Medical Assistant Career Guide – Traits, Training, Jobs

Aug 09 2019

Young Medical Assistant holding a stethoscope
If you’re looking into careers in allied health, odds are medical assisting has come up more than once. If you think it sounds interesting, here are the questions you need to ask before you decide that becoming a Medical Assistant is the right decision for you.

The Ideal Personality Traits of a Medical Assistant

No matter what the job is, it’s important that you find the right person to do it. You wouldn’t want a pianist fixing your car and you don’t want a plumber performing open-heart surgery. It’s just as important to make sure that a career is a good fit for you. You might be well-suited to being a Medical Assistant if you are:

  • Organized
  • Empathetic
  • Adaptable
  • Good at communicating
  • Cool under pressure

Medical Assistants are some of the ultimate generalists, so they need to be highly organized and adaptable. On any given day, you could be doing everything from educating a patient to taking vital signs to preparing lab specimens. Because so much of what medical assistants do involves working with patients, empathy and strong communication skills are crucial. Since emergencies can happen in any medical setting, medical assistants also need to be very cool under pressure.
Female Medical Assistant taking vitals signs from elderly patient

Career Opportunities for a Medical Assistant

One great thing about being a medical assistant is that you can work in so many different settings. While some careers are stuck working in one or two places, medical assistants have the opportunity to work in:

  • Doctor’s offices
  • Hospitals
  • Labs
  • Clinics
  • Retirement homes and communities
  • Nursing homes
  • Urgent care facilities
  • Many more

With so many options, you have the chance to find the setting that works best for you. Are you passionate about childcare? You could work in a pediatrics office. Do you appreciate the perspective that working with the elderly brings? Nursing homes and retirement communities are excellent choices. The good news is that you can always switch to a new setting if you find you want to work with a different group.

Average Salary for a Medical Assistant*

Earning potential is an important consideration for any career. In 2018, Medical Assistants made an average of $33,610 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% made over $47,000!
*PCI cannot guarantee job placement or salary for graduates. This information is provided for reference purposes only.

Another key career consideration is job security. From 2016-2026, the job market for Medical Assistants is projected to grow by 29%, which is over four times faster than the national average. This means medical assistants generally have much higher job security than the average person.
Medical assistant stands next to elderly patient

How Long it Takes to Become a Medical Assistant

There are a few different routes you can take to become a medical assistant, but typically there are three base requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete a Medical Assistant program
  • Pass a Medical Assistant licensing or certification exam

You need to have a high school diploma or GED because all reputable medical assistant schools require it prior to allowing you to enroll in the program. Medical Assistants fulfill many different responsibilities and the high school diploma or GED show that you are prepared to learn the additional specialized skills you’ll need.

Applying to a medical assistant program is an important part of this process. To know that you’ve found the right program for you, make sure that it is accredited, provides hands-on training, and provides the support you’ll need. Program lengths can vary from as little as 10 months to over two years. Our Medical Assistant Diploma program is designed to be completed in as little as 10 months.

After you’ve completed your program, you can sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) Exam. This comprehensive exam currently consists of over 200 multiple choice questions that are intended to gauge if you are ready to work as a medical assistant. This may seem daunting, but keep in mind that the broad career opportunities available to medical assistants require a broad range of skills and knowledge. These exams are offered on an ongoing basis, so you could take the exam in as little as two weeks from when you submit your application. Once you pass the exam, you’ll be able to apply for Medical Assistant positions in whichever field you find most appealing.

Start Your Journey Today

If you’ve decided that a future in Medical Assisting is right for you, the best way to get started is to talk to an admissions specialist. Our knowledgeable and friendly admissions team is ready to answer your questions and help you get on the right track. If you know you’re ready, feel free to apply today or give us a call with any questions.

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