Welcome to Medical Assistant Professional, the number one online resource where you can learn how to become a medical assistant, search for accredited schools, learn about certification and salary figures, and even apply for a job.
What is a Medical Assistant?
For those that may not know, a medical assistant is a man or woman that works in a medical office or clinic and is responsible for a variety of administrative as well as clinical tasks.
Medical assistants, known by many in the field as an “MA,” are capable of working for a variety of different health practitioners. Meaning, an MA can be hired to work for a chiropractor, a physician, or even a podiatrist.
Below, please select your state in the interactive table below so that you can find a list of schools and programs that offer medical assistant training in your local area. The listings will include a mix of accredited and non-accredited programs, and will also list everything from school tuition and program length estimates, and whether you can expect to graduate with a diploma or a degree.
|Alabama||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Alaska||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Arizona||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Arkansas||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|California||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Colorado||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Connecticut||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Delaware||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Florida||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Georgia||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Hawaii||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Idaho||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Illinois||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Indiana||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Iowa||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Kansas||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Kentucky||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Louisiana||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Maine||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Maryland||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Massachusetts||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Michigan||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Minnesota||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Mississippi||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Missouri||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Montana||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Nebraska||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Nevada||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|New Hampshire||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|New Jersey||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|New Mexico||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|New York||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|North Carolina||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|North Dakota||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Ohio||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Oklahoma||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Oregon||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Pennsylvania||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Rhode Island||No Listings Currently|
|South Carolina||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|South Dakota||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Tennessee||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Texas||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Utah||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Vermont||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Virginia||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Washington||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|West Virginia||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Wisconsin||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Wyoming||No Listings Currently|
Medical Assistant vs Physician’s Assistant
There may be some that equate a medical assistant with the same job duties, education and training as that of a physician’s assistant, but that’s a mistake. While an MA must acquire proper training, they do not receive the same scope of education that a physician’s assistant does.
In fact, a PA is actually allowed to examine, diagnose and treat a given patient—so long as it’s under the supervision of a physician.
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Now that we’ve gone over the medial assistant job description in a bit of detail, let’s dive deep into what the day-to-day life is like for an MA.
As mentioned before, a medical assistant will be asked to perform both administrative and clinical tasks on an everyday basis. Some of the administrative responsibilities are the following:
- Purchase office supplies
- Schedule appointments for patients
- Follow up with patients by email
- Respond to phone calls
- Contact insurance companies
- Welcome patients into the office
- Handle billing and coding pertaining to insurance forms
- Arrange any required laboratory services
Some of the clinical responsibilities are:
- Draw blood from patients
- Record a patient’s medical history
- Detail treatment procedures to patients
- Prep examination rooms
- Perform basic lab tests
- Change dresses
- Remove any sutures
- Aid patients as they prepare for their X-Rays
- Take electrocardiograms, which are also known as an ECG or EKG
- Help out the health practitioner in any fashion that’s required
- Instruct patients about medication, as well as any special diets
As you can see, the jobs a medical assistant has to perform each day not only can be a many, but can change quite dramatically depending on the medical office. For example, an MA who works inside the office of an optometrist may be asked to help insert contact lenses into the eye of a patient (or potentially remove said contact lens).
On the other hand, an MA who works for a podiatrist, by contrast, may be asked to help make castings of feet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How Does Electronic Health Record Work?
Here is where things get very important. First, Electronic Health Record (or EHR for short) is essentially a digital record one’s medical history that otherwise would typically be captured on paper and stored in physical files.
The EHR not only includes the medical history of a patient, but also any lab results, immunizations, medications and more.
Electronic Health Record is particularly useful because it allows a variety of different health care providers and organizations to gain access and share information about a patient’s medical history. This new age of digital information sharing provides a patient with faster and more accurate service, and helps keep different health practitioners aware of the medical goings-on of a given patient.
Why Electronic Health Record is Deeply Important
If you’re wondering why EHR is so important, well, it’s because of the CMS.
Why? Because the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has ruled that only medical assistants that are actually certified are permitted to enter medication, laboratory, and radiology orders into the Electronic Health Record to count toward meeting the Meaningful Use thresholds under Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs.
This means that, if you’re thinking about becoming a medical assistant, it would certainly behoove you to become certified because it will give you a competitive advantage during your job search, as not all of your peers will have taken the time to become certified themselves.
Learning About Medical Assistant Certification
You can become certified through one of the four sponsoring certification organizations listed below:
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- National Center of Comptency Testing (NCCT)
The American Association of Medical Assistants, as well as the American Medical Technologists, are non-profit organizations. The National Healthcareer Association and the National Center of Competency Testing are for-profit organizations.
It’s worth noting, too, that the AAMA is currently the only organization that solely provides certification to medical assistants.
Are You Eligible for the Certification Exam?
All of the organizations listed above have their own requirements pertaining to eligibility.
The CMA exam (AAMA) requires that you graduate from an accredited program listed by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). These two accrediting bodies offer what’s typically termed “programmatic accreditation.” This means that any school you find that’s listed as accredited has been thoroughly examined and met the standard accrediting process.
The AMT, however, provides you with five different paths towards certification:
- An applicant who is a recent graduate of, or will soon be a graduate of a program listed on the CAAHEP or ABHES website.
- An applicant who is a recent graduate of, or will soon be a graduate of a postsecondary school or college that has institutional accreditation by a regional accrediting commission or by a national accrediting organization approved by the U.S. Department of Education (including a minimum 720 clock hours of medical assisting skills training).
- An applicant who is a recent graduate of, or will soon be a graduate of a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces.Please do note that if you have graduated from your medical assistant program within the last four years, you will not need to provide any proof of work experience. If, however, you graduated more than four years ago, you will indeed be required to provide proof of current work experience.
- An applicant will need to have been employed in the medical assisting profession for at least of five years, no more than two years of which may have been as an instructor in the postsecondary medical assistant program (proof of current work experience and high school education. Employment dates must be within the last five years.
- An applicant that has passed a generalist medical assistant certification examination offered by another medical assisting certification agency (provided said exam has been approved for this purpose by the AMT Board of Directors) and who have been working as a medical assistant for the past three out of five years and who has met all other AMT training and experience requirements (no further examination required).
Now, for anyone seeking certification through the NHA, you have two options. With that said, both options do require you to be eighteen years of age and possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent:
- Applicants must have completed a successful allied health training program within the past year or
- Applicants must have one year of medical assisting employment and employment as an MA within the past year.
And lastly, for anyone who seeks certification through the NCCT, there are also two pathways toward eligibility:
- Graduate from an NCCT approved medical assisting program within the last decade or you must…
- Possess two years of qualifying full time employment (which amounts to 4,160 hours), or the equivalent of part-time employment for a medical assistant within the past decade.
If you seek recertification rather than certification, requirements can be just as unique. For example, those who seek recertification through the AAMA must complete 60 hours of continuing education every 60 months.
By contrast, the NHA demands just ten hours of continuing education every two years.
At this stage, you may be asking the following question: Why would one seek certification through one specific organization over the other? This is always a personal choice, but it typically does boil down to time, money, and reputation.
With that said, many in the business see the AAMA and AMT as the “gold standard” when it comes to certification of medical assistants. And the AAMA typically stands out the most here because they are the only organization that exclusively certifies medical assistants.
The AAMA also have a fantastic relationship with employers, too. In fact, an employer can go through the AAMA’s official website to double check if an applicant or recent interviewee is actually certified by the AAMA. This is particularly useful if an employer suspects that an applicant has embellished or outright lied about their medical assistant certification status.
Certification vs Licensure
In the medical field, the words “certification” and “licensure” are thrown around so much that it’s become very difficult to discern what the difference is between the two terms. But there is a difference, so let’s quickly break it down.
Certification, by and large, is seen as a voluntary credential. It’s typically accepted on the national level and one is often deemed “certified” by a nongovernmental, private sector entity.
While certification is often encouraged, it’s important to remember that it’s not required by all employers (though this may soon change in the future).
Licensure, on the other hand, is a mandatory credential. It is handed out on a state level by a government agency. This means that every state has their own set of requirements or “standards” for how a professional in a given industry should be trained an educated.
How does that impact you? Well, if you worked in one state and wanted to move to another and continue working as a medical professional, you would need to check to see if there was a reciprocation process in place. If not, it’s quite possible you would need to apply for licensure (which could require an examination, for example) before you could be granted the opportunity to work.
Licensure is something that’s a big issue for paramedics, who have to sometimes go through a long and somewhat complicated process of gaining proper credentials so that they can work in specific states.
What Is the CAHEEP and the ABHES?
The CAHEEP and the ABHES both accredit medical assistant programs. And to be eligible for the AAMA certification exam, or the AMT certification exam, you must graduate from an accredited medical assisted program.
Both the CAHEEP and ABHES continue to update their list of schools that currently have received accreditation. If a school that once was deemed accredited is no longer accredited, they will be removed from the list.
Applying to Medical Assistant School
Every program that offers training to students requires a little something different of their applicants. But with that said, there are some basic requirements that you must have in order to be accepted into a program:
- You must be 18 years old or older
- You must hold a high school diploma or a GED equivalent
- You must be able to provide proof that you are healthy. This could include proof of a recent physical, or even proof of immunizations about things like the measles, mumps, rubella, or tuberculosis.
- You must be willing to submit yourself to a criminal background check.
- You will likely be asked to take a college assessment test, like one done by ACCUPLACER for example.
- You will have to pay a specified application fee.
What Will I Learn During my Course?
The job of a medical assistant is so varied that you’ll need to learn a variety of different skills. Below is just a taste of what you can expect to be trained and educated on while in class:
- Infection/Hazard Control
- Laboratory Procedures
- Medical Insurance Coding
- Diet Therapy Nutrition
- Math Fundamentals
- Medical Terminology
- Healthcare Computing
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Business Writing and HER
- Surgical Procedures
- Medical Law and Ethics
But you’ll get your biggest education at the end of the course. That’s when you’ll participate in what’s termed the Medical Assistant Practicum or Externship. This is where a student will head to a hospital or clinic and get actual hands-on experience under the watchful eye of a preceptor.
The end of the practicum will task the preceptor with the responsibility of gauging a student’s strengths and weaknesses. He or she will also be best qualified to note whether a student is ready to pursue gainful employment.
How Long Are Medical Assistant Classes?
Classes can vary based on so many different factors. But with that said, a program can be often be as short as eight months or as long as a year and a half.
How Much Money Does a Medical Assistant Program Cost?
Again, there’s no easy answer here. With that said, it’s safe to say that you should budget anywhere between $1,000 to $12,000 for a medical assistant program for diploma programs, although some can balloon even higher. These numbers reflect tuition only however, which means that the cost of textbooks and other items can raise the overall cost of school.
For degree programs in medical assisting, it’s a safe bet to budget anywhere from $16,000 to $30,000. Financial aid is almost always available, as well.
How Much Does a Medical Assistant Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a medical assistant in the United States of America makes, on average, about $29,370. ONet’s salary average is a little bit more than the BLS ($29,610), which breaks down to about $14.24 per hour.
The Job Outlook for Medical Assistants in the Future
Despite the entry-level salary of MAs not being the best, the job outlook in the future is fantastic. In fact, employment of medical assistants is expected to make a massive jump of 29% from 2012 to 2022.
This means that, despite the fact that there are already over 500,000 medical assistants employed in America today, that figure is expected to rise dramatically over the next decade.
This is highly significant, because it shows that unlike other jobs that get shipped overseas or replaced with computers and technology, there continues to be a big need for qualified people to enter hospitals and medical offices and serve the dual role of helping both the administrative and clinical side of medicine.
In closing, here are a few articles that we recommend: