How to Become a Medical Assistant in Hawaii

Hawaii’s medical assistants are the multi-talented stars of the doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics and medical practices of every kind found throughout the islands – and their value here continues to grow.

A 2019 report from the Hawaii Healthcare Workforce Initiative identified medical assisting as one of the most in-demand professions in Hawaii’s healthcare system, referring to “a very clear need” for more of these allied health professionals to meet the staffing needs of healthcare providers across the islands.

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Projections from the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations shows this trend leading to more job opportunities, revealing a 2.2% increase in the number of medical assistants in the two-year period leading up to 2021 and about 450 annual openings expected when factoring in retirement, normal turnover, and new job creation.

But before you can join Hawaii’s thriving medical assisting profession, you’ll need to ensure you’re prepared with the right blend of training and education. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

Complete a Medical Assistant Training Program
Earn National Certification
Pursue a Career in Medical Assisting

In Hawaii, medical assistants have a broader scope of tasks they’re allowed to perform than MAs in many other states, as long as a physician is present to supervise.

As a medical assistant in Hawaii, you may perform tasks like these:

  • Answering telephones and greeting patients
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Filing insurance paperwork
  • Taking patient medical histories
  • Recording vital signs
  • Preparing patients for exam
  • Preparing lab specimens
  • Drawing blood
  • Administering medications
  • Removing sutures, changing dressings
  • Sterilizing medical equipment
  • Assisting physician during exams



Step 1. Complete a Medical Assistant Training Program

While on-the-job training isn’t uncommon for medical assistants in Hawaii, you’ll find that most of the state’s large healthcare employers either require or prefer job candidates who have already achieved a level of competency through a formal medical assisting program and national certification before they even start the job.

Medical assisting programs may be designed as certificate/diploma, or associate degree programs. Associate degree programs are about two years in duration, while certificate and diploma programs usually take between 10-12 months.

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While all provide a similar level of education and training in medical assisting, including a practical experience, the associate’s degree is the program of choice for many aspiring medical assistants because it often turns into better professional opportunities and higher wages.

In addition, the general education courses of an associate’s degree often translate into better written and verbal communication skills – a plus in the eyes most employers.

And if you have your sights set on pursuing a bachelor’s degree at some point, an Associate of Science (AS) is the ideal option for you, as most credits in these programs can transfer to a bachelor’s degree, allowing you to earn your four-year degree down the road in half the time. Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees are also widely available, but since they are designed as career training degrees, the credits don’t usually transfer to a bachelor’s.

Whatever medical assisting program you choose, you’re always best served by choosing one that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Accredited programs ensure you’re prepared and eligible to earn national certification.

In addition to online programs, Hawaii is currently home to 2 CAAHEP-accredited medical assisting programs.



Step 2. Earn National Certification

National certification is a great way to boost your resume, display a commitment to your profession, and boost your earning potential. It’s also a requirement among some employers.

National certification options include:

You must demonstrate eligibility through education and/or experience, and you must pass a certification examination to earn national certification.

You may also seek specialty certification in medical assisting through one of these agencies:


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Step 3. Pursue a Career in Medical Assisting

With your education and national certification in place, you will be a hot commodity among Hawaii’s employers. At that point you’ll find plenty of good opportunities through Hawaii’s largest hospital systems and physician groups, including:

  • Queen’s Medical Center, Honolulu
  • Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center, Honolulu
  • Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu
  • Straub Medical Center, Honolulu
  • Adventist Health Castle, Kailua
  • Wahiawa General Hospital, Wahiawa

Becoming a member of a professional association, such as the Hawaii State Society of Medical Assistants, is a great way to learn about the latest news in the healthcare industry, participate in networking opportunities, and find continuing education opportunities to keep your national certification current.


2019 job growth projections from the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations are aggregated through the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource, Projections Central. Employment conditions in your area may vary. 

All salary and employment data accessed July 2020.

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