Medical assistants are multitaskers in the work place. Their job roles may differ depending on their office setting but often include taking patient information, ensuring medical supply stocks, and helping the attending physician. Degree programs are available for medical assistants who wish to advance their careers and job prospects.
Medical assistant technicians are responsible for administrative and clinical tasks, and they're more commonly referred to as simply medical assistants. Though no advanced degree or training is usually required to become a medical assistant, some employers require completion of an accredited program. Those working as medical assistants may expect faster-than-average job growth in the coming years.
|Required Education||None mandatory; certificate, diploma and associate's degrees available|
|Additional Requirements||Voluntary certification is available and may be preferred by employers|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||23% for medical assistants*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$31,910 for medical assistants*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Salary Information for Medical Assistant Technicians
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for medical assistants in May 2015 was $31,910 (www.bls.gov). Those working in hospitals averaged $33,140 per year, while medical assistants in physicians' offices earned an average salary of $31,960.
Medical Assistant Technician Career Information
Medical assistant technicians perform routine clerical and clinical duties. They are known for juggling many tasks at once. They should not be confused with physician assistants who are supervised by physicians and surgeons to practice medicine. Many medical assistants work full-time, but they often have the option to work part-time. The location and size of the work environment will dictate the responsibilities of the medical assistant.
Employment for all medical assistants is expected to grow 23% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. The rising growth rate is due in part to advances in the medical field, but also the aging of the general population.
Tasks can range from taking vital signs and medical histories to talking to patients about treatment methods, preparing them for examinations and making sure supplies are stocked and rooms are clean. They may also be asked by a physician to call in prescriptions and refills to pharmacies.
There is no formal education or training requirement to become a medical assistant technician. Most medical assistants do have a high school diploma. Some employers may require a certain level of education.
Medical assistant technicians can be trained on the job working closely with experienced individuals in the field to learn the ropes. In lieu of on-the-job training, many individuals choose to complete medical assistant programs through vocational schools or community colleges. Postsecondary education that lasts one year awards the individual with a certificate or diploma. A two-year program earns them an associate's degree.
The American Association of Medical Assistants can be used as resource to find accredited degree programs. The Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are two accreditation organizations that provide accreditation to health education programs.
Medical assistant technicians perform a wide variety of medical tasks regardless of where they work. They learn what their job entails after they have been hired. They may work full or part-time depending on the size of their office. Accredited programs in medical assisting are available and may last 1-2 years, providing the experience and training needed to work as a medical assistant technician.