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Medical Assistant Career Profile - Memphis

For those that are interested in working in an industry that offers both above-average growth potential and the opportunity to help people, the medical assistant career field may be ideal. The healthcare industry is growing steadily with no signs of stopping and the need for qualified medical assistants is excellent news for anyone interested in pursuing this field. This is true in Memphis and around the country.

Job Outlook and Salary for Medical Assistants

Analyzing data from a range of industries all across the United States, the Bureau of Labor (BLS) statistics publishing information regarding expected job growth in various career fields. Fortunately for those interested in working as medical assistants, the BLS has positive things to say about this particular career path. These include:

  • An expected employment growth of 29% over the decade from 2012 through 2022. This is considered much faster than average compared to other careers.
  • In 2013 the median annual pay for medical assistants in the U.S. was $29,600 and the median hourly pay was $14.24.

In 2013 the mean annual pay for medical assistants in Memphis, TN was $27,900 and the median hourly pay for medical assistants was $13.39.

Some Reasons for Exceptional Growth

The BLS attributes the growth of the medical assistant career field to several different factors, including:

  • Federal legislation is increasing the number of insured individuals – people who will seek medical care. This creates need for more medical assistants to help doctors provide this care.
  • Baby-boomers are getting older. As they age they will need more and more medical care. Doctors will need help delivering this care.

The industry is pushing for electronic health records in every doctor's office. This is a laborious task that requires helping hands – help that medical assistants can provide. 

Outline of Career Path

All entry-level medical assistants start out by learning the ropes of the industry. This means working under the supervision of more knowledgeable staff and learning how the particular company or doctor's office works. During this process the medical assistant will get a solid foundation in the basics of assisting in healthcare – important skills that are readily transferable to more advanced positions.

The career path of each medical assistant will vary according to the individual's talents, interests and education background. Because the basic skills the assistant learns are so universal, medical assistants may choose to pursue specialization and advancement, sometimes after obtaining additional education, in fields including:

  • Medical administrative assistant
  • Medical records technician
  • Medical billing specialist
  • Nursing assistant
  • Pharmacy aid
  • Nursing

Education and Training for Medical Assistants

High school diplomas are a requirement for any medical assistant position. For high school students that know what they want to do after school, it is advisable to take relevant classes like chemistry, anatomy and biology. These can help later on in secondary education.

Generally after high school students will pursue either a medical assistant diploma or associates degree program. Students may choose from several options in pursing their education, including:

  • Trade school or vocational school – These schools typically offer one-year programs leading to a diploma or two-year programs leading to a degree in medical assisting.
  • College or university – These schools usually offer two-year associate's degrees.

Earning an associates degree may require a more substantial time commitment, but for those that may want to pursue a full four-year degree later on, it may be worthwhile. It must be noted that quality of education is just as important as quantity. Accredited programs can position one in the job market to take full advantage of everything this career has to offer.

Resources for Medical Assistants

  • United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Career One Stop (sponsored by the United States Bureau of Labor) 

American Association of Medical Assistants