Becoming a medical assistant is a great career option for anyone looking to get into healthcare.
Medical assistants work in doctors offices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities, and they handle both patient care and administrative tasks. Medical assistants make decent salaries and have great job security as the number of jobs is expected to grow by 18% by 2030.
But can you become a medical assistant without certification or experience?
Yes, you can! A quick search on any popular job board reveals that many employers are willing to hire medical assistants with no experience or certification. These are entry-level jobs and on-the-job training is often sufficient depending on what your responsibilities are.
While Washington requires that medical assistants are certified, no other states do.
This guide goes over how to find a job as a medical assistant with no experience, the necessary skills to be successful, and everything else you need to know to get your career as a medical assistant underway.
How to Become a Medical Assistant Without Certification or Experience
Many medical assistant jobs only require a high school diploma or GED—no certification, experience, or schooling needed. There is currently a nationwide shortage of medical assistants in the United States. This means more companies are willing to hire inexperienced and non-certified medical assistants and train them on the job.
If you want a quick introduction to medical assisting, try an externship program. These are usually unpaid job shadowing opportunities. Medical assistant externships are usually a few days to weeks long and allow you to see what a job is like.
This gives you an opportunity to showcase your work ethic and interest in the job, and helps you make connections with potential employers in the industry.
Where to find medical assistant jobs with no experience or certification
There are many websites with medical assistant jobs listed that don’t require experience. In the search bar, type “medical assistant no experience” for the best options.
Websites with the most job listings include:
Not all of the jobs will say “no experience required” in the title of the listing. Some may something like like "entry-level medical assistant" or "no certification required." It might take some time to look through the job postings to find one that will work for you.
You should also check local hospital and clinic websites. It costs businesses money to post openings on job websites, so they may want to try their own listings first. A quick Google search should help you find local clinics, hospitals, doctors offices, chiropractic offices, and assisted living centers that are looking to hire medical assistants.
When you are applying and have no experience, the best option might be to go visit potential job sites in person. This allows you to personally hand in a resume and introduce yourself.
Rather than a generic application that gets lost among all of the others, delivering a resume in person will help you stand out. Make sure you dress and act professionally. It’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure you avoid busy hours at the clinic and that it’s ok for you to come in.
You can also work as a medical assistant in the military with no experience, though you will have to pass a physical fitness test and meet other requirements.
Check the job description
Every job listing will have some kind of requirements. Most of the job requirements for inexperienced medical assistants include a high school diploma, great organizational skills, a strong work ethic, and good interpersonal skills.
To work as a medical assistant, you should be prepared to work in a fast-paced environment and spend a lot of time on your feet. A good attitude and customer service skills are a must-have for any potential medical assistant.
You may also have to be CPR certified or meet some other basic training requirements that can usually be completed in a few days or weeks.
Look for jobs that are willing to train
If you see a job that you are interested in, but the company requires a certification, try to give the facility a call anyways. If you express a strong desire to work for the company, they might be willing to work with you.
Some employers are willing to train medical on the job but expect them to obtain a certification within a certain time period after being hired. Many companies will even help them pay for school.
Many larger hospitals and clinics offer internship programs for new medical assistants. These programs allow you to make some money while training and offer incentives and raises after completion of the program.
Internship program hours can count towards work experience. For example, a year-long internship program is viewed by most companies as a year of work experience.
Since medical assistant certification is not required by law in most states, it is simply a facility's preference whether or not to hire inexperienced or non-certified medical assistants.
Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and take a chance.
Build up your resume
Volunteer for any kind of medical experience you can get. Volunteer work helps the community, boosts your own self-esteem, and looks great on a job application.
Any kind of volunteer work that involves interacting with people in need is a good start to a job in healthcare.
Since so much of being a medical assistant revolves around working with patients, volunteering in a hospital or clinic can help you get hired later. Volunteering shows that you have a strong desire to help others, something that medical assistants do every day.
You can also check out medical assistant job posts to make sure you cover as many of the requirements as possible in your resume. You can see a medical assistant job description and job post template here.
Skills That Can Help You Get a Job as a Medical Assistant Without Experience or Certification
Medical assistant school and training programs take around four months to two years to complete and can be expensive, depending on which you do.
If you don’t want to take a full medical assistant program, there are some fast and inexpensive certifications you can get to boost your resume and make yourself more valuable to potential employers. Some employers might also require you to have one or more to get hired.
A few common examples include:
- Phlebotomy: You can become phlebotomy certified in just a few weeks. These courses teach you how to perform blood draws for laboratory tests as a phlebotomist. Stepful has a 5-week phlebotomy program that helps you learn the necessary skills and get certified.
- Medical terminology: There are many online medical assistant terminology courses available. They cost between $50 to $100 and require 30 to 120 hours of study. This makes you more valuable for understanding doctors' orders and helping with medical administrative tasks.
- Medical records course or experience: For about $300 you can take a medical billing course online. Online courses take about 40-50 hours and are a great addition to your resume. Medical records and billing are a big part of a medical assistant's job. Having experience with this complex paperwork will help you stand out.
- CPR certification: It's almost a guarantee that you’ll need a CPR certification for any healthcare job. Since it is such a strict requirement, you can usually be reimbursed for the cost of the course.
- First Aid course: The Red Cross offers a first aid course that covers the basics of first aid and trauma care. This course can be completed online in just a few hours.
- Healthcare experience: Any healthcare experience—especially experience interacting with patients—is a great way to get started. CNA work, housekeeping in a hospital or nursing facility, and being a medication technician are all good ways to get some face time with patients.
>> See More: Skills That Medical Assistants Need
Typical Pay for Medical Assistants Without Experience or a Certification
Starting as a medical assistant is possible, but you’ll have to be willing to accept lower pay. The typical starting salary for a non-certified medical assistant is about $35,000 per year. This can change based on where you live and what kind of hours you work.
A certification can boost your salary by up to 20% or more. A certified medical assistant with some experience can make about $41,250 per year, about 18% more than an inexperienced and non-certified worker.
Starting without experience or certification means you might have to work less desirable hours. Since jobs with night and weekend hours are harder to fill, companies are more likely to be flexible in their requirements for those types of positions.
>> Learn More: Average Medical Assistant Salary
Options for Medical Assistant Training
If you decide to pursue training or get certified as a medical assistant, there are many options available to you if you meet the requirements. You can choose to pursue a college diploma with a medical assistant certification component or go to a trade school or online program for the certificate only.
There are also online options like Stepful’s Online Medical Assistant Training Program which usually take much less time and are less expensive than attending a college or university. Stepful’s program takes four months and only costs $2,000, and you will be prepared to take your Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam.
There are also specific training programs and certifications for specialized types of medical assistants.
Final Thoughts on Becoming a Medical Assistant With No Experience
It is very possible to be hired as a medical assistant without a certification, prior experience, or going to school. Getting experience in healthcare and obtaining extra certifications will make your application stronger, but they often aren’t required.
A fantastic option is to find a facility that will hire you and let you gain experience while you are in a medical assistant program. Finding one that will help you with your school and certification costs is even better.