Medical assisting is one of the hottest jobs for students to pursue right now. As a fantastic entry-level position for those looking to enter the medical field, or a place to settle in and increase your lot in life, there are plenty of advantages, and no real drawbacks, to pursuing a career as a medical assistant. Just expect a varied and busy work day and be ready to react quickly on your feet.
What do They Do?
Medical assistants complete administrative or clinical tasks in medical offices, usually alongside physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists and other health practitioners. Duties can vary pretty significantly based on location, specialization and employer. The basics are pretty consistent though. You can expect to work on the administrative and clinical side of the aisle and this can change daily. You will schedule appointments, prepare blood for laboratory tests, take patient history and measure vital signs and help with examinations of patients. There is also a big change happening in the field right now which is taking patient history from a paper form to electronic health records, or EHRs.
How do I get There?
There are multiple paths you can take that will let you enter the field as a medical assistant, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you choose what direction is best for you. First, you can simply enter the field and learn on the job. You will simply need a GED. You may also pursue a medical assistant degree program. These are short, and generally won’t put you in debt upon graduation. For example, Penn Foster, offers an online program that is extremely affordable and can be finished in less than a year. You will also qualify to sit for certification exams which will give you an edge in the job market.
Why Study When You Don’t Have To?
This is a very good question, and one that may not be clear at first thought. If you can learn while working, why would you spend the money and invest the time to earn a degree? The simple answer is money. BLS.gov states that the average income of medical assistants is around $28,860 per year, or $13.87 per hour, but doesn’t mention any form of education beyond a high school equivalent. Indeed.com shows medical assistants earning an average income of about $43,000 a year. While there is no solid information about those that report their salary, it stands to reason that medical assistants with a degree and certification earn a higher income than those without. That isn’t the only reason to pursue this path though. You also will find it much easier to enter the field if you have an education.
What are the Job Prospects?
Medical assistants are experiencing a growth in their field that is much faster than the average. BLS.gov reports 31% growth, which is surprisingly fast. Certification is suggested, but not required. Those that earn a degree also have the ability to continue their education towards a higher degree or career path. Generally, with the low prices and short time required, there are few reasons to pass up on an education.
This is a career with plenty of options and plenty of growth potential. You can get started today, or go to school, or do both at the same time. Ultimately, how you pursue your career is up to you, but even with the higher than average growth in the field, the job market is still competitive and you will need to set yourself apart from your peers. Experience and education are the two key factors that employers look at, so bringing both of those to the table will ensure you are viewed highly by your potential employers.