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Medical Technician vs Medical Assistant

Posted: July 9, 2021


You know that you’re skilled in the sciences and you have a passion for helping others. This makes you an excellent candidate for a healthcare career like a medical technician or medical assistant. So, which one of these popular roles will give you the most career satisfaction?

The team at Career Quest can help you decide. Start by taking our Career Training Readiness Quiz to find out if career training is the right next step for you. Then, reach out to our Admissions team to learn how our online healthcare programs can get you where you want to go.

 Medical TechnicianMedical Assistant
Patient-FacingMostly noMostly yes
Work EnvironmentMostly hospitals and medical laboratories*Mostly physicians’ offices**
Career Growth Rate7%***19%+
Primary DutiesCleaning and sterilizing equipment  

Drawing blood  

Studying blood samples for transfusions  

Analyzing test results and recording data  

Testing for drug levels in blood  

Testing the chemical content of fluids
Taking patient vitals  

Recording patient medical histories  

Administering medications  

Scheduling appointments  

Checking in patients  

Answering phones

What’s the Difference Between a Medical Technician and a Medical Assistant?

Med techs and medical assistants serve very important roles in a healthcare setting. They both support healthcare staff, but they do so in very different ways.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

A medical assistant ensures that the day-to-day operations of a medical practice run smoothly. They’ll perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks, acting as assistants to physicians and nurses. On the clinical side of things, medical assistants may have responsibilities like:

  • Taking patient vitals
  • Recording patient medical histories
  • Administering medications and vaccines
  • Collecting samples for testing

The administrative tasks are another important element to a medical assistant’s role. In this position, you’ll also be responsible for collecting insurance information and paperwork, scheduling patient appointments, answering phones, checking in patients, and other front-office responsibilities. It’s for this reason that medical assistants need to be excellent multi-taskers.

Remember that this is a patient-facing role, so customer service skills are a must. You’ll be interacting with patients every day, so you’ll be in the heart of the action, where you can really tell you’re making a difference and helping people find answers to their medical questions.

Want to learn more about what a medical assistant does? Read our in-depth blog!

What Is a Medical Technician?

If you prefer to take on a more behind-the-scenes role, you may enjoy working as a medical technician. When a medical assistant, LPN, nurse, or other medical professional collects blood, urine, or other samples from patients, they deliver those samples to the medical technician who performs tests to analyze them.

While some medical technicians may interact with patients as phlebotomists performing blood draws, most work in a lab and very rarely interact directly with patients. As a med tech, some of your daily tasks may include:

  • Cleaning and sterilizing equipment
  • Drawing blood
  • Studying blood samples for transfusions
  • Analyzing test results and recording data
  • Testing for drug levels in blood
  • Testing the chemical content of fluids

Medical Assistant vs Med Tech Training and Certification

Whether the path of a medical assistant or medical technician is the right fit for you, you’ll need to receive the right training, so you have all the skills and abilities you need to succeed in your role.

Career Quest Learning Centers offers an 8-month Medical Assistant certificate program that can get you into the medical assistant career in less than one year. You can also complete the medical assistant track of our 15-month Medical Office Administration (AAS) degree program. In either of these programs, you’ll take classes like:

  • Allied Healthcare Procedures
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Administrative Compliance
  • Medical Assisting Procedures

Both programs can prepare you for a new role as a medical assistant. By completing our Phlebotomy Technician certification, you’ll also learn some of the skills you need to perform blood draws as a Certified Phlebotomy Technician.

While certification isn’t required for medical assistants, you may be able to improve your earning potential by taking our Medical Assistant certification and becoming a CMA (Certified Medical Assistant). All of our programs are designed to prepare you for certifications that map to your specific degree or diploma.

People Also Read: Why Medical Assistants Are So Important to Good Patient Care

Work Environment

While both medical technicians and medical assistants work in healthcare, they tend to work in very different environments. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of med techs work in hospitals and medical laboratories, while 57% of medical assistants work in physicians’ offices.*,**

Percentage of Professionals Who Work in Each Healthcare Environment
 Medical Technician*Medical Assistants**
Physicians’ Offices9%57%
Outpatient Care Centers3%8%
Medical Laboratories20%N/A

Despite working in different types of medical facilities, both med techs and medical assistants work in a very active, fast-paced environment and spend plenty of time on their feet. They may be more likely than other healthcare professionals to work daytime hours with limited overnight shifts.

Career Growth Rate and Advancement Opportunities

Both the medical technician and medical assistant careers are growing quickly. According to the BLS, the clinical laboratory technician career is expected to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029.*** The medical assistant career is expected to grow even faster, at a rate of 19% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS.+ So, you’re sure to find plenty of stability within either role.  

Within each career, there’s plenty of growth potential for professionals who truly excel in their roles. Med techs may want to grow into the role of medical technologists or medical laboratory scientists. These roles may require you to expand your skills with additional education.

Medical assistants who love the clinical aspects of the role may want to advance into the role of LPN, or Licensed Practical Nurse. Medical assistants who complete our 15-month Medical Office Administration (AAS) degree program may also find themselves naturally growing into the supervisory role of a medical office administrator or medical office manager.

Join the Healthcare Field with Career Quest Today

Are you ready to take the leap into a rewarding and dynamic healthcare career? Career Quest can help you take the first step. We offer well-rounded experiential training in a variety of entry-level healthcare careers, plus:

  • Small class sizes
  • Online classes for most healthcare programs
  • Inclusive tuition
  • Resumé, cover letter, and interview help from our Career Services Department
  • Lifetime career placement assistance
  • Tuition discounts and financial aid for eligible students

We also offer continued training, if your employer sees fit, for up to two years after you’ve graduated from our program to ensure that you always have the skills you need to succeed in your career.

Classes start every five weeks and are enrolling now. Contact our Admissions department to save your spot in one of our healthcare programs today!