Four Types of Medical Assistant Careers

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It is true that there are many career paths for medical assistant schools, and we know that choosing the right program that will fit your interests and desires is troublesome, so we decided to gather all the data you may need to compare the options.

We made a list of the four different types of medical assistant career paths and what you need to reach certification in those fields.

After reading our article, choosing the right medical assisting career will not be a confusing or stressful process anymore.

These are the four most frequent types of medical assistants:

  • Administrative medical assistant
  • Clinical medical assistant
  • Registered medical assistant
  • Certified medical assistant

The medical assisting career field is divided into two main categories, that is Administrative and clinical medical assistants.

However, as you could notice, you can also choose between becoming a Registered or Certified medical assistant.

While administrative assistants are there to help in the office, clinical assistants are supposed to help with patients.

We know that interested people would like to have the knowledge related to this career prior to starting their education, so we made sure to provide you answers to all the questions you may have.

We will try to answer the following questions related to each type of Medical Assistant career:

  • What does this term mean?
  • What kind of education is required?
  • How to choose the right program?
  • What kind of courses should you take?
  • Is there an internship and what is training like?
  • What kinds of jobs can you find after the completion of the training?
  • What kind of salary and career outlook can you expect when you start looking for a job?
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Administrative Medical Assistant Certification

Administrative Medical Assistants can be found working with other people, but their job is focused on administrative aspects of the medical facility.

If they find a job in small offices, their duties will be answering phone calls, making appointments, checking in patients, and recordkeeping.

On the other hand, those who find work in a hospital or large clinic will be part of a team that will be in charge of all of those previously mentioned responsibilities.

Besides having skills related to administration, you will need to have some other qualities as well.

You will be busy all day and you will have to deal with unexpected and emergency situations.

If you prefer sitting at a desk rather than standing on your feet all day, you should consider becoming an administrative medical assistant.

Becoming an administrative medical assistant is possible through various medical assistant schools that offer administrative focused medical assistant programs

During these studies, you will go through the curriculum that is focused on office functions.

Actually, subjects will be a mixture of administrative assistant skills and medical procedures.

What your courses will cover are medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, and other medical topics.

If you finish the educational program, you can start looking for employment and you will be in a position to negotiate the highest medical assistant salary you can.

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam

The way towards becoming an administrative medical assistant is not easy, as you are required to first earn the equivalent of your high school education.

After it, you can search for a medical assistant college that offers a program that will prepare you for a medical assistant certificate or Associate’s program.

When the program is completed, you become eligible to apply to take the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

Besides the exam application that has to be submitted, each applicant is supposed to pay a fee of $115. Those who wish to prepare for the exam can take a look at the study guides, practice tests, and other resources that are available on the AMMA website.

What can you do after you complete your medical assistant training and certification?

Upon finishing your administrative medical assistant training and earning your certification, you will be well equipped with the knowledge and skills to apply for employment in a variety of medical facilities.

Some people prefer working in a team, so they can look for a job in a hospital or a large care facility.

On the other hand, those who want to work alone can find employment in a small private practice.

Generally speaking, the field of healthcare is growing and the number of new job openings is expected to grow, so there is no need to worry about your job outlook after finishing medical assisting education.

You are probably;y interested in how much money you will earn after investing so much time and energy in your education.

Entry-level medical assistants can expect an average wage of $30,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2017).

However, the more experience you get, the higher salaries you can expect to earn.

Furthermore, you can choose to advance in the field, which will also lead to higher wages and better job positions.

Options that administrative medical assistants have are additional certifications, such as billing and coding.

Clinical Medical Assistant Certification

Unlike administrative assistants, clinical medical assistants are in charge of patients rather than data and files.

They support and help physicians during procedures, so their main responsibilities involve patient communication, preparing patients for operations, and ensuring that sterilized tools, EKG, and EEG equipment are always ready and available to doctor.

During their shift, they work with other medical staff such as nurses and primary who are there to administer patient care.

Clinical medical assistants have various roles in the facility, and you can see them taking a patient history and the net moment they are preparing an examination room or helping a nurse take vital signs from patients.

If you believe that you can stand all this pressure and that this is the right career for you, you should look for medical assisting programs offered in various schools in the USA that prepare clinical assistants.

Our suggestion is to always choose carefully, especially when you choose a quality training program at medical assistant schools.

It is so significant that you have the right training and knowledge due to the fact that you will face situations when a patients’ life is in your hands and you need to know what to do to help them.

That is the main reason why there is a specific certification for clinical medical assistants – the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) offered by the National Health-Careers Association (NHA).

During your training, you will need to learn specific subjects in order to pass this exam.

Clinical Medical Assistant Coursework

When the courses are in question, the medical assistant’s curriculum is designed not only to help students be ready to work as a clinical medical assistant, but it also follows the needed topics for the CCMA exam.

It is very important that you enroll in a school whose curriculum meets the standards for this exam as well as state requirements.

If you are interested in taking and passing the exam, here we offer you some of the topics that will be cover during medical assistant training which will prepare you for this examination:

  • Health care systems and settings
  • Medical terminology
  • Basic Pharmacology
  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • General patient care
  • Infection control
  • Precautions
  • Testing & lab procedures
  • Phlebotomy
  • EKG and cardiovascular testing
  • Patient education
  • Administrative assisting
  • Communication & customer service
  • Laws & ethics
  • Core knowledge
  • Core skills

All these subjects are well combined through quality medical assisting programs and almost all of them can be completed in about 9 months to a year if you wish to reach a certificate level.

On the other hand, those who want to reach an Associates or a Bachelor’s degree will have to devote more time and effort to their education, as these programs are longer.

A great thing is that numerous medical assistant online schools offer all types of programs giving working individuals a chance to continue their education, even though they are employed.

Gaining work experience as a clinical medical assistant is a very important aspect of your training, and this will give you an advantage over administrative medical assistants.

Once your education at medical assistant school is over, you will be well trained and skilled to qualify for both kinds of administrative and clinical medical assisting jobs, making you a preferable candidate and providing you with a better job outlook.

When the salary is in question, it should be about the same as the administrative medical assistant salary.

However, with more experience and responsibilities, there is a chance of gaining higher salaries and advancing in your job positions.

Registered Medical Assistant Certification

There is another option offered when certification is in question.

You can also choose to become a registered medical assistant with American Medical Technologists through their RMA certification.

This certificate will make you more credible when you apply for a job and employers prefer hiring a person who possesses credentials as proof of their knowledge and qualities.

To become a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), interested applicants either need to complete an accredited medical assistant program or have at least five years of experience in the medical assisting field.

Furthermore, military and current medical instructors are also able to qualify for the exam without the training and education requirements.

Getting your RMA certification after medical assistant training brings you numerous benefits and you are responsible for keeping it current every year by paying a fee of $50.

Preparing for the examination is very important so it is our advice that before you take a look at all the things you should do before taking the RMA exam.

Online resources are numerous and they include links to websites where you can take practice tests and get familiar with preparation methods.

You will also find a helpful list of things that you are supposed to bring with you when you come to the test, like your ID.

People who already know that they want to reach this certification and are not yet enrolled in a medical assisting program should look for a school whose curriculum aligns with the outline of the exam.

Certified Medical Assistant Certification

People who wish to become certified medical assistants can achieve this credential through the American Association of Medical Assistants.

This is considered a very frequent way that professionals take in case they want to improve their medical assistant salary potential.

There are many benefits that a CMA member has, as you will be able to get up to date information and things that can give you insight during and after medical assistant training.

This certificate differs from other as it is the only medical assisting certification that has a requirement that obliges students to graduate from a school that is accredited by an agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education if they want to reach this credential.

When your approved medical assisting program is completed you become eligible to apply to take the exam.

However, you will need to submit a $125 fee to be allowed to take it.

Successful passing of this exam provides you with your certification which has to be renewed every 60 months.

Getting a certificate is not the end of your education and advancement as you are required to submit your recertification application and renewal fee together with proof of completed continuing education requirements.

Actually, one continuing education unit (CEU) equals one point and you need to earn a total of 30 points to be allowed to renew your license.

That has to be a combination of points in administrative, clinical, and general course topics.

When you get familiar with examination requirements, you will know which topics will be on the CMA exam and what percent of the questions will be related to each topic.

Another excellent thing about this certification is that it is acceptable in all fifty states, meaning that you can take your CMA certification in one state and be allowed to work anywhere in the United States.

Besides completing your approved medical assistant program, to earn your CMA, you are obliged to complete an internship at a local healthcare facility.

The internship is very significant as you will be able to put into practice all your medical assisting skills.


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