This is a very difficult time for those who are attempting to embark on a new career path or for those who are currently in between careers. Many industries where employees thrived not too long ago have become stagnant, others are participating in wide spread layoffs and others simply aren’t growing enough to provide a viable opportunity for those seeking employment. Unemployment rates are astoundingly high and though some states have seen those numbers improve a bit over the course of the last year, individuals across the nation still seem to be struggling to find the right job.
The medical field is one of the few industries that has not only not faltered in the rough economy, but that has maintained a steady growth through the recent difficult economic times. Medical related professions also still seem to be showing steady growth despite the fact that many other industries are still struggling.
As more hospitals, doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics and urgent care facilities open there will be an even greater need for well trained nurses, physician’s assistants and medical assistants. This puts those who have training in a medical related field at an advantage when it comes to avoiding becoming a statistic or casualty of the floundering economy.
The issue doesn’t just pertain to finding a job – it involves finding a career path that is rewarding, that you enjoy and that provides enough money to pay the bills.
High Demand for Medical Assistants
There were more than half a million people working as medical assistants in the US in 2012 and there is no sign of that number dipping. In fact, the projected job growth for this sector of the medical industry is projected at just below 30% between now and 2022. This puts a career as a medical assistant well above the average projected growth when it comes to jobs in the US.
Medical assistant is one of the fastest growing fields in the US and all signs point to that trend continuing for the foreseeable future. Experts attribute the major increase in growth to “Baby Boomers” advancing in age and requiring care. As this huge section of the population gets older and faces new health challenges there will need to be trained professionals who are capable of providing care.
One of the things that makes this particular field even more intriguing is the sheer volume of opportunity available. While the majority of medical assistants perform duties inside of a doctor’s office there is often interesting positions available in outpatient clinics, specialist’s offices, hospitals and surgical centers.
Even the positions held in a doctor’s office can vary greatly making this a great field for people who not only enjoy helping people but who like variety. Your duties as a medical assistant may include everything from clerical tasks to conducting preliminary exams or taking patients’ vital signs to drawing blood. This is an exciting and rewarding job where it would be rare if any two consecutive days were exactly alike.
As a medical assistant, your income will be largely dependent on your location and your employer. Alaska, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts are at the top of the heap when it comes to average median salary for medical assistants and insurance providers, Universities and specialists tend to be the top paying industries.
The average salary for medical assistants in the US sits just below $30,000.00 per year, but with the right employer or in the right location that average creeps much closer to and even surpass $40,000.00 mark. The $30,000.00 median for this field is higher than many other positions in the medical field (some that require additional training).
- Salary Overview (2012 Data)
- Mean Wage
- Median Wage
- Number of Jobs
- Job Outlook
- Wage Distribution (2013 Data)
Room for Growth
Attending a medical assistant training program or online medical assistant school not only prepares you for a job in that field, it can help lay a strong foundation for advancement in the medical field as well. The valuable tools that you’ll learn and the knowledge you will pick up from a good online medical assistant training program will help pave the way for advancement within the field with your first employer.
As you gain experience you will also be able to keep your options open for more challenging opportunities at other medical facilities or offices where your valuable skills are in need. As demand continues to grow for certified medical assistants, the skills you possess and the training you have participated in will allow you to increase your income by seeking out the best possible opportunities in the area.
Qualities You’ll Need
While this line of work is undoubtedly rewarding on many levels, it can also be very challenging. You need to possess a good mix of personal skills and technical skills in order to be as successful as possible in this part of the medical world.
As an MA you’ll be required to calmly and confidently deal with patients who are in a variety of states when it comes to physical and mental health. You’ll need excellent communication skills in order to evaluate the patient and to pass along pertinent information to and from the doctor or specialist.
You’ll also need to show careful attention to detail as you’ll be working with critical patient data that needs to be accurate. In some situations you may also be responsible for technical tasks like drawing blood or administering shots – two skills that require a steady hand, confidence and good control.
Utilizing these valuable traits in conjunction with the knowledge picked up in a training program will likely make you a valuable asset in any doctor’s office or medical facility.
Education and Training
Most states don’t require any type of certification or licensure to become a medical assistant. It is important to note though that some employers want to see either a certification or some form of post secondary education before they hire a new medical assistant for their staff.
In some cases you can work your way up as a medical assistant through on the job training, but taking physical or online classes will provide the groundwork you need to understand the job and likely give you an opportunity for faster advancement in the industry. It’s also likely that proof of formal classes or training specific to the medical assistant field will also help you secure a higher starting salary than those who enter the field with no experience or training.
Many facilities want a new hire to have the basic knowledge to be able to hit the ground running with limited on the job training. Having attended a medical assistant training program will have provided you with knowledge of the equipment you will be required to use on the job (both in terminology and function). An accredited certification program will also help you develop the proper method for dealing with patients and will likely teach you essential skills for handling common medical forms and skills that you will need to help keep the facility you work in running smoothly.
Even those facilities that will take on new employees with no specific education or training will likely require training for more specialized tasks. Having a certification from an accredited program is often a key to being able to perform tasks like taking x-rays or drawing blood. This makes you a more valuable asset to a doctor’s office, hospital or outpatient clinic and can help put you on track to internal advancement, greater responsibility and either higher starting pay or faster increases in pay.
Getting Started in a Rewarding Career
Due to the sheer volume of opportunity out there right now there are a number of different ways you can begin your new career as an MA. Those who don’t mind attempting the longer route can research facilities that are willing to hire new employees without a certification or without specific training.
If you want to have a better chance to get your foot in the door with the right company and be able to hit the ground running with a solid knowledge and applicable skill base you should begin researching accredited medical assistant training programs. The right programs will provide you with essential skills that you’ll need to properly operate in a fast paced medical office or outpatient environment. Most programs will also provide you with the “hands on” training you’ll need to accurately and successfully administer specific treatments or conduct tests on patients.
The skills you’ll acquire in your accredited training program will help you stand out over other potential candidates competing for higher paying MA opportunities and put you in a position where you can immediately step in as an asset to your new employer.
This field is currently in critical demand and the numbers are expected to continue to increase exponentially over the course of the next decade as the nation ages and more people require care. Having the right training and tools to get into the field now puts you in a position to land a job that you love and that pays well and will put you in a prime position to grow as the field continues to grow.