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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:
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Ophthalmologist
Top Careers After Ophthalmologist
Hispanic or Latino17.5%
Black or African American0.5%
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University of South Florida6.5%
Montgomery County Community College6.5%
Central State University4.3%
Texas Tech University4.3%
LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York4.3%
Southern Connecticut State University4.3%
New York University4.3%
Bergen Community College4.3%
University of Alabama at Birmingham4.3%
Kennesaw State University4.3%
Essex County College4.3%
Fitchburg State University4.3%
Illinois Central College4.3%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Ophthalmologist||Charleston Area Medical Center, Inc.||Charleston, WV||Jul 24, 2015||$395,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Charleston Area Medical Center, Inc.||Charleston, WV||Jul 01, 2014||$395,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Grand View Health System||Ironwood, MI||Jun 01, 2010||$375,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Green Clinic, LLC||Ruston, LA||May 01, 2015||$350,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Green Clinic, LLC||Ruston, LA||Sep 14, 2015||$350,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Green Clinic, LLC||Ruston, LA||Sep 19, 2014||$350,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Ophthalmic Consultant of Texas, P.A.||McAllen, TX||Jul 09, 2013||$350,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Citizens Memorial Hospital District||Bolivar, MO||Jul 05, 2012||$333,920 -
|Ophthalmologist||Mayo Clinic||Rochester, MN||Jan 05, 2016||$305,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Citizens Memorial Hospital District||Bolivar, MO||May 01, 2012||$300,000 -
|Ophthalmologist||Citizens Memorial Hospital District||Bolivar, MO||Sep 14, 2012||$300,000 -
|Ophthalmologist||Citizens Memorial Hospital District||Bolivar, MO||Oct 01, 2012||$300,000 -
|Attending Ophthalmologist||St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center||New York, NY||Jan 14, 2016||$240,000|
|Attending Ophthalmologist||Mount Sinai Medical Center||New York, NY||Mar 12, 2015||$238,160|
|Attending Ophthalmologist||Mount Sinai Medical Center||New York, NY||Apr 10, 2015||$238,160|
|Ophthalmologists||Glen K. Goodman, PC||Milford, MA||Jan 07, 2016||$225,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Specialty Eye Care Medical Center Inc.||Glendale, CA||Dec 01, 2016||$220,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Specialty Eye Care Medical Center Inc.||Glendale, CA||Jan 12, 2016||$220,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Ophthalmic Consultants of Texas, P.A.||Harlingen, TX||Jul 01, 2015||$200,000|
|Ophthalmologist||Ophthalmic Consultants of Texas, P.A.||Weslaco, TX||Jul 01, 2015||$200,000|
|Ophthalmologist||John W. Forrest||Gainesville, GA||Sep 09, 2016||$187,200|
|Ophthalmologist||Hennepin Health System||Minneapolis, MN||Oct 05, 2015||$187,200|
|Ophthalmologist||Hennepin Health System||Minneapolis, MN||Aug 29, 2015||$187,200|
|Ophthalmologist||University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation||Rockford, IL||Oct 01, 2013||$183,948|
|Ophthalmologist||University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation||Madison, WI||Oct 01, 2013||$183,948|
|Ophthalmologist||Cedar Valley Medical Specialists, P.C.||Waterloo, IA||Feb 07, 2011||$180,000|
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