If you are looking to begin a career as a medical assistant, you have a big decision to make. You can either chose to become a certified medical assistant or work as an non-certified medical assistant. In order to be eligible to take the certification test, you must have at least one year of experience working as a non-certified medical assistant or have completed a medical assisting program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or CAAHEP, or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, or ABHES. There are currently no federal or state laws that require medical assistants to become certified. As such, you may be wondering whether taking the certification test and becoming certified is ideal for you. Here are some of the pros and cons to becoming a certified medical assistant.
Cons of Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant
- It Costs Money
It is not free to obtain certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants, the company that certifies medical assistants. If you have completed a medical assistant programs accredited by the CAAHEP or ABHES--or if you're are a member of the AAMA--it will cost you $125 to take the test. If you have not completed one of these programs and are not a member of the AAMA, it will cost you $250 to take the test. While this may not seem like a lot, it can be if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck or on a tight budget.
- You Do Have to Jump Through Some Hoops
The other downside to becoming certified is that you do have to jump through some hoops to obtain your certification. In order to be eligible to take the test, you must complete an application and submit necessary documentation. This can include your high school transcripts, transcripts from the accredited program you participated in or proof that you have worked as a medical assistant for at least a year. You then will need to wait to find out if your application was approved or denied. If it was approved, you are eligible to take the test. If it was denied, you may be missing documentation or you may not be eligible to take the certification test at this time.
After you are approved to take the test, you will need to wait until a certification test is being held in your area. This can be a few weeks or even months. Once you are done with the test, you will have to wait for the results. All in all, it can be time consuming and requires patience.
Pros of Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant
- You May Earn More Money
One of the biggest benefits to becoming a certified medical assistant is that you may earn more money. A 2011 study conducted by the AAMA found that those who worked as a certified medical assistant earned an average annual salary of $29,640, or $14.94 per hour. Those who were not certified earned an annual salary of $26,568, or an average hourly rate of $13.43. While you may have to pay money to become certified, you more than make up for it with this difference in pay.
- You Can Prove Your Skills
The second advantage to becoming a certified medical assistant is that you are able to prove what skills you possess. If you are not certified, there is no way that a potential employer can tell what skills you have. They basically have to take your word for it. This may make them nervous about hiring you. However, when you are certified, you have taken a test and proven what skill set you have. This may give you a leg up on those who aren't certified when you are applying for jobs.
If you are interested in working as a medical assistant, you have to decide if you want to become a certified medical assistant. If you do, participating in a medical assistant program accredited by the CAAHEP or ABHES is a great place to start. You learn all of the skills you need to pass the certification test and work in the field. And when you participate in one of these programs, you aren't required to work in the field for a year before taking the test, and you get a reduction in the price of the certification test. Contact schools, such as ASA College, to begin your journey of becoming a certified medical assistant today.