Illinois Medical Assistant Guide

Career Description

Medical assistants in Illinois care for patients by assisting other medical professionals.  Before, during and after a patients’ care, medical assistants help patients throughout their care.  Below are some of the ways medical assistants help patients and other healthcare providers.

Prior to Appointment:

  • They make reminder calls
  • They prepare exam rooms

During Appointment:

  • They welcome patients
  • They assist with physical exams (on an as-needed basis)
  • They draw blood
  • They administer shots

After Appointment:

  • They review aftercare procedures
  • They schedule check-up appointments
  • They file electronic records

Illinois’ Medical Assistant Certification

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Medical assistants in Illinois are not required to be certified, but certification can help one secure employment.  In addition to certification, many employers prefer medical assistants that have a high school diploma.  There are several agencies people can pursue certification through.

Medical assistants who receive certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) are commonly referred to as CMAs (certified medical assistants).  Becoming a CMA with the AAMA is a relatively simple process.

First Step: Taking a Course

The AAMA does not directly provide training for its certification exam, but there are many institutions that do.  Local community colleges, online schools and vocational training programs all have CMA courses that the AAMA recognizes.  Before paying the tuition for any course, students should make sure it is an AAMA-approved program.

Second Step: Applying to the AAMA

Before sitting for the AAMA’s certification exam, medical assistants must apply to take the test.  The application can be found online.  It should be filled out and mailed in, along with the testing fee.  Applicants should follow up on their application, if they have not received a response within a month.

Third Step: Scheduling the Exam

Applicants are notified within 20 days of approval.  This notification comes via email, and it contains an exam permit.  The permit gives applicants a 90-day period that they can schedule the test during.  Although the test cannot be taken online, there are several testing centers throughout Illinois.

Fourth Step: Studying in Preparation

The AAMA certification test is designed to identify CMA’s weaknesses and strengths.  It is challenging, and applicants must study in preparation.  Schools should have preparatory materials available.

Fifth Step: Taking the Exam

All the effort thus far is preparation for this final step.  After applicants pass the exam, they are certified medical assistants and will be listed as such on the AAMA’s page of CMAs.

CMA Career Outlook

The following data comes from both CareerOneStop.org, which is a website run by the Department of Labor.

United States

Employment

Percent
Change

Job Openings 1

2010

2020

Medical Assistants

527,600

690,400

+31%

24,380

Illinois

Employment

Percent
Change

Job Openings 1

2008

2018

Medical Assistants

16,320

20,830

+28%

630

1Job Openings refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

As this chart shows, the job outlook for CMAs in Illinois is very promising.  The growth rate of 28 percent in the state is slightly lower than the national average of 31 percent, but it is much higher than most other careers.  If the need for medical assistants increases at this rate, there will be 630 open positions each year in Illinois.

CMA Salary Outlook

The most recent data pertaining to CMAs’ salaries comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  These numbers are from 2011.

In 2011, the median wage for CMAs in Illinois was $15.11/hr, which worked out to a salary of $31,440/yr.

Salaries for CMAs in Chicago, IL were nearly identical to the state’s averages.  The median salary for a CMA in Chicago was $31,430.  Medical assistants in Springfield, Il, however, earned significantly less.  The average salary for a CMA in Springfield was $28,630 in 2011.

Certification: Transferring and Being Recertified

Since the AAMA is a national entity, transferring across state lines is simple.  CMAs can begin this process by contacting a local AAMA chapter (listed below).

Recertifying is also an easy process, which is described on the AAMA website.  Recertification must be completed every five years.

AAMA Chapters in Illinois

Some of these chapters have their own website.  In addition to these and the AAMA”s national site, Illinois’ state CMA page can be found at http://www.ilsocmedasst.org/.

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