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4 Crucial Steps to Take in Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant

Becoming a medical assistant is an excellent career choice, but there are several steps you need to take before getting certified. Let the following guide lead you through the stages of becoming a medical assistant.

1. Understand the Profession


Image via Flickr by UMHealthSystem

Before you take any action, you first have to understand what you’re in for. While becoming a medical assistant isn’t for everyone, many people are very fulfilled by the career. To help you understand the profession, consider the following information about becoming a medical assistant.

  • A medical assistant’s duties include checking patients into the office, taking vital signs, maintaining accurate medical records, explaining procedures to patients, administering tests, and working with billing.
  • A medical assistant can work in a variety of settings such as physician’s offices, chiropractic clinics, hospitals, and other health care settings.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants make between $21,000 and $41,500 per year, with the average sitting around $29,000 per year.
  • BLS also reports that most CMA’s work in physician’s offices.
  • Experts expect the job field to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020 according to
  • Many states don’t require formal training to become a medical assistant, but you’ll find value in becoming certified, which provides you with more job opportunities.

If this sounds like the job for you then continue on to learn about how to become certified.

2. Choose Your Education Path

As stated, some states don’t require any formal training to become a medical assistant, but if you want to get certified, you do need to complete coursework. Individuals have two options when pursuing a medical assistant certificate. First, you can complete a simple certification course, which often takes one year. Second, you can expand your education by completing a two-year associate’s degree. Courses you might take include:

  • Medical terminology
  • First aid
  • Medical billing
  • Math and science
  • Anatomy
  • Typing
  • Record keeping
  • Other classes related to the medical profession

3. Find the Right School

After you decide what path you want to take, you have to find a school that offers the program. You can often find these programs through community colleges in your area, so begin researching which schools offer the type of program that appeals to you. To get in, you must have a high school diploma or a GED; if you have one of these, then proceed to apply to your chosen college.

4. Take the Exam

medical exam

Image via Flickr by albertogp123

After completing your program, you must take an exam given through the American Association of Medical Assistants before becoming certified. First, apply to take the exam when you are ready to graduate or after you have obtained your degree. Next, pay the fee, which is lower for AAMA, CAAHEP, and ABHES members. Finally, study and take your exam; once you pass, congratulations, you’re a CMA!

Working as a medical assistant is often very rewarding, and the education doesn’t take very long for people who want to work with the medical community, so if this sounds like the career for you, then don’t be afraid to take the first steps to becoming a medical assistant.

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