If you are interested in entering the medical field, there is no faster way to earn your education than to pursue a degree in medical assisting. You will find that in as little as 9 months you can become a medical assistant. In general, 9 month to a year will earn a certificate or diploma and 18 months to two years will earn an associate’s degree. Finding the right educational path for you is covered at length in other articles. For this article, the main focus is learning about certification and what a certificate can do for you and your future career outlook. Either way, you should expect a healthy growth in the industry of 29% through 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What is Certification?
First, to clarify, earning a certificate through your degree program, as described above, will not make you a certified medical assistant. That is simply a certificate program that gives you the knowledge you need to work in the industry upon graduation. A certification, or CMA (AAMA) is a designation that uniquely qualifies you as someone that has earned a great deal of knowledge and has a deeper understanding of the duties required than those without the designation.
The certificate is earned through the American Association of Medical Assistants and you can expect a significantly higher income upon completion. While a medical assistant should expect to earn $43,000 a year, one with a certification will earn around $52,000 a year. Experience and education will have a significant impact on these numbers, so make sure you are doing everything you can during your education to increase how much experience you bring to your potential employers.
Experience and Education Combined
Earning an education is no easy task and it requires a great deal of your time. Earning experience brings the same laborious schedule that weighs just as heavily on your time. Combining education and experience at the same time can make life pretty miserable if you pursue a traditional campus based education. Fortunately, online programs give you the option to earn your degree on your own time. You will have due dates to focus on, which are the guiding time line points to make sure that you are staying up with your studies, but you will have less difficulty balancing your schedule through an online program.
Many schools offer online programs such as community colleges, universities, trade schools and exclusively online universities. Finding the right one for you will take some research, but that is half the fun of working towards your career. Experience will come from entry level work within the clinical industry and to earn that work you need to start talking to local employers. You may not find the best job in the world at this point, but you will get hands on experience that can’t be earned anywhere else. Employers will value this highly and it will not only make it easier to find work, it should increase your income expectations as well.
Certification or Registration
Many students find the choice of designation stressful. There are two types of designations available; certification through the AAMA (discussed above) and registration, through the American Registry of Medical Assistants. Before anything else is mentioned, know that you can’t make a wrong choice. Employers will view CMA (AAMA) and RMA candidates equally in most cases. Discuss this issue with local employers to make sure there in not a preference in your area, just to be sure.
The primary difference between a CMA and RMA comes from the membership to the association you belong. Whichever association you wish to belong to is the association that will provide you with the exam and designation. Explore both options to find the one that is right for you and you will quickly find yourself earning the income you deserve in the career you desire.