Career Spotlight – Medical Assistant

What is a Medical Assistant?

A medical assistant is an individual trained to assist medical professionals on an administrative level, clinical level, or both. Medical assistants are not the same as physician assistants. A physician assistant (PA) is trained to provide basic medical services, such as exams, diagnostics, and treatment under the supervision of a physician. Physician Assistants usually already have experience as nurses, paramedics, and medical technicians.

A medical assistants primary role is to keep physicians’ offices running smoothly by performing administrative and/or clinical tasks. Medical assistants do this by updating patient files, maintaining patient records, filling out insurance forms, and coordinating hospital admissions and laboratory services. Administrative duties might also include reception, bookkeeping, purchasing of office supplies and medical equipment, scheduling appointments, greeting patients and visitors, and accounts payable/receivable.

Depending on the type of office and state law, clinical duties include but are not limited to assisting physicians during examinations, collecting specimens, preparing and administering medications, drawing blood, changing dressings, discussing treatment procedures with patients, sterilizing medical equipment and instruments, prepping for examinations, recording vital signs, and taking and recording medical histories.

Medical assistants, whether administrative, clinical or both, can work on a full-time or part-time basis. Because the medical industry is a year around, around the clock industry, medical assistants can work days, evenings, weekends or a combination of the three. This is usually the case for hospital employees.

Medical Assistant Earnings

Medical assistants can work in any number of hospital settings or physicians’ offices including family and general practices, as well as “specialized” practices such as dental chiropractic, podiatry, and ophthalmology. Salaries for medical assistants will vary greatly depending on the type of medical assistant, setting, skill level, and experience.

As of May 2008, the average annual wage for medical assistants was $28,300. The middle 50 percent earned between $23,700 and $33,050. The lowest 10 percent earned $20,600 and the highest 10 percent earned $39,570. It is important to note that wages can be considerably higher based on whether an assistant has an advanced degree, multiple certifications, 10+ years of experience, and number of languages spoke.

Medical Assistant Qualifications

Although an accredited medical assisting program is strongly recommended to become a medical assistant, it is not always a requirement. However, most hospitals and physician offices prefer formal education and training. If you decide to attempt to enter the field without formal training, you will likely be passed over for candidates that have completed an accredited program. In the few cases where formal education and training are not required, you will be trained on the job.

Medical Assistant Programs

Medical assistant programs usually consist of anatomy and physiology courses and others that cover medical terminology. The curriculum will consist of accounting, insurance processing, bookkeeping and record keeping, typing, and transcription. You may also learn about clinical and diagnostic procedures and pharmaceutical principles as well as how to administer medications and first aid. An accredited medical assisting program will also cover ethics, medical law, office practices, and patient relations.

Depending on state law, certain certifications may be required. If not, many hospitals and physicians offices may require it. Most hospitals and physicians offices prefer to hire individuals who are certified, especially for specialized fields. For example, if you plan to become an optometric assistant, you may want to obtain certification through the American Optometric Association.

Anatomy of a Top Shelf Medical Assistant Program

A top shelf medical assistant program will be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Academic and clinical training will consists of specific courses such as:

  • -Clinical and diagnostic procedures
  • -Coding and insurance processing
  • -First aid
  • -Human anatomy, physiology, and pathology
  • -Keyboarding and computer applications
  • -Laboratory techniques
  • -Medical law and ethics
  • -Medical terminology
  • -Medication administration
  • -Office practices
  • -Patient relations
  • -Pharmacology
  • -Record keeping and accounting

Top shelf medical assistant programs will offer internships and externships. Externships are short-term training sessions that allow the student to shadow a professional during his normal daily routine. An externship will also include a tour of the facility, informational interviews, and participation in office projects. Externships typically last one-two days and they offer no academic credit or compensation.

Internships are long-term, usually lasting an entire semester or more. Some offer pay and/or academic credit and allow the student to support an office, hospital or other organization’s work function.

Medical Assistants Job Outlook

In 2008, there were approximately 483,600 medical assistants working in offices of physicians, private hospitals, inpatient and outpatient facilities and offices of health care practitioners such as optometrists and chiropractors. Projected employment for the 2008-2018 decade is 34 percent. This is much faster than average, making “medical assistant” one of the fastest growing occupations in the country.

For more information about medical assistant careers, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at


Fun Careers for the Creatives at Heart

For those who work with the left side of the brain, sitting at a desk and entering data just won’t cut it. If you’re looking for a career that is fun and uses your creativity, here is a list of some great careers that you should consider.

Graphic Artist

The great thing about being a graphic artist is you get to use your skills as an artist and get paid to do it! Graphic artists do everything from creating advertisements to inventing a company’s logo. Many run their own freelance businesses, which adds a lot of flexibility to the job. 

Web Designer

Along the lines of graphic artists, web designers combine the creativity of creating a beautiful web page with the technical aspect of web page coding. If you enjoy computers and art, this might be perfect for you. 


Animation is a huge component of movies, cartoons, and video games because many production companies use computers instead of the traditionally drawn cartoons. Whether you decide to be a movie or video game animator, a career in animation requires a lot of skills in art (especially figure modeling) as well as computers. 

Composer for Video Games

If music is your passion, becoming a composer for video games is a great way to use your music skills. Music in games could be as simple as background music (who could forget the ditty that plays during Super Mario Bros.) or songs that are played in cut scenes. 

Landscape Design

For those who enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, designing landscapes for residential homes and businesses is a great way to use your creative juices. Knowing the climate and what grows best is essential for this line of work, and could also include designing water features such as ponds and waterfalls. 

Music Teachers

If you have a love for music and for children, becoming a music teacher is a great way to combine the two. Students who are involved in the arts are less likely to get into trouble or drop out of school. Help your students gain a love for music and influence their lives for good. 


A career in copywriting is another great way to work for yourself. Copywriters generally write anything needed for advertisements, product descriptions, blog posts, product brochures, and so on. Successful copywriters use creativity to add personality and humor to their writing.

Book Editors

When it comes to publishing, book editors have a lot of influence on the final product from writers. They work with authors to polish books by cutting out extraneous scenes or requesting rewrites. It takes a lot of creativity to know what a successful book needs.

No matter what creative career you decide on, remember that education is important to your success. Whether you get a bachelor’s degree in art or go to a two-year art school, you’ll want to have the experience under your belt before you head out into the world to find a job in your chosen profession.


Benefits of Trade Schools

Not everyone has to attend a traditional college in order to get a “real” job. The type of college you attend will depend on the career field you choose. For example, if your goal is to become a pastry chef, culinary school if the best choice. Aspiring fashion designers may choose art or design school and individuals interested in construction may choose a designated school of construction, career institute, or trade school.

Trade schools, also called vocational schools, are non-traditional schools that teach job-specific skills. Many of these schools do not require successful completion of college level general education courses. However, they do require a high school diploma or GED as well as passing score on an entry exam(s) before acceptance.

There are many benefits to attending trade school rather than a traditional college if your goal is to become, say, an electrician, medical records clerk, or technician. For starters, trade school programs are shorter than traditional degree programs. This means, they cost less and you can start working sooner. Next, because students are not required to take general education courses as part of the program, they can dive right into major courses.

Trade school programs also offer hands-on training throughout the program—not just at the end of it. A significant amount of time is spent in “labs” or on location where students can build, repair, and perform other duties in order to increase their skill levels. And finally, because many trades require certification or licensure, a program at a trade school typically offers test preparation courses to help prepare for local or state exams.

After completing a program at a trade school, you will receive an associate degree, diploma or certificate. In addition to a degree or certificate, a quality program will also send you on your way with a list of job prospects. As an alumnus, you should have unlimited access to the schools career center—for life.

 Trade School Accreditation Notes

When choosing a trade school, always make sure the school is accredited by an agency that’s recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. If you settle for less, you can end up wasting thousands of dollars on a worthless certificate or degree. Most employers will not accept a degree or certificate from a school that’s accredited by an unrecognized agency. The top recognized accrediting agencies for trade schools are:

  • •Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) since 1974
  • •Council of Occupational Education (COE) since 1971
  • •Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) since 1968
  • •Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) since 1965
  • •Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) since 1926
  • •Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) since 1912

For a complete list of recognized accrediting agencies, visit the U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs at


So You Have a Music Degree, Now What?

Rock star isn’t the only career in the music industry. Yes, it’s probably one of the coolest, but there are so many other exciting careers in music, you’ll lose count! Believe it or not, not everyone wants to be in the spotlight. Fortunately there are dozens of behind-the-scenes careers that are not only exciting, but they can be just as lucrative as being in front of the camera. Many of these careers are technical in nature, so they require training. A music degree can give you the skills you need to break into:

  • -Sound editing
  • -Engineering
  • -Instrument design
  • -Music software programming
  • -Music publishing
  • -Recording (technician)

Other behind-the-scenes careers in music are not necessarily technical in nature, but many require a degree in music with a special concentration. Depending on the concentration, a degree in music can lead to a career in:

  • -Music therapy
  • -Education
  • -Tour management
  • -Voice Coaching
  • -Music journalism
  • -Music critic
  • -Special events
  • -Directing (film music)
  • -Concert promoter
  • -Band leader
  • -Copyright specialist
  • -Artist & repertoire (A & R) person

Composer, art director, advertising specialist, music attorney, lobbyist, and copy writer are other career opportunities for music majors. 

Types of Music Degrees

The main types of music degrees are a Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.) in music and a Bachelor of Music. Advanced degrees include Master of Music (M.M), Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Music Education (M.M.E.). If you’re interested in becoming a music professor, a PhD or Doctoral of Musical Arts (D.M.A) is usually required.

Music Employers

So, now you know the types of majors for aspiring music professionals as well as the types of careers open to graduates. So where are the jobs? Depending on the degree and specialty area, individuals with a degree in music may find employment at recording studios, production companies, and even government agencies such as the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Commission of Fine Arts, and Voice of America. Other types of employers are:

  • -Private and nonprofit organizations
  • -Media firms
  • -Music and film studios
  • -Performing art centers
  • -Production companies
  • -Orchestras and bands
  • -Entertainment companies
  • -Colleges and universities
  • -Booking and talent agencies
  • -Media firms
  • -Elementary and secondary schools

Colleges that offer Music Degrees

There are literally hundreds of colleges that offer music degrees. Traditional universities, schools of art and technical schools offer music programs of all kinds. Some of the top schools are:

  • -University of Rochester (Eastman School of Music) (NY)
  • -Juilliard School (NY) 
  • -Curtis Institute of Music (PA)
  • -New England Conservatory of Music (MA)
  • -Oberlin College Conservatory (OH)
  • -Manhattan School of Music (NY)
  • -Cleveland Institute of Music
  • -Mannes College of Music (NY)
  • -San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • -Westminster Choir College (NJ)
  • -Boston Conservatory
  • -University of the Arts (PA) 

The Future of Music Careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for musicians, singers, and related workers is expected to grow as fast as average. While this is good news, it’s important to remember that competition for positions in the music industry is intense. The more experience, education, and dedication you have the better. If you land a full-time job in the music industry, you can you expect to earn up to earn anywhere from $40,000 on the low end up to six figures on the high end. Self-employed musicians, singers, and others may earn more based on the number of performances, weeks of contract work, reputation, and recordings.

To learn more about music careers, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at


How to Choose a Resume Writing Service

Resume writing services are more popular than ever. Thanks to a tough and competitive job market, job seekers are doing whatever it takes to stand out from the crowd. Hiring a resume writing service is only one way they accomplish this. A resume writing services firm can create a professional resume from beginning to end or tweak your current resume.

By using a professional resume writing service, you can ensure that your resume will have a professional and polished look, and the format will be appropriate for your experience level and career goals. In addition, an experienced resume writing service will have the ability to highlight strengths that employers look for and create a resume that details experience relevant to the job and the industry you’re hoping to become a part of.

Many resume writing services also offer career tips and advice. They’ll give you information about the best job sites, recruiters, and interviewing tips. They can also help you customize your cover letter and resume to fit each potential job.

To find the best resume writing service, it’s best to obtain a referral. Ask co-workers, friends, and family members if they’ve ever used a resume writing service and if they were pleased with the results. If so, schedule a consultation. In some cases you can do this in person, and in others you can do it over the phone or even via email. If you can’t find a referral, the next best thing is to shop around.

Use your favorite search engine to find at least 10 resume writing services. It’s never a good idea to settle on the first service on the list, so you’ll have to do your homework. Review each website carefully to find information about how long the service has been in business and contact information—including a mailing address. Communication is very important, so find out if you will have direct contact with writers and/or customer service. Direct contact with writers is always more helpful, of course.

After reviewing the information discussed above, review samples of their work. Some resume writing services will have samples online, while others will be more than happy to email samples. Outside of researching the resume writing services’ website, check the Better Business Bureau to find out how the service rates. Look online for complaints, reviews or any other information you may be able to dig up. The more information you have about the services on your list, the easier it will be to trim the list to two or three services.

Once you have a short list, you can start making phone calls. This might help you shorten the list even more. The way any given service responds to phone calls is very important. If they are difficult to reach, this probably isn’t a good sign.

After choosing a resume service, you can expect to pay as little as $100 on the low end to have your resume prepared and up to $400 on the high end. The price may also include customer service help, interview tips, job site listings, contact information for recruiters in your area, and job search tips.

To browse through reviews for some of the most popular resume writing services on the web, visit


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