Entering the medical field gives you plenty of options to make the most of your career. You can spend a significant amount of time in school to enter nursing or become a doctor, but that isn’t the right path for everyone. Instead, many students are becoming medical assistants, primarily because of the short education required, high income expectations, job flexibility and the explosive growth in the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook through 2022 for those in the medical assisting field is expected to be at 29%, which is much faster than average. On top of that, the average medical assistant can earn a total of $43,000 a year on average. How can you increase your income potential, and make yourself even more desirable to employers? In short, become a registered medical assistant.
Before reading further, there are a number of terms that need to be clarified for simplicity of reading the rest of this article. First, certification will be mentioned and how it relates to registration in the medical assisting field. Certification is not a certificate program, which many schools offer, but an exam that you can take after graduation to become a certified medical assistant. Registration also requires examination to be designated a registered medical assistant. In general, registration and certification are along the same lines in regards to designations for medical assistants. Certificate programs simply allow you to enter the field as a medical assistant. So if you see a program through a school that is a certificate program, remember that this is not a certification, but simple a program that will let you enter the field.
Certification or Registration
While the focus of this article is registration as a medical assistant, you are likely curious as to the differences between CMAs and RMAs. In general, employers will view these two designations the same way. There is no significant difference between the qualities of the two designations, but you should check with local employers to learn more about what local preferences may be. You will likely make your choice based on your educational institutions advice as they will prepare you for one of the two types of exams. If registration is the right course for you, the rest of this article will explain what you can expect in the future as you move down that path.
Meeting Registration Requirements
The American Registry of Medical Assistants offers a registration exam that will designate you as a RMA. As far as requirements go, there are a number of steps you need to take before you can sit for the exam. You must be a graduate of an approved, accredited High School or its equivalent, with a copy of your diploma or certificate of completion from a medical assisting institute, a copy of your transcripts from a medical, nursing or assisting program, and two forms of legal identification, such as a social security card and photo identification.
Outside of the specific legal paperwork, you will also need a letter of recommendation from a physician that feels you are meeting the requirements of medical assisting, or a letter from your human resources department stating the dates of employment and job duties you were hired for. If you are applying from an affiliated school you will need the appropriate representative to sign part II of the application. You will need one year of experience if you attended a non-affiliate school. If you entered the field through on the job training you will need 3 years of experience. You can find all the information you need specifically at the link above.
Benefits of Registration
After you have applied, studied and passed your examination, you will become a RMA. But what do you get once you become a registered medical assistant? First off, you should experience a much higher average salary. In general, as of the time of this writing, RMAs earn $62,000 a year. To make things even more exciting, you will have a significantly larger pool of job opportunities. Upward mobility within your company, or through other employers will also be significantly easier, and transitioning to another career in the medical field will be easier than you would expect. This is all due to the fact that you understand the duties and requirements of a medical assistant at a much more complete level than others in your field. It takes a little work and some minor investments, but the payout is significant. If you are already working, talk to your employer to see what type of assistance they may provide.