Associate in Applied Science (AAS) programs in clinical medical assisting combine clinical lab-based education with traditional classroom learning. These degree programs typically take two years to complete and are available through community colleges, vocational schools and some universities.
Students interested in an AAS degree should confirm the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs before applying. These accredited programs prepare graduates to obtain the Certified Medical Assistant credential, which is preferred by some employers.
Associate in Applied Science in Clinical Medical Assisting
Topics covered in these programs generally range from medical office procedures to drug administration and specimen processing. Due to the comprehensive nature of the curriculum, some schools may require students to take introductory classes prior to taking major coursework. Other coursework may include:
- Physiology and anatomy
- Computer application software
- Medical terminology
- Human disease types
- Clinical lab procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the outlook for all medical assistants should be excellent, with 23% job growth expected for the profession from 2014 to 2024. The increasing demand for healthcare support services, an aging population and an increase in the number of people with health insurance will likely fuel this growth.
Earnings may vary depending on an assistant's work experience, skill level, employer type and location. The BLS notes that the mean annual salary for medical assistants in May 2015 was $31,910. In the District of Columbia, the highest-paying state in the nation (DC is considered a state for the purposes of the BLS), medical assistants averaged $39,780 per year. Overall, the top ten percent of medical assistants throughout the U.S. earned $43,880 or more annually. Most medical assistants worked in physician's offices.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
The American Association of Medical Assistants offers a professional certification exam to gain the Certified Medical Assistant credential. Continuing education units (CEUs) are required every five years for those who pass the exam. Common CEU courses are required in the areas of general, administrative and clinical medical assisting.
The American Medical Technologists offer a number of specialty certifications for medical assistants who wish to advance their careers. Specialty options include optometry, ophthalmology or podiatry. Medical assistants may also pursue further education to enter other healthcare careers, such as nursing.
If you want to become a clinical medical assistant, an AAS program can provide the basic, wide-ranging training you need. Graduates can look forward to good job prospects from 2014-2024, with faster-than-average growth in employment openings expected during that time. Alternatively, you can pursue more advanced healthcare education at the bachelor's degree level.