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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

How to Find a Job as a Medical Assistant

August 10, 2023

As the backbone of healthcare facilities, medical assistants play a crucial role in providing quality patient care and ensuring smooth clinic operations. If you’re passionate about making a difference in people’s lives and eager to embark on a fulfilling career in the medical field, an excellent entry-level position is that of a medical assistant. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps and strategies to help you have the best chance of finding a job as a medical assistant.

What Is a Medical Assistant?

Endeavoring to support physicians and their practices in various ways, medical assistants perform a broad spectrum of clinical and administrative tasks with a dual focus on streamlining facility operations and boosting the quality of patient care. Working directly with physicians, nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals, medical assistants might take patient vital signs, administer prescribed injections and prepare patient test samples. Other common medical assistant duties include scheduling appointments, facilitating billing processes, recording accurate patient health histories and using relevant patient information to create permeant medical records.

It is extremely important to differentiate the medical assistant position from the physician assistant position. With a scope of practice that goes far beyond that of the ordinary medical assistant, physician assistants are even authorized to diagnose and treat patients under direct doctor supervision.

What Level of Education Do I Need to Become a Medical Assistant?

The first step on the path to a rewarding career as a medical assistant is graduating from high school or getting your GED. Most medical assistant programs require their incoming students to hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

A high school graduate seeking an entry-level medical assistant position can make this objective a reality with the right training and credentials. First and foremost, it is important to find a vocational program that is right for you.

Find a Program

Because different medical assistant programs have different things to offer, it is important to conduct some online research as you begin your search. Vocational schools, technical schools, community colleges, and some state universities have medical assistant programs that typically take a year or two for students to complete.

You can complete the Clinical Medical Assisting program through San Joaquin Valley College (SJVC) in as few as nine months for a certificate of completion or complete the Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting program in as few as 15 months for an associate degree. Available at 15 different campus locations throughout California, this Clinical Medical Assistant program places a concerted focus on practical training with real-world applications.


After completing an appropriate training program, it is sometimes necessary and typically advisable to secure medical assistant certification. Many states require employers to hire only certified medical assistants, but certification is generally attractive to American employers wherever they happen to operate. Therefore, medical assistants with certification command a higher earning potential than those without it.

The most common and respected of these certifications include the American Medical Technologist – Registered Medical Assistant Certification and the National Healthcaareer Association – Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). Specialized certification can also be extremely advantageous for medical assistants who want to gain expertise in areas such as dental or dental assistance. You can also obtain certification to become an X-ray, dialysis, or MRI technician.

Best Tips for Finding a Job as a Medical Assistant

After completing your training program and securing the appropriate certification, you are ready to launch your career as a medical assistant. But how can you begin looking for the entry-level position of your dreams, and how can you best position yourself to land that job when you find it? Here are a few general tips to help guide you on your way:

Know Your Resources

Gone are the days of simply circling job posts in the classified ad section of your local paper. Today, there are ample resources to help you search and apply for the positions that interest you the most. You can seek out jobs with your favorite organizations by contacting them through their official websites, or you can investigate the current job vacancies of multiple employers through online employment search platforms like Monster and Indeed. Schools like SJVC help graduates with job search strategies, and employment resources are widely available through any number of government and industry organizations. Wise aspiring medical assistants will leverage everything available to them so they can make the absolute most of their employment prospects.


When it comes to landing a great job, who you know is often just as important as what you know. This is where networking can make all the difference for your budding career. You simply cannot underestimate the value of reaching out to medical professionals, professors, classmates, and anyone else who might help you further your prospects. By completing an externship during or after school, you can not only hone your marketable skills but you can also position yourself for key networking opportunities. When your externship is complete, you may even be able to step directly into a paid, entry-level position with an organization that already knows your professional value.

Preparing for Interviews

No matter how you approach your job search, you will likely face any number of interviews on your way to gainful employment. Fortunately, you can prepare for these interviews by anticipating the questions that you might be asked. Typical questions to consider include “Why are you interested in working as a medical assistant?” and “How do you react in extremely stressful situations?”. By developing “go to” responses to these questions and then practicing these responses, you can dramatically increase your chances of impressing your interviewer.

Why You Should Become a Medical Assistant

With program completion times as short as a year or less, the path to becoming a medical assistant is far faster and less expensive than those to become a physician assistant or registered nurse. So, if you are looking for a satisfying career in healthcare, training to become a medical assistant makes very good sense for many people.

Opportunities for Advancement

After securing employment as a medical assistant, you immediately open yourself to a wide variety of on-the-job training that will allow you to build the skills you will need to propel your career into the future. Many healthcare professionals work as medical assistants while they complete training and degree programs to become specialized technicians, paramedics, nurses, physicians and senior healthcare administrators.

A Rewarding Field

The ample opportunities to expand into any number of healthcare fields and pursue their areas of professional interest make the medical assistant position extremely attractive to many.

For more information about the medical assistant profession and what it takes to enter it, contact San Joaquin Valley College and take a close look at our Clinical Medical Assistant  program today!



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