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How Do I Become a Medical Office Assistant?

With continued growth in the healthcare industry, training to become a medical office assistant will provide viable career opportunities. Educational and certification programs enable students with the skills needed to succeed in this field. Explore the requirements for the career in this article.

Career Overview

Medical office assistants provide general administrative support along with specialized functions, such as insurance filing and processing patients. Clinical medical assistants also take the patient's medical histories, record vital signs, and prepare lab samples. While some skills can be acquired on the job, most medical office assistants complete a formal educational program.

Important Facts About This Degree

Online Availability Certificate and associate's degree programs available online
Prerequisites High school diploma may be required
Continuing Education Required to maintain certification
Specializations Office management, phlebotomy, coding
Median Salary (2020) $34,800 (For Medical Assistants)*
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 19% (For Medical Assistants)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

Vocational schools, community colleges, universities, and online institutions offer programs in medical office assisting. Certificate, diploma, and associate's degree programs are the most common. These programs can last between several months and two years. Those interested in clinical work should choose a program providing training in taking vital signs, assisting physicians during procedures, and preparing laboratory specimens.

Students interested in becoming medical transcriptionists or coders may want to consider programs specific to those skills. Other topics covered in a medical office and administrative assisting programs include:

  • Computer applications
  • Medical terminology
  • Communications
  • Medical ethics
  • Recordkeeping

Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), many employers prefer to hire medical office assistants who are certified. The Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (www.aama-ntl.org) provides certification to candidates who have graduated from an approved medical assisting program and have passed its certification exam.

Employment Opportunities

The BLS ranks the healthcare industry as one of the fastest growing industries, creating increasing demand for medical office assistants. Medical office assistants are employed by physicians' offices, hospitals, outpatient care clinics, personal care services, insurance companies, medical laboratories, and other healthcare facilities.