Emergency Room Medical Assistant: Educational Requirements

Sep 13, 2019

Emergency room medical assistants require no to little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

Emergency room medical assistants fill out paperwork with patient histories and perform basic tasks like taking vital signs to help the emergency room run smoothly and efficiently. It is possible to begin a career as an emergency room medical assistant with a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training; however, most medical assistants complete a certificate, diploma or associate's degree to prepare to enter this career field.

Essential Information

Emergency room medical assistance is a field that is growing quickly. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities need medical assistants to help maintain a smooth-running emergency room. These medical assistants might take vital signs, maintain medical histories and prepare patients to see doctors, along with various administrative duties. They don't always need formal education, though many employers prefer to hire medical assistants with some postsecondary education.

Required Education None required; however, a diploma, certificate or associate's degree is common
Other Requirements Voluntary certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 23% (for all medical assistants)
Median Salary (2018)* $33,610 annually (for all medical assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Training required to become a medical assistant varies by employer. Some healthcare facilities provide on-the-job training, while others prefer to hire individuals who have postsecondary education. Many vocational and community colleges offer medical assistant programs in the form of 1-year diploma or certificate programs and 2-year associate's degree programs.

In these programs, medical assisting students might take courses in medical terminology and law, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and clinical procedures. Students also learn communication skills and study legal issues and basic office procedures. Curricula include lectures, lab and clinical externships, in which students work in a medical setting under the supervision of licensed physicians. When all program requirements are met, students might be eligible for certification.

Certification Requirements

Certification is not mandatory for medical assistants; however, it can demonstrate proficiency in the field and increase employment prospects. Numerous organizations offer certification programs. The American Association of Medical Assistants, for example, awards the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential to qualified candidates. Applicants must be graduates of an accredited training program and pass a certification exam. CMAs must re-certify every 60 months by earning continuing education credits.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23% from 2018 to 2028 - a much faster than average rate among all jobs (www.bls.gov). This growth will be due in part to the need to care for the elderly population in the coming years. The BLS also reported that the annual median wage for medical assistants was $33,610 in May 2018. The highest-paid workers earned $47,250 per year, while the lowest-paid medical assistants earned $24,790 or less annually.

A high school diploma may be all that's needed, but many emergency room medical assistants complete diploma, certificate or associate's degree programs. Professional certification is optional, but can demonstrate competency. The BLS does not provide specific data for just emergency room medical assistants, but there is expected to be a 23% job growth rate for all medical assistants from 2018 to 2028.

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