Medical Assistant Technician: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for medical assistant technicians. Get the facts about job duties, salary, employment outlook and education requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Medical Assistant Technician?

A medical assistant technician, or medical assistant, is a support professional in a healthcare facility. They work in both office administration and clinical services. In the office, medical assistants perform tasks like scheduling appointments and handling insurance forms. In the examining room, they can discuss a patient's medical history, assist doctors with examinations and provide basic medical care. Those who work in a large hospital may focus more heavily on either administrative or clinical work.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required On-the-job training may be sufficient; certificate, diploma or associate's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Medical assisting
Key Skills Perform patient intake, help physician with basic procedures & tests, schedule appointments
Certification Required Voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024 ) 23%*
Average Salary (2015) $31,910*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Does a Medical Assistant Technician Do?

Your role as a medical assistant technician, commonly known as a medical assistant, can comprise both clinical and administrative tasks. On the clinical side, tasks you can be responsible for include writing down patient histories, assisting during exams, drawing blood, doing basic lab tests, answering questions on procedures, taking vitals, removing sutures, sterilizing equipment and tidying exam rooms. Administrative tasks you may have include greeting patients, filling out patient records, answering phones, scheduling appointments, billing, bookkeeping and filing.

Where Can I Work?

Medical assistant technicians are able to work in different settings because of their versatile training. The different places that you are able to work as a medical assistant technician include doctor's offices, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, nursing care facilities and outpatient care centers.

What Are the Education Requirements?

Unlike with other medical careers, there are no legal requirements for education in this field. You can be hired right out of high school with just a diploma. There are high schools that offer vocational programs in this area, so that when you graduate, you're ready to start a new career.

There are certificate and diploma programs that some employers may require in lieu of experience. Some schools offer an associate's degree in medical assisting. Classes that you may take include medical office management, computer skills, surgical procedures, lab procedures, clinical procedures, pharmacology, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, ethics and medical law. Once you have finished formal education through an accredited school or worked a certain amount of years, you are able to gain certification to demonstrate the knowledge you have achieved.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that as of May 2015, medical assistants earned an average salary of $31,910 per year (www.bls.gov). Industries with the highest employment levels for medical assistants were physician offices and hospitals. In addition, the BLS reports that during the 2014-2024 decade, medical assistants can expect a job growth rate of 23%, which is much faster than average.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you're more interested in the clinical aspects of medical assisting, you might want to think about a job as a licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN). Like medical assistants, these nurses provide basic care and record patient conditions. To become an LPN or LVN, you must complete an approved postsecondary certificate program and pass a licensure exam. Alternatively, if you would rather focus more on medical administration, you might want to get a job as a medical records or health information technician. These professionals record and organize patients' medical histories by inputting data into databases and electronic health records systems. This job also requires the completion of a degree or certificate program.

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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