How Long Is Medical Assisting School?
Medical assisting programs usually take 1-2 years to complete, depending on the level of education. The following article outlines different training options for prospective medical assistants and the timeline to finish each.
How to Become a Medical Assistant
There are two different avenues to becoming a medical assistant; both start with a high school diploma or the equivalent. From there, most aspiring medical assistants enroll in a formal training program. Typically, medical assisting school takes one to two years to complete.
Some prospective medical assistants begin their careers as receptionists or other clerical workers in the healthcare industry and work their way up. In this case, they receive strictly on-the-job training. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that individuals with some formal training or education will have the best job prospects.
Interesting Facts About Medical Assistants
|Median Salary (2018)||$33,610|
|Professional Certification||Certified Management Accountant (CMA) American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) Certification|
|Work Environment||Outpatient care centers, hospitals, physician's offices|
|Common Courses||Anatomy, Laboratory procedures, Medical law, Medical Terminology, Pharmacology|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
General Timeline for Completing Medical Assisting School
The two basic types of medical assisting education at post-secondary schools are associate's degree programs and certificate or diploma programs.
The associate degree generally takes two years to complete. These programs are typically found at community or junior colleges. They include general education requirements in disciplines like English and mathematics, as well as professional courses in areas like medical terminology, anatomy and health care law. Students also learn clerical skills such as typing, transcription and record-keeping.
Certificate and diploma programs generally take a year to complete and cover the same topics as associate degree programs without the general education requirements. Certificate and diploma programs often are offered through community or junior colleges, as well as technical or vocational schools. Accredited medical assisting programs might also feature or require internship opportunities, where students can gain practical professional experience.
Many medical assisting school graduates go on to earn certification from one of several accrediting agencies. Organizations like the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offer such certification, which usually requires test applicants to have graduated from an accredited medical assisting program. The BLS, which predicts a 29% job growth rate for the medical assisting field from 2016 to 2026, states that applicants who are certified are likely to see the most favorable job prospects.