Washington Medical Assistant Guide

Career Description

The Washington State Society of Medical Assistants (WSSMA) describes the role of medical assistants:

Medical Assistants are multi-skilled professionals who perform both administrative and clinical procedures. This versatility is especially valuable to physicians concerned with cross training and multi-skilled personnel.

Although a specific person’s responsibilities will vary from job to job, most medical assistants employ their versatile training every day.  They regularly work administratively and clinically (although not practicing medicine).

Administrative Work:

  • Filing insurance claims
  • Calling patients
  • Calling pharmacies with prescription information

Clinical Work:

  • Readying patients for exams
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Drawing blood

Certified Medical Assistants in Washington

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Although certification is not required for medical assistants, many set themselves apart by pursuing certification.  Certification is a mark of professionalism and demonstrates a commitment to excellence.  Employers desire both of these traits in employees.

There are four agencies that offer medical assistant certification:

Of these, the AAMA is regarded as the most professional organization.  Medical assistants can be certified with the AAMA by following these steps.

Step One:  Classroom Education

There are many schools in Washington that train CMAs.  All accredited programs train students for the AAMA exam, but they have different schedules and costs.  A full list of the training programs for CMAs in Washington is available from the WSSMA.

Optional Scholarships

CMA students currently enrolled at a accredited institution can apply for two CMA-specific scholarships.  The WSSMA has a scholarship application that can be downloaded and sent into the state-wide association; this award is worth $500.  The AAMA’s Maxine Williams Scholarship Fund awards a national scholarship worth $1,000.

Step Two:  Test Application

After submitting the test application to AAMA’s offices, students should expect an update on their applications status within 30 days.  They will not hear anything about its approval, however, until three weeks after it has been approved.

Students are notified via email of their approval.  In this email is a permit that gives them 90 days to schedule a time for the exam.  The exam proctor will need a copy of the permit on the day of the test.

Step Three:  Test Center

Most of the schools listed by the WSSMA offer the CMA exam, and there may be other locations that administer the test in Washington as well.  Students should call one near them for testing times, if their instructor has not set up an exam time.

Step Four:  Preparation

Local chapters (listed below) and instructors are both great resources for those preparing to take the CMA test.  They likely have words of wisdom, as well as some practice tests that students can take.

Step Five: The Test

Everyone who earns a passing grade on the exam becomes a CMA.  Their name will be published on the CMA Verification Section of the AAMA’s site.

Washington CMAs: Employment

United States

Employment

Percent
Change

Job Openings 1

2010

2020

Medical Assistants

527,600

690,400

+31%

24,380

Washington

Employment

Percent
Change

Job Openings 1

2008

2018

Medical Assistants

10,710

13,550

+27%

420

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

(CareerInfoNet.org)

There are many medical assistants gainfully employed in Washington.  This is an exciting and growing career.  Every year, 420 CMAs are being hired in the state.

Washington CMAs: Salaries

Location Pay
Period

2011

10%

25%

Median

75%

90%

United States Hourly

$10.04

$11.86

$13.99

$16.87

$19.62

Yearly

$20,900

$24,700

$29,100

$35,100

$40,800

Washington Hourly

$12.43

$14.38

$16.43

$18.33

$21.52

Yearly

$25,900

$29,900

$34,200

$38,100

$44,800

(CareerInfoNet.org)

Throughout Washington, CMAs earn a respectable salary.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics presents these numbers slightly differently.  Here are the average wages that CMAs earned in different parts of Washington.

  • Olympia, WA: $33,670 (yr.) / $16.19 (hr.)
  • Bellingham, WA:  $33,520 / $16.12
  • Spokane, WA: $30,600 / $14.71
  • Yakima, WA: $31,880 / $15.33

Transferring or Recertifying

Transferring credentials and recertifying are both easy processes with the AAMA.  To transfer, CMAs should contact their local chapter (below), which can guide them through the process.

Five years after certification, CMAs must be recertified.  To recertify, CMAs must either retake (and pass) the CMA exam or accumulate 60 continuing education units (CEUs).  A variety of CEUs can be earned online through the AAMA.

Local AAMA Chapters in Washington

  • Greater Spokane
  • King County
  • Kitsap County
  • NCW
  • Pierce County
  • Sea-Tac
  • Snohomish County
  • Whatcom County
  • Yakima County

WSSMA is online at http://wssma.org/.

Sources: