The medical field is one of the best places to make a living that you deserve. As a medical assistant you can enter the field in under a year and become a valuable member of any patient health care team. The question you need to answer first, is what type of medical assistant do you wish to be? Before getting to deep, understand that there are three main medical assisting paths you can take, and each will be broken down for you in this article.
While resources will be used to show you earning potential, all medical assistant careers fall under the same heading through BLS.gov. This is an important page to keep an eye on, and though the data is from 2010, the projected growth is important to keep in mind. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants earn $28,860 a year. This is not the case today, as you will learn later in this article. The key piece of information is the job growth, which is 31% from 2010 – 2020. That is much faster than average.
With that out of the way, you should also understand that earning your degree is key to becoming successful. You can enter the field with a high school diploma, but earning a certification or diploma online does not take long, is extremely cost effective and will prepare you for a higher income and more job prospects. As mentioned, you can finish in under a year and certification can be gained quickly through the AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants). All the information you need to know, as well as a handbook that helps you get prepared, is provided through their exam application steps page.
This is the umbrella career that is generally the most common path to pursue. As a medical assistant you will learn both front and back end tasks. This will prepare you to work on the administrative side of the business while also handling the clinical side of the business. You will be more of a jack of all trades instead of a specialized professional, but this is extremely beneficial to employers as you can fill the roles as they are needed. Medical assistants currently earn an average income of about $43,000 (as of this writing) according to indeed.com. This information is the most up to date information available and should be checked again when you read this.
Administrative Medical Assistants
This is one of the two more specialized roles that medical assistants can pursue. Here you will still learn some of the clinical tasks, but your focus will be on administration. This includes work with patient scheduling, insurance billing and coding, checking in patients and making call back and follow up calls. If you have been to a doctor’s office recently, the people that greeted you and helped you with the paperwork when you first arrived are generally administrative medical assistants. As of this writing, those working as medical administrative assistants earn $38,000 a year according to indeed.com.
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Clinical Medical Assistant
This is the other side of the coin in specialization. As a clinical medical assistant you will work with patients much more often than you will on administration. Prep and sterilization of rooms and instruments between visits, taking vitals, discussing treatments and administering medicine are just a few of the specific tasks that you will be undertaking on a daily basis. This specialization also puts you in much closer proximity to working with nurse practitioners, doctors, and other health professionals that treat patients. If you are looking to work more in the clinic, with patients, than you are to working behind the desk in administration, this is the specialization to pursue. It is highly advisable that you earn a certification in this role as many employers will jump at the chance to bring on a certified clinical medical assistant. As of this writing, those that pursue this specialization earn an average income of $42,000 a year according to indeed.com.
More information on Clinical Medical Assistants
Preparing for your Career
You won’t need to make the choice this second as to which program you wish to pursue, but you should have an idea of where you want to go with your education before enrolling. Speaking with advisors at a number of schools (such as those listed here) will help you understand where you would be the most successful. Also consider your school choice as far as upward mobility goes. Find out what continued education plans are available and how likely it is that you will be able to transfer credits. You may be happy working as a medical assistant, or one of the sub specializations, until retirement, but it is always a good idea to have your options open for further advancement.