Medical Office Technology Careers: Job Descriptions, Duties & Requirements

Oct 04, 2019

Medical transcriptionists and medical assistants require some post-secondary education, neither requires a full degree. Jobs for medical assistants are expected to increase a great deal in the near future, while positions for transcriptionists are projected to decline.

Essential Information

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 (2018-2028)* -3% 23%
Median Salary (May 2018)* $36,350 $33,610

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

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:

Medical Transcriptionist

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.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the median annual salary earned by medical transcriptionists was $36,350 in May 2018. Employment of medical transcriptionists was projected by the BLS to decline by 3 percent between 2018 and 2028.

Medical Assistant

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.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

Medical assistants earned a median annual salary of $33,610 in May 2018, per the BLS. The Bureau indicated that job opportunities for assistants would likely grow by about 23% during the 2018-2028 decade, much faster than average for all occupations.

While positions for medical transcriptionists are in decline, opportunities still may be available for job seekers with formal education or relevant experience. Prospects look much better for medical assistants, who must complete one- or two-year training programs that prepare them for a variety of tasks. In 2018, the median salary for transcriptionists was about $36,000, while medical assistants had a median salary of almost $33,000.

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