So you’re wondering, “How long does it take to become an allied health professional?” If you want to figure out the answer to this question you will need to first decide what type of allied health professional you want to become. There are medical assistants, physician assistants, dental assistants, paramedics, medical billing and coding specialists, pharmacy technicians and many other types of allied health care professionals. These professions require less schooling than nurses and medical doctors, but the length of the program can range from six months to two or more years. One of the most common types of allied health jobs is the medical assistant, though, so for the sake of this article we will focus on this profession.
Medical assistants work in doctor’s offices and hospitals, and the services they provide are indispensable to the modern healthcare environment. These allied health professionals have job duties in the waiting room and front office, as well as more specialized tasks with patients working alongside doctors and nurses. If you choose to become a medical assistant you will learn everything from administrative tasks to hands on patient care. The certification process will take at least one year or longer if you are planning on specializing in a certain area of medicine.
The road to becoming a medical assistant is finding an educational program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. There are vocational and technical schools that offer these programs, as well as community colleges. Most vocational and technical schools take about a year, while most community colleges take about two years. The advantage of the second is the more specialized training that can be very helpful in the job market.
You will need to get hands on training through an internship or similar program, either during the final stages of your training or after you have graduated. Then you’ll need to take the medical assistant certification test administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners to get your Certified Medical Assistant license. At this point you’ll be ready to apply for jobs and begin your career.