5 Steps to Becoming an Administrative Medical Assistant

Research what it takes to become an administrative medical assistant. Learn about job duties, education requirements and certification to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Medical Office Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Administrative Medical Assistant?

Administrative medical assistants handle the clerical duties of physicians' offices and other medical offices. These clerical tasks may include filing patient records, scheduling appointments and making sure patient medical records are logged into medical databases. Administrative medical assistants may also be responsible for completing forms for insurance companies and coding medical records. To find out more about this career, take a look at the chart below.

Education Required Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree is common; some positions only require a high school diploma or equivalent
Education Field of Study Medical assisting, office administration or a similar field
Key Responsibilities Schedule appointments, maintain patients' medical records, file insurance forms, order lab tests
Job Growth (2014-2024) 23% (for all medical assistants)*
Median Salary (2015) $30,590 (for all medical assistants)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Administrative Medical Assistant?

As an administrative medical assistant, you would be responsible for the office duties of a medical office, performing tasks such as maintaining patients' records, filing insurance forms and ordering laboratory tests. General administrative tasks, such as answering phones, scheduling appointments and bookkeeping would also be part of your job. You need to have a positive attitude because you are often in contact with patients.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

In high school, you should focus on courses such as mathematics, typing and office skills in order to prepare yourself to work in an office setting. Computer classes are also important as medical records are increasingly electronic. You may also want to take some biology and health classes so you'll have some basic medical knowledge.

Step 2: Gain Experience

While employers prefer a degree, you can become an administrative medical assistant with just a high school diploma. Some employers may offer you on-the-job training in an entry-level position where you would learn the skills you need from more experienced workers. You could also volunteer in a health care facility to learn the typical office proceedings of medical environments.

Step 3: Attend a Formal Training Program

You may choose to attend a formal training program in medical administration, either at the associate's degree or certificate level. Both degree and certificate programs offer courses in medical insurance billing, medical computer systems and healthcare compliance laws. You may also have the opportunity to participate in an internship to gain experience prior to graduation.

Step 4: Get Certified

Although you don't need to be certified to work as an administrative medical assistant, you may choose to seek a professional designation to demonstrate your knowledge and ability. The National Healthcare Association offers the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant credential, for which you are eligible to test after you have completed either a training program or one year of work as an administrative medical assistant.

Step 5: Apply for a Job

You can find the most opportunities for employment in private physicians' offices. Jobs are also available at both public and private hospitals, including both inpatient and outpatient facilities. A small number of jobs are available in the offices of chiropractors, optometrists and podiatrists. You may have the best job prospects with formal training, prior experience and professional certification.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Medical records and health information technicians are another set of professionals who complete clerical duties in medical offices. Like administrative medical assistants, they maintain medical records, work on insurance forms and code records for insurance purposes. These professionals typically hold a certificate or an associate's degree. In dental offices, dental assistants may schedule appointments and maintain records, much like administrative medical assistants would in doctor's offices. However, dental assistants often have basic clinical duties as well, like taking x-rays of patients' mouths or providing chair-side assistance during dental procedures. This career typically requires a postsecondary certificate at minimum.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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