How to Become a Medical Assistant in Massachusetts
Medical assistants have a unique career that combines administrative and clinical tasks. They are responsible for tasks such as recording a patient’s history, measuring vital signs, assisting with examinations, administering medicine, scheduling patient appointments and preparing blood samples.
They can specialize in a particular field, such as podiatry or optometry, or provide general medical support instead.[Leer en español]
Requirements To Become a Medical Assistant in Massachusetts
There are no specific educational requirements to become a medical assistant in Massachusetts. However, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an accredited medical assisting program and hold a certificate or diploma.
Medical assistants must also complete a certification exam administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The AAMA offers two different types
The state of Massachusetts does not require medical assistants to have any specific certification or level of education. Individual employers may instead choose the most qualified applicants for themselves. Certain qualifications can help medical assistants achieve a competitive edge and gain higher-paying jobs.
Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) oversees the certification of medical assistants and requires applicants to pass one of five exams approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Of these five, the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exams are the most popular.
Both require the successful completion of a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) accredited training program, though equivalent medical experience may be sufficient as well.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
The Certified Medical Assistant credential is the gold standard in medical assisting, and those who earn it report higher job satisfaction and earnings. The Certified Medical Assistant exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions administered over five sections: general, administrative, clinical, infection control, and medical ethics/legal issues.
Test-takers have three hours to complete the exam, which is offered in both English and Spanish. The Certified Medical Assistant exam is administered by Pearson VUE at testing centers across the country.[/p]
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
The Registered Medical Assistant credential is offered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT) and does not require completion of a formal training program. Instead, individuals must have completed at least five years of full-time work experience as a medical assistant. The Registered Medical Assistant credential is valid for 60 months, after which recertification is required.
The Registered Medical Assistant exam consists of 225 multiple-choice questions, which are divided into five sections: general, administrative, clinical, medical terminology, and body systems. The exam is offered in English only and can be taken at AMT-approved testing centers nationwide.
Massachusetts Medical Assistant Programs
Massachusetts recognizes, but does not require, Certified Medical Assistant credentials. Prospective medical assistants should enroll in a training program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools to qualify to take this certification exam.
Most training programs require in-person class attendance, as hands-on training is an important element of medical assistant education. Here are two Massachusetts-based programs to consider:
Massasoit Community College
Located in Canton, MA, Massasoit Community College offers a nine-month training program for prospective medical assistants. The course requires that students complete a seven-week practicum in a health care facility before graduation, which ensures that students receive real-world training before entering the field as a professional.
Bay State Community College
Students can enroll in a nine-month or one-year course at Bay State Community College. They will complete an internship, learn from doctors and nurses currently working in Boston-area hospitals and prepare for a national certification exam. Bay State students have the option to transfer their credits from this program to a four-year degree in Healthcare Management, if desired.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The national employment rate for medical assistants has been steadily growing since 2020, with expected growth of 16 percent by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In Massachusetts, medical assistants are expected to see growth of 21 percent during the same timeframe.
Medical assistants in the U.S. receive an average annual salary of $37,190, according to the BLS. In Massachusetts, medical assistants enjoy a higher-than-average salary of $45,880 per year.
Working as a Medical Assistant in Massachusetts
Medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers and other facilities in which people receive medical treatment. Most medical assistants work full-time and may also be required to work on some weekends, evenings or holidays, depending on where they work.
There is a high concentration of top-quality hospitals in Boston, and medical assistants may find work more easily in Boston than other cities as a result.
This career is ideal for people who interested medicine and enjoy working with people. Successful medical assistants typically communicate well, pay attention to detail and think analytically. The field can offer a way for people to enter the medical field without extensive schooling, allowing them to start an exciting career right away or begin preparing for further medical training in the future.
Popular Medical Assistant Schools in Massachusetts
How much do medical assistants earn in the state of Massachusetts?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants in the state of Massachusetts made an average of $45,880 per year in 2021. Entry-level medical assistants earned around $36,780 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $59,060.