Top Alternative Job Paths for Medical Assistants
In recent years, Medical Assisting has emerged as a promising and lucrative career path in the healthcare industry. With the potential to earn a medical assisting diploma in as little as 10 months, many are opting to join this fast-growing sector.
Medical Assistants are integral to our healthcare system, bridging gaps and fulfilling vital roles in various healthcare settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for skilled medical assistants is projected to soar 14 percent by 2032, offering plentiful opportunities across the United States.
Related: Curious about Medical Assisting Salaries? Be sure to check out our compilation of the 50 best-paying cities for medical assistants.
What Can a Medical Assistant Do?
Armed with a medical assisting diploma, individuals can support physicians, undertake laboratory work, handle wound suturing, monitor vital signs, and interpret medical results.
As a medical assistant, you complete administrative and clinical tasks in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. This includes taking and recording patients’ personal information and keeping that information confidential. Furthermore, your duties as a medical assistant can vary depending on your location, specialty, and the size of the practice.
Related: Click here for our definitive guide on how to become a Medical Assistant.
What Other Jobs Can Medical Assistants Do?
Upon earning your medical assistant diploma and clearing the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam, you may discover several exciting career opportunities beyond medical assisting. However, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these jobs would require additional training, licensure or certification, and more. Think of it like this: Your Medical Assisting diploma can be an excellent jumping-off point for the next stage in your career. Each alternative career path in our list offers a unique set of job responsibilities, prerequisites, certifications, and prospects regarding job outlook and salary.
To help you navigate these alternative paths with varying requirements, we’ve developed a career guide that highlights nine popular career transitions for medical assistants.
1. Medical Office Assistant
What Does a Medical Office Assistant Do?
Medical Office Assistants, or MOAs, are the backbone of healthcare facilities, working tirelessly to ensure that operations in medical practices, clinics, and other healthcare settings run smoothly and efficiently. Usually found managing behind-the-scenes activities, MOAs are responsible for various essential administrative tasks, including medical billing, accounting, scheduling appointments, and facilitating insurance claims processing. A medical office assistant’s specific role and responsibilities can vary greatly depending on the size and specialty of the healthcare establishment where they work.
Where Do Medical Office Assistants Work?
Medical Office Assistants are indispensable in a wide variety of healthcare settings. They are commonly found in private medical practices, renowned hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, outpatient care facilities, and hospice establishments, offering their expertise to ensure efficient administrative operations.
Medical Office Assistant Education & Certification:
Transitioning to a medical office assistant role is generally hassle-free for medical assistants. The training acquired while pursuing your MA diploma suffices, negating the need for additional education. Consequently, medical assistants find themselves well-prepared to take up roles as medical office assistants immediately, facilitating a swift career transition.
Why Opt for a Career as a Medical Office Assistant?
Stepping into the role of a medical office assistant presents a lucrative opportunity for medical assistants aiming to further their careers in the healthcare sector. As a medical office assistant, you can build enduring relationships with patients and their families, offering them compassionate service and care. The role, characterized by high demand, enables professionals to serve in diverse healthcare settings, often leading to increased job satisfaction.
Medical Office Assistant Salaries
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for a medical office assistant is about $20, with an annual average salary* of about $41,000.
Medical Office Assistant Job Outlook
While specific data regarding the job outlook for medical office assistants is not readily available from the BLS, indicators from the broader medical assistant sector are promising. The medical assistant profession is poised for substantial growth, with projections estimating an increase of about 14% by 2032. This growth rate significantly outpaces that of other healthcare support occupations (estimated at 11%) and greatly surpasses the overall national job outlook of 3%.
Click here to learn how to become a Medical Office Assistant
2. EKG Technician
What Does an EKG Technician Do?
Electrocardiograph (EKG) technicians, also known as cardiovascular technicians, play a critical role in the healthcare sector, assisting physicians in diagnosing and managing cardiovascular ailments. Specializing in utilizing advanced equipment, EKG technicians conduct crucial diagnostic tests such as electrocardiograms, stress testing, and telemetry monitoring, aiding in the early detection and prevention of heart attacks and other cardiovascular incidents. Their expertise in monitoring heart activities makes them vital contributors to patients’ heart health.
Where Do EKG Technicians Work?
EKG technicians are actively sought out in diverse healthcare environments, offering their expertise in facilities, including hospitals, specialist cardiologist offices, general practitioner offices, and in-patient and outpatient centers, helping maintain and enhance patients’ cardiovascular health.
EKG Technician Education & Certification:
While employers commonly provide initial training for EKG technicians, prior experience and training in healthcare can be a significant advantage in securing a position in this field. This puts certified medical assistants in a favorable position for a career transition to an EKG technician role. Training spans four to six weeks, and technicians are encouraged to pursue professional certification through recognized bodies such as Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).
Why Consider the Role of an EKG Technician?
Transitioning to an EKG technician role offers a lucrative pathway for medical assistants aiming to progress in the healthcare field. The role offers full-time and part-time employment opportunities, with a relatively quick and cost-effective certification process. Given the expanding job market and career growth prospects, embracing an EKG technician’s role emerges as a favorable progression for medical assistants.
EKG Technician Salaries
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for an EKG technician is about $31, with an annual average salary* of about $65,000.
EKG Technician Job Outlook
The indispensable role of EKG technicians, coupled with a consistent demand for their specialized skills, paints a promising job outlook for aspiring professionals in this field. According to BLS projections, the employment landscape for EKG technicians is poised to witness a growth rate of about 10% by 2032, a figure that significantly outpaces the overall national job growth forecast, which stands at approximately 3%.
Click here to learn how to become an EKG Technician
3. Phlebotomy Technician
What Does a Phlebotomy Technician Do?
A phlebotomy technician collects blood samples from patients and donors efficiently and safely. Their role extends beyond blood collection to encompass the preparation of blood samples for diagnostic tests, which aid in identifying various health conditions and diseases. Furthermore, they are tasked with explaining procedures, maintaining up-to-date patient records, and ensuring the laboratory equipment is ready.
Where Do Phlebotomy Technicians Work?
Primarily found in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and medical and diagnostic laboratories, phlebotomy technicians are integral members of the healthcare team. Their flexibility also sees them providing their services at patients’ homes, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare environments where blood collection is necessary, ensuring accessibility and convenience for patients.
Phlebotomy Technician Education & Certification:
Aspiring phlebotomy technicians can utilize the foundational phlebotomy training integrated into medical assistant programs. Many choose to undergo additional certification processes to bolster their career prospects further. The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers a Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT) exam, which distinguishes you in a pool of applicants, showcasing a higher level of proficiency and expertise in the field.
Why Choose a Career as a Phlebotomy Technician?
Stepping into the role of a phlebotomy technician emerges as a strategic career move for medical assistants, offering them a chance to specialize further within the healthcare sector. The relatively brief training programs and the exposure to diverse roles within the healthcare spectrum make this pathway highly appealing. Moreover, certified medical assistants already possess a solid foundation in phlebotomy through their initial training, facilitating a smooth transition into this role.
Phlebotomy Technician Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for a phlebotomy technician is about $20, with an annual average salary* of about $41,000.
Phlebotomy Technician Job Outlook
With the U.S. population aging steadily, the reliance on blood tests as a diagnostic tool is set to amplify, spelling a bright future for phlebotomy technicians. According to predictions from the BLS, the sector is poised to witness a significant growth spurt of about 8% by 2032. This expansion rate notably exceeds the projections for other healthcare professions (11%) and overshadows the general national job outlook (3%).
Click here to learn how to become a Phlebotomy Technician
4. Health Unit Clerk
What Does a Health Unit Clerk Do?
Health unit clerks, often referred to as ward clerks, play a crucial role in the seamless operations of clinical units in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, surgical wards, and intensive care units. They are responsible for offering administrative and clerical support ensuring meticulous management and storage of vital documents such as medical records, laboratory reports, and patient files. In addition to their administrative duties, they liaise directly with the medical and nursing personnel to facilitate superior patient care. Their role often extends to answering phone calls, distributing mail, and preparing essential supplies for their unit.
Where Do Health Unit Clerks Work?
Predominantly found in office environments within healthcare facilities, health unit clerks are pivotal in maintaining organizational efficiency. The evolving nature of healthcare also sees many embracing roles as virtual assistants, working remotely from their homes to offer the same level of administrative support.
Health Unit Clerk Education & Certification:
While there are no stringent educational or certification prerequisites for becoming a health unit clerk, employers generally favor candidates with a sound understanding of the medical domain. It underlines the importance of relevant experience or education in the field, allowing for an effective transition into the role.
Why Consider a Career as a Health Unit Clerk?
Embarking on a career as a health unit clerk can be a strategic move for individuals with medical assistant training. The foundational skills and medical knowledge acquired during their initial training prepare them well for this role. Additionally, obtaining certification from institutions such as the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) can provide a competitive edge, showcasing a deeper understanding and proficiency.
Health Unit Clerk Salary
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for an office clerk is about $20, with an annual average salary* of about $41,000.
Health Unit Clerk Job Outlook
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific job outlook information for health unit clerks, it does offer employment projections for medical secretaries, who share many of the same responsibilities as health unit clerks. While the BLS reports that employment of medical secretaries is projected to decrease 10% by 2032, there will still be about 316,000 job openings each year for these professionals over the decade.
Click here to learn how to become a Health Unit Clerk
5. Medical Claims Examiner
What Does a Medical Claims Examiner Do?
Medical claims examiners are pivotal figures in the healthcare industry, spearheading the assessment and verification of insurance claims. Their responsibilities encompass interacting with insurance policyholders to verify coverage details and overseeing the scrutiny of insurance claims to ensure accuracy and compliance with the stipulated prerequisites. They play a decisive role in the approval, denial, or further investigation of insurance claims based on the outcomes of their evaluations.
Where Do Medical Claims Examiners Work?
Most commonly positioned within the office precincts of healthcare insurance companies, medical claims examiners operate at the epicenter of claim verifications and approvals. A subsection of these professionals also integrates into hospital administrative settings, offering their expertise in managing and evaluating insurance claims.
Medical Claims Examiner Education & Certification:
The pathway to becoming a medical claims examiner doesn’t strictly demand specific educational or certification credentials. However, a minimum requirement that most employers adhere to is a high school diploma. Prospective candidates with academic backgrounds in the medical field, particularly those with medical assisting diplomas, find themselves at a competitive advantage when venturing into this domain.
Why Opt for a Career as a Medical Claims Examiner?
Medical assistants contemplating a shift in their career trajectory will find the role of a medical claims examiner a rewarding choice, especially if they possess a knack for administrative tasks and a deep understanding of medical terminologies. This role is particularly appealing to individuals who excel in detailed analysis and have a foundation in the medical field, as it leverages both these aspects proficiently.
Medical Claims Examiner Salaries
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for a medical claims examiner is about $35, with an annual average salary* of about $73,000.
Medical Claims Examiner Job Outlook
Despite the vital role that medical claims examiners play in the healthcare industry, the job prospects appear somewhat restrained compared to other healthcare professions. Technological advancements have paved the way for streamlined processes, reducing the dependency on manual oversight. According to BLS data, the overall employment sphere encompassing claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators is expected to dip about 3% by 2032.
Click here to learn how to become a Medical Claims Examiner
6. Surgical Technologist
What Does a Surgical Technologist Do?
Surgical technologists, also known as surgical technicians, are indispensable assets in the operative room. These professionals are responsible for preparing the operating rooms for surgeries, sterilizing instruments, organizing necessary equipment, and actively assisting during surgical procedures, including handling instruments to surgeons. Additionally, they are entrusted with wound dressing post-operations and escorting patients to recovery rooms, ensuring a seamless surgical process.
Where Do Surgical Technologists Work?
Surgical technologists find employment in diverse healthcare environments. Apart from the customary setting of hospitals, they are also engaged in outpatient care centers physicians’ and dentists’ offices, where their expertise ensures the smooth facilitation of surgical procedures.
Surgical Technologist Education and Training:
Pursuing a career as a surgical technologist necessitates formal education and certification. Candidates must enroll in an accredited surgical technology program to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills. Post-completion, individuals are eligible to sit for the certification exam conducted by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), a significant step in officially stepping into the profession.
Why Choose a Career as a Surgical Technologist?
For medical assistants eyeing growth in their healthcare careers, the role of a surgical technologist presents a golden opportunity. It offers an avenue to venture into more challenging parts within the high-pressure precincts of surgical settings. Surgical technologists enjoy vibrant job prospects, engage with state-of-the-art technologies, and experience dynamic work days that are routine. A significant role in a crucial healthcare team, saving lives daily, adds to the gratification and sense of accomplishment.
Surgical Technologist Salaries
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for surgical technologists is almost $28, with an annual average salary* of about $58,000.
Surgical Technologist Job Outlook
Surgical technologists stand solid ground concerning future job prospects, courtesy of their indispensable role and specialized skill set in the healthcare sector. The BLS projects a promising growth trajectory for this profession, estimating a 5% increase in employment opportunities by 2032. Though slightly lower than some other healthcare professions (8%), it distinctly surpasses the national average job outlook of 3%, marking a positive trend in the sector.
Click here to learn how to become a Surgical Technologist
7. Public Health Inspector
What Does a Public Health Inspector Do?
Public health inspectors are vital pillars within government health departments, scrutinizing business and public facilities to enforce adherence to local and state health regulations. Their role encompasses inspecting various establishments, including hotels, food services, healthcare facilities, and more, to maintain proper sanitation and safety standards. Their vigilant inspection routines are instrumental in preventing illnesses and potential health hazards that could stem from improperly maintained facilities.
Where Do Public Health Inspectors Work?
Working as a public health inspector involves splitting time between offices or factories and fieldwork, often encompassing substantial travel. Given their role, they might sometimes encounter strenuous, dangerous, or stressful conditions, necessitating personal protective and safety equipment such as gloves, helmets, and respirators to mitigate the risk of illness and injury.
Public Health Inspector Education & Certification:
To kickstart a public health inspector career, candidates must acquire an associate degree in natural sciences or health. While certification is not a mandatory requirement, it holds a preferred status among several employers, serving as a testament to the candidate’s expertise in the field.
Why is Public Health Inspector a Viable Career Choice?
For medical assistants contemplating a career shift, the role of a public health inspector emerges as a promising alternative. The knowledge and coursework acquired during medical assistant training align well with the prerequisites of the health inspector role, potentially easing the transition and offering a head start in the new career path.
Public Health Inspector Salaries
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for public health inspectors is about $40, with an annual average salary* of about $82,000.
Public Health Inspector Job Outlook:
While specific data on the job prospects for public health inspectors remains unavailable, insights can be derived from the projections for occupational health and safety specialists, a role sharing significant parallels. According to BLS forecasts, the employment sphere for these specialists is set to expand by 13% by 2032. This growth trajectory underscores a sustained demand for public health inspectors, who will be integral in ensuring compliance with evolving and existing regulations across various industries and government agencies.
Click here to learn how to become a Public Health Inspector
8. Nursing Assistant
What Does a Nursing Assistant Do?
Nursing assistants are healthcare professionals who assist patients with various daily tasks, facilitating comfort and well-being. They are known for their substantial daily interaction with patients, making them crucial figures in the healthcare cycle. A nursing assistant’s day-to-day activities encompass aiding patients with feeding, bathing, and dressing, managing bedding, assisting with restroom needs, recording vital signs, and facilitating patient exercises, among other responsibilities.
Where Do Nursing Assistant Work?
Nursing assistants find employment in diverse settings, including nursing homes, home care environments, assisted living and hospice facilities, hospitals, long-term care establishments, and even correctional institutions. This range of workplaces offers nursing assistants varied experiences and opportunities to positively impact different patient demographics.
Nursing Assistant Education and Training:
Embarking on a career as a nursing assistant does not necessitate a college degree. However, candidates must possess a high school diploma or equivalent. Subsequently, they undergo state-approved training programs culminating in a post-secondary non-degree certificate or diploma. Aspiring nursing assistants must pass a state certification exam to officially begin their careers. The knowledge acquired during a Medical Assistant (MA) program can benefit individuals transitioning into nursing assistant roles.
Why Choose a Career as a Nursing Assistant?
Opting for a career as a nursing assistant brings several benefits, not least of which is the profound opportunity to make a significant difference in patients’ lives. Furthermore, this role can be a stepping stone to advanced nursing programs, fostering valuable network connections within the healthcare sector.
Nursing Assistant Salaries
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for nursing assistants is about $17, with an annual average salary* of about $36,000.
Nursing Assistant Job Outlook
Nursing assistants can look forward to a favorable job outlook, with their essential services forecasted to remain in high demand. According to the BLS, the sector is expected to witness an employment growth of 4% by 2032. While this figure is below the projection for other healthcare professionals in the field (17%), it exceeds the general national job outlook, which is currently pegged at 3%.
Click here to learn how to become a Nursing Assistant
9. Home Health Aide
What Does a Home Health Aide Do?
Home health aides are compassionate caregivers, aiding patients in fostering their health and overall well-being from the comfort of their homes. These professionals look after individuals with chronic illnesses, disabilities, the elderly, or those requiring sustained care at home. They embody trust and confidence for patients and their families, functioning as the vigilant eyes and ears for medical professionals. Due to the intimate nature of their job, home health aides often detect changes in patients’ conditions before anyone else, emphasizing their pivotal role in the healthcare continuum.
Where Do Home Health Aide Work?
Home health aides primarily serve patients in their residences. Despite their workspace, their employment often stems from staffing agencies, hospice establishments, and home health organizations, ensuring professional management and coordination of care.
Home Health Aide Education and Training:
Individuals typically require a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification to embark on a career as a home health aide. While no formal education prerequisites exist, most employers insist on certification, which involves 75 hours of comprehensive training and demonstrating various fundamental skills. On-the-job training is a common pathway, helping new aides to adapt to their roles seamlessly.
Why Choose to Become a Home Health Aide?
Transitioning to a home health aide career is a fulfilling choice and a tangible opportunity to impact lives positively daily. This role provides flexible work schedules and the privilege of offering solace and companionship to those in dire need. For medical assistants seeking a career shift, this role allows for applying their existing skill set, promising personal and professional growth. Given the soaring demand for home health aides, many find this career satisfying and rewarding.
Home Health Aide Salaries
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for a home health aide is about $15, with an annual average salary* of about $31,000.
Home Health Aide Job Outlook
The future for home health aides appears promising, primarily fueled by the increasing aging population and the growing preference for home-based care in later life stages. According to BLS projections, the employment rate for home health aides is expected to surge by a whopping 22% by 2032, significantly surpassing the overall national employment growth rate (3%).
Click here to learn how to become a Home Health Aide
Alternative Jobs for Medical Assistants
Embarking on a journey to earn your medical assistant diploma is your ticket to many promising job opportunities beyond conventional medical assistant roles. The expertise and knowledge acquired during your training can catalyze a seamless transition into several fulfilling roles within the healthcare sector.
Certain positions, like medical office assistants or ward clerks, welcome your existing qualifications with open arms, allowing you to step right into these roles without necessitating further education. Meanwhile, more specialized careers, such as public health inspectors and surgical technologists, view your medical assistant diploma as a solid foundation, paving the way for further training and examinations specific to these dynamic fields. Your MA diploma is a versatile tool, ready to unlock diverse career paths that resonate with your aspirations and interests.
If you are enthusiastic to forge ahead on this promising journey, kickstart your transformation with Eagle Gate College, where a rewarding career is just 10 months away with our well-rounded Medical Assisting program.