Medical Assistant – MA Career Guide

Debra Riley


Welcome to our main Medical Assistant Guide covering everything you need to know about this career. This article will deal with the role and training required for a medical assistant MA or Certified Medical Assistant CMA.

A medical assistant’s job is to help health professionals. They may work in clinics, hospitals, and medical offices. Their responsibility is to help ensure that medical offices continue to work smoothly.

They get to interact with patients and ensure that provide doctors and health administrators with an extra set of hands. They can also be known as Certified Medical Assistants CMA.

Medical Assistant vs CNA Certified Nursing Assistant

Because the terms sound quite similar students often get confused – what is the difference between a Medical Assistant and a Nursing Assistant?

MA’s primarily work under direct supervision of Doctors, registered nurses and even LPN’s. Although both careers overlap somewhat, a CNA nursing assistant will work more directly with patient care. Medical assistants will be more focused on assessing and evaluating patients and then assisting doctors in the patient’s care.

What Are the Education Requirements?

The only qualification you need to be a medical assistant is a high school diploma and a passion for the job. The profession is not certified by your State. You may, however, need other credentials if you want to get into specialized duties such as phlebotomy and x-rays.

Obtaining a certification helps a medical assistant to appear more qualified for their job. It is also wise to gain some experience to increase chances of employment. You may get experience by taking part in a voluntary national certification process.

The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the America Association of Medical Assistants is the most common certification for medical assistants.

Where Do They Work?

One of the best things about being a medical assistant is that you can work in a wide range of healthcare settings. Some of them include:

  • Outpatient Centers
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance Carriers
  • Research Centers
  • Schools, Colleges or Universities
  • Nursing Care Facilities
medical assistant guide

What do Medical Assistants Do?

The main duties of a medical assistant vary depending on where they work. Those that work in small practices may have fewer duties than those who work in bigger ones. The following are some of their common responsibilities:

Clinical Responsibilities

  • Recording the medical histories of patients
  • Performing laboratory tests
  • Preparing laboratory specimen
  • Informing patients about their medical procedures and getting them ready for examination
  • Administering medication with the help of a doctor
  • Taking electrocardiograms
  • Administrative Responsibilities
  • Answering telephones
  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Bookkeeping
  • Filling in patient records
  • Planning admissions

Medical Assistant Salary & Employment

Being a medical assistant offers many opportunities for employment. It is one of the fastest growing employment areas. The following are some of the reasons why the demand for medical assistants is on a steady increase.

  • Technological Advancement
  • An increase in the number of outpatient clinics
  • An increase in the number of baby boomers seeking medical treatment

MA Salary

The salaries of medical assistants vary depending on where a medical assistant works. This is because there are plenty of industries that need their services. However, the average salary for a medical assistant is $31,540 annually.

The highest paid medical assistants earn an average of $45,310 and the lowest paid earn $22,870.The career is expected to develop by 29% from 2016 to 2026. It is much higher than the national average.

If you would like to work in healthcare, consider working as a medical assistant. The job security and employment benefits are great and it is a very fulfilling job. The job of a medical assistant has a direct impact on the lives of patients and their loved ones. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over 160, 000 jobs will be created from 2012 to 2022.

Some of the employment benefits for medical assistants include; retirement benefits, vacation pay, health insurance, and more.

How to Become a Medical Assistant

Becoming a medical assistant is not difficult. There are plenty of ways to get into the profession. One of them is to start working and gain the experience and knowledge you need on the job. Other options include hybrid programs, on-campus training, and online training.

Even though you can become a medical assistant with your high school diploma, getting certification makes you a better candidate for the job. Get your certification from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). It may also be accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

On-the-Job Training

If you would like to get into the field immediately, this is your best option. It allows you to start working and earning money as you acquire training and education to become a medical assistant. It can, however, be difficult to find a job if you do not have any training or experience.

The option is great if you are a dedicated and fast learner. You must have a GED or high school diploma. You need to find a physician or medical professional that is willing to help you learn as you work.

Formal Training From Accredited Programs

You may choose this option if you are willing to get your training from an accredited college or university. The level of education you choose to get depends on what you want. You may earn a certificate or diploma in 12 months or less and an associate’s degree in 24 months or less.

On-Campus MA Training Programs

These programs allow you to get the training you need to be a medical assistant in a traditional campus setting. You can attend classes at specified times including during the day or evening. This option is great because you get your structure in a structured learning environment. You also get the chance to interact with other students.

Online Training Programs

If you do not have the time to get on-campus training, online training programs are a great option. The flexibility of this option allows you to continue with your job and family responsibilities. You can complete your studies from wherever you are. The option gives you access to plenty of online resources. It, however, leaves very little room for personal interaction.

Hybrid Training Programs

These programs combine on-campus training with online training. It is a great option if you want to enjoy online training as well as some training on campus. It also combines interaction with other students and teachers while also allowing access to online resources.

Certification allows you to get a good salary. To be eligible for a CMA exam, you need to complete your training from an accredited school. Once you get the necessary accreditation, it is time to find a job.

The secret is to apply with a lot of medical practitioners and doctor’s offices. Do not limit your search since the profession allows you to work in plenty of practices. You should be willing to work in small practices when you are starting your career.

Career Advancement

The job of a medical assistant continues to change as they grow and gain experience. There are plenty of paths for them to take depending on individual interests. If, for example, a medical assistant is interested in record keeping, they can become a health information technician. It is also possible to become a nurse or physician assistant if they get more education.

Medical Assistant Resources

The American Association of Medical Assistants

Commission on Accreditation

The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)