The Different Paths to Becoming a Medical Assistant

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

The Different Paths to Becoming a Medical Assistant

If you are looking for an exciting and rewarding job in the medical field, a career as a medical assistant may be for you! 

Medical assistants work under a physician’s direction, assisting with medical procedures and practices. They typically work in clinics, outpatient centers, hospitals, or ambulatory care facilities.  Medical assistants have an array of responsibilities, including collecting patient’s medical history, giving injections, sterilizing medical supplies, recording patient vital signs, assisting with patient exams, assisting with medical billing, and scheduling appointments.

This year has highlighted the importance of medical professionals, and many medical centers and hospitals are hiring more support staff, including medical assistants. Further, wages, job security, and career benefits are continuously increasing. 

There are different paths to becoming a medical assistant. When you choose the path for you, it is important to keep in mind that medical assistant salaries can vary significantly. Typically, more education, experience, and certification will open more doors, with higher-paying medical assistant jobs. 

If you are considering a career as a medical assistant, continue reading to learn more about the different paths available to you.

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Obtain on-the-job training

In many states, it is possible to obtain a job as a medical assistant and receive training on the job. This job can provide an income, training, and experience. That said, many medical assistant jobs require previous work experience in a medical setting. These are also often entry-level positions.

Become certified

The National Healthcare Association (NHA) certifies graduates from medical assisting programs. In order to take the exam, you must meet one of the following three requirements:

  • You are a recent graduate from an accredited program.
  • You are a nonrecent graduate who has completed an accredited medical assisting program more than 12 months ago.
  • You have previously passed the CMA Certification Exam and is looking to recertify.

Technical training programs

Training programs may be offered through technical training schools. The time it takes to complete one of these programs depends on the school. These are not accredited programs; however, they may help you get an entry level position if on your resume.  

Online education

Many online training programs provide basic training and offer a more flexible and convenient schedule. Some may allow you to complete the program on a part-time or full-time basis, allowing you to work simultaneously. Although these programs can provide basic education on medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology, they lack the hands-on experience and practical skills training that is received with in-person training like an Associate of Science in Medical Assisting program.

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Medical Assistant Diploma 

A medical assistant diploma program will provide you will the skills and education for an entry level position as a medical assistant. A medical assistant school in Tennessee like the one at Genesis Career College provides a combination of hands-on training as well as classwork to properly prepare you for your new career. Acquiring a medical assistant diploma allows you to work in the healthcare field without having to complete many years of expensive schooling.

Associate of Science in Medical Assisting 

An Associate of Science in Medical Assisting program is the most comprehensive program. An associate degree could prepare you to take the National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam. When you complete a program like this, you could have both national certification and an Associate of Science degree.

As you can see, there are many different paths to becoming a medical assistant. When you are considering which route is best for you, think about the place you want to work and look into their hiring requirements. Researching the medical assistant job requirements in your area will help guide your decision. Next, you will need to look into the requirements of the training program you need. As you can see from the list above, there are different education and work requirements for many of these.  Regardless of the path you choose, there are plenty of opportunities for those who pursue a career as a medical assistant.