Medical Assistants are the backbone of nearly every physician office, health facility and clinic. With an estimated ten-year job growth of 23% (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and an annual salary average of $30,590, a Medical Assistant can be a strong career choice for those wanting to enter the healthcare field. The profession does not require a college degree, but does require postsecondary education and a certificate and/or diploma from an accredited school from a community college, technical school or vocational school and takes approximately one year to obtain.
Medical Assistants typically record patients’ medical history, take patient vitals, help physicians with physical examinations, prepare laboratory specimens and enter patient information into medical records.
There are five accrediting agencies which maintain quality assurance for Medical Assistant education, which include: American Association of Medical Assistants (Certified Medical Assistant), American Medical Assistant(Registered Medical Assistant), National Center for Competency Testing (National Certified Medical Assistant), National Healthcare Association (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant) and (Certified Medical Administrative Assistant).
Advancing your education is always a good investment. More education equals more career and salary options. There are several ways to obtain help with your tuition cost and there are several listed below. Regardless, investing in your education will pay benefits later on in your career.
It’s become common for employers to provide, as part of your benefits package, tuition reimbursement for employees pursuing their continued education. Your employer’s Human Resource department should be able to guide you through that benefit if offered.
Veterans, Active Military, Spouses and Dependents
Many technical and vocational schools and community colleges offer tuition reduction benefits for active or retired military. Check your schools’ website to see you may qualify for a cost break.
Be sure to check school, or program, accreditation when choosing an online program. Schools seek accreditation for their programs as evidence of the educational standards the program maintains. Be certain your program will meet any requirements your state may require for certification or licensure.
Below is a listing of 10 affordable, online programs for certified Medical Assistants. The list is ordered according to tuition information provided on school websites, school accreditation and length of programs.
Southwestern Community College
Southwestern Community College calls Sylva, North Carolina home. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and a public, non-profit school, Southwestern Community College was founded in 1964 and offers an online Medical Assisting Certificate.
Coursework for this certificate is only 13 credit hours and includes studies in medical terminology, medical law and ethics, orientation to medical assisting and administrative office procedures. NOTE: Graduates of this program are not eligible to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants’ Certification Examination.
Length of Program: 13 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,027 (Resident); $3,523 (Non Residents)
San Francisco State University
A part of the California state university system, San Francisco State University provides an online Medical Assistant certification program online. Students completing this course will be prepared to sit for the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) national certification exams.
Coursework in this program includes training in introduction to health facilities, care and safety of patients and familiarity with HIPAA regulations, clinical techniques (obtaining patient history, vitals, phlebotomy, and performing 12 lead EKGs and EKG strip analysis). Successful completion can lead to sitting for state and national certification opportunities.
Length of Program: 6 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $2,499
Since 1951, Grantham University is one of the nation’s oldest private distance education universities. Accredited by accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Located in Lenexa, Kansas, Grantham University provides an online Certificate in Medical Administrative Assisting.
The curriculum includes studies in healthcare delivery systems, medical assisting and preparation for the Medical Administrative Assistant Certificate.
Length of Program: 17 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $4,505
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Herzing University provides a Medical Assistant Diploma offered online. Herzing University was established in 1965 and currently has an annual enrollment of over 6,000 and offers 50 undergraduate programs, two master’s program and 11 online programs. Herzing University continues to receive recognition from GI Jobs “Best Military Schools”.
Subjects studied will include pathophysiology and pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, clinical concepts, ethics and health management, computer software in healthcare, professional development and program certification review.
Length of Program: 43 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $6,280
This is a two year junior college located in White Bear Lake, Minnesota and offers an online Medical Assistant Diploma. Century College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and serves over 21,000 credit and non-credit students a year.
Successful students will be eligible to sit for the Certification Exam of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Coursework will include studies in medical terminology, human biology, psychology, communication, clinical assisting, laboratory techniques and pharmacology for medical assistants. Admission to the program requires a special application which is available on the school’s website.
Length of Program: 51 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $9,340.65
This program is especially cost effective for active military or veterans. Offering a Medical Assistant Certificate, Kaplan is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Located in Davenport, Iowa, Kaplan University was founded in 1938 as a school offering educational opportunities for immigrants.
The certificate coursework includes studies in pharmacology, diseases of the human body, clinical competencies (taking vital signs, patient history, electrocardiograms, etc.), human anatomy and physiology and clinical office management.
Length of Program: 57 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $9,405 (Active Military); $13,110 (Military Veteran); $21,147 (Civilian)
Located in Florida, Rasmussen College was established in 1900 as a business school and has grown into a school offering more than 70 programs ranging from certificate/diploma, associate, bachelor and master degrees. Rasmussen College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to provide a Medical Assistant Diploma.
Graduates with this diploma program will be qualified to administer therapeutic injections and vaccinations, perform EKGs, spirometry and audiometry. Students will also be able to assist physicians with procedures and perform in-house laboratory testing. Successful students will be able to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exams. The exam fee is included in the student’s tuition.
Length of Program: 12 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,074
Pinnacle Career Institute
With campuses in Kansas, Pinnacle Career Institute is a private for-profit school offering an online Medical Assistant Certificate program. This is a hybrid program, classes are offered online, but there is a one week on campus “boot camp” required. PCI is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to award certificates. Successful students will take the Certified Medical Assistant Exam, CPR certification and First Aid exam before being awarded their certificate.
Courses included in this program are medical terminology, law and ethics, anatomy, physiology and pathology, medical records and an externship. Successful students will take the Certified Medical Assistant Exam, CPR certification and First Aid exam before being awarded their certificate.
Length of Program: 12 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $14,074
San Joaquin Valley College
Started in 1977, San Joaquin Valley College (SJVC) is a private junior college with 13 campuses throughout California and has an online education division and is accredited by San Joaquin Valley College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. SJVC offers a Medical Assistant Certificate online program.
Courses included in this certificate study include basic and advanced phlebotomy studies, medical assistant competencies (OSHA regulations, basic concepts in diet and exercise theory, CPR, First Aid, pathology and physiology, pharmacology, administration of medicines and patient preparation and assessment for clinical procedures. Graduates are eligible to sit for exams by National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) and the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA).
Length of Program: 7 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $14,415
Holding accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, Orion College (formally Allied Health Institute) was founded in 2004 and is located in Plantation, Florida. It provides a Medical Assistant Diploma program online. The school website boasts it was a pioneer in online medical assistant education. The program is owned and operated by Allied Health Professionals but administered through Orion College.
Courses covered in this diploma curriculum include electronic health records and administrative procedures, medical terminology, occupational safety, law and ethics, anatomy and physiology, basic radiography procedures, clinical procedures, pharmacology for medical assistants and basic laboratory procedures. Successful students will also complete a clinical experience with this program.
Length of Program: 10 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $16,212