We recently discussed the Medical Assistant role in detail, which included what the role involves, how you become a Medical Assistant, the skills you’ll have after certification, and potential salary and hourly ranges. While we touched on how long getting certified can take on that blog post, today we’ll focus all of our energy on that.
There are a few paths you can take to become a Medical Assistant, and each one has its own unique timeframe, as well as its own advantages and disadvantages. No matter which route you take, the final destination is a rewarding career, one that allows you to have a significant impact on the patients you come into contact with on a daily basis.
With only a high school diploma, it’s possible to start a Medical Assistant career with on-the-job-training. In this scenario, doctors or fellow Medical Assistants would provide clinical training that ranges from anatomy to instruments, as well as teach you administrative duties such as coding and billing. The length of time it takes to become a full-fledged Medical Assistant depends entirely on the facility (and in many ways, on your physician).
Path #1 Timeframe: Depends on the Facility
While technically there are no formal requirements in most states for becoming a Medical Assistant (MA), many employers still seek out candidates who have completed some form of postsecondary education. This postsecondary education path can lead you to attend vocational schools, community colleges, technical colleges, or universities. These programs typically provide a certificate and take about one year to complete. At some community colleges, gaining an associate degree is also an option. However, getting this degree can take up to two years.
Path #2 Timeframe: One to Two Years
These work well for people who are working or busy since all the training can be done online. If you’re a DIY-type of person, this is probably a good fit if you’re disciplined enough to stay on top of all of your coursework. And, depending on your location, many online Medical Assistant training programs offer experiential learning opportunities, which includes job shadowing, internships, and more. That way, you gain practical experience along with a command of the material. This option also allows you to become a Medical Assistant the fastest since the program can be completed in less than seven months.
Path #3 Timeframe: Seven Months or Less
All in all, your path to becoming a Medical Assistant will depend on your individual needs. The type of learning environment you prefer, whether you’re employed or a full-time student, and even financial considerations all factor into what makes the most sense for you. All that said, no matter what road you take to become a Medical Assistant, being certified will make you a more attractive candidate.
To become certified after training, you have to take a series of exams. Upon completion of MedCerts’ Medical Assistant certification program, you’re eligible to take the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exams, issued by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), and the Certified Customer Service Professional certification, which is issued by the International Customer Service Association (ICSA).
Having these certifications means you have the right balance of clinical and customer service skills, which includes:
With so many job seekers applying for medical assistant positions, applicants with multiple national certifications tend to stand out. Today's Medical Assistants are expected to take on additional responsibilities – chief among them related to and around the practices of Phlebotomy and Electrocardiography (ECG/EKG). At MedCerts, we offer multiple programs where you can earn more than one certification. If you're hoping to move into a career as a Medical Assistant, we offer three online Medical Assistant programs depending on what certifications you are interested in.
We’ve already discussed that an online training program takes less time than the other options (and our program only takes 27 weeks, FYI), but there are other advantages, too. Another big one is cost. Our average programs, for example, are $4,000, while community colleges fall in a range of $10,000–$12,000.
Other advantages include:
So if you were already interested in becoming a Medical Assistant in the fastest way possible, these advantages only make it more attractive. As we’ve already mentioned, the path you choose is dependent on what makes the most sense for your lifestyle. Either way, you’re embarking on a rewarding career path. And for many, it’s just the first step in a long career as a healthcare professional.
Have more questions about Medical Assistant certification programs? We’re here to help, so feel free to get in touch.