The medical assistant programs in Washington are growing in demand just as the demand for aspiring medical assistants is growing. If the thought of becoming a medical assistant in Washington has crossed your mind or you are seriously considering it, you will have the opportunity to launch a career in the healthcare industry that is among the fastest-growing in the region.

How to become a medical assistant in Washington

The State of Washington does not require its medical assistants to be certified in order to work. They do have to have completed high school or earned a G.E.D. The certifying bodies recognized in Washington State are linked below.

National certifications from American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) are all recognized in the Evergreen State.

What is the process for becoming a medical assistant in Washington?

The process for becoming a medical assistant in Washington is laid out in the following five steps below.

Step 1 – Are you going to get certified

The very first step you should take is to decide if you are planning to get a certification, and the specialized training it’ll require. Not only can this choice affect the employment opportunities you’ll be eligible to apply for, but it could additionally determine how much time it will take before you start working.

As you can likely guess, opting to take some time to become certified provides a number of important advantages. Thanks to the amount of litigation that medical providers face and the corresponding rise in insurance costs, the majority of employers now require their team members to be certified.

This trend toward compulsory certification has additionally begun to have an impact on non-certified personnel who have worked for years. As a requirement of continued employment, non-certified medical assistants are now being required by their employers to get a certification.

Regardless, it is possible to get started looking for a job as a non-certified medical assistant immediately if you’ve opted against signing up for professional training. The remainder of the process laid out in this guide only applies if you have made the choice to become certified.

Step 2 – Do you want an associate’s degree?

You’ll find two different kinds of credentials that can be received by completing a professional medical assistant program – diploma or an associate degree. Although either credential could qualify you for starting medical assisting positions, there are a number of important distinctions between the two.

Certificates and Diplomas

Diploma or certificate courses can oftentimes be finished in 12 months or less, and concentrate their course of study solely on the skill and knowledge needed to begin your career. These programs are offered at a variety of institutions, and may also be available online. This is a significant change from associate degree programs that carry the same additional requirements as regular university courses.

Associate Degree

Associate degree programs are typically two years long, and the information covered is much more extensive in scope. Programs offering this credential are often hosted by trade schools and junior colleges, so they normally have tougher admission prerequisites that have to be satisfied.

Holding an associate degree can offer many advantages that one would not have with only a certificate or diploma, though.

Regardless of the option you choose, be certain that you base your choice on your long-term career goals and financial circumstances. The diploma or certificate approach is typically the best way to go for those who are concerned about being able to spend the time and expense necessary for an associate degree. There is the option of going back later and pursuing a higher degree after getting one of these credentials as well.

The best option is probably the associate degree in cases where you do have a clear career goal that will require college at some time.

Step 3 – Sign-up for an accredited program

As mentioned, medical assistant education in Washington is regulated by several agencies including the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). In order for you to become eligible to test for certification, you must first graduate from a training program that is approved by one of these organizations.

It’s important to consider several things when figuring out where to register for training courses. You’ll want to look at the following as you compare programs:

  • Get trained at program accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES
  • Train where at least 70% of program grads passed their certification exam
  • Make certain that classes fit in schedule
  • Make sure that school cost fit within your budget

It is best to begin by ranking, in order, the things which are most-significant for you about a program. If the cost of tuition is the most important factor to you, that should be the first thing you learn about a program. Next, you should measure every course according to your second-most essential requirement and to eliminate any that aren’t satisfactory.

By using this methodical approach, you can refine your list of options to a handful of courses. Being sure that the program you go with will fit your individual situation can significantly improve your chances of successfully graduating.

Accredited medical assistant programs in Washington

Below are links to databases from the two certifying bodies for all accredited m,medical assistant programs. See what accredited training is near you in Washington State.

ABHES-WA accredited medical assistant programs

CAAHEP-WA accredited medical assistant programs

Step 4 – Finish your mandated hours of clinical training

Clearly, graduating from your medical assistant training program is an immensely essential first step. To be able to move ahead with the certification process, every training course requires that would-be medical assistants finish a set number of instruction hours in a clinical setting.

The mandated hours need to be satisfied before you are eligible to sit for any certification exams.

Step 5 – Pass a national certification exam

The official medical assistant certification tests used in Washington are the five major national examinations. The exams incorporate segments on all major areas of knowledge you would have been exposed to in your study course.

All main national certification exams administered in Washington are detailed here.

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from AAMA – every employer.

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from AMT – The RMA certificate is accepted by businesses all over the country, and signifies that its holder holds a broad collection of medical assisting skills.

National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from NCCT – The NCMA certification is a nationally-recognized certification that certifies its holder for a broad array of roles in medical assisting.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from NHA – The NHA grants a national credential especially for medical assistants planning on working in a clinical setting.

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) from NHA – The Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) credential symbolizes advanced skills in the tasks that are required in order to keep a medical facility’s office running smoothly.

Medical assistant salary and jobs in Washington State

Demand for medical assistants is at historic levels in not just Washington, but across the whole U.S. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 23% growth in new positions for medical assistants across the nation through the year 2024, the government is expecting to witness a 21% increase in Washington State. Offices of other healthcare practitioners, hospitals and physicians offices are expected to fill the bulk of these added jobs. The balance of positions may appear in the state and federal government job market.

Regardless of the job setting, these jobs are going to allow for considerable time working under the supervision of physicians, specialized medical personnel and various other positions the medical assistant may wish to eventually advance into.

Below you will find a listing of the major towns and cities in Washington and additional data on medical assistant salary by area and county.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$10.99$15.17$21.78
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$15.45$19.15$24.09
Bellingham, WA MSAHourly$15.06$17.96$25.07
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA MSAHourly$15.48$17.91$23.18
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA MSAHourly$12.64$17.90$23.30
Tacoma, WA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$13.16$17.83$23.81
Olympia, WA MSAHourly$13.30$17.78$24.17
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA MSAHourly$14.25$17.49$22.50
Longview, WA MSAHourly$13.19$17.40$23.52
Wenatchee-East Wenatchee, WA MSAHourly$12.33$17.24$23.13
Spokane, WA MSAHourly$12.83$16.89$22.58
Eastern Washington BOSHourly$12.87$16.72$22.65
Southwestern Washington BOSHourly$13.10$16.53$21.19
Northwestern Washington BOSHourly$12.72$16.10$23.60
Yakima, WA MSAHourly$12.63$15.88$21.93
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA MSAHourly$11.37$15.56$20.11
Central Washington BOSHourly$10.98$15.49$19.49
Lewiston, ID-WA MSAHourly$10.70$14.45$19.28