Medical assisting is a health care support career that offers many opportunities for employment. As of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is one of the fastest-growing occupations, with an anticipated job growth of 34 percent from 2008 to 2018. If you are contemplating this as a career option, it is important to take into consideration the variety of medical assistant jobs that are available in order to find the position that best suits your skills and goals.
Clinical Medical Assistant
Medical assistants often work jobs that are in a clinical setting. It is the job of the clinical medical assistant to work closely with physicians and nurses during the examination and treatment of patients. Their duties can include checking blood pressures, temperatures and taking patient histories. Regulations regarding the duties of clinical assistants vary from state to state. Medical assistants can receive training through post-secondary vocational programs or through community colleges. These include one-year programs that lead to a diploma or certificate and two-year associate degree programs. Certification, while not mandatory, can be received through the Association of Medical Technologists or the American Association of Medical Assistants.
Administrative Medical Assistant
Administrative medical assistant jobs are those that do not require direct patient contact in terms of treatment and care. When working in administration, the medical assistant is often required to make appointments, arrange laboratory and other testing, receive phone calls, prepare charts and some billing. Administrative assistants receive training through the same medical assisting programs as clinical medical assistants.
Podiatry Medical Assistant
A podiatry medical assistant works alongside a podiatrist. Duties of the podiatry assistant include helping the doctor during minor in-office procedures, making casts of the patients' feet and developing X-rays. To obtain employment as a podiatry assistant it is helpful to attend a medical assisting training program; however, it is possible to gain on-the-job training without attending a medical assisting program. Podiatry assistants may become certified by the American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants, or ASPMA, once they are employed by a podiatrist and have obtained membership in the ASPMA.
Ophthalmic Medical Assistant
An ophthalmic medical assistant job is one that involves working closely with an ophthalmologist. As ophthalmology is a specialized field, the duties of ophthalmic assistants differ somewhat from assistants who work in general medicine. Regulations regarding what specific type of work they can perform vary from state to state. As an ophthalmology assistant some of your job responsibilities may include taking patient histories, checking patients' vision, eye pressure and other eye-related tests as directed by the doctor. Training is often done on-the-job and through home study courses offered by the American Academy of Ophthalmology or the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, or JCAHPO. Formal training is also available through institutions accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Ophthalmic Medical Programs. Certified Ophthalmic Assistant certification is available through JCAHPO upon successful completion of training and passing an exam. Certification, however, not required for employment.
2016 Salary Information for Medical Assistants
Medical assistants earned a median annual salary of $31,540 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, medical assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $26,860, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $37,760, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 634,400 people were employed in the U.S. as medical assistants.