Landing That First Medical Assistant Job

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If you just graduated from a community college or medical assistant training program and you’re ready to start working as an M.A., there are a few things you should know. First, the competition will be fierce as more young people flood medical centers, clinics and hospitals with the type of training that more or less matches yours. Second, your fellow job seekers will be fine-tuning their resumes and interviewing skills to get on the short list of candidates. Third, they’ll have the passion and the drive to get the job many people are seeking. So what can you do to give yourself the edge? Some suggestions:


Match Degree and Credentials to the Job

Make sure your resume and cover letter show how your degree, training and credentials match the M.A. position you’re applying for. There are so many different schools, training centers and credentialing organizations that hiring managers may not be aware how your specific training prepares you for the job they’re offering. If you’re lucky enough to get an interview, be ready to explain how your training and degree match up to the job.


Get AAMA Certified

To get on the short list of candidates for any MA position, you’ll need to get AAMA certified. The AAMA certification tells employers that you possess exceptionally broad, thorough knowledge of the field, and that you care enough about your profession to attain that knowledge. Hiring managers know that AAMA-certified candidates participate in continuing-education workshops, read authoritative texts, and network with other medical assistants. The healthcare field is continually changing and your AAMA certification tells employers that you’re "up to speed" on those changes.

Get an Externship

A medical-assistant externship provides practical on the job training—usually about 160 hours of shadowing a working M.A.—that will give you an idea of the day-to-day work of professionals in your field. To make sure you get into an externship, start talking with other medical assistants or medical offices to find a compatible work environment. If possible, try to get an externship that offers an extension, which can lead to you continuing on as an associate. "Many, many students are hired at their externship sites just by showing they have a good attitude, are eager to learn and get along well with the existing staff," says Mary C. Dyer, a certified medical assistant-specialization in administration (CMA-A) and president of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). If you’re not hired where you externed, but you leave a good impression, your externship colleagues can be great references when you apply for other jobs.


Add Skillsets and Network

If you “hit the wall” and can't find a job, take a few additional courses—like medical coding—to make yourself more marketable. And network with working M.A.'s at monthly meetings of your local AAMA chapter to learn of any job openings.


Landing that first job as a medical assistant won’t be easy, but if you’re credentialed, connected by networking, and prepared for the interview, the odds will be in your favor.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /



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  • Heather W
    Heather W
    Wanted to know if you have classes and financial  aid available? And when do your class's begin and how long do the class's last? And where is this location? Thank you ,Heather Wahl
  • Teresa R
    Teresa R
    I would like to know if there is a school or otherwise a place to take a refresher course. To be able refresh skills and be able to take the state exam?
  • Alex A. Kecskes
    Alex A. Kecskes
    Thanks for all your helpful comments. Daphne: For more info about AAMA, go to:
  • Howard c
    Howard c
    Their are many national certifications recognized NCCT, AMT, NHA and AAMAevery place is different
  • Christine H
    Christine H
    You might include the expected image when interviewing.  Nothing short of a suit is appropriate.  One black pair of pants and jacket will suffice. You can change the under shell if you have a 2nd interview.  Eliminate all piercings and cover tattoos.   Pull long hair up in a bun or pony tail. Wear a smile!
  • Angela F
    Angela F
    Whether or not your Resume is fine tuned to match the job you are applying for it is "who knows you" to make you get the job.Getting qualified is good but most of the time it is not really worth it because you end up putting yourself in more financial debt in trying to make yourself more marketable.
  • Margie T
    Margie T
    I am certified through NHA so it's disappointing to here if you're not certified through AAMA you won't find a job but it's so true. My background speaks volume but I still haven't found a job to pay back this high school loan. I started as a CNA,then became a certified Phlebotomist/EKG Tech. Have done MOA also and is now a CCMA,again with no job. DEPRESSING!!!!!!!
  • Daphne S
    Daphne S
    I am very intrested in more information about working in my Medical Assistant feild I am a RMA with AMT. Please send me  more information about AAMA. Thank YOu !
  • Antoinette R
    Antoinette R
    Great insight.  Its sad that I almost after a year after graduating I am getting this info. The school that  I graduated from (Florida Career College) was the worse school. I had no preparation and some of the instructors I actually questioned their credential. Let me clarify this is the campus in Boynton Beach, FL.
  •  Karen G
    Karen G
    Good thoughts!  My daugher is currently in school training to become a medical assistant.  Thank you!
    I am a rma and just finish medical billing and coding. I do have a parttime job doing medical billing and coding but been having a hard time landing a ma position.
  • John A
    John A
    Very helpful and instructive. I especially like the constructive guidance on specific things to do for opportunity enhancement.
  • Dianne B
    Dianne B
    I am a recent graduate and I do  have an externship and it is very  helpful in becoming more familiary with the EHR systems we as MA's need to know. I am working out-of-my field, but still looking and applying daily for an opportunity to get to what I have trained for as a MA. Keep the faith everyone and keep applying our time will come soon!!!
  • Lorena c
    Lorena c
    Great article! But CNA is not enough for finding a job  too many trouble  and frusting can't help us.
  • Elizabeth Q
    Elizabeth Q
    Great article! I just contacted my school for assistance in finding a job.I am not AAMA certified and going back to school to freshen skills in coding and phlebotomy.Mahalo!
  • cinthya A
    cinthya A
    I so disappointed that I take the m.a classes because I can't get a job.
  • Marijo H
    Marijo H
    Great article! Yes, I have hit a brick wall. I am in the over 50 category, and feel that my age is working against me. Competition is fierce. What is the difference between internship and externship? Would it help to do a second internship?
  • Jamie P
    Jamie P
    Hi my name is Jamie and I am a recent graduate of a MA program. However I am a RMA and have hit a wall. I did complete an externship but the deal they worked out with our school is just extern ships. I do have a recommendation but have been struggling. I was actually considering going for my CNA BC the school I chose did not certify us in phlebotomy. If you have any suggestions I would be open to them.
  • Lakeisha Y
    Lakeisha Y
    I am looking for a job so bad,i am ready to get out the house.I am a CMA,iv'e been looking for a job every since i finished school.I can start soon as possible.How can i apply?
  • Mae D
    Mae D
    Unfortuantely, I'm one who has hit the wall and can't seem to land a job in this field. I went on to add other credentials, that should certainly qualify me for a job, or at least an interview.My externship went very well, the office merged with another doctor and they were helping other employees locate jobs; the only reason they didn't hire me. My school was no help with job prospects.  Liked the article and one we should take heed to!
  • Pamela B
    Pamela B
    Even though I'm not a MA,  I'm still finding it very difficult finding a job in the medical field.  I've recently graduated as an MIBC.  And this information is relevant.
  • Karen S
    Karen S
    Those were some very good tip's, as a medical assistant who has not landed that first job it is most valuable.. have a question what if you went to school out of state, will i have a harder time finding that first job
  • lori V
    lori V
    Love the article, great info.
  • Doug S.
    Doug S.
    Thanks Alex. I agree that  competition is fierce when you are loking for that first position as an MA. Credentials such as CMA or RMA appear to be in demand here in Conn. I am also networking more and more and seeking additional coursework starting with CNA certification.
  • Diane C
    Diane C
    I feel I am qualified, and able to full field my position as a NRCMA..

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