic laboratory tests
  • Recording patient medical histories

In some clinics and offices, medical assistants may be required to assist doctors with a mixture of both administrative and clinic duties, or they may perform certain tasks exclusively

Educational Requirements for Becoming a Medical Assistant

In order to become a medical assistant, you must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Many are trained on-the-job, however, most employers prefer to work with and hire medical assistants who have graduated from formal training programs. Many technical schools offer one-year programs for students wishing to become medical assistants, resulting in either a diploma or certificate.

Associate’s degrees in medical assisting can also be obtained from many community colleges. During one of these two-year programs, students will take classes in medical ethics, medical terminology, anatomy, clinical procedures, laboratory techniques, and first aid.

Certification is available to medical assistant who complete their training from one of the 350 programs approved by CAAHEP, or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

This certification can be obtained through the American Medical Technologists or the American Association of Medical Assistants. While certification is not necessary in most states for employment, it can give medical assistants more of a professional standing, helping them obtain the job they want and the pay they deserve.

Salary and Benefits for Medical Assistants

According to, the average annual salary for a medical assistant is $29, 764. Those in the lowest 10th percentile earn about $24,702, while those in the highest 10th percentile earn about $35, 082. Salary varies, depending on education, years of experience, and required duties.

Along with a nice salary, medical assistants can expect to earn specific fringe benefits from their employer.

Some of these benefits may be:

  • Health Insurance
  • Vision and Dental Insurance
  • Paid Vacation and Sick Days
  • Retirement Plan
  • 401k Matching
  • Disability
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Paid Continuing Education
  • Discounts on Medical Treatment

How to Become a Medical Assistant

If you are interested in becoming a medical assistant, joining this exciting and in-demand field is not very difficult.

Here are a few basic steps you need to take:

  1. Learn as much as you can about medical assisting so you can determine if it is the right career choice for you.
  2. Apply to a community college or vocational school and earn your degree or certificate. You will have a much easier time finding employment and earning a decent salary if you have formal training than you would with just a high school diploma.
  3. Take the national test for certification. Again, while this may not be required in your area, it will help you stand out from the crowd and make finding employment easier. To take the CMA exam (certified medical assist exam,) you must graduate from a CAAHEP approved program and apply to take the exam. There will be a fee for taking the exam, though some employers will reimburse you for the expense.
  4. Find the position that is right for you. Not all locations will offer great pay and benefits- these vary by state and local economic circumstances. You must also remember that the duties for medical assistant vary with each clinic or office, so make sure to find out what your daily tasks will be at each location you apply.

Are you ready to become a medical assistant? This exciting and rewarding area of the health care field can provide you with the income you need, as well as a sense of real accomplishment at the end of every day.

What are you waiting for? Take steps toward earning your degree today!