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Your Career – Step by Step

Becoming a Medical Assistant

Is a Medical Assistant Career Right for You?

You might answer “yes” for a variety of reasons: Maybe you like the fact that the medical assistant field is booming right now: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of medical assistants is expected to grow by 29% through 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Or maybe you really want to help people, and you like the idea of working with doctors and nurses. Now you need to know how to become a medical assistant.

Step 1: Finish Your Education

Graduate from high school, or get your GED. To become a medical assistant, you don’t need any formal education beyond high school. However, with the growing popularity of the field, many employers prefer people with additional training. If you don’t want to complete additional training, the only way to become a medical assistant is to find a doctor that is willing to train you at his or her office.

If you choose to get more training, look for a program that’s right for you. There are online schools, schools with actual campuses, and schools that offer a combination of both. If you get your associate’s degree in medical assisting, that will take 2 years. But you can usually earn a medical assistant diploma in under a year. (Genesis offers a 9-month medical assistant school, with Tennessee locations in Nashville, Lebanon and Cookeville.)

Step 2: Get Your Certification

After completing your program, or your training with a doctor, it’s a good idea to get professionally certified. It’s not required in order to get a job, but it will demonstrate your hard work and your commitment, and it will help you stand out when you apply for a position. The exam costs between $125 and $250 to take, and it is offered three times a year. For more information about what you’ll need in order to take it, visit the AAMA’s official examination requirements page.

Step 3: Volunteer!

To beef up your resume and show employers you’re experienced in the field, think about volunteering in some kind of medical capacity. Many hospitals and free community clinics love it when volunteers help with certain tasks such as greeting patients. Or you could help out at a blood drive. Volunteering can be a great way to stand out from other job applicants.

Step 4: Time to Start Your New Career!

If you’ve finished your training, and you’ve decided to take the certifying examination, it’s time to start your new career. As you look for jobs at hospitals and doctors’ offices, take the time to really research your prospective employers so you can write a cover letter and resume specifically for each one.

If you need help writing, there are often free community resources like writing centers available at local universities. Most medical assistant schools also offer comprehensive assistance to their students, whether it’s writing cover letters or resumes, practicing for job interviews or choosing clothes for the right look.

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