Students in medical assistant associate's program learn about office management and receive training in medical techniques through a combination of classroom and laboratory education. These programs may go by a variety of official titles. For example, an Associate of Specialized Technology - Medical Assistant Specialist degree is usually available through for-profit technical and vocational learning institutions, while regular Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree programs are more common in community colleges and other public institutions. Regardless, students should look for programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Most technical and training institutes require a high school education, GED or its equivalent to gain program admittance. An applicant's GPA may be considered as well.
Medical Assistant Associate's Degree
Though the curricula of medical assistant associate's programs varies amongst institutions, training in both administration and clinical medical procedures is the norm. Common courses include:
- Medical terminology
- Healthcare laws and ethics
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical office administration
- Disease and diagnosis
- Certification prep
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that medical assistant jobs are expected to rise 23% from 2014-2024. That growth rate far exceeds the average for all careers. The healthcare industry is expanding rapidly, due to increasing technology and an aging population, which helps to create and support jobs for medical assistants. Of the 601,240 medical assistants in the U.S., over half worked in doctors' offices as of May 2015. Assistants who are certified and formally educated will have the best job prospects going forward.
According to the BLS, medical assistants earned a mean annual wage of $31,910 in May 2015. Assistants in the bottom 10% of the earnings pool made $22,040 or less per year, while those in the top 10% earned $43,880 or more annually.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
The American Association of Medical Assistants is among several organizations that offer professional certification for medical assistants. Graduates of medical assistant associate's programs should take the exam to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). CMAs have the best job opportunities compared to their non-certified peers and many employers require this certification to be considered for employment.
The American Medical Technologists also offer professionally recognized certification in the field. Additionally, they offer several specialty certifications, which medical assistants can pursue to enhance their careers. All certifications require continuing education in order to maintain licensure over time. Medical assistants who wish to advance their prospects in healthcare can do so through acquiring advanced education. Students commonly opt to pursue medical management education or registered nurse training.
Medical assistant associate's degree programs train students in topics such as anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and medical office administration to prepare them for medical assisting careers in a variety of healthcare settings. With an expected employment increase of 23% for medical assistants during the 2014-2024 decade, graduates of these programs may look forward to solid career opportunities.