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Working As A Medical Office Assistant

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Repetitive

  • $29,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Medical Office Assistant Do

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice. 

Duties

Medical assistants typically do the following:

  • Record patient history and personal information
  • Measure vital signs, such as blood pressure
  • Help the physician with patient examinations
  • Give patients injections or medications as directed by the physician and as permitted by state law
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Prepare blood samples for laboratory tests
  • Enter patient information into medical records

Medical assistants take and record patients’ personal information. They must be able to keep that information confidential and discuss it only with other medical personnel who are involved in treating the patient.

Electronic health records (EHRs) are changing some medical assistants’ jobs. More and more physicians are adopting EHRs, moving all their patient information from paper to electronic records. Assistants need to learn the EHR software that their office uses.

Medical assistants should not be confused with physician assistants, who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under a physician’s supervision.

In larger practices or hospitals, medical assistants may specialize in either administrative or clinical work.

Administrative medical assistants often fill out insurance forms or code patients’ medical information. They often answer telephones and schedule patient appointments.

Clinical medical assistants have different duties, depending on the state where they work. They may do basic laboratory tests, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments. They may have additional responsibilities, such as instructing patients about medication or special diets, preparing patients for x rays, removing stitches, drawing blood, or changing dressings.

Some medical assistants specialize according to the type of medical office where they work. The following are examples of specialized medical assistants:

Ophthalmic medical assistants and optometric assistants help ophthalmologists and optometrists, respectively, provide eye care. They show patients how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses. Ophthalmic medical assistants also may help an ophthalmologist in surgery.

Podiatric medical assistants work closely with podiatrists (foot doctors). They may make castings of feet, expose and develop x rays, and help podiatrists in surgery.

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How To Become A Medical Office Assistant

Most medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate. Others enter the occupation with a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training.

Education

Medical assistants typically graduate from postsecondary education programs. Although there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant in most states, employers may prefer to hire assistants who have completed these programs.

Programs for medical assisting are available from community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools, and universities and take about 1 year to complete. These programs usually lead to a certificate or diploma. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs that lead to an associate’s degree. All programs have classroom and laboratory portions that include lessons in anatomy and medical terminology.

Some medical assistants have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn their duties on the job. High school students interested in a career as a medical assistant should take courses in biology, chemistry, and anatomy.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Medical assistants must be able to understand and follow medical charts and diagnoses. They may be required to code a patient’s medical records for billing purposes.

Detail oriented. Medical assistants need to be precise when taking vital signs or recording patient information. Physicians and insurance companies rely on accurate records.

Interpersonal skills. Medical assistants need to be able to discuss patient information with other medical personnel, such as physicians. They often interact with patients who may be in pain or in distress, so they need to be able to act in a calm and professional manner.

Technical skills. Medical assistants should be able to use basic clinical instruments so they can take a patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure.

Training

Medical assistants who do not have postsecondary education learn their skills through on-the-job training. Physicians or other medical assistants may teach a new assistant medical terminology, the names of the instruments, how to do daily tasks, how to interact with patients, and other tasks that help keep an office running smoothly. Medical assistants also learn how to code both paper and electronic health records (EHRs) and how to record patient information. It can take several months for an assistant to complete training, depending on the facility.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Medical assistants are not required to be certified in most states. However, employers prefer to hire certified assistants.

Several organizations offer certification. An applicant must pass an exam and have taken one of several routes to be eligible for each certification. These routes include graduation from an accredited program and work experience, among others. In most cases, an applicant must be at least 18 years old before applying for certification.

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies, part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, accredits five certifications for medical assistants:

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from American Medical Technologists
  • National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from the National Center for Competency Testing
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from the National Healthcareer Association
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) from the National Healthcareer Association

Some states may require assistants to graduate from an accredited program, pass an exam, or both, in order to practice. Contact the state board of medicine for more information.

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Medical Office Assistant Career Paths

Medical Office Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Nursing Director
9 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Assistant Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Store Manager
Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Nurse Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Technician Field Service Technician
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Substitute Teacher Consultant
Business Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Phlebotomist Registered Nurse Team Leader
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Phlebotomist Specialist Executive Assistant
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Phlebotomist Laboratory Technician Research Associate
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Front Desk Coordinator Office Administrator Administrator
Business Office Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Front Desk Coordinator Coordinator Shift Supervisor
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Front Desk Coordinator Billing Specialist Administrator
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Utilization Review Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Medical Records Clerk Medical Coder Office Manager
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Medical Records Clerk Medical Coder Manager
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Medical Records Clerk Analyst Assistant Manager
Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Utilization Review Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Accountant Account Manager
Client Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Medical Transcriptionist Editor Chairperson
Medical Director
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
MD 3.4 years
Medical Assistant 3.0 years
Medical Clerk 2.7 years
Medical Internship 0.6 years
Top Careers Before Medical Office Assistant
Cashier 8.1%
Internship 3.9%
Secretary 2.0%
Server 2.0%
Volunteer 1.9%
Top Careers After Medical Office Assistant
Cashier 5.8%
Internship 2.1%

Do you work as a Medical Office Assistant?

Average Yearly Salary
$29,000
Show Salaries
$24,000
Min 10%
$29,000
Median 50%
$29,000
Median 50%
$29,000
Median 50%
$29,000
Median 50%
$29,000
Median 50%
$29,000
Median 50%
$29,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
The Washington Hospital
Highest Paying City
Minneapolis, MN
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
2.7 years
How much does a Medical Office Assistant make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Medical Office Assistant in the United States is $29,949 per year or $14 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $24,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $36,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Top Skills for A Medical Office Assistant

  1. Patient Care
  2. Medical Records
  3. Insurance Companies
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepared patients for procedures provided basic patient care and examinations as directed and assisted physician with procedures.
  • Communicated closely with patients to ensure they are managing their current medications properly, and maintained accurate, up-to-date medical records.
  • Facilitated specialty referrals, authorized medication refills, and managed patient referrals with Worker's Compensation and other insurance companies.
  • Coordinate patient referrals by obtaining all information, insurance verification and authorization required for accurate and timely coordination of patient care.
  • Front Office/Back Office/Referrals/Obtained authorizations/Obtained patients vital signs and roomed patients/Administered immunizations/Assisted doctor with routine exams

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Medical Office Assistants

  1. Washington
  2. Oregon
  3. Minnesota
  4. Alaska
  5. Maine
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Wyoming
  8. Idaho
  9. Utah
  10. Nevada
  • (840 jobs)
  • (353 jobs)
  • (586 jobs)
  • (121 jobs)
  • (172 jobs)
  • (598 jobs)
  • (36 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)
  • (273 jobs)
  • (143 jobs)

Medical Office Assistant Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 19,105 Medical Office Assistant resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Medical Office Assistant Resume

View Resume Examples

Medical Office Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

85.6%

Male

10.6%

Unknown

3.8%
Ethnicity

White

58.4%

Hispanic or Latino

17.4%

Black or African American

13.9%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

68.5%

French

4.9%

Mandarin

3.3%

Chinese

3.3%

Russian

2.1%

Cantonese

2.1%

Arabic

2.1%

Portuguese

1.8%

Italian

1.7%

Vietnamese

1.5%

Hindi

1.5%

Urdu

1.4%

Korean

1.1%

Polish

1.1%

German

0.9%

Japanese

0.8%

Ukrainian

0.5%

Armenian

0.5%

Hebrew

0.5%

Tagalog

0.5%
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Medical Office Assistant Education

Schools

Franklin Career Institute

9.3%

Everest Institute

8.6%

Concorde Career College

7.8%

Remington College

7.2%

Kaplan University

6.8%

PCI Health Training Center

5.8%

Strayer University

4.9%

King's College

4.9%

Illinois Central College

4.5%

Thompson Institute

4.2%

Ultimate Medical Academy - Clearwater

3.9%

Fortis Institute - Towson

3.9%

Keiser University

3.9%

Trident Technical College

3.8%

Elmira Business Institute

3.5%

York Technical College

3.5%

Heald College - Central Administrative Office

3.5%

Brown University

3.4%

Bryant and Stratton College

3.4%

Ashworth College

3.2%
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Majors

Health Care Administration

27.0%

Medical Assisting Services

23.7%

Business

10.1%

Nursing

9.9%

Psychology

3.4%

Medical Technician

3.4%

Biology

2.7%

General Studies

2.5%

Nursing Assistants

2.2%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

2.2%

Liberal Arts

1.7%

Management

1.7%

Criminal Justice

1.7%

Accounting

1.5%

Health Sciences And Services

1.4%

Education

1.2%

Pharmacy

1.0%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

1.0%

Communication

0.9%

Public Health

0.9%
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Degrees

Associate

25.9%

Bachelors

21.1%

Certificate

19.0%

High School Diploma

15.3%

Diploma

13.6%

Masters

3.3%

License

1.2%

Doctorate

0.4%
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Updated May 18, 2020