Are you considering a career as a medical assistant? It’s a hands-on profession helping people in a variety of healthcare settings. Medical assisting is also among the fastest growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), making it a promising career option for those with the right credentials. 
Medical Assistant Definition
Medical assisting can be a dynamic career where individuals fulfill important roles in the front and back of doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other healthcare environments. Depending on the practice’s specialty, size, and location, these professionals may assist in the provision of routine medical care and the day-to-day administration of the business. 
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Oftentimes, medical assistants are the first and last people patients see. They help prepare the patient for the doctor by recording personal medical information and taking vital signs. At the end of the visit, they may schedule the patient’s next appointment and update their medical records.  Learn more about what a medical assistant does.
Compared to all other occupations, the job outlook for medical assistants is healthy: while most of the nation is predicted to see an average employment growth rate of 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, medical assistants are projected to enjoy a 29 percent increase in job opportunities. This is even faster than for other healthcare support occupations.
Job Growth Factors
- An aging population in need of preventative medical care
- An increase in facilities offering healthcare services
- Advancements in medications, treatments, and procedures  
- Physicians’ offices
- Retirement and continuing care communities
- Outpatient care centers 
Employment opportunities are generally best for medical assistants with certification. Vocational school, work experience, and successful completion of an exam are prerequisites for certification.  
Midwest Technical Institute prepares and schedules students to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants’ (AAMA) National Medical Assistant (CMA) Certification Exam. The school offers medical assistant programs in the cities of Springfield, East Peoria, and Moline, Illinois and Springfield, Missouri. Illinois employs 20,620 medical assistants, while another 9,050 work in Missouri.  
Medical assistants’ salaries vary depending on their credentials, experience in the field, industry, and location.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that outpatient care centers, hospitals, chiropractors, and physicians are among the industries with the highest compensation. Alaska and the District of Columbia are the states with the highest wages.   Graduates of MTI’s medical assisting programs in Illinois and Missouri typically earned $17,544 a year. 
Medical Assistant Skills
Since medical assistants often work in the front and back of healthcare offices, they usually learn a combination of clerical and clinical skills.
- Billing 
- Coding electronic and paper health records (EHRs)
- Filing & recordkeeping
- Computing & keyboarding
- Software programs: accounting, email, and medical.
- Medical terminology
- Medical instruments
- Human anatomy 
- Drawing blood
- Sterilization  
Medical Assistant Qualities & Traits
Aside from a desire to help people, medical assistants can benefit from having certain qualities and traits.
- Strong verbal communication
- Active listening
- Social sensitivity 
- Outgoing 
- Problem solving 
- Interpersonal skills 
Experience working in the field and additional training can help medical assistants advance their careers into leadership positions.
- Clinical team leader
- Medical office manager
- Healthcare administration
- Medical records manager 
With continued education they may also advance into other healthcare occupations:
- Registered Nurse
- Physician Assistant
- Nurse Practitioner 
As you can see, being a medical assistant usually requires a combination of education, inherent abilities and learned skills.
How to Become a Medical Assistant
While some medical assistants learn the profession on the job, the majority graduate from medical assistant training programs. One reason for this is that employers tend to prefer candidates who’ve successfully completed such programs.  Learn more about how to become a medical assistant.
Licenses & Certification
Generally, medical assistants are not required to have a license, but some states mandate that they be certified. Many medical assistants seek certification because it can improve employment opportunities. 
Certified medical assistant (CMA) and registered medical assistant (RMA) are two types of medical assistant certification. An individual will need to graduate from an accredited medical assisting program, gain work experience, and pass an exam in order to obtain either credential. The main difference between a CMA and a RMA is the granting organization. A CMA or a RMA can be obtained from a number of organizations. The American Association of Medical Assistants is one of the issuers of the CMA, and the American Medical Technologists is one of the granters of the RMA. 
Students of MTI’s medical assisting program are scheduled to take the exam to become a CMA.  Neither Illinois nor Missouri, where the school offers medical assisting programs, require medical assistants to be certified; however, employers typically prefer to hire those with certification.  
- Dental Assistants
- Dental Hygienists
- Nursing Assistants and Aides
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
- Pharmacy Technicians
- Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
- Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides
- Psychiatric Technicians and Aides 
MTI’s Medical Assisting Program
Are you interested in taking the next step toward becoming a medical assistant? Midwest Technical Institute’s medical assistant training is 35 weeks (9 months) and offers both daytime and evening classes* (availability of night time classes varies by campus). Learn more about our Medical Assisting Program.
-  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm
-  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm