Like most jobs in the medical industry, there are some professional qualifications that are needed to work as a medical assistant. The lowest level of education that is necessary is a high school diploma, which often needs to be supplemented with experience in this field to gain employment. For a better chance of getting this kind of job, aspiring medical assistants are usually encouraged to get at least a certificate or an associate's degree in this subject. There are other medical assistant qualifications that are optional but advised, such as certification or a medical specialty, because these can increase both the average pay and the chances of getting a job in this field.
To become a medical assistant, the minimum education that is needed is typically a high school diploma. High school students interested in this career are encouraged to focus on classes in health, biology and administrative skills such as computer usage and bookkeeping. Those who get a job in this field after graduating can expect to spend the first few months in on-the-job medical assistant training, unless they have prior experience through an internship or volunteer work.
Though a college degree is not one of the required medical assistant qualifications, it usually is considered an advantage when looking for a job in this field. The most common kind of education for medical assistants is an associate's degree, which usually takes about two years to get from a community college. There also are one-year programs that allow students to get a certificate in this subject. Students who want to ensure they have all the medical assistant qualifications but also want a chance to qualify for other medical jobs may opt to get a bachelor's degree in a related field.
There are additional medical assistant qualifications that are not required but may be beneficial for those who want the best chance to work as a medical assistant. Certification in this field can often be obtained by passing a course and an exam given by local organizations that specialize in certifying people for this subject. This is especially important for those who wish to have a specialty. Additionally, those who wish to be able to take X-rays or offer injections to patients usually need to take a class or pass an exam that goes over these procedures. Such optional medical assistant qualifications may lead to higher-paying positions.