Medical Assistant

  • Average Salary: $28,300
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma; completion of a medical assisting program.
  • Known States in Industry: California, Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Hawaii, Washington, DC, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alaska and Washington.

Degree Description:

Medical assisting programs prepare students to work as medical assistants in a variety of exciting healthcare settings. Students have a couple options when pursuing a medical assisting education at a vocational-technical school, community college or junior college. You can complete a one-year certificate program, or a two-year associate degree program. Medical assisting programs will cover a wide range of science and training courses, including anatomy, physiology and medical terminology, as well as keyboarding, recordkeeping, accounting and insurance processing. Students will also learn about patient care services, medical law, ethics and much more.

Salary and Job Outlook:

Graduates of a medical assistant degree program are eligible for several different positions within the medical assistance field. Some graduates may be best prepared to work in the administrative or clinical areas of healthcare. Those who choose to work in administration may become administrative medical assistants, who assist with updating and filing patients’ medical records, handling billing and bookkeeping, scheduling appointments and other administrative duties. Clinical medical assistants perform more hands-on clinical duties, such as performing basic laboratory tests, drawing blood, changing dressings and preparing patients for x-rays and other procedures. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a wage-and-salary medical assistant was $28,300 in 2008. The field of medical assisting is expected to grow much faster than average, including an employment increase of 34 percent by 2018.

Job Prerequisites:

Even though there are no formal education or training requirements for medical assistants and some are trained on the job, it’s still in your best interest to complete a one to two year medical assisting program. In order to apply for a medical assisting program, you need to have a high school diploma and complete any prerequisites required by your school. These programs are offered at vocational-technical schools and community and junior colleges. In addition to academic requirements, prospective medical assistants should also have a strong understanding of life sciences and have good communication skills.

Industry Demographics:

When looking for medical assistant certificate or associate degree programs that fit your needs, it’s a good idea to look for ones that are located in states that have a high number of workers in this occupation and ones that pay well. The states with the highest concentration of medical assistants are California, Arizona, Michigan, Florida and Hawaii. The top-paying states for medical assistants are Washington, DC, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alaska and Washington.

Future Options:

If you already have your medical assistant certificate or associate degree, there are plenty of other education options available to you. Students who want to further their education and advance their careers can expand their education with a bachelor of science in nursing in pursuit of becoming a registered nurse. This option will give medical assistants the chance to increase their clinical job responsibilities, salary and advancement opportunities.