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Do You Need a Degree To Be a Medical Assistant?

Working in a healthcare setting can be an enriching and satisfying career with the potential for professional and financial growth. Some people spend years in school to train and become doctors or nurses, while others don’t want to spend so much time in the classroom and are ready to jump straight into their careers as soon as possible. If that describes you, a career as a medical assistant is the perfect choice! If so, you might wonder, “Do you need a degree to be a medical assistant?” and the short answer is “No, but…

Do You Need a Degree To Be a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants in California are not required to hold any specific degree or credentials; however, many of the best employers with the highest-paying jobs prefer to hire medical assistants who have graduated from accredited medical assisting programs and hold a medical assisting credential and other supplemental certifications.

Certifications that make you more hireable include:

There are many educational paths to becoming a professional medical assistant and having a career you will love.

What Are the Educational Routes To Become a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants typically fall into one of three categories: those with a high school diploma and on-the-job training, those who have completed a certification program and potentially have medical assisting certification, and those who have completed an associate degree from a community college or university. None of these paths make you a better or worse medical assistant, but more training gives you additional skills and expertise and can make you more marketable. Differences in education and job prospects can be found in the chart below.

Medical Assistant Education Pathways
No Degree Certification Associate Degree
  • High school education or equivalent

  • On-the-job training

  • Offered at vocational or technical schools, some community colleges

  • Many programs can be completed in a few months

  • Training and education in:

    • Administering injections (Intramuscular, subcutaneous, and intradermal injections)

    • Performing skin tests

    • Venipuncture

    • Skin puncture

    • Administering medications by inhalation

    • Basic anatomy and physiology

    • Sterile techniques

    • Hazards and complications

    • Patient care Emergency procedures

    • National and state laws and regulations

  • Offered at community colleges or some universities

  • Two-year program

  • The same skills and techniques as a diploma program

  • Extra courses in general education

    • Math

    • Literature

    • Cultural studies

  • Possibility for more specialized courses in:

    • Administration

    • Medical Coding

    • Technology

  • Immediately start your career
  • Learn more skills and techniques

  • More confidence entering the workforce

  • Increased marketability

  • Increased earning potential

  • More career flexibility

  • Well-rounded healthcare education

  • Increased marketability

  • Increased earning potential

Job Prospects 
  • Entry-level positions

  • Urgent Care Centers

  • Home Health Care

  • Community Health Centers

  • Hospitals

  • Clinics

  • Physicians’ offices

  • Long-term care facilities

  • Outpatient clinics

  • Pharmaceutical companies

  • **Phlebotomist

  • **EKG Technician

  • Medical office manager

  • Specialty clinics

  • Health information technician

  • Research assistant

  • Surgical assistant

  • Insurance claims analyst

Earning Potential
  • *$15/hour

  • *$31,000 annually

  • *$18/hour

  • *$38,000 annually

Medical assistant salaries depend on several factors, including what your work duties are, your experience, the setting where you work, what state you live in, and what your education and training include. Full-time medical assistants may also be eligible for work benefits like 401(k) contributions, paid vacations and sick days, or health insurance. 

How To Become a Qualified Medical Assistant in California

While you don’t need a degree to become a medical assistant in California, there are educational pathways that will give you more career opportunities and chances for professional advancement. To become accredited in California, medical assistant training programs must provide students with education and hands-on training, including:

  • 10 hours of training in:
    • Administering injections 
    • Performing skin tests
    • Venipuncture
    • Skin puncture
    • Administering medications by inhalation
  • At least 10 of each:
    • Intramuscular, subcutaneous, and intradermal injections
    • Skin tests
    • Venipuncture
    • Skin punctures
  • Instruction and demonstration in:
    • Basic anatomy and physiology
    • Equipment choice
    • Sterile techniques
    • Hazards and complications
    • patient care after treatment
    • Emergency procedures
    • California laws and regulations

Programs meeting these requirements will produce students prepared to test for their Certified Medical Assistant credentials through the National Center for Competency Testing or other national credentialing bodies. 

Do You Need a Degree to Be a Medical Assistant? No, but if You Are Ready to Begin a Medical Assistant Training Program – BAMA Is Ready For You!

If you are ready to begin your career in medical assisting and see where the profession can take you, BAMA is prepared to help. Do you need a degree to be a medical assistant in California? No. But you do need an excellent education and training. 

BAMA is well-known, fully accredited, and is the premier training academy for medical assistants in the Bay Area. 

If you want to learn more about our medical assistant training programs and explore whether Bay Area Medical Academy is right for you,fill out our form or call 415-217-0077 (San Francisco campus) or 408-896-9440 (San Jose campus). 

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in the US, and you can be a part of it!

Our career-oriented program gives you hands-on, real-world training and ongoing support for your long-term goals.

For more information on BAMA's medical assisting and phlebotomy degree programs, contact us today!

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