After learning how to take patient histories, maintain electronic records, schedule appointments, tests and procedures, measure vital signs, administer injections and draw blood, you’ll be qualified to work as a medical assistant in Washington State. Whether you decide to work in a nursing home, hospital or clinical setting, the combination of analytical and people skills required to perform such a front-line role in the healthcare system makes for a challenging and fulfilling career.[Leer en español]
Becoming a Medical Assistant in Washington
Requirements for Working as a Medical Assistant in Washington
Washington State medical assistants need to be certified or registered by the Washington Department of Health, Medical Assisting Credentialing. You will need to complete an apprenticeship or an accredited training program, then pass an exam and apply for certification. You can take any one of the following: the Certified Medical Assistant Exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA); the Registered Medical Assistant Exam through American Medical Technologists (AMT); the Clinical Medical Assistant Exam through the National Health Career Association (NHA); the National Certified Medical Assistant Exam through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT); or the Clinical Medical Assistant Certification Examination through the American Medical Certification Association (AMCA).
Becoming a Medical Assistant
In order to work as a medical assistant in Washington, you must complete a medical assistant program at an institution accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Alternately, you could complete a medical assistant program offered by a school accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The program would have to include a minimum of 720 hours of training in medical assisting skills and an externship of no less than 160 hours. There are no ongoing continuing education requirements for CMAs in Washington.
Washington Schools for Medical Assistants
There are many schools offering medical assistant certification throughout the state, and students have the option of doing a 10-month course or earning an associate’s degree while preparing for certification.
- Charter College, Vancouver. With campuses throughout the state, including East Wenatchee, Fife, Lacey, Pasco and Yakima, Charter College offers a 10-month medical assistant program, with intake every five weeks. Students will be trained in front office medical office technology and word processing, and will perform a 180-hour externship at a local clinic, physician’s office, hospital, HMO or other ambulatory health facility.
- Seattle Vocational Institute, Seattle. This 15-month program includes a final practicum as well as scholarships for 20 students in partnership with Kaiser Permanente. The SVI program is CAAHEP-accredited.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Washington state medical assistants’ salaries are the highest in the continental U.S., at an average of $19.09 per hour. There are currently 13,500 CMAs working throughout the state, earning an average of $39,700 per year.
Demand for medical assistants is expected to grow 26.8 percent by 2026. Washington’s population growth will fuel demand for medical assistants throughout the state, mostly in urban centers, with Seattle leading the way at 25 percent growth by 2040.
Working as a Medical Assistant in Washington
There are and will continue to be promising medical assistant career opportunities in all of Washington’s major cities, including Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver, Tacoma, Bellevue and Everett. Whether you choose to work in a community hospital, medical center or for Kaiser Permanente, employment prospects are great for medical assistants throughout Washington. Both one-year and two-year programs will prepare you for a career in healthcare.
How much do medical assistants earn in the state of Washington?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants in the state of Washington made an average of $43,760 per year in 2019. Entry-level medical assistants earned around $33,140 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $57,140.