Common Paths of Medical Assistant Career Advancement
If you’re interested in entering the medical field so that you can help people (and so that you can pursue a stable career with plenty of job opportunities), then you may want to consider becoming a medical assistant. However, before you dive into a career as a medical assistant, you’ll want to know what the path a medical assistant typically takes as they advance their careers – and how they can advance their careers. The following are some of the medical assistant career path options that you can take.
The Most Common Medical Assistant Career Path
- Complete a medical assistant program – To become a medical assistant, you will first need to enroll in an accredited medical assistant program. These programs are available through universities, community colleges, and vocational schools. Most programs can be completed within a year (and in some cases, as little as 8 to 9 months). You will receive both classroom and clinical training.
- Earn medical assistant certification – Once you earn a degree, you will have to pass a certification exam. There are exams available from several agencies, such as the AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants). The program you attend should prepare you for this exam. You’ll have a better chance at securing a job as a medical assistant if you’re certified.
- Obtain experience as a medical assistant – Once you’re certified, you’ll want to get a job as a medical assistant. You’ll be able to work in a number of different settings, including private practices, hospitals, labs, outpatient clinics, and more. You’ll earn valuable experience during the first few years as a medical assistant.
- Earn specialized training certificates – Once you have some general experience as a medical assistant, you may want to begin specializing. For example, you can become a medical assistant with a specialization in ob-gyn, podiatry, or ophthalmology, just to name a few. You’ll need additional certifications for these specializations but they will help increase your job opportunities.
- Pursue additional training or education – With medical assistant experience, it will be a lot easier to go back to school and obtain a nursing degree, which can open up more career options in the medical field.
Medical Assistant Career Advancement
The following are a few areas of specialization that medical assistants will often pursue in order to advance their careers and secure higher paying positions:
- Administrative or management positions – Administrative and management positions include medical records and health information technicians, and medical and health services managers. These positions are much higher paying (especially medical and health services managers), but may require additional education (such as an associate or bachelor’s degree) and certifications.
- Medical technology positions – You could pursue a surgical technologist position, which will require you to attend another accredited program. Some employers also require associate degrees and/or certifications. If you want to become a medical and clinical laboratory technologist, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree.
- Nursing positions – As a medical assistant, you’ll have experience and skills that provide an excellent foundation to become a nurse. You will need to enroll in a nursing program and pass a certification exam in order to become either an LPN (licensed practical nurse) or an RN (registered nurse). Nurses are in even more demand than medical assistants, which means you’ll have an even wider variety of positions that you can apply for.