Many employers prefer medical assistants to have postsecondary education such as a certificate from an accredited health care institution or an associate's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical assistants without postsecondary education learn skills on the job.
Most physician offices require medical assistants to graduate from a 2-year associate degree program in medical assistance that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Most medical assistance programs require graduates take the American Association of Medical Assistants' certification exam to become certified medical assistants. This certification must be renewed every five years, according to Education Portal. Some physician offices may hire medical assistants in entry-level positions who have completed a 1-year vocational program and obtained a diploma or certificate.