Associate of Applied Science (AAS): Medical Assistant Degree Overview

Many community colleges and vocational schools offer associate's programs in medical assisting that combine classes and lab work. Learn about program requirements, coursework and employment outlook.

Essential Information

The courses in a medical assistant associate's program cover both clinical and administrative medical topics. Most medical assistant programs require that students obtain supervised experience in a medical office. These programs usually consist of about 45 credit hours, and most take a little over one year to complete.

Students must meet a school's admission requirements, which can include a health screening and entrance exam. Applicants may also need to undergo a criminal background check and show proof of immunizations.

Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting

A program may teach students how to properly draw blood samples, understand safety guidelines, monitor blood glucose levels, perform an electrocardiogram and prepare laboratory specimens. Some programs may provide additional instruction in medical office procedures, such as medical record management, medical terminology, health system regulations, data management and medical billing. Programs also commonly require that students complete a medical assisting practicum. Course content may include:

  • Introduction to medical record systems
  • Medical terminology
  • Clinical procedures
  • Patient safety and care
  • Pharmacology
  • Laboratory testing procedures

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that medical assistants earned an annual mean wage of $31,910 as of May 2015. The BLS projected job growth of 23% for the field in the 2014-2024 decade. Medical assistants with certification were expected to have the best employment opportunities.

Continuing Education Information

Certification or licensing is not required for medical assistants, but according to the BLS certification can allow individuals to demonstrate their knowledge gained from completing a formal training program. Voluntary certification is available from organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants. Specific certification requirements are determined by each organization, but typically applicants must meet training requirements and pass a certification exam in order to become certified.

An associate's degree program in medical assisting trains students in the fundamental medical and administrative skills of the healthcare field. Aspiring medical assistants should enjoy good career opportunities, with faster-than-average growth in job prospects expected between 2014 and 2024. Graduates can also earn voluntary certification to boost their employment prospects.

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