If you are in search of a job with increasing demand which will hold steady even through rough economic times, you may be interested in becoming a medical administrative assistant. Medical administrative assistants work in healthcare-related environments but don’t perform clinical work and usually don’t interact that much with the public. They are the organizational behind-the-scenes workers who keep the office running smoothly. Medical administrative assistants may or may not perform clerical (reception) duties as well. It depends on the work environment.
How much money would you make if you decided to become a medical administrative assistant?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly wage for medical administrative assistants in 2010 ranged from $10.01 to $19.32. The annual wage was $20,810 at the lower end and $40,190 at the upper end with the median 50% making $28,860. While the median salary isn’t very high, those who work at the upper end can pull in a fair amount of money. Becoming a medical administrative assistant also offers something which in these difficult economic times can be as valuable as a high salary—which is a job which isn’t likely to go away. Even in rough economies, people still need medical care and hospitals and clinics will continue to get business. That means that they will always require administrative assistants to help them stay organized and communicate with patients and insurance providers. That’s where you come in.
How can you ensure that you will get a decent salary as a medical administrative assistant?
The higher-end earners work at psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, offices of dentists, scientific research and development services, insurance carriers, agencies, and brokers. The smallest salaries were earned by those who worked in general merchandise stores in hospitals, outpatient care centers, offices of physicians and health practitioners, and general medical and surgical hospitals.
Where you work in the country can also impact how much money you make as a medical administrative assistant. Those who work in urban areas tend to make more money than those who work in clinics out in the country. The great thing about becoming a medical assistant is that since demand for this occupation is high (and rising), you should be able to find a job just about anywhere in the country. The BLS estimates that demand for medical administrative assistants and other types of medical assistants will climb by over 30% by the year 2018. This is roughly triple the rate at which the majority of occupations in this country are growing.
As a medical administrative assistant, what would your duties be?
Medical administrative assistants are behind-the-scenes workers who ensure that medical offices run smoothly. The types of activities you would probably be assigned to do as a medical assistant include taking calls from patients and others, answering questions, scheduling appointments, procedures and tests, keeping up medical records, billing patients and insurance companies, and possibly medical coding. A related occupation called a clerical medical assistant is responsible more for the reception end of business (taking calls and greeting patients at the front desk). As an administrative assistant, however, you will probably be fulfilling some or all of these clerical duties, which may require you to interact with the public.
What your duties consist of will partly be determined by where you choose to work. If you work in a large hospital, it is most likely that you will be able to focus on the administrative niche. If however you work in a small clinic which isn’t staffed by as many medical assistants, you will most likely fulfill an administrative and a clerical function. You may even be asked to do clinical work like prepare patients for examinations, record their medical histories, explain procedures, draw blood, and administer electrocardiograms. The duties which medical assistants can perform vary depending on state laws.
Another thing you can do to try and ensure you receive a higher salary as a medical administrative assistant is to complete an accredited training course and get certified. You can train at a college, online university, vocational school, or independent program of study so long as the program you complete is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
There are two basic approaches to training. The longer route, which is to get an Associate’s Degree, takes two years. The shorter route only takes a year, and entails earning a Diploma or Certificate. The main difference (other than time and money required) is that to earn the Associate’s Degree you need to take general education courses. To get a Diploma or Certificate you don’t. The Associate’s Degree may make you slightly more attractive to employers, but if you already have another degree, you would probably do fine to just take the one year course of study instead.
You can also look for a course of study which includes an externship as a means of getting additional experience in the field. This hands-on job experience not only helps you out from an educational standpoint, it also introduces you to other people in the field and helps you to build professional connections which may help you get a job later. The additional experience will look good on your resume as well. By completing an externship as part of your training program you may be able to earn a higher salary.
Finally, getting certified as an administrative medical assistant can help you get a better salary. Not everyone bothers to get certified since you can often get a job without worrying about it. Nonetheless, if you do pass the certification exam, you prove to potential employers that you know what you’re doing as measured by an objective scale. Getting certified also shows you’re willing to put extra effort into your career, which in itself can make you look good to employers. So if you are interested in working in an administrative capacity in a medical environment, check into becoming an administrative medical assistant!