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How to Become a Medical Assistant in California

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Are you interested in joining the ranks of Medical Assistants (MA) in California? As one of the top-paying states for MAs, California offers excellent opportunities for those seeking autonomy in their careers. Read on to find out more!

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What are the California MA training prerequisites?

To become a medical assistant in California, you must meet the following prerequisites:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Complete a high school or GED program

  • Own a U.S. government-valid ID

Besides meeting these prerequisites, you may also want to consider completing a medical assisting program. Medical assisting programs can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to be successful in this field.

How to Become a Medical Assistant in California?

To become a medical assistant in California, the process typically involves three key steps. First, individuals must complete an accredited educational program, which provides the necessary knowledge and skills. Next, aspiring medical assistants must obtain certification, often by passing an exam administered by organizations like the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Once certified, individuals can then search for and apply to medical assistant positions at healthcare facilities, where they can leverage their training and credentials to secure a rewarding career and earn a competitive salary.

Training requirements for MAs in California

California requires MAs to complete special training, but they do not need certification. Supervisors, such as physicians, podiatrists, RNs, or instructors, can provide the required training on the job.

This is to ensure that the student is competent in performing that service. Where applicable, training must include no less than:

  1. 10 hours of training in administering injections and skin tests.
  2. 10 hours of training in venipuncture and skin puncture for withdrawing blood.
  • Anatomy and physiology appropriate to the procedures

  • Proper choice of equipment and technique, including sterile technique

  • Understanding hazards and complications

  • Patient care following treatment or tests

  • Emergency procedures

  • California law and regulations for medical assistants

Certification options and requirements to be a MA in California

While not needed, becoming certified as an MA can have many benefits. Employers who prefer to have certified MAs are willing to pay them higher salaries. Certification programs offer a wealth of information and knowledge that can benefit your future career.

To be a California Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA), you must meet the qualifications established by the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants (CCBMA).

If you are an applicant, you must finish the appropriate training set by the Medical Board of California. After that, pass the examination set by CCBMA to become certified.

The CCMA certificate program takes one year to complete. There are also options to earn an associate degree, and most MA schooling lasts about two years. There are two routes you can either pursue if you want to be a MA in California:

  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification, administered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT), 

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)

We have written a guide entitled Choosing the Right Medical Assistant Certification to help you learn about the certifying organizations and exam fees for Medical Assistants!

MA training and education process

If you opt for the CMA path, you must complete a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or AAMA. Your program must have theoretical and laboratory components covering both administrative and clinical practices. CMA credentials are valid for 60 months. Passing an exam or completing continuing education credits will renew your credits.

People who prefer the RMA path can qualify to take the exam by completing a traditional MA program. CAAHEP or other accrediting bodies should recognize the training institution you enrolled in.

To do this, you must have:

  • 720 hours of in-class/online theoretical instruction 

  • 160 hours of hands-on clinical instruction at a facility within your training.

Here at Dreambound, we provide comprehensive MA classes that can give you employment upon accomplishment. Hands-on instructors offer classes that will surely make you thrive in the field. Dreambound is the leading platform for discovering classes in the fields of healthcare, tech, business, and so much more! It is our mission to help students make their dreams come true and achieve that career boost. Check out what Shannon has to say about her experience with us:

"Finding Dreambound was by accident, but I can honestly say it was a good accident because you can pick which class you want to take, and that’s it. There are no extra classes or anything. The staff is super nice. All around, my experience has been amazing!" - Shannon Davenport

Check out our classes if you’re from one of these cities: LA, San Bernardino, Fresno, Bakersfield, San Jose, San FranciscoSacramento or Medical Assistant schools near me.

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Skills required to be MA 

To be one of the best MAs out there, you need to have a combination of soft and hard skills that’ll make you stand out. To be well-rounded, you must have clinical and interpersonal skills that’ll let you work easier with peers and patients. Here are some of the skills you should have:

  1. Interpersonal and soft skills: Medical assistants require strong interpersonal and soft skills to effectively communicate with patients, collaborate with healthcare professionals, and maintain a positive and compassionate bedside manner.
  • Communication: MAs need to relay medical information clearly and calmly to patients and other staff.

  • Problem-solving: MAs who can think on their feet and act quickly will prove to be an important part of the healthcare team.

  • Attention to detail: MAs must be keen on mistakes to ensure patient information is accurate and complete.

  • Empathy: MAs need to have empathy because they work closely with patients who may be experiencing physical or emotional distress.

  • Teamwork: It is important to work with your team of medical staff to find solutions for patient care.

  1. Clinical and hard skills: Include proficiency in taking patient vital signs, conducting EKGs, administering injections, performing basic laboratory tests, and assisting physicians with minor medical procedures.
  • Technology: MAs should be comfortable using various types of technology. This includes electronic health record (EHR) software, medical billing software, and medical equipment like blood pressure monitors and EKG machines.

  • Phlebotomy: MAs may be responsible for collecting blood samples from patients, so they must know different phlebotomy techniques and procedures.

  • First aid and CPR: MAs may need to respond to medical emergencies and provide immediate help to patients.

  • Lab skills: MAs may need to collect and process lab specimens. This includes blood or urine samples and performs basic laboratory tests.

  • Medication administration: MAs may administer and provide certain pre-measured medications by injection, inhalation, or by mouth. 

  • Administrative skills: MAs need to be proficient in administrative tasks. This includes scheduling appointments, maintaining records, billing and coding, and managing medical inventory.

Job prospects of MAs in California

MAs can work in various employment settings, not just in doctor’s offices or clinics. They can also work in research centers, insurance companies, prisons, the military, and more. California holds the top 7 positions for the highest-paid city/area in the United States for MAs. The average salary for MAs in California is $44,780 per year, or $21.53 per hour.

Choosing a career in Medical Assisting is a reliable option, as the field has an impressive growth rate of 29% from 2016 to 2026. This indicates plenty of job opportunities for individuals seeking employment in this profession. With this profession, you can specialize, become a teacher, or earn more certifications under your belt.

Why become a MA in California?

In California, there is a high demand for MAs. This decade well anticipates double-digit job growth. There are many different educational institutions to choose from in California: career colleges, community colleges, and vocational schools. Many of these institutions and courses even provide an online option! Although MA pay varies by region, the hourly median wage in California is almost $2 more than the national wage—how exciting!

Dreambound has a bunch of guides about starting in this field, with specific ones for different cities. If you're not in this city or are thinking about moving, check out some other guides below:

Exploring diverse professional options? Dreambound has comprehensive guides to assist you in making well-informed decisions. Take a look at these resources:

Fel Gonzaga
Written by
Fel Gonzaga

Fel is a student support representative who guides enrollees to the right program and answers their queries. She's committed to helping students and takes pride in her work. In her free time, she enjoys sightseeing and hanging out with loved ones.

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