3 Steps to Becoming a Medical Assistant

Interested in becoming a medical assistant? Follow these three steps to start your healthcare career.

Medical assisting is one of the fastest growing jobs in healthcare, with employment expected to increase by 29 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those who are interested in a healthcare career, a degree in medical assisting offers one of the fastest paths to entry-level roles in the field.

As healthcare organizations work to accommodate a growing patient population, medical assistants are becoming an increasingly vital part of the healthcare team. They help support physicians and registered nurses (RNs) in providing care for patients and also perform administrative and clerical duties to keep things running smoothly. Learn more about a typical day in the life of a medical assistant.

Interested in becoming a medical assistant? Follow these three steps to start your healthcare career.

1. Choose a degree program

Most medical assisting positions will require either a diploma (DMAS) or an associate degree in medical assisting services (ASMAS). An ASMAS will help you develop the basic skills and knowledge you need to be successful as a medical assistant and will also give you the opportunity to advance your education with a bachelor’s degree if you choose to do so. Herzing’s online ASMAS program can be completed in as little as 16 months and provides a clear pathway for upward mobility, allowing students to apply their ASMAS credits towards a bachelor’s degrees in online healthcare management bachelor degree program or health information management program.

A DMAS can be completed in as little as 10 months, allowing you to get a faster start on your medical assisting career. However, an associate degree program might be the better option if you are planning to advance your healthcare career later on. Find more detail about both of our medical assisting online program options.

2. Get certified

After you have completed a degree or diploma program, you should consider sitting for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exams. While not all states require medical assistants to be certified, having these certifications can serve as an important differentiator that will set you apart from other job candidates. Graduates of both ASMAS and DMAS programs can sit for these exams.

3. Advance your career

Becoming a medical assistant is a great entry point to other jobs in healthcare. For example, you can move from medical assisting into leadership or management positions by earning a bachelor's degree in healthcare management. If you discover that you have a calling for patient care, you can also transition to a nursing career by pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

How much can I make as a medical assistant?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports medical assistants earn an average salary of $34,540 per year ($16.61 hourly). This can vary widely based on your experience and the state in which you practice. Graduates straight out of school will have to gain more experience and grow beyond an entry level wage and approach this average. Find the average medical assistant salary by state.

Medical assisting is a fast-growing and flexible career path with ample opportunities for advancement – perfect for anyone who is looking to jumpstart a rewarding career in healthcare.