On average, an accredited medical assistant program consists of a 2-year associate’s degree that takes 24 months to complete.
The medical assisting program includes both coursework and clinical trial hours where you get hands-on training in a clinic during your externship.
Alternatively, a diploma or certificate program for medical assisting would take anywhere from 6 weeks, to 4 months, to 1 year to complete. These programs do not offer an associate of applied science degree but instead a diploma or certificate in medical assisting.
Medical Assistant Education Requirements
Some states allow you to work as a medical assistant with no certification which in turn means no more formal education than your high school degree or GED is required. However, in these cases you will receive extensive on the job training.
Although you can work in some states without your CMA certification, you will have better job opportunities with your certification. To become a certified medical assistant by the AAMA you will need to first complete your associates degree in medical assisting from an accredited medical assistant program.
You can go here to learn about becoming a medical assistant with or without certification.
How Long Are Medical Assistant Programs?
- Certificate Program: 6 weeks – 18 months
- Associate Degree Program: 2 years (24 months)
- Online Program: Self-Paced (4 months – 2 years+)
- Externship Hours: 160 – 320 Hours
Becoming a medical assistant is a rewarding career choice for those interested in the healthcare field. Medical assistants play a vital role in medical offices, clinics, and hospitals, assisting healthcare professionals and ensuring the smooth operation of medical facilities. If you’re considering a career as a medical assistant, it’s important to understand the steps required to become one and the various program options available.
Become a Medical Assistant
What are the steps to become a medical assistant?
To become a medical assistant, you’ll need to complete a formal training program. The steps to become a medical assistant include:
- Research: Begin by researching medical assistant programs in your area and reviewing the admission requirements.
- Earn a high school diploma: In most cases, a high school diploma or equivalent is required to enroll in a medical assistant program.
- Choose a program: Select the type of medical assistant program that best fits your career goals, whether it’s a certificate program or a degree program.
- Enroll: Once you’ve chosen a program, complete the application process and enroll in the program of your choice.
- Complete the program: Successfully complete all the required courses and clinical hours in the medical assistant program.
- Gain hands-on experience: Many medical assistant programs include an externship or internship component, which provides valuable hands-on experience in a real-world healthcare setting.
- Pass the certification exam: While certification is not mandatory, it is highly recommended to become a certified medical assistant. To obtain certification, you must pass the medical assistant certification exam.
- Start your career: Once you’ve completed your training program and obtained certification, you’re ready to begin your career as a medical assistant!
What qualifications are needed to become a medical assistant?
To become a medical assistant, there are certain qualifications you’ll need to meet. These qualifications may vary depending on the type of program you choose and the requirements of the medical assistant training school. Generally, a high school diploma or equivalent is required for entry into a medical assistant training program.
Some programs may also have additional prerequisites, such as a background in healthcare or specific courses in subjects like biology or anatomy. It’s important to research the specific requirements of the program you’re interested in and ensure you meet the qualifications before applying.
Is certification required to become a medical assistant?
While certification is not a requirement to become a medical assistant, it is highly recommended. Becoming a certified medical assistant demonstrates your commitment to the profession and can enhance your job prospects. Certification can be obtained through organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
To become certified, you must pass the medical assistant certification exam, which tests your knowledge and skills in areas such as medical terminology, anatomy, and administrative procedures. Having certification can give you a competitive edge in the job market and can open up additional career opportunities.
Duration of Medical Assistant Programs
How long does it take to complete a medical assistant program?
The duration of a medical assistant program can vary depending on the type of program you choose and whether you enroll on a full-time or part-time basis. In general, a certificate program for medical assisting can be completed in as little as 6 weeks to 1 year. These programs focus on providing the essential skills and knowledge needed to work as a medical assistant and often include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training.
On the other hand, degree programs for medical assisting, such as an Associate’s degree, typically take around 2 years to complete. These programs offer a more comprehensive education and often include additional coursework in subjects like medical ethics, pharmacology, and medical coding. Degree programs may also require students to complete general education requirements in addition to the medical assisting curriculum.
It’s worth noting that some medical assistant programs offer accelerated options, allowing students to complete their training in a shorter amount of time. These accelerated programs often have more rigorous schedules and may require students to take extra courses or complete their clinical hours more quickly.
Are there accelerated medical assistant programs available?
Yes, there are accelerated medical assistant programs available for students who wish to complete their training in a shorter amount of time. These programs are designed to provide a fast track to a career in medical assisting and often have more intensive schedules. In an accelerated program, students may take more classes per semester or attend classes during the summer or winter breaks. Accelerated programs typically require a higher level of commitment and dedication, but they offer the benefit of completing your training and entering the workforce sooner.
What factors can affect the duration of a medical assistant program?
Several factors can impact the duration of a medical assistant program. These factors may include:
- Program type: The type of program you choose, whether it’s a certificate program or a degree program, can affect the length of your training.
- Enrollment status: Whether you enroll on a full-time or part-time basis can impact the duration of your program.
- Course availability: The availability of required courses and clinical placements may also affect how long it takes to complete your program.
- Prerequisites: If you’re required to complete prerequisites before entering a medical assistant program, this can add extra time to your overall training.
- Accelerated options: Opting for an accelerated program can shorten the duration of your training but may require a more intensive schedule.
Types of Medical Assistant Programs
What is the difference between a certificate and a degree program for medical assisting?
When it comes to medical assistant programs, there are two main types to consider: certificate programs and degree programs. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two:
- Certificate programs: Certificate programs for medical assisting are shorter in duration, typically ranging from 6 weeks to 1 year. These programs focus on providing the essential skills and knowledge needed to work as a medical assistant. They may cover topics like medical terminology, patient care, medical office procedures, and basic clinical skills.
- Degree programs: Degree programs, such as an Associate’s degree in medical assisting, offer more comprehensive education and take around 2 years to complete. In addition to the core medical assisting curriculum, degree programs often include general education requirements and additional coursework in subjects like anatomy, pharmacology, and medical ethics. These programs may also provide more in-depth training and opportunities for specialization.
Deciding between a certificate program and a degree program will depend on your long-term career goals and your personal preferences. If you’re looking for a shorter training program that allows you to enter the workforce quickly, a certificate program may be a good choice. However, if you’re interested in a more comprehensive education and potential advancement opportunities, a degree program may be the right path for you.
Are there online medical assistant programs available?
Yes, there are online medical assistant programs available for those who prefer the flexibility and convenience of online learning. Online medical assistant programs allow students to complete their coursework and assignments online, giving them the flexibility to study at their own pace and on their own schedule.
These programs often include virtual classrooms, interactive learning modules, and opportunities for hands-on practice through virtual simulations or externship placements. Online medical assistant programs offer a convenient option for individuals who may have work or family commitments that make attending traditional classes challenging.
What are the advantages of attending a community college for medical assistant training?
Attending a community college for medical assistant training has several advantages. Community colleges offer a wide range of programs and courses, including medical assisting programs, that are often more affordable than other educational institutions.
Community colleges also provide access to experienced faculty members who have real-world experience in the healthcare field. Additionally, community colleges often have partnerships with local healthcare facilities, providing students with opportunities for hands-on training and clinical placements. The smaller class sizes at community colleges can also foster a sense of community and allow for more personalized attention from instructors.
Requirements for Medical Assistant Programs
Do I need a high school diploma to enroll in a medical assistant program?
In most cases, a high school diploma or equivalent is required to enroll in a medical assistant program. Medical assistant programs typically have admission requirements that include a minimum education level, such as a high school diploma or GED. Some programs may also require specific high school courses, such as biology or chemistry. It’s important to check the admission requirements of the program you’re interested in to ensure you meet the qualifications before applying.
Is previous healthcare experience necessary for admission into a
Q: How long are medical assistant programs?
A: The length of medical assistant programs can vary depending on the type of program you choose. Certificate programs usually take around 9-12 months to complete, while diploma programs typically take 12-18 months. Associate degree programs, which offer a more comprehensive education, can take 2 years to complete.
Q: How long does it take to become a medical assistant?
A: It typically takes around 1-2 years to become a medical assistant. This includes completing a medical assistant training program and obtaining certification if desired. Some online programs offer accelerated options that allow you to complete your training in a shorter amount of time.
Q: What is medical assisting?
A: Medical assisting is a healthcare profession that involves performing a variety of administrative and clinical tasks in medical offices, clinics, and other healthcare settings. Medical assistants work under the supervision of physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide support and ensure the smooth operation of the facility.
Q: How do I become a certified medical assistant?
A: To become a certified medical assistant (CMA), you will need to complete a medical assistant training program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). After completing your training, you can take the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) to obtain certification.
Q: Can I become a medical assistant without going to school?
A: While it is possible to become a medical assistant without formal education, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a medical assistant training program. Additionally, obtaining certification as a medical assistant can improve your job prospects and earning potential.
Q: Can I complete a medical assistant program online?
A: Yes, there are online medical assistant programs available that allow you to complete your training from the comfort of your own home. These programs provide the same education and training as traditional on-campus programs but offer the flexibility of online learning.
Q: How long does it take to complete an online medical assistant program?
A: The duration of online medical assistant programs can vary, but many programs can be completed in 9-12 months. Some online programs also offer accelerated options that allow you to complete your training in a shorter amount of time.
Q: What are the admission requirements for a medical assistant program?
A: The admission requirements for medical assistant programs can vary depending on the school or program. However, common requirements include a high school diploma or GED, completion of prerequisite courses, and sometimes a criminal background check.
Q: Is a medical assistant program offered at a community college?
A: Yes, many community colleges offer medical assistant programs. These programs are often more affordable than programs at private schools or universities and provide comprehensive training to prepare students for a career as a medical assistant.
Q: Can I become a medical assistant with just a high school diploma?
A: Yes, it is possible to become a medical assistant with just a high school diploma. Many medical assistant training programs accept students with a high school diploma or GED as their minimum educational requirement.
Questions About Medical Assistant Programs?
If you still have questions about how long medical assistant programs take, or anything about education requirements, then ask our community in the comments below.
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