Many colleges offer two-year associate's degrees or one-year certificate programs in different areas of medical office technology. Certificate areas include billing specialist, medical administrative assistant, and medical transcriptionist. Because of the complexity of medical jargon and operational procedures, many employers prefer these professionals to hold related two-year degrees or complete one-year training programs. Many clerical jobs within the healthcare industry require additional education past high school.
|Career||Medical Transcriptionist||Medical Assistant|
|Education Requirements||One-year certificate program or associate's degree||One-year certificate program or associate's degree|
|Other Requirements||Voluntary certification available||Professional certification preferred|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||8%||29%|
|Median Salary (May 2014)*||$34,750||$29,960|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The certificates granted in the different medical technology disciplines lead to very specific career paths. Medical transcriptionists, billing specialists, optometric assistants, and medical administrative assistants are among those whose jobs fall under this category. Two common certificates obtained are for the fields of medical assistant and medical transcriptionist. Detailed descriptions of these different careers follow below:
These professionals take recordings given to them by doctors and other physicians and transcribe them into documents. Documents produced include medical reports, autopsy results, medical studies, referral letters, and many others. Transcriptionists must create error-free documents, which they then send back to their employers to be corrected or approved.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many employers prefer to hire professionals with some form of further education. This is due to the complex medical subjects with which these workers must be familiar. Medical transcriptionists need to be able to identify anatomy and physiology terms, understand common abbreviations that medical professionals use and have a basic working knowledge of the procedures that they are transcribing. An experienced medical transcriptionist can pick up on errors within the report and move to research and correct them, saving employers time (www.bls.gov).
Salary Info and Job Outlook
According to the BLS, the median annual salary earned by medical transcriptionists was $34,750 in May 2014. Employment of medical transcriptionists was projected by the BLS to increase by eight percent between 2012 and 2022, slower than the average rate of growth for all occupations.
These individuals are described by the BLS as having a wide range of job duties depending upon their employers and areas of specialization. Administrative assistants perform clerical duties such as pulling medical records, filing medical reports, scheduling appointments for patients, and filling out insurance forms. Medical assistants with clinical duties also exist, and these workers often specialize. Examples include optometric assistants, podiatric assistants, and ophthalmic assistants. An ophthalmic medical assistant would have job duties such as testing eye strength and muscle function, conducting vision tests, and otherwise assisting his or her employer with providing eye care.
Educational requirements vary depending upon how specialized an individual is and in which state he or she works. Many medical assistants either hold two-year degrees or have completed a one-year training program. According to the BLS, some states do not allow these assistants to specialize and perform clinical procedures, but others require professionals to pass an exam or take a specific course in order to do so (www.bls.gov).
Salary Info and Job Outlook
Medical assistants earned a median annual salary of $29,960 in May 2014, per the BLS. The Bureau indicated that job opportunities for assistants would likely grow by about 29% during the 2012-2022 decade, much faster than average for all occupations.