Discover Some of the Best Alternative Careers for Medical Assisting Certification
Medical assisting has quickly become one of the hottest careers in the medical field. In as little as 10 months, you can earn a medical assistant (MA) diploma and begin working in the healthcare industry. Medical assistants fill a critical role on the healthcare team, and there aren’t enough of them to meet the growing demand. With the overall employment of medical assistants being projected to grow 23 percent from 2018 to 2028 (BLS), MAs can likely find a job in most cities across the US.
Note: In case you were curious, we assembled a list of the 50 best paying cities for medical assistants in 2020.
What Can a Medical Assistant Do?
With a medical assistant diploma, you gain the knowledge and skills to assist physicians, conduct lab work, suture wounds, take vital signs, and interpret results. As a medical assistant, you are responsible for completing administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. This includes taking and recording patients’ personal information, and keeping that information confidential. Your duties as an MA will vary depending on location, specialty, and the size of the practice.
What Other Jobs Can Medical Assistants Do?
Beyond traditional medical assisting jobs, however, there are a variety of career options available to you once you’ve earned your diploma. Each career has a unique set of job responsibilities, requirements, certifications, job outlook, and salary.
It’s important to understand each of these medical assistant job opportunities when planning for your future. To make the selection process easier, we developed a career guide that lays out seven of the most popular alternative career options for medical assistants.
Whether you’re considering medical assisting training or if you’re already a certified MA, this article will give you the information you need to guide your MA career on the right path.
1. Medical Office Assistant
Medical Office Assistant Salary
- Medical office assistants make an average salary of $31,108 (payscale.com).
- The average hourly wage for a medical office assistant is $13.82.
What Does a Medical Office Assistants Do?
Medical office assistants (MOAs) are medical support professionals that work to ensure that the office within a medical practice, clinic, or other healthcare setting is well-run and efficient. MOAs work behind the desk at these offices and are responsible for regular office duties such as medical billing, accounting, scheduling, and filing insurance claims. The duties performed by a medical office assistant vary depending on the size and specialization of the medical office where they work.
Medical Office Assistant Education
You can receive medical office assistant training by earning your medical assisting (MA) diploma. Upon earning your MA diploma, you’ll be prepared to work as a medical office assistant.
Medical Office Assistant Job Outlook:
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), does not report any specific data regarding the job outlook of MOAs, they do report that overall employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23% from 2018-2028, which is much faster than the total projected growth of all occupations (5%). As the baby-boom population continues to age, there will be an increase in demand for medical services. This will require physicians to hire more medical office assistants to complete both administrative and clinical duties.
2. EKG Technician
EKG Technician Salary
- EKG technicians make an average salary of $57,250 (BLS).
- The average hourly wage for an EKG technician is $27.52.
What Does an EKG Technician Do?
Electrocardiograph (EKG) technicians help doctors identify and treat cardiovascular conditions in patients by performing diagnostic tests using specialized equipment such as electrocardiograms, stress testing, and telemetry monitoring tests. By performing these tests, EKG technicians help prevent heart attacks or other cardiovascular diseases for their patients. EKG technicians typically work in hospitals or clinics, dealing with a wide variety of patients. Some other duties performed by EKG technicians may include educating patients, monitoring patients’ blood pressure, and recording information.
EKG Technician Education & Certification Requirements:
EKG technicians receive most of their training from their employers. However, some employers prefer that you have experience and training in healthcare. This gives certified medical assistants a unique competitive advantage in this field. EKG training usually takes about four to six weeks to complete, and technicians are encouraged to earn professional certification through Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).
EKG Technician Job Outlook:
The BLS reports that the overall employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians is projected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028. The need to diagnose heart conditions will increase over time as the baby-boom population continues to age.
3. Phlebotomy Technician
Phlebotomy Technician Salary
- Phlebotomy technicians make an average salary of $30,191 (payscale.com).
- The average hourly wage for a phlebotomy technician is $14.49.
What Does a Phlebotomy Technician Do?
Phlebotomy technicians are responsible for properly drawing blood samples from patients or blood donors. They are also responsible for preparing blood samples for medical testing. These blood specimens are examined in laboratories to help diagnose health conditions and illnesses. Phlebotomy technicians are also responsible for explaining procedures to patients, updating patient records, and prepping laboratory equipment. Phlebotomy technicians work in hospitals, laboratories, and donation facilities, as well as other healthcare settings where blood is drawn.
Phlebotomy Technician Education & Certification Requirements:
You’ll learn basic phlebotomy as a part of your medical assistant training; however, some employers require additional certification for these jobs. The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers a Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT) exam. This credential can help set you apart from other phlebotomy technician applicants.
Phlebotomy Technician Job Outlook:
The BLS reports that overall employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 23% from 2018 to 2028. Demand for phlebotomists will remain high as doctors and other healthcare professionals require bloodwork for analysis and diagnosis.
4. Health Unit Clerk
Health Unit Clerk Salary
- Hospital unit clerks make an average salary of $34,522 (payscale.com).
- The average hourly wage for a hospital unit clerk is $13.95.
What Does a Health Unit Clerk Do?
Hospital unit clerks, also known as ward clerks, are responsible for providing administrative and clerical support to a clinical unit. Unit clerks can work in a variety of healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, surgical wards, and intensive care units. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that all medical records, laboratory reports, and patient records are filed and correctly stored. Unit clerks work directly with the medical and nursing staff to provide the safest, most optimal patient care possible. Some other job responsibilities held by a unit/ward clerk include answering phone calls, distributing mail, and preparing supplies for their unit.
Health Unit Clerk Education & Certification Requirements:
Although there are no specific education and certification requirements to become a unit clerk, employers do require that you have a working knowledge of the medical field. A medical assistant program will provide you the necessary skills and medical knowledge to work as a unit clerk. Beyond that, certifying credentials through the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) can further validate your background knowledge and eligibility for a unit clerk position when applying for jobs.
Health Unit Clerk Job Outlook:
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific job outlook information for hospital unit clerks, it does provide employment projections for medical secretaries, who share many of the same responsibilities as health unit clerks. The BLS reports that employment of medical secretaries is projected to grow 16 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations.
5. Medical Claims Examiner
Medical Claims Examiner Salary
- Medical claims examiners make an average salary of $67,540 (BLS).
- The average hourly wage for a medical claims examiner is $32.47.
What Does a Medical Claims Examiner Do?
Medical claims examiners work with medical insurance customers to determine coverage and act as the insurer of the insurance companies. Medical claims examiners review insurance claims while ensuring that all customer information is accurate and that all requirements are fulfilled before approving a claim. Depending on the result of the examination, they may also be responsible for payment or further investigation into an insurance claim.
Medical Claims Examiner Education & Certification Requirements:
There are no standard educational or certification requirements for medical claims examiners; however, most employers require a high school diploma. Many employers also prefer candidates with diplomas or degrees related to the medical field. The deep understanding of the medical field you would gain through earning your medical assisting certification would be highly regarded when applying for this type of job.
Medical Claims Examiner Job Outlook:
The BLS reports that overall employment of claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators is projected to decline 4% from 2018 to 2028. Similar to ward clerks, automation technology will continue to take over the tasks performed by claims examiners. However, the demand for claims examiners should stem primarily from the growth of the health insurance industry.
6. Surgical Technician
Surgical Technician Salary
- Surgical technicians make an average salary of $49,040 (BLS).
- The average hourly wage for a surgical technician is $23.58.
What Does a Surgical Technician Do?
Surgical technicians work alongside surgeons and medical professionals in hospitals and operating rooms. Surgical technicians are responsible for preparing the operating room, the surgical equipment, and their patients. Most importantly, surgical technicians assist surgeons during medical procedures. During surgery for example, it’s their job hand off surgical equipment to the operating physician, as needed. After any operation, many surgical technicians are also responsible for cleaning the operating room in preparation for the next surgery.
Surgical Technician Education & Certification Requirements:
To work as a surgical technician, you need to be certified as a surgical technologist through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). The NBSTSA requires you to complete a surgical technology program before sitting for their exam. Medical assisting experience can also build up your resume and help you prepare for the surgical technologist certification exam.
Surgical Technician Job Outlook:
The BLS reports that overall employment of surgical technologists is projected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average of all occupations (7%). Advances in technology have made surgery safer, which leads to more operations being done to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries. The growing volume and frequency of these medical operations will likely increase the demand for skilled technicians to support surgeons and patients in the years to come.
7. Public Health Inspector
Health Inspector Salary
- Public health inspectors make an average salary of $74,940 (BLS).
- The average hourly wage for a public health inspector is $36.03.
What Does a Public Health Inspector Do?
Public health inspectors are members of government health departments that monitor business and public facilities to enforce local and state health regulations. These regulations and laws pertain to the sanitation of hotels, food service establishments, swimming facilities, housing, and healthcare facilities. Public health inspectors play a crucial role in protecting the public from illnesses and other potential health hazards.
Public Health Inspector Education & Certification Requirements:
Public health inspectors are required to earn an associates degree in natural sciences or health. Although certification is not required, it may be preferred by some employers. Depending on the program, some medical assistant coursework might be transferrable to an associates degree in health, putting you a step ahead of other prospective health inspectors.
Public Health Inspector Job Outlook:
Although the BLS does not report any specific data regarding the job outlook of public health inspectors, they report on the job outlook of occupational health and safety specialists, a closely related field. The BLS reports that the overall employment of occupational health and safety specialists is projected to grow 6% from 2018 to 2028. Public health inspectors will be needed in a variety of industries and government agencies to ensure that institutions are adhering to both existing and new regulations.
Alternative Jobs for Medical Assistants
By earning your medical assistant diploma, you open up a wide array of job opportunities. For some jobs, such as medical office assistants or ward clerks, your education and training will set you up to easily transition to those roles without any additional requirements. For other careers, such as public health inspectors and surgical technicians, your medical assisting certification can serve as the foundation for the specialized training and examinations those jobs require. Overall, earning your MA diploma will serve you very well if any of these career paths pique your interest.
If you’re ready to take the next step, you can start by earning your MA diploma in as little as 10 months at Eagle Gate College.
Click here to learn more about our Medical Assisting program.