Medical assistance might be your best career if you wish to work in the healthcare industry without a college degree.
Medical assistance is one of the only careers in the field of healthcare that only requires you to complete your high school diploma or a GED to enter the workforce.
Employers, however, highly prefer candidates that undergo medical assistant training and obtain certifications. Although gaining certification is not required in most states, Washington does require medical assistants to be certified.
There are three main ways of gaining your medical assistant training and certification. Let’s discuss more about these in detail.
Also read: What is a Medical Assistant?
What Are The Educational Requirements For Becoming a Medical Assistant?
Generally, there are no educational requirements needed to become a medical assistant apart from completing your high school diploma or a GED.
For high school graduates who want to start working right away, there are medical assistant jobs that offer on-the-job training. (Although in 2023, it’s challenging to find such employment)
While medical assistants help physicians in providing care to patients, their responsibilities are limited to tasks that do not require special training or cause harm to the patients if done incorrectly.
Medical assistants are always under the supervision of physicians, and they confirm with the physician before performing any invasive procedure or administering medication. They do not make any significant decisions regarding patient care.
Due to the essential nature of their tasks, medical assistants can enter the field with only a high school diploma and receive training on the job. Completing a medical assistant program and obtaining certification usually takes 4 to 6 months.
Does Having Formal Medical Assistant Education Help Your Career?
While earning a medical assistant certification is not considered to be necessary, it is understandable why most employers prefer hiring those who are already certified.
Medical assistants need to have a good understanding of taking vital signs, basic terminology, and the ability to perform basic tasks without too much supervision.
Working in the healthcare industry is a significant responsibility, and patients need to trust that their medical assistant can provide them with safe and efficient care.
Getting certified can provide medical assistants with the confidence they need to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities and meet the expectations of both their employers and patients.
Certified medical assistants have more job opportunities and are more competitive in the job market. Many employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants because they know that they have met specific standards and have the skills necessary to perform the job.
Additionally, certified medical assistants often earn a higher salary than those who are not certified, and they are more likely to receive promotions and opportunities for career advancement. So, getting certified as a medical assistant can be a wise investment in your career.
Also read: CMA vs CNA
Types of Medical Assistant Training Available
1. Associate’s Degree-
Duration: 2 Years
Cost: $10,000 to $30,000
An associate’s degree earned from a technical university or college is usually considered the best option due to its comprehensive nature. The typical duration for such programs is two years.
A longer course duration allows you to obtain advanced education and brush up on your skill set before applying for medical assistant jobs.
Even though earning an associate’s degree is likely to spruce up your resume and enter this ever-growing field, it comes with a significant con: High Enrollment Cost.
Associate degree programs are the most expensive option out of the three. The total costs of such a degree can range from approximately $10,000 to $30,000, which increases the probability of taking student loans.
Another disadvantage is the amount of time it takes. It takes two years to complete the program, where you must attend classes on a schedule and drive to the campus daily. Traveling, accommodation & lifestyle expenses should also be considered before enrolling in an associate degree program.
See more on: Is Medical Assistant Degree Required?
2. Diploma or Certification Programs-
Duration: 6 Months to 1 Year
Cost: $8000 to $10,000
Many community colleges offer a diploma program, ranging from 6 months to 12 months.
A medical assistant diploma from a community college is considered to be faster than an associate’s degree, as they take approximately half the time. The enrollment cost is also significantly lower, ranging from roughly $8000 to $10,000.
Diploma programs are faster to complete, and you avoid the additional classes typically found in a degree program.
Such programs help individuals grasp the fundamental concepts and basic skills required in the field of medical assistance much faster.
This eventually makes way for a quicker entry into the medical assisting field.
See more: Medical Assistant Degree vs Certificate
3. Online Certification programs-
Duration: 3 to 9 Months
Cost: $1200 to $4000
Taking online courses or programs for medical assistance is the most recommended, cheapest, most convenient, and quickest way to gain the required skills and enter the workforce as a medical assistant.
Some programs can be completed in 4 months. However, an accredited program that prepares you for the career can take 4 to 9 months to complete.
Since these classes are online and pre-recorded, you can pace yourself according to your preference and time. An online, self-paced program has no set schedules, timetables, or extra costs such as traveling.
It is highly recommended to ensure that the program you’re enrolling in is accredited. Picking an online medical assistant program is recommended since you gain the skills and knowledge required to enter the medical assisting field in half the time compared to other programs.
Read more: Medical Assistant Programs Cost
Once you start your career and gain experience working as a Medical Assistant, you can choose to evolve your career. Medical Assistants are known to upgrade into professions like Registered Nurses, physicians allied health professionals, and so on.
Some online courses connect you with potential employers and help you find a job after you complete the course.
Also see: Medical Assistant On-the-Job Training
How Does One Become a Medical Assistant?
The steps toward becoming a medical assistant are not that difficult. However, there are some minimum requirements and steps you will need to follow if you want to know how to become a medical assistant, such as-
1. Obtaining your high school diploma or a GED
The minimum requirement needed to set foot in the field of medical assistance is to obtain your high school diploma or a GED.
2. Choose a proper education or training program
After obtaining your high school diploma, you must also complete a medical assistant program. There are three main methods of achieving your medical assistant training program, and choosing an online training program is highly recommended.
3. Obtain your certification
After you decide on your program or certification course of choice and sit for and clear your certification exams, you can obtain your certification and become a certified medical assistant. The two main types of certificates available are the CCMA and the RMA certifications.
Read more on: Certified Clinical Medical Assistants (CCMA)
4. Apply for jobs and start your career!
After you have completed all the above-mentioned steps, you can start looking and applying for medical assistant jobs online or by visiting various offices and jumpstarting your career in medical assistance.
Also read: Where Can Medical Assistants Work?
Do You Want To Become a Medical Assistant? Check Out Free Medical Assistant Masterclass!
In our masterclass you learn:
- How to be a medical assistant faster…in just 4 months!
- Avoid student debt & driving to classes
- #1 thing employers want from Medical Assistants
- How to stand-apart & get a university certificate for a strong resume
Do I need to attend college to become a medical assistant?
While a college degree is not required to become a medical assistant, completing a medical assisting program at a vocational school or community college can be beneficial as it can provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the role.
However, it is possible to become a medical assistant with just a high school diploma or GED and obtain certification through one of the certification exams.
Do I need to be certified to become a medical assistant?
While certification is not required in most states, employers highly recommend and prefer it. However, in Washington State, all medical assistants are required to be certified by the state to practice.
Some conditions may also have specific requirements for certain tasks, such as administering injections or drawing blood, which may require certification or training in that specific area.
Read more on: Are Medical Assistant Licenses Required?
Is it hard to become a medical assistant?
Becoming a medical assistant can be achievable with dedication and effort, but it does require a certain level of discipline and commitment to complete the necessary training and become proficient in the job.
Also see: Is Medical Assistant a Good Career?
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