Being a medical assistant is a relatively young profession now recognized as essential in ensuring smooth operation in any medical practice enabling doctors and nurses to do their jobs without fail.

Education and Training required

To be a medical assistant, you need to complete a 9-12 month vocational medical assistant course after high school.  But be sure the school you attend is accredited by either by the ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools) or the CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs), both of which are recognized by the American Association of Medical Assistants which make it easy for you to take certification should you decide to take that option.

A graduate can pass an optional Certification for Medical Assistant (CMA) exam administered throughout the year by the AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants) and is the most common mode of medical assistant certification.

Getting the Job

It’s among the fastest growing in the medical and healthcare industries, expected to grow at 35% from 2006 to 2016.  That means you can expect no difficulty finding a job vacancy over the period. You can find work as a medical assistant n any hospital or clinic without certification.   But increasingly more employers prefer a certification which gives greater edge in employability, earning potential and career advancement.

Working Conditions

Employed medical assistants can be assigned as a clerical/administrative medical assistant who does the paper work, correspondences, schedule patient appointment, organize office filing system, schedule, collate and send lab results to patients and arrange hospital admissions and ambulances; or a clinical medical assistant who can work on specific clinic types such as an optometric assistant who assists in eye exams, a podiatric assistant who make leg castings or a medical lab assistant involved in collecting and documenting test specimens.

Salary and Benefits

The annual median salary for the job is around $27,000 while seasoned medical assistants earn up to $35,600 on average.  Experience, the state and the specific employer and industry determine compensation. Maine pays about $28,700, while New Jersey gives $36,000.  Dental clinics offer the highest at $34,800 followed by hospitals at $30,700 with the lowest in private general physician’s clinics at $28,000.