Medical assistants have a lot of career options in the healthcare field. They can specialize in almost any field of medicine, assisting physicians and other healthcare professionals in clinics, hospitals, private offices, and other settings.
There are also promising opportunities for advancement beyond medical assisting. Some medical assistants see the expertise and knowledge they gain as stepping stones to other healthcare careers.
This guide goes over opportunities that medical assistants have, both in their current job and in other fields, including similar professions and alternative jobs.
9 Similar Professions & Alternatives to a Medical Assistant Career
Though there are many reasons why becoming a medical assistant is a great career choice, it may not be the best fit for everyone. Everyone has different strengths and skills, some of which may be better suited to certain career paths.
If you are already a medical assistant, you might be considering a career switch. You may want to try something different or explore new career in the healthcare field.
So, what other jobs can a medical assistant apply for? Here are some alternatives to a career in medical assisting:
A phlebotomist’s main duties include drawing blood from patients and accurately labeling samples for testing. They play an important role in the overall diagnostic process. In addition, they work hard to help patients feel reassured and comfortable while getting their blood drawn.
Phlebotomists typically work in hospital laboratories and other healthcare facilities. Some of them work at mobile blood donation clinics or blood banks.
Becoming a phlebotomist is a good alternative to a medical assistant career because it gives you the opportunity to perform more hands-on laboratory work. On a typical day, a phlebotomist will collect many blood samples from patients while making sure that all infection control protocols are being followed.
Training required: Many aspiring phlebotomists complete an accredited postsecondary phlebotomy program that provides them with a certificate. These programs are offered at trade schools, community colleges, and online. They are usually less than 12 months long. Stepful has an online 5-week phlebotomy program that is only $699.
Job outlook: According to the BLS, phlebotomist jobs are expected to grow by 10% within the next decade, which is considered a better-than-average outlook but is lower than the job outlook for medical assistants of 16%.
>> Read More: Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomist
A nursing assistant’s duties include repositioning patients and helping them with grooming, hygiene, and basic personal care. They work with registered nurses and other healthcare staff to help improve patient comfort. They usually work at nursing homes, residential care facilities, and hospitals.
Becoming a nursing assistant is a good alternative to a medical assistant career because it provides you with more direct patient interaction. If you are passionate about helping patients feel more comfortable during their stay at the hospital, this is a great career option.
Training required: In addition to a high school diploma or equivalent, you will need to complete an approved nursing assistant program and obtain a license or certification. Nursing assistant programs are offered through postsecondary institutions. They usually take around 6 to 12 weeks to complete.
Job outlook: According to the BLS, nursing assistant jobs are expected to grow by 5% in the next decade, which is considered an average outlook.
>> Read More: Medical Assistant vs. Nursing Assistant
Medical Office Assistant
Medical office assistants work at the front desk and behind the scenes to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Some of their duties include answering calls, scheduling appointments, and maintaining accurate records. They work in settings such as hospitals, physician’s offices, and outpatient clinics.
If the administrative side of a medical assistant career appeals to you more than the clinical side, then you may find that becoming a medical office assistant is a great alternative career choice.
Training required: In order to become a medical office assistant, you will need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Many employers also prefer to hire applicants that have completed a medical office assistant program. These programs are commonly offered at community colleges, trade schools, or online. The length of these programs vary, but you can expect them to take up to a year to complete.
Average salary: $37,450 (BLS) compared to medical assistant salary of $37,190
Job outlook: According to the BLS, secretaries and administrative assistant jobs in the medical field are expected to grow by 8% in the next decade, which is considered an average outlook.
EKG technicians operate electrocardiograms (EKGs) to help test patients for heart conditions. Depending on their level of training, they may also conduct more types of testing and work as cardiovascular technicians or medical sonographers. They usually work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
If you are detail-oriented and enjoy working with technology, becoming an EKG technician is a great alternative to a medical assistant career.
Training required: In order to become an EKG technician, you will need one of the following: an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or a certificate from an EKG technician program. These programs can be taken at universities, community colleges, trade schools, or online. Depending on the type of program and educational route you take, training can take anywhere from a few months to four years.
Job outlook: According to the BLS, cardiovascular technician jobs are expected to grow by 10% in the next decade, which is considered an above average outlook.
Surgical technologists keep the operating room in good condition by sterilizing equipment and restocking supplies. In addition, they assist surgeons by preparing patients for surgical procedures. Typical workplace environments include hospitals, physician private practices, and outpatient clinics.
Becoming a surgical technologist is a good alternative to a medical assistant career because it lets you be more involved in complex medical procedures. If you are interested in helping make surgical procedures run smoothly, this is an excellent career choice.
Training required: You will need to complete either an associate’s degree or certificate program. These programs are usually offered in postsecondary institutions like community colleges or trade schools. They will take around one to two years to complete. In addition, many employers require that surgical technologists earn a certification.
Job outlook: According to the BLS, surgical technologist jobs are expected to grow by 6% in the next decade, which is considered an average outlook.
Dental hygienists work closely with dentists to help promote patients’ oral health. Some of their duties include taking X-rays of the mouth, cleaning patients’ teeth, and educating patients on improving their oral hygiene. The majority of them work in dental offices.
If you are interested in dentistry and hands-on work, this is a great alternative to a medical assistant career.
Training required: You will need either an associate’s or bachelor's degree. These programs are offered in community colleges, universities, and trade schools. They can take up to 3-4 years to complete. A dental hygienist license is also required.
Job outlook: According to the BLS, dental hygienist jobs are expected to grow by 9% in the next decade, which is considered an above average outlook.
>> Read More: Dental Hygienist vs. Dental Assistant
Medical Claims Examiner
A medical claims examiner works to determine whether a patient’s medical services are covered by their health insurance plans.
Their duties include processing claims and using their knowledge of healthcare policies to make important decisions about patients’ insurance coverage. They usually work in office environments such as health insurance carriers or hospital insurance departments.
In this career, you will need to be detail-oriented and good with numbers. If the administrative side of medical assisting appeals to you, then you may also want to consider becoming a medical claims examiner.
Training required: Specific requirements will vary by state and employer. In general, you will need a high school diploma (or equivalent). Many employers also prefer applicants who have obtained a license and have completed a medical claims examiner program. These programs are usually offered through community colleges, trade schools, or online and usually take around a year to complete.
Job outlook: According to the BLS, claims examiner jobs (in general) are expected to decrease by 6% in the next decade.
Health Information Technician
Health information technicians, or medical records specialists, maintain patient records in healthcare databases.
Some of their duties include protecting patient privacy and reviewing patient information. In addition, accurate record-keeping can improve patient care and help them get their medical services covered by their insurance.
They typically work in settings like hospitals, physician’s offices, and other healthcare facilities.
If you are organized, detail-oriented, and good at operating computer software, then health information technician is a great alternative to a medical assistant career.
Training required: Usually, at least one of the following is needed: an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or postsecondary certificate. Health information technician programs can be found in universities, community colleges, vocational schools, or online. The length of the program will vary depending on where you take it. Some workplaces may require a certification.
Job outlook: According to the BLS, health information technician jobs are expected to grow by 7% in the next decade, which is considered an average outlook.
Home Health Aide
Home health aides aid people who are disabled, ill, or of advanced age. Some of their duties include helping clients with household chores and errands, checking vitals, and arranging transport to and from medical appointments.
As the name implies, home health aides work mainly in domestic settings. Some may work in assisted-living facilities. They are also sometimes called patient care technicians.
If you are interested in working directly with clients to improve their day-to-day quality of life, home health aide is a great alternative to a medical assistant career.
Training required: You will generally need to complete a home health aide program. They are usually offered through community colleges, vocational schools, or online. Many of these programs are about 40 hours in length. Depending on the state you work in, you may also need a license. In some cases, only a high school diploma is required.
Job outlook: According to the BLS, home health aide jobs are expected to grow by 25% in the next decade, which is considered an above average outlook.
Wrapping It Up
The Stepful medical assistant program prepares students for a variety of roles in medical assisting while also providing a clear path for advancement. Medical assistant graduates can apply their credits toward bachelor's degrees in Healthcare Administration, or Health Information Management. If you are looking to become a clinical medical assistant, look no further than Stepful.
If you're currently a medical assistant, you can also specialize in a specific field. There are many types of specialized medical assistants that have more specific responsibilities to that field.
You can also start off as a medical assistant and progress to a more advanced career, such as a registered nurse or physician assistant.