Medical Office Assistant using a virtual system

How to Become a Medical Office Assistant

Responsibilities, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Medical Office Assistant using a virtual system

Upon earning your Medical Assistant certification, the skillsets and knowledge base you’ve acquired along the way open the door to a wide array of available healthcare careers. A Medical Office Assistant is perhaps the most visible and public-facing of jobs available to an MA. As a Medical Office Assistant, you’ll enjoy a challenging and rewarding career that provides reliable income within the increasingly in-demand administrative side of the practice.

As you read this career guide, you’ll gain an in-depth knowledge of the skills required to become a Medical Office Assistant, its educational requirements, projected salaries, and job outlook for this important position.

See other careers featured on our list of top alternative jobs for Medical Assistants.

Medical Office Assistant Definition

What is a Medical Office Assistant?

Medical Office Assistants are detail-oriented people responsible for performing a wide variety of office duties that help assure the smooth operation of medical practices, clinics, and hospitals. Because Medical Office Assistants interface with patients, doctors, nurses, and others, a combination of strong administrative and interpersonal skills is highly valued.

Medical Assistants make excellent candidates to become Medical Office Assistants because of their education and understanding of vital medical terminology. In addition, doctors and patients put great trust in the accuracy of the medical and administrative records managed by Medical Office Assistants. Patient experiences and improved clinical outcomes are reliant upon them.

Medical Office Assistant: Job Description

What Does a Medical Office Assistant Do?

Medical Office Assistants are medical support professionals responsible for performing day-to-day administrative duties to support an efficiently operating medical practice. Medical Office Assistants work behind the desk and occasionally in the treatment room with patients. They perform many administrative tasks, such as greeting patients as they arrive and filing insurance claims. The information they handle contains private and sensitive patient information, so confidentiality and integrity are imperative for this position.

Medical Office Assistant Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of a medical office assistant include the following:

  • Greeting patients and scheduling appointments
  • Collecting patient information
  • Handling and transcribing medical records
  • Managing communications with doctors, patients, and third-party payers
  • Managing financials
  • Sharing test results with patients as directed by the physician or professional nurse
  • Bookkeeping
  • Maintaining compliance with state and federal regulations
  • Processing insurance claims

Where Do Medical Office Assistants Work?

Medical Office Assistant positions are plentiful and are needed anywhere medical professionals require organizational or administrative support, including:

  • Doctors’ offices (general practitioners and specialists)
  • Hospitals
  • Minor-emergency care clinics
  • Surgical centers
  • Rehab centers
  • Birthing centers
  • Outpatient care clinics
  • Dental and orthodontic practices
  • Hospice facilities

Smiling healthcare worker with a stethoscope and clipboard

Why is Medical Office Assistant a Great Alternative Career Path for Medical Assistants?

Becoming a Medical Office Assistant is a relatively easy and logical step for Medical Assistants seeking an alternative career in healthcare. Medical Office Assistants meet many new people daily, from patients to medical salespeople calling on the practice. A calm, professional demeanor, an eye for detail, a caring, compassionate heart, and excellent communication skills will serve you and the patient well.

Medical Office Assistants must be versatile and reliable. The background knowledge gained while earning a Medical Assistant diploma, the many tasks you’ll be qualified to perform, and an understanding of the bigger patient-care picture will serve as assets for prospective employers and prove essential to the efficient operation of the practice.

Medical Office Assistant Schooling & Certification

How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Office Assistant?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Medical Office Assistant?

Formal education is often required for anyone looking to expand their career to Medical Office Assisting. At a minimum, most employers require a high school diploma or GED, followed by either the successful completion of an approved Medical Office Assistant program within the past five years or one year of supervised work experience in the Medical Office Assistant field within the last three years.

If you choose the first route, completing your training and pursuing certification can take six months to a year.

There are several nationally recognized exams to gain certification as a Medical Office Assistant, including those from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). While all employers do not require national certification, it can prove helpful in finding employment.

Medical Office Assistant Salary

How Much Do Medical Office Assistants Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual wage for a Medical Office Assistant is about $40,000, which is about $19 per hour. Medical Office Assistant salaries in the 90th percentile reach $54,000 or more.

Highest Paying Industries for Medical Office Assistants

According to the BLS, these are the industries where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for Medical Office Assistants:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Merchant wholesalers $34.81 $72,410
Legal services $22.51 $46,820
Business, political, and similar organizations $22.44 $46,680
Personal care services $21.90 $45,550
Electronic shopping and mail-order houses $21.83 $45,410

Highest Paying States for Medical Office Assistants

According to the BLS, Medical Office Assistants earn the highest average wages in these states:

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
District of Columbia $23.02 $47,880
Washington $22.68 $47,170
California $22.31 $46,400
Massachusetts $22.18 $46,130
Rhode Island $21.90 $45,560

Highest Paying Cities for Medical Office Assistants

According to the BLS, Medical Office Assistants earn the highest average wage in these cities:

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
San Jose, CA $26.93 $56,010
Napa, CA $25.30 $52,630
San Francisco, CA $25.14 $52,300
Vallejo, CA $24.68 $51,340
Seattle, WA $24.00 $49,920
Portsmouth, NH $23.41 $48,690
Barnstable Town, MA $23.25 $48,360
Olympia, WA $23.23 $48,320
Santa Rosa, CA $22.81 $47,440
Portland, OR $22.76 $47,330

Medical Office Assistant Job Outlook

What is the Job Outlook for Medical Office Assistants?

The BLS estimates that the overall employment of Medical Office Assistants will grow by 8% by 2031, which is higher than the average growth rate among all occupations during the same period. The projected growth for medical secretaries and administrative assistants results from the overall growth of the healthcare industry, especially as baby boomers age and require increasingly more medical services.

Healthcare team touching hands

Start Your Career by Earning Your Medical Assistant Diploma

For anyone who seeks a rewarding career in healthcare, is an excellent communicator, can relate well with patients, and desires a position that is in high demand, becoming a Medical Office Assistant can be a great career path for you.

If you’re ready to take the next step towards becoming a Medical Office Assistant, start earning your Medical Assistant diploma in as little as ten months at Eagle Gate College. Learn about our Medical Assistant program.