The Detailed Answer to How Long Does It Take to Become a Medical Assistant
First things first, we have already covered the basics of becoming a medical assistant in our last post on this topic, as well as how long does it take to become a medical assistant. However, there’s more to it, which we will be covering in this post.
But if you didn’t already check out our last post on becoming a medical assistant, you must do so by clicking here before reading this post. With that said, let’s get down to business.
On-Campus Training Programs
In our previous article on becoming a medical assistant, we covered the on-the-job training method in detail. We also touched upon the formal education way of becoming a medical assistant, which we will discuss in more detail below.
When taking up formal education to become a medical assistant, on-campus training programs are the most popular option. They require you to attend all classes and laboratory sessions, as well as have specific schedules that you need to follow.
The classes can be held during the afternoon or evening hours. Needless to say, you will not have much flexibility when going with one of these programs, but it may still turn out to be your best bet at becoming a medical assistant and getting a job as one.
This is especially given that although the on-the-job training program seems a lot more lucrative and flexible, it’s hard to get the opportunity to become a medical assistant that way.
There are some notable advantages of going with an on-campus training program, including:
- Getting to interact directly with an instructor
- Having collaboration opportunities as there will be many other medical assistantship students as well
- The learning environment would be highly structured and may help you stay focused on your education
- You would be able to use the campus resources and also get assistant when you need which would come in handy at times
On the flip side, here are the major disadvantages associated with an on-campus training program:
- You wouldn’t have much flexibility at all
- An on-campus training program would demand a significant investment of your time and money
- You may not be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance when taking such a program
How Long to Become a Medical Assistant?
If you’re wondering medical assistant how long, then you will be surprised to know that despite it being a lucrative career option, you don’t have to spend years to become a medical assistant like some of the other similar career options in the healthcare industry.
The Diploma Program
If you go for a diploma program, you would become a medical assistant in as less as 9 months to 1 year, given you successfully clear the exams. Of course, this is assuming that you already meet the basic requirements of becoming a medical assistant, which is having a high school diploma or an equivalent degree.
If you don’t meet this requirement, you may not even be able to enroll into any on-campus training program.
But that’s not something to get disappointed about if you don’t have a high school diploma. This is because even in that case, there’s an alternative option, which is passing the GED test.
Of course, this does mean that it will take you a little longer to become a medical assistant, but most students would already have a high school diploma so they wouldn’t have to worry about it.
An Associate’s Degree
Now, this is something that would take much longer. You would spend 18 months to 2 years on an associate’s degree program when becoming a medical assistant. This is of course if you choose to go for an associate’s degree over the diploma option we discussed above.
However, while the longer timeframe is certainly a disadvantage, there are some significant advantages as well. One of the biggest advantages is that you would have a much better chance of advancing in your career, achieving managerial and supervisorial positions considerably faster with good performance.
Similarly, you would also be very likely to get a higher salary than someone with a diploma in a medical assistantship. So while going for an associate’s degree would take you longer and may cost more, it may turn out to be well worth it for you in the future.
Other Training Courses
There are also some other training courses which are often much shorter than both an associate’s degree and a diploma. While some of them can take up to a year, others can take less.
There are online training programs as well, but you need to be more careful when going for one of those. This is because you need to be sure about the job prospects after becoming a medical assistant through an online program, and not just choose it because of the flexibility it offers.
How Long Does It Take to Become a CMA?
Well, a CMA, if you don’t already know, simply refers to a Certified Medical Assistant. A medical assistant would become a CMA if they get the certification offered by the AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants).
The AAMA certification exam is held thrice a year, and most students don’t have any problem in getting certified well within a year.
It’s also important to note that the AAMA certification isn’t a one-time thing, There’s something known as medical assistant recertification as well.
Basically, it means that you have to renew your certification every 60 months, or it would no longer be valid after 60 months of being issued to you (or renewed by you). You need to pass an examination OR get 60 continuing education units as required by the AAMA.
The AAMA certification, too, can definitely be worth it despite this additional hassle because it often adds quite some weigh to your qualification as a medical assistant. Your opportunities may likely expand considerably with this certification, as many employers prefer medical assistants with a certification, especially at some of the higher levels.