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How to Become a Medical Assistant

Medical Assistants are the backbone of any medical practice, hospital department or other health care facility. The health industry relies heavily on paperwork, either conventional or electronic in nature, as well as appointments, tests and follow- up billing.

While doctors and nurses treat patients and handle the medical side of health care, a Medical Assistant is there to handle virtually everything else. Without these hardworking health professionals, the industry could not run smoothly, and patients would not receive the care that they need.

Those who become MAs (Medical Assistants) will work in variety of specializations, depending upon their work environment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies two major categories of MAs: Administrative medical assistants and Clinical medical assistants. As the titles indicate, the duties of each will either be more heavily office related, or more heavily medically focused.

Medical Assistants help keep the offices of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other facilities operating efficiently. They do this by working with patients in the initial rounds of testing at visits, asking questions and administering procedures for checking vital signs.

Work as a Medical Assistant can be part time or full time.

Medical Assistants have the choice of undertaking training in the workplace or enrolling in a 1 or 2 year degree program. The only true requirement is a high school diploma. But there are schools that offer MA programs, either for a certificate or an associate’s degree.A Medical Assistant also deals with the schedule of appointments, and billing.

Certification is obtained via either the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the Association of Medical Technologists (AMT).

The curriculum of the Medical Assistant education programs will cover both administrative areas and medical topics. An internship program, as part of a degree program can also give you valuable experience in Medical Assistant work.

To advance as far as possible as a Medical Assistant, you can take the Certified Medical Assistant exam, accredited by the American Association of Medical Assistants  (AAMA). The computer based exams can be taken at one of three times per year, once you have completed a training or degree program. Exam fees range from $90-$170.

The American Medical Technologists Certification or AMTC also offers an exam. This exam qualifies you for becoming a registered medical assistant. Five years of experience is required before sitting this exam.

What about the average Medical Assistant Salary? The entry level salary is usually not very high. Recently it as reported at a mere $28,300. Those with experience however, or those who work in hospitals, can hope to earn up to $39,000 per year.

The Medical Assistant Salary, as it relates to experience, is illustrated here:


Job prospects for Medical Assistants look pretty good over the next few years, with growth of 34 percent predicted. Each year, new health care facilities are built, with new procedures being implemented. All of these will require administrative and clinical support from Medical Assistants. The growth of the overall healthcare industry, along with technological advancement, will ensure that your career as a Medical Assistant will be around for a long time.

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