How to Become a Medical Assistant in Alaska
Medical assistants in the U.S. are, and will continue to be, in high demand for the next several years. More care facilities, specialty clinics, ambulatory needs and generally a greater need for care assistants has put medical assisting on the map as one of the most in-demand jobs, with a projected national growth of 29 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).[Leer en español]
Typically, medical assistants are responsible for assisting, administering, tracking and coordinating patient care. Depending on their background, training and the setting in which they work, their duties may be specified to a set of highly specialized tasks such as managing lab samples, or they may be assigned a more general workload that includes administrative duties, scheduling and patient records.
Medical assistants almost always work closely with patients, informing, tracking, scheduling, monitoring and more.
Medical assistants work in administrative and medical settings of all kinds. They may work in clinics, labs, wellness centers, senior centers, specialty medical centers, outpatient settings and emergency care, to name just a few examples.
Requirements for Becoming a Medical Assistant in Alaska
Though not officially required by the state, formal training (a diploma or degree) and education to be a medical assistant is typically preferred. Colleges, universities and trade schools often offer accredited programs, which vary from a few months to two years. Coursework for specific degrees will likely be similar among institutions.
Before enrolling in a program, make sure that it is accredited by one of the two main accreditation bodies, either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Many institutions offer practicums to help students gain experience in the field. Having experience before you graduate will typically put you steps ahead of your less-experienced competitors.
Medical Assistant Classes and Educational Programs in Alaska
As a state, Alaska differs from many others due to its unique mix of rural and urban health care. Many rural areas are underserved and offer plenty of well-paying opportunities. Costs of extensive training programs are typically in the range of $30,000 – $40,000.
Following are a sample of offerings from recognized medical assistant schools in Alaska:
- Diploma in Medical Assisting from Charter College. If you are centered in or near Anchorage, you may choose to follow this route, which is a year-long program with a foundation in technical and business skills. This is a good option for those just going into the field. A 180-hour externship (practicum) is available. Graduating students are eligible for Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification.
- The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Assisting, which takes approximately one and a half years to complete. There are two halves to this program—the first is clinical and the second is admin. Graduates can take the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) exam.
Certification for Becoming a Medical Assistant in Alaska
To get certified as a medical assistant in Alaska, you can follow the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) training from the American Association of Medical Assistants, or you may become a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) via the American Medical Technologists.
Depending on your background, it may be more suitable to follow the path of becoming a National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from the National Center for Competency Testing. Lastly, you may choose to become a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) or a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) from the National Healthcareer Association.
It’s also important to note that each certification body requires different processes to keep memberships and certification updated.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Alaska
As of 2017, there were more than 1,600 medical assistants working in the state of Alaska, earning a mean average hourly income of $20.22 and a mean annual salary of $42,060.00. The job growth rate between 2016 and 2026 is expected to be around 23.4 percent. There are expected to be, on average, 240 job openings for medical assistants annually in Alaska.
Alaska is one the highest-paying states for certified medical assistants, and professionals at any level can expect to earn an annual salary of about $40,000. Salary is dependent on overall experience and education, as well as the demands and location of a given setting, including cost of living. This salary level is consistent throughout the state, and demand is expected to grow.
Working as a Medical Assistant in Alaska
The demand for this role is expected to remain higher than the national average for other jobs, and demand and job opportunities are both comparatively high in the state of Alaska.
In almost all cases, medical assistants are directly supervised by medical professionals such as doctors and nurses. However, there are always possibilities to advance leadership and specialization skills to move into supervisory roles.
Alaska is a state with diverse and unique needs, and healthcare demands will continue to increase in every aspect. This means that opportunities for medical assistants will continue to be vast and varied. Those looking to pursue this dynamic and practical profession will need to be aware of ongoing training and recertification requirements as they pursue their career.
How much do medical assistants earn in the state of Alaska?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants in the state of Alaska made an average of $45,630 per year in 2019. Entry-level medical assistants earned around $34,590 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $58,750.