How to Become a Medical Assistant?

Are you thinking of becoming a Medical Assistant or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Medical Assistant, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Medical Assistant job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Medical Assistant

A medical assistant completes the administrative and clinical tasks in physicians' offices, hospitals, and other healthcare settings. If you are detail-oriented, compassionate, and have strong interpersonal skills, you might consider a career as a medical assistant. In this guide, we will discuss the five steps required to become a medical assistant.

Complete your education.

Technically, medical assistants can begin their careers straight out of high school or with a GED, but many employers prefer to hire candidates who have at least an associate degree or diploma in medical assisting. If you want to move into the workforce quickly, a diploma might be your best option since an associate program can take about two years to complete.


Gain experience in a medical setting.

In addition to all the coursework and labs you'll complete during your schooling, you'll also want to take some time to complete an internship or externship near the end of your program. This will allow you to hone the skills you've developed throughout your studies and apply them at a clinic, hospital, or specialty practice. During this time, you can shadow experienced medical assistants and take on certain tasks such as drawing blood from patients with proper supervision.


Obtain medical assistant certification.

Depending on the state you plan to work in, you might need to pass a certification exam. Even if your employer or state doesn't require certification, you might want to consider getting one since it can boost your resume and help you stand out when applying for other positions. Two of the more popular certification exams include the following:

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA): The CMA is issued by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). You can sit for the exam if you are a recent graduate of an accredited medical assisting program. Recertification is required every five years.
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA): This certification is conducted by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). To qualify, you must be a recent or scheduled graduate from a medical assisting program that includes at least 720 hours of instruction and 160 hours of externship. You can also qualify if you're in the military, an instructor, or have worked at least five of the last seven years as a medical assistant.

Land an entry-level job.

When searching for an entry-level medical assisting job, don't be afraid to apply to a variety of locations. Clinics, hospitals, and specialty centers are all ideal locations. You might also be able to find opportunities through the school where you earned your degree. Connect with former professors, members of the alumni association, or counselors to help you locate job openings.


Further your education.

After you secure your entry-level medical assistant job, it's never too soon to think about the future. If you have aspirations of going even further in this field, consider heading back to school and taking more courses within the healthcare field. If you have an associate degree in medical assisting, consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in nursing or administration.

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