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How to Become a Medical Administrative Assistant (Also Known as Medical Office Assistant)

Written by Laura Amendola on Wednesday, 03 April 2024. Posted in Healthcare

Medical admin assistant working at desk.

Healthcare jobs are more in-demand than ever! Workers are needed both on the frontlines and behind the scenes, filling vital roles to keep patients healthy and safe. If you’ve been considering a new career in the field, but don’t necessarily want to work directly with patients, becoming a medical office assistant (also known as a medical administrative assistant) can be a great fit. Here’s everything you need to know to take the next steps toward a rewarding career including training, salary information, and more!

What is a medical administrative assistant?

Medical administrative assistants are vital to a well-run physician’s office or clinic. They perform administrative and office tasks to make sure the office runs smoothly, patients are seen on time, and paperwork is filled out.

Medical administrative assistant job duties

Medical administrative assistant job duties can vary based on where you work, but usually include:

  • Scheduling appointments
  • Updating patient records
  • Ordering medical supplies
  • Processing invoices
  • Submitting billing paperwork to insurance agencies

Medical administrative assistant vs office assistant

While there are similarities between a medical office assistant and an office assistant in other environments outside of the medical field, the expertise and skills differ greatly. Medical administrative assistants are responsible for different duties, like being familiar with medical terminology and working with medical records.

While some administrative tasks may overlap, an office assistant outside of the medical field works more with organizational tasks and data entry. There could be functions of the medical office assistant job that some may find more stressful than that of an office assistant in other fields.

Medical assistant vs medical administrative assistant

A medical assistant may sound like it’s the same as a medical administrative assistant, but that’s not the case. Some job duties may be similar, but medical assistants work directly with patients while medical office assistants focus more on clerical work. The latter is much less clinical than working as a medical assistant.

On average, medical assistants make $38,270 annually while medical administrative assistants make $38,500 annually.

Learn more: Medical Administrative Assistant vs Medical Office Receptionist

Medical office assistant career path

Internships and entry-level roles can help you prepare to become a medical office assistant. You’ll get experience this way and, once you become a medical administrative assistant, you can work towards specialization or set a goal to become an office manager or administrative director.

Your career path as a medical office assistant can, generally, go two ways: toward leadership roles or more clinical roles. For example, if you start an entry-level job in a medical office as an office assistant, you can work your way up to becoming the office manager. But, after working in a clerical role, you may feel like you want to do more to help patients and decide it’s time to transition to something more hands-on.

If you’re already working in a medical office, making this transition can be easier. In fact, some employers may even be willing to help you pay for the education you need to take the next steps toward becoming a medical assistant or nurse!

Where do medical administrative assistants work?

You can get jobs in several healthcare settings as a medical office assistant, such as physician’s offices, hospitals, and outpatient clinics.

Learn more: What Jobs Are In Doctors Offices

What is the salary of a medical administrative assistant?

The average salary for an entry-level medical administrative assistant can vary based on state, employer, and experience. However, in 2022, the median salary for medical admins was $38,500 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To earn even more, gaining industry certifications, specializing in something like medical coding and billing, and furthering your education can help! Medical office assistants who can do a variety of essential tasks can make a difference to a small office, so the more skills you have, the better for you and your employer.

Learn more: Which Healthcare Certifications Pay the Most

What are the top skills medical administrative assistants need?

Medical administrative assistants need a few skills to be successful on the job. These include strong organizational skills, verbal and written communication skills, customer service skills, and an understanding of medical records, paperwork, and billing. Most who work in the field are friendly people-persons who can multitask and act as a go-between for doctors, nurses, and patients.

To be a successful medical administrative assistant, you’ll also need some more specialized skills such as knowledge of medical office software for scheduling and medical records management.

How much education is required to become a medical administrative assistant?

In general, you don’t need a degree or much education outside of a high school diploma to become an entry-level medical administrative assistant. However, while there may be no formal education requirement, many employers do prefer to see that you have some background and experience in the field or a similar role. In order to stand out from other applicants and increase your chances of getting in the door at a doctor’s office, earning a career diploma or completing medical administrative assistant training can make a difference. Through a top-ranking medical admin training program like Ashworth College‘s online Medical Office Assistant Certificate, you’ll learn the essentials of working in a medical office including:

  • The importance of HIPAA compliance
  • Filing and processing insurance paperwork
  • The laws and ethics of working in healthcare

While certification isn’t required to work as a medical administrative assistant, 75% of employers require or encourage certification for medical administrative assistants, so you can boost your resume and reaffirm your skills by sitting for an industry-recognized exam like the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam from the National Healthcareer Association. The cost of taking your exam is included in your affordable tuition!

How to become a certified medical administrative assistant through the NHA

According to the National Healthcareer Association, to be eligible for the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam, you must:

  • Have a high school diploma/equivalency/GED
  • Complete a training or education program within the last 5 years


  • Have a high school diploma/equivalency/GED
  • 1 year of supervised work experience in the field within the last 3 years or 2 years of supervised work experience in the field within the last 5 years

While certification isn’t necessary to get an entry-level job in this field, it can help your resume stand out when applying for jobs or trying to advance in your role at your current office.

How to seek employment as a medical administrative assistant

Once you’ve completed training and successfully gained your CMAA credential, it’s time to apply for jobs! Make sure you’ve updated your resume to include your certificate from Ashworth and the credentials you’ve earned to stand out during the application process.

Start a new career today with Ashworth College

Taking the next step toward a new career doesn’t have to be challenging. With Ashworth College, you can learn how to become a medical administrative assistant on your schedule, from home! Learn how to become a certified medical administrative assistant today by calling our expert admissions team at 1-800-957-5412.

Let's talk about your educational goals. Call 1-800-957-5412