How Long Does It Take To Become A Medical Assistant?

Many people look forward to the conversations they will have with their primary care physician when they schedule an appointment with their doctor for an annual check-up. 

To offer patients with necessary care in a compassionate and effective manner, medical offices need an entire staff of medical specialists. 

The majority of the time, patients visiting a medical facility can anticipate receiving the essential level of medical care from a medical assistant before, during, and after their session. 

In medical offices and clinics, medical assistants carry out clinical and administrative tasks. 

They are allied health professionals.

This article shall discuss the major responsibilities and prospects for medical assistant careers, as well as the length of time it takes to become a medical assistant and the many educational options based on your professional aspirations.

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What is a Medical Assistant School Like?

The three educational routes that prospective medical assistants can take to enter the field are: 

A high school diploma with on-the-job training; a certificate or diploma in medical assisting; or a two-year associate’s degree in medical assisting. 

Since the majority of states do not have formal education requirements for jobs in medical assisting, aspirants can choose from these three options.

Following completion of a postsecondary degree, the first two tracks call for around a year of education and training. 

It takes several months of full-time employment for high school graduates to acquire medical assistance abilities through on-the-job training. 

Community colleges often provide certificate and medical assisting diploma programs, which involve a year of didactic and practical practice to prepare students for the clinical and administrative duties of the position.

The normal outcome of a two-year program for medical assistants who choose the associate degree option is an associate’s degree in science or applied science. 

Exams for certification as a medical assistant can be taken by graduates of authorized associate’s degree programs. 

During their training, medical assistants have the option of selecting a clinical speciality in one of the following fields: pediatrics, dermatology, endocrinology, gastrointestinal, gerontology, neurology, allergy, cardiology, or dermatology.

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Is Attending a Medical Assistant School Worth It?

Attending a Medical Assistant School has a lot of benefits which mostly come after graduation. 

Some of these benefits are examined below;

1. Better Shift Options

Patients require care around-the-clock, so medical assisting frequently involves working shifts. 

Most patients undertake tests, have doctor appointments, attend therapy, receive medications, and complete daily tasks like eating and taking a shower during the day, hence many healthcare institutions choose to hire qualified medical assistants to work that shift. 

The extensive training that certified medical assistants get prepares them to handle both clinical and administrative tasks, making them capable of handling many of the day’s most complex processes.

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2. Certification Shows Expertise and Competence

Making the extra effort to obtain certification shows prospective employers that you have a quality education and training that satisfies industry requirements. 

When it comes to certifications, the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) designation is usually considered as the gold standard. 

Candidates must complete a training course from a facility that has received accreditation from either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) in order to be eligible to sit for the CMA exam (CAAHEP). 

ABHES and CAAHEP have severe requirements for training programs to make sure applicants have the information and abilities required to function as medical assistants. 

A certification enhances your marketability to a future employer by reflecting the caliber of your training.

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3. A greater number of opportunities for advancement

Greater prospects for growth follow certification. 

A lot of licensed medical assistants pick a medical subspecialty, including pediatrics or cardiology. 

CMAs can select a medical specialty that interests them from among a wide range of medical disciplines.

Many medical assistants choose to work as medical billing and coding experts or even a medical administrative assistant because they are educated to conduct both administrative and clinical tasks. 

They collaborate closely with a hospital’s management group or administrator. 

You’ll have more opportunities available to you the more experience and ongoing education you have.

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What Schooling Do You Need to Be a Medical Assistant?

There aren’t any particular certifications or licenses required to work as a medical assistant outside a high school graduation, GRE, and the training program. 

To make your resume stand out and increase your chances of job advancement, you should, nevertheless, have a solid educational history.

Vocational training 

Specific medical assistant certificate or diploma programs are available from some universities. 

These courses cover medical terminology, transcription, ethics, and clinical procedures and often take nine months to a year to finish. 

Even a unique CMA review and preparation course will be offered in several institutions. 

More information on the CMA is provided below. 

Verify that the AAMA has accredited the vocational program before enrolling in it. 

Employers probably won’t accept it if it isn’t accredited. 

Even while it is not legally compulsory in any state to finish training before applying for a job as a medical assistant, an increasing number of businesses will only accept candidates who have done so.

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Associate degree

There are an increasing number of associate degree programs being offered by colleges and universities, however, they are still less prevalent than a certificate or diploma program. 

These two-year programs frequently incorporate an internship or clinical practice within their curriculum. 

One of the main benefits of choosing this route is the likelihood that you will already have a few months of on-the-job experience under your belt thanks to an internship or practical training course by the time you graduate with your degree. 

Most employers will also take an Associate Degree in Health Science, Health Administration, or a related field if your college does not offer a dedicated medical assistant curriculum.

Although one of these options won’t qualify you for the CMA, it will seem impressive on your CV and perhaps persuade employers to provide you with on-the-job training. 

The ideal path for those hoping to advance into a managerial or administrative position later in their careers is to obtain an associate degree, particularly in a medical assistant-specific program.

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CMA certification

A CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) qualification is strongly advised, even though it is not legally necessary, as it makes your application stand out when you are looking for a medical assistant career. 

The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) provides the CMA certification as a way for medical assistants to show their expertise and experience in the industry. 

The CMA exam is what you must pass in order to get certified, but you can only sit for it if you have graduated from an approved medical assistant training course. 

Therefore, only those with a certificate or associate’s degree from a program recognized by the AAMA are eligible for this route.

The CMA test consists of 200 questions and covers a wide range of subjects pertaining to the provision of healthcare and the many duties of a medical assistant. 

Your knowledge of the following subject areas will be tested:

  • Psychology
  • Communication
  • Professionalism
  • Medical law and regulatory guidelines
  • Medical ethics
  • Risk management, quality assurance and safety
  • Medical terminology

No matter where you go, the certification will make you a very competitive candidate because it is acknowledged and valid in all states. 

It is highly advised that you take this exam to become formally certified if you have completed the required coursework or plan to enrol in an accredited program.

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How Long Does It Take To Become a Licensed Medical Assistant in 2023?

It will take between nine months and two years to finish the requirements to become a medical assistant. 

You could even be able to begin working at a medical practice or clinic that offers on-the-job training right immediately in some circumstances. 

However, not all employers provide that choice. Going through vocational training first is far more typical. 

Depending on where you receive it, the vocational training will take anywhere from nine months to two years. 

Because they are only focused on educating you for the duties you’ll be performing as a medical assistant, institutions that offer specialized medical assisting programs might be as brief as nine months.

You’ll often need to finish a full associate degree with a focus on medical assisting if the institution you want to attend doesn’t provide a medical assistant program. 

Note that the process will take two years. 

Even though it takes more time, getting an associate’s degree could lead to more options and higher earning potential, so it’s something to think about.

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Licensed Medical Assistant in 2023?

Prospective students should note that it costs a lot of money to get an excellent education. 

The best education you can obtain at the most affordable price is what you should be searching for instead. 

At a community college, a medical assistant training program can cost as little as $5,000 in a diploma or certificate degree, which is among the fastest and most affordable possibilities. 

There is no official definition or distinction between certificate and diploma programs in terms of the precise number of credits or structure.

Instead, they are often seen as being the same type of shorter option to an associate degree, with the main distinction being the name. 

Depending on the schedule and structure, both typically last between nine and eighteen months.

Approximately two years longer than bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees provide a larger and more comprehensive education, but they also cost more. 

Programs given through private schools can cost anywhere between $8,000 for a public school program and $30,000 in some areas.

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Salary and Job Outlook for Medical Assistants after Study

Between 2012 and 2022, there will be a 29 percent increase in medical assistant jobs in the US. 

Significant short-term growth is anticipated as well, with some states experiencing very high growth rates. 

By 2016, for instance, it is expected that the number of medical assistants will rise by more than 9% in Arizona and Texas. 

This increase in employment is anticipated in part because of the rising demand for healthcare services, particularly routine and preventive care offered in clinics and doctor’s offices, which is in turn being driven by an aging population. 

The percentage of Americans 65 and older in 2013 was almost 14%. 

That group is anticipated to account for more than 21% of Americans by 2040.

The expansion of medical insurance options made possible by the Affordable Care Act is another factor influencing the growth of the labor force. 

The number of Americans with insurance (who did not previously have insurance) has increased by 16.4 million since the ACA was passed in 2010.

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Becoming a medical assistant may be an ideal career choice for organized individuals who want to begin a career in the healthcare field. 

Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks in their everyday roles, making it a solid choice for those contemplating a career in healthcare but unsure as to whether they are best suited to work in an office or patient-centered setting.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How much does training to be a medical assistant cost? 

Most medical assistant programs last around a year to finish, though they sometimes vary in length and expense. 
The time it takes to complete a program will frequently rise if you enroll in an evening program. 
Depending on the school you select, the tuition price can range from $5,000 to $15,000.

Do medical assistant jobs pay off? 

Because there are many opportunities and a need for medical assistants, it is a wise decision to pursue this career. 
In comparison to other jobs, the need for medical assistants is anticipated to grow by 18.9 percent between 2020 and 2030

What distinguishes a CNA from a medical assistant? 

Medical assistants support and help doctors, while CNAs support and help nurses. 
As a result, CNAs assist patients with daily activities like eating, dressing, and taking a shower. 
Medical assistants perform duties that assist doctors with examinations, such as setting up exam rooms or giving immunizations.

How should medical assistants dress? 

Scrubs are the typical attire for a medical assistant. 
Medical assistants are often advised to wear an additional layer of clothing that is warmer below their scrubs, such as a long sleeve shirt or t-shirt. 
Some employers may supply scrubs, while others may insist that you bring your own.



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