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Medical Administrative Assistant: Career Info & Requirements

Discover what type of work a medical administrative assistant performs, Learn about academic and skill requirements as well as employment outlook and salary to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Medical Administrative Assistant

A medical administrative assistant career is perfect for those who want to work in healthcare, prefer an office environment, and have good interpersonal skills. Most medical administrative assistants work in physician's offices, with job responsibilities including scheduling appointments, filing and maintaining patient records, filling out insurance paperwork and arranging laboratory services. Medical assisting is a fast-growing career, and opportunities for advancement are numerous for ambitious medical administrative assistants. With experience, some medical administrative assistants may pursue further education to work as clinical medical assistants, taking medical histories, collecting laboratory specimens, and providing physicians with basic assistance during patient checkups.

Education On-the-job training; associate's degree programs are available but not required
Job Skills Interpersonal, multitasking and organizational skills, positive attitude, and prior volunteer experience
Mean Salary (May 2015)* $31,910 (all medical assistants)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 23% (all medical assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

Many medical administrative assistants are trained on the job; however, community colleges and vocational schools often offer 2-year associate degree programs that cover subjects like medical terminology, healthcare law and ethics and medical office procedures. After earning an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, medical administrative assistants may become certified by one of many professional associations, including the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), though certification is not required.

Skills Needed

Medical administrative assistants spend much of their time interacting with patients and liaising with nurses and physicians, so excellent people skills are a must. A positive, professional attitude is beneficial, as is an ability to multitask and stay extremely organized. Though not obligatory, prior volunteer experience in the healthcare profession is often helpful to entry-level medical administrative assistants to familiarize them with terminology and processes in a real-world setting.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, predicts that the medical assistance field will grow much faster than average compared to other occupations for the 2014-2024 decade. Medical assistants in general had a mean annual salary of $31,910, according to May 2015 BLS figures.

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Alternative Careers

Similar career options to check out include the following two:

Medical Secretary

Those who want to provide administrative support to doctors and other healthcare professionals should also consider a career as a medical secretary. Although some tasks may overlap those of a medical administrative assistant, medical secretaries perform more complex office duties, such as dictating doctor notes and communicating with insurance companies regarding coverage and billing issues. With only a high school diploma and computer knowledge, one could probably find a job in this profession, but many employers may prefer to hire those who have taken college courses in medical terminology and office procedures.

According to the BLS, medical secretaries should see job opportunities increase by 21% from 2014-2024 because of an aging population and more patients having access to medical care. As shown in BLS figures from May of 2015, these secretaries earned a mean wage of $34,330.

Health Information Technician

For those interested in making the storage and retrieval of patient files more efficient for healthcare professionals, becoming a health information technician could be a good fit. These information technicians organize both digital and paper documents, check patient records for accuracy and completeness, code files for classification and study purposes, convert paper files into electronic formats and enact security protocols to protect documents from unauthorized access. Health information technology associate degree and certificate programs will prepare workers for employment in this field, and pursuing a professional certification, such as Registered Health Information Technician, may be advantageous when looking for a job.

In 2015, the BLS estimated that medical records and health information technicians received a yearly mean salary of $40,430. This occupation is projected to grow by 15% between 2014 and 2024, based on BLS data.

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