Entering the medical assisting field is one of the best choices you can make for your career. With a growth in the industry of 29% expected through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you are entering an industry that is in dire need of your talents. Even with that level of growth, there is more you can do to increase your salary and your job prospects. The biggest pursuit you can take on is that of a certification to become a CMA (AAMA). The association that gives the medical assistant certification exam is called the American Association of Medical Assistants. The exam is not easy, and it will consist of 200 multiple choice questions that will be administered over four 40 minute segments, but with a little preparation you can ensure that you pass on your first attempt.
Before you even start pursuing your certification you have to earn your degree. If you have already completed this step, you likely already know the following information. If you are just now starting to work towards your education, discuss your desire to become certified with the schools you speak with. They will discuss their programs with you to make sure that you are being prepared to take the test upon graduation. It is also wise to ask them for information on the pass rates of graduates as this will give you a good idea of how well the school prepares students.
Study hard throughout your education as the information covered on the certification exam requires a broad, current and thorough understanding of the industry and what is required. You will also be well served to earn experience while you are in school. Even if the position is simply and entry level position that only gives you some time to put your newly learned skills to work, the environment will allow you to experience your future career much better than through simple text book learning.
Balancing your work schedule and your school schedule may seem all but impossible, so explore online program options. Online degrees give you the freedom to learn on your own schedule. You won’t need to attend classes at a specific time, and you only have to focus on due dates for graded assignments. This gives you the freedom to focus on your work, without sacrificing your focus on your education.
As mentioned previously, the exam is a thorough and broad test of your understanding of what is required in your career. There are a number of steps you must take before you can actually sit for the exam, all of which are listed here. Don’t worry too much about each individual step just yet. Your educator should assist you in preparing all of the paperwork that is required to sit for the exam.
While no article can give you the questions or specifics in regards to what you should study to make the test easier, the AAMA does provide a great deal of assistance in helping you prepare for the exam. Solid textbook advice, content outlines, practice tests and review courses are all available through the website and should be used to their fullest. This will make it much easier to stay calm when sitting for the exam.
The average medical assistant currently earns around $43,000 a year. Once you become a CMA (AAMA), you can expect a significant increase with an average income of about $52,000 a year. This income expectation will vary based on your state, employer, experience and education, so even if you don’t pass the exam on your first try, rest easy knowing that you are still earning experience in the field which will lead to a higher income. In addition, you will find that your upward mobility and job opportunities also increase once you become certified.
Finally, do not confuse certificate programs offered by colleges as a quick way to become a certified medical assistant. A certified program is simply a shorter education that helps you enter the field in less time that an associate’s degree. A certification is an exam that you take upon graduation to increase your knowledge and skill in the industry.