How Long is School for a Medical Assistant?

Considering a career in medical assisting? Learn about how long you can expect to be in school for this in-demand profession.

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Medical assistants are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of Medical Assistants is expected to grow much faster than average, by 23% from 2019 to 2029. With this level of growth, there will be many opportunities for people interested in this career.

While a postsecondary certificate or diploma is usually required, some states allow medical assistants to work without formal training. Medical assistants typically complete a 1- to 2-year program and earn a postsecondary certificate or diploma. Some programs lead to an associate degree.

The Length of Time for School

Most medical assistant programs can be completed in one year or less. This is due, in part, to the fact that many of the required courses are offered in an online format. This means that you can complete your coursework at your own pace and on your own schedule.

The Different Types of Programs

There are many different types of programs that you can choose from when you are looking for a school to attend for your medical assistant training. You can find schools that offer certificate programs, associate’s degree programs, and even bachelor’s degree programs. The type of program that you choose will determine how long you will be in school.

Certificate programs are the shortest type of medical assistant training program that you can choose. These programs typically take around 9 months to complete. If you choose an associate’s degree program, you can expect to be in school for around 2 years. Bachelor’s degree programs are the longest type of medical assistant training program, and they typically take 4 years to complete.

The Certification Process

While the certification process can vary slightly from state to state, most medical assistants take between nine and twelve months to complete their training. This includes both classroom time and on-the-job experience in a medical setting. Once you have completed your certification, you will be eligible to take the state exam to earn your license.

The Job Outlook

The job outlook for medical assistants is very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 23% growth in employment for medical assistants between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. This is largely due to an aging population and the corresponding increase in demand for healthcare services.

The Salary

The median annual wage for medical assistants was $34,800 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,090.

The Different Specialties

There are different types of medical assistants, depending on what field of medicine they want to specialize in. For example, some medical assistants might want to work in a hospital setting, while others might want to work in a private physician’s office. There are also those medical assistants who choose to work in a research capacity or who teach other medical assistants. The different specialties available to medical assistants include:

-Clinical medical assistant
-Operating room medical assistant
-Ophthalmic medical assistant
-Optometric medical assistant
-Pediatric medical assistant
-Podiatric medical assistant
-Psychiatric medical assistant

The Pros and Cons

There are many factors to consider when you’re trying to decide if medical assisting is the right career for you. One important consideration is the length of time it will take to complete your training and education.

The good news is that medical assisting is a relatively short-term educational commitment. Most programs can be completed in just one or two years, and some even offer accelerated options that allow you to complete your studies in as little as six months.

Of course, the downside of this is that medical assistants earn a relatively lower salary than other healthcare professionals, such as registered nurses or doctors. But if you’re looking for a career that offers good job security and the opportunity to help people, medical assisting may be the right choice for you.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that you can become a medical assistant in as little as one year if you choose to enroll in a certificate or diploma program. However, if you opt for an associate’s degree, you can expect to spend two years in school.

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