Are you in search of a job which is seeing growing demand even in these difficult economic times? One job which is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow 34% by 2018 is the role of medical office assistant. This is about three times as fast as demand is expected to grow for the majority of occupations in the US. Why are medical office assistants so important? Medical office assistants keep medical facilities running smoothly, which enables doctors to perform their work. Since patients will always need medical care in any economic climate, that makes becoming a medical assistant a relatively secure bet.
How much will you make as a medical office assistant? Medical assistants are not the highest paid workers in the hospital to be sure, but the job is certainly more accessible than that of a doctor who requires many years of training. In 2010 the hourly wage for medical office assistants, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ranged from $10.01 to $19.32. The BLS reports that the annual wage for medical assistants ranged from $20,810 to $40,190. The middle 50% of medical assistants in 2010 made $30,530 in a year.
$30,530 isn’t the most compelling salary figure in the world, but if you can climb to the upper end of the bracket you could earn as much as $40,190. Considering that and also considering the stability of a job which is growing so quickly in demand, there are ample reasons to consider becoming a medical office assistant. It is a good choice for people who are interested in working in a medical environment but don’t necessarily want to become doctors or nurses. As a medical office assistant, though, you’ll still be making a difference.
As a medical office assistant, your responsibilities will mostly take place behind-the-scenes. Of all the types of medical assistants, medical office assistants interact with the public the least. Typical duties assigned to medical office assistants (also known as medical administrative assistants) include organizational tasks like keeping up medical records, scheduling procedures, tests and appointments, filing, billing patients and insurance carriers, and medical coding. You may also be required to answer the phones and greet patients at the front desk, but these tasks are usually assigned to a clerical medical assistant. If your workplace is a small clinic though, there may not be a separate job position for clerical duties and it may be your responsibility to fill both roles. In that case you will double as the office receptionist.
As a medical office assistant you want earn the highest salary you can. How can you try to make yourself a more competitive job candidate? Getting a great education is a good first step, and getting some job experience through an externship can help. There are other things you can do to get a higher wage as well which have nothing to do with your own skills or experience. If you are selective about the location where you work, you can get a higher salary. Working in an urban location can help, as can choosing a workplace which fits a higher salary profile. The BLS states that the highest medical assistant wages were earned by those who worked in psychiatric and substance-abuse hospitals, dentist offices, scientific research and development companies, insurance carriers and other insurance-related companies. The lowest wages were paid to medical assistants working in outpatient care centers, offices of physicians and other health practitioners, general medical and surgical hospitals and merchandise stores inside of hospitals.
To get a job as a medical office assistant, you may be able to just apply, but the best jobs will usually go to those who are educated in the right area. By completing a course which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), you are more likely to get a job with a higher salary.
Where can you take an accredited course? You have a choice between an independent program, a vocational school, an online college or a traditional university, though this isn’t a four-year program. Your program will last either two years or one year. Two years will earn you an Associate’s Degree. The two-year program includes general education classes as well as courses which are relevant to your future occupation as a medical assistant. One year will earn you a Diploma or Certificate. You won’t take general education classes if you pursue a Diploma or Certificate, only classes which are related to the job.
Having a degree or a Diploma or Certificate from an accredited program can make you a more competitive job candidate. What can also improve your potential salary is to complete an externship and get certified. Externships are basically the same thing as internships in the medical world; by participating in an externship you are able to actually perform job tasks in a professional setting and “try out” the occupation of medical office assistant. This can be an indispensable learning experience, and can also function as a transition between school and the workplace. Learning the theory behind medical office administration is different from applying that theory in real life. During your externship you may make the professional connections you need to find a great first job. Certification can improve your resume even more; it allows you a chance to prove your skills on a nationally recognized exam.
Becoming a medical office assistant can represent can allow you the chance to help others and enjoy job security which lasts. This is a great role for a person who is good at organizing, problem solving, and working in the background. Medical office administrators are facilitators who help physicians and other medical staff to do their jobs. As more positions open up in the coming years, you may be able to find a role which offers a higher salary. Getting experience now will make you a more competitive candidate as opportunity in the field increases.