How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants are trained professionals who perform a variety of clinical and administrative duties in different healthcare facilities. Their exact job description tends to vary according to their location, size of practice, where they work and specialty.

Duties of a Medical Assistant

The typical duties of a medical assistant revolve around recording patient histories, measuring their vital signs, administering injections and other medications and helping physicians examine patients. They also schedule appointments with patients and prepare blood samples for lab tests. The administrative tasks performed by medical assistants usually revolve around data entry and maintenance. They are required to keep this data confidential.
In large hospitals or medical facilities, medical assistants might specialize in either clinical or administrative work.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Assistant?

You will have to meet certain requirements to become a medical assistant. The first major requirement is to get your high school diploma or a GED. Once you have this, you can begin enrolling in medical assistant programs. These programs are typically available at community colleges, technical schools, universities or vocational schools.
Most medical assistant programs would take you 1 year to complete. However, some colleges might offer a 2-year long program that leads to an associate’s degree.
There are also students who may be able to get jobs as medical assistants after high school. For such applicants, on-the-job training is usually provided by the employer. However, keep in mind that most employers prefer certified medical assistants, with a strong educational background in the subject.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants require a combination of skills to excel in this field. They are usually the first professionals who interact with patients in a healthcare facility. Therefore, it is important to possess the right ‘soft’ skills, along with a solid understanding of more technical aspects. The in-demand soft skills for medical assistants are as follows:

  • Communication
  • Organizational skills
  • Multitasking ability
  • Language skills
  • Computer literacy

The in-demand technical skills for medical assistants are as follows:

  • Scheduling
  • Vital signs measurement
  • Injection administering
  • Scheduling
  • CPR

How Much do Medical Assistants Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants made an annual median income of $33,610 in 2018, which approximates to $16.16 per hour. The highest 10 percent in this occupation earned more than $47,250 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,790. The highest paying industries for medical assistants were as follows:

Industry Annual Median Wage
Outpatient care centers $35,600
Hospitals; state, local and private $34,980
Offices of physicians $33,650
Offices of chiropractors $29,960

The top paying states for medical assistants were as follows:

State Annual Mean Wage
Alaska $45,490
District of Columbia $42,010
Washington $41,340
Minnesota $40,320
Massachusetts $40,270

The highest paying metropolitan areas for medical assistants were Vallejo-Fairfield, CA, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA and Anchorage, AK.