What are the Benefits of Becoming a Medical Assistant?
With all of the different career choices and paths available in the healthcare industry, you might be asking yourself why you should become a medical assistant. Believe it or not, medical assistants are one of the fastest-growing healthcare provider groups in the country due in part to their overall versatility. Below, you can learn about the benefits associated with becoming an MA to help you see why this is the perfect career choice for you.
1. You Can Start Working Sooner Rather than Later
Many career paths will require you to graduate high school, then go off to four years of university, and perhaps even continue with your education after that. When you choose to become a medical assistant, you can choose from a number of different education paths that will all have you working and earning money sooner rather than later. For example, you could choose a diploma or certificate program that takes anywhere from nine to 12 months to complete. If you want to be competitive in the job market, you could opt for an Associate of Science in Medical Assisting degree, which will take between 18-24 months to complete.
2. You’ll Enjoy Job Security for a Lifetime
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, medical assisting jobs are expected to increase by 23% by 2024. When compared to the average expected growth of all occupations at just 7%, it is easy to see that the demand for MAs will continue to increase, leading to job security for a lifetime.
The increases in medical assistant demand and employment will come from many different sources and factors. For example, as the baby boomer generation ages, they will need more health care, which will in turn require larger numbers of healthcare facilities and support staff to fill them. What’s more, thanks to recent changes in health insurance laws, more people than ever have health coverage. This means that there are more people seeing their physicians regularly, which also calls for more support staff.
Finally, MA jobs will continue to grow due in part to a medical assistant’s overall versatility within the healthcare field. These individuals perform a wide variety of duties, which range from clerical and administrative tasks to direct patient care under the supervision of a doctor. As healthcare facilities work harder to be more cost-conscious, they would rather hire one individual who can handle a variety of tasks with knowledge than several individuals who specialize in only one type of task each.
3. You Can Work in Any State
Most healthcare professionals must pass exams for licensing, and those licenses are only valid in one state. Although certification is not required to be employed as a medical assistant in any state, most employers look for such certifications since they prove a MAs knowledge and expertise. Unlike the licensing required to become a nurse or physician’s assistant, medical assistant certifications are valid an any state you choose to work. Thus, if you’re certified in Florida and you choose to move to California, you aren’t required to recertify.
Keep in mind, though, that individual states do have what are known as “Scope of Practice” laws. These dictate the types of jobs that certain healthcare professionals – including medical assistants – are allowed to undertake with or without certification. For example, in some states, MAs must be licensed in order to draw blood or administer injections. In others, MAs must be certified to work with x-ray equipment.
4. You’ll Enjoy a Nice Salary with Minimal Secondary Education
There are several different types of medical assistant designations. Some are registered MAs and others are certified MAs, and some work on the administrative side of things while others perform strictly clinical duties. No matter which path you choose, you can finish the required schooling in less than two years. In some cases, it’s possible to advance into a medical assistant position with no secondary education at all if you have several years of healthcare experience.
Unlike many positions that people can obtain without at least a bachelor’s degree, medical assistants can earn reasonable salaries without any degree at all, though obtaining a diploma, certificate, or associate’s degree will often allow an MA the opportunity to earn more money. Aside from this, medical assistants also receive substantial benefits, including health, vision, and dental insurance as well as access to 401(k) plans, paid holidays, and vacation time. The average salaries for different types of medical assistants are shown below.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA): A CMA earns an average of $31,840 per year. Depending on factors like their location, experience, education, and specialty, they make anywhere from $10.27 to $20.35 an hour.
Clinical Medical Assistant: Much of a clinical medical assistant’s day is spent working directly with patients and assisting a physician with medical procedures. On average, this type of MA earns $30,940 annually or between $10.16 and $19.59 per hour.
Administrative Medical Assistant: An administrative medical assistant’s duties are concentrated primarily in the front office. These individuals answer phone calls, help patients schedule appointments, assist with billing and insurance claims, and keep records organized. They earn about $30, 570 per year on average, which is equal to anywhere from $9.73 to $19.66 per year.
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA): A registered medical assistant earns an average of $30,310 nationwide, which is about $9.57 to $19.58 an hour based on factors like location, specialty, education, and experience.
Non-Certified Medical Assistant: A medical assistant who has not yet earned any credentials earns far less than his or her competitors. This is why it is so very important for MAs to take and pass their certification or registration exams.
Medical Assistants as a Whole: When the entire MA demographic is combined, the average annual earnings for people in this profession is about $31,910 annually. Those who have secondary education and credentials as well as the most experience tend to earn more, while those who do not earn less.
According to a 2016 report from the BLS, the median wage for 20- to 24-year-olds is about $25,636 per year. This means that young people who graduate from high school and earn a certificate in medical assisting can earn anywhere from $5000 to $6000 more than the national average each year.
5. You’ll Get the Skills You Need to Climb the Career Ladder
Careers in healthcare as a whole are booming, but many people are reluctant or unable to pay for the years of college it takes to become a medical coder or physician assistant immediately after high school. One of the biggest benefits of a career as a medical assistant is the on-the-job experience you’ll gain. Should you decide to go back to school later to become a phlebotomist, a physician assistant, a nurse, or even a coder, your previous experience will undeniably benefit you.
It isn’t uncommon for MAs to learn how to do some medical coding on the job, and doing so can give them a solid opportunity to specialize in coding later down the line. This profession comes with a fairly significant pay increase, too; the BLS reports the median pay for medical records and health information technicians in 2015 was $37,110 per year.
Medical assistants may also further their education and choose to become physician assistants, or PAs. They do more than simply provide basic assistance to healthcare staff; they assist with examining, treating, and even diagnosing patients. Your work as a medical assistant will provide you with valuable knowledge and make it simpler to earn the required master’s degree required of a physician assistant. The BLS reports that PAs earn a median salary of $98,180 per hour, which is well above the national average.
6. Boredom Won’t Exist
If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy boredom while working, then a career as a medical assistant is right for you. One of the biggest benefits is the fact that you’ll never do the same thing one day to the next, and each day will present new people, new challenges, and new triumphs. Because you’ll have one of the widest and broadest skillsets in the entire healthcare industry, you’ll find yourself moving from one task to the next. For example, you may be removing a patient’s stitches one minute and filing a patient’s insurance claim the next.
7. You Can Work Regular Hours If You Choose
One of the most common complaints among those who work in the healthcare field has to do with the long and unusual hours. There’s no doubt that nurses and physician assistants work 12, 16, and sometimes 20 hour days, and people don’t stop getting sick or injured because it’s a holiday or a weekend. While physician assistants and nurses work crazy hours, an MA can choose how and where he or she wants to work. If you enjoy a fast-paced environment and you don’t mind working holidays and weekends, then you can work in a hospital and earn a larger salary. On the other hand, if you like the convenience of a nine-to-five schedule and having weekends and holidays off, you can work in a clinic or physician’s office where the hours are more predictable.
8. You Can Specialize, Too
Although it’s true that the vast majority of medical assistants tend to generalize, which means they work in general medical settings such as in hospitals, clinics, or in the offices of primary care physicians, you can choose to specialize if you wish to do so. There are a few different ways to do this.
For example, if you wanted to focus your MA career on obstetrics and gynecology, you could gain much of the experience you need on the job if you work in a hospital or in an OBGYN’s office. On the other hand, you might choose to take a midwife’s assisting program to gain that education as it will make you a more viable candidate when you apply for positions within this field.
9. It’s a Fulfilling Career Choice for Compassionate People
Perhaps the best of all of the benefits associated with becoming a medical assistant has to do with the fulfillment it can provide to compassionate individuals who have a true desire to help improve people’s lives through quality healthcare. Unlike many other positions in the healthcare industry, a medical assistant works with a variety of patients from all walks of life who have many unique needs. It is up to you to help make them comfortable, provide them with information, keep track of their health information, and collaborate with other members of the healthcare team in order to make sure they get the help they need.
Medical assisting is one of the fastest growing career choices out there, and there’s no denying that it can provide you with fantastic job security and a job that is exciting from one day to the next. However, because it’s such a versatile position and provides ample clinical and administrative experience, it’s also a great choice if you’re interested in furthering your career later down the line.