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How Long Does It Take To Become A Medical Assistant?

How Long Does It Take To Become A Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants can anticipate a rewarding career ahead. They are the backbone of healthcare facilities, providing support to physicians, patients, and the administrative team alike. Training to become a medical assistant can range from as few as 10 months to two years.

Earning your certification as a medical assistant doesn’t add a lot of extra time in terms of schooling. While you can still be hired without certification, it is recommended for medical assistants to become certified. To get certified, you will need to take the AAMA exam within a year of graduating from an accredited school or program. You may also take the AAMA exam up to one month before graduation as well.

Medical Assisting Program Lengths

To become a medical assistant, you have a few options. You can enroll in an associate degree program at a community college, or you can opt for an accredited certificate program. Associate degree and certificate programs mainly differ in terms of program length, cost, and courses.

Choosing to pursue an associate degree program takes an average of 2 years to complete. You will also take courses outside of those relevant to becoming a CMA. If you are someone who would prefer taking these extra courses to receive your degree, you may find that an associate degree program is right for you.

On the other hand, CMA certificate programs are among the shortest forms of training, taking as few as 10 months to earn your certificate. Certificate programs cover courses only relevant to the knowledge you will need as a medical assistant. Additionally, these certificate programs can range between $2,000-$5,000 depending on your institution.

Online training courses are another option, however, it is important to confirm the program’s legitimacy. Like certificate programs, you must be sure the online program you enroll in is accredited, especially if you wish to become certified after completing your courses.

Find excellent schools with a variety of medical assistant programs including on-campus and online.

Getting Your Certification: The AAMA Exam

Only students who receive an accredited education will be eligible to take the AAMA exam to become certified. Those who pass the exam are generally distinguished in the eyes of potential employers as having the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the industry.

Since the American Association of Medical Assistants does require students to take the exam within a year after graduation, becoming a CMA does not add much in the way of time toward becoming certified. You may even choose to take the AAMA exam as early as a month before you complete your program.

What Do Medical Assistants Do?

Medical assistants may find themselves working in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical centers. Their duties range from clinical to clerical; working with patients, taking vitals, running tests, and preparing exam rooms, to updating patient files, and carrying out administrative tasks.

Medical assistants will work closely with doctors and nurses, but can also work in a variety of settings with different medical personnel. They may work in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, optometrists, chiropractors, ENTs, labs, etc. There are many different opportunities available if you would prefer to work outside of a hospital setting.

Salary Outlook and Pay

Medical assistants have a rewarding career path to look forward to. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2032, the demand for medical assistants will increase 14 percent. In addition, the BLS reported that medical assistants in 2023 made an average of $43,350, with the top 10 percent making $56,480. If you choose to become a CMA you may open yourself up to more opportunities for career advancement more versatility in your career overall.

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