Medical Assistants are increasingly important in physician offices; and, typically, record patients' medical history, take patient vitals, help physicians with physical examinations, prepare laboratory specimens and enter patient information into medical records. Some Medical Assistants also serve in administrative functions only in patient scheduling, insurance verification and/or submitting insurance reimbursement forms.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the ten-year job growth for Medical Assistants at 29%, which is much faster than average. Medical Assistants can earn a median salary of $32,000 annually, depending on certification and geographic location. You can become a Medical Assistant through post secondary programs offered through community or technical colleges.
It's recommended that you find a program which will allow you to become accredited from one of the five accrediting agencies such as the: 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). You will want to choose an institution which holds academic accreditation from a Department of Education approved organizations such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) or Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC).
Tuition Costs and Length of Program
The majority of Medical Assistant certificate or diploma programs may be completed within one year or less and at a reasonable cost, when you factor in potential earnings. Financial Aid may be available for Medical Assistant programs and you will want to file a free, Federal Student Aid form. Additionally, many schools offer reduced tuition costs for active, or retired, military personnel.
Best Medical Degrees makes every effort to provided accurate and current information for its rankings. We look at: 1) program accreditation, 2) estimated tuition costs (although, additional fees charged by the school are not included), 3) graduate eligibility to sit for certification or other professional exams where applicable, 4) online and blended programs (blended requiring minimum on campus attendance) and 5) externships (non-paid experiences under the supervision of a physician).
Below is a listing of 20 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.
Estimated Tuition Range: $1,500-$5,000
1. U.S. Career Institute
The U.S. Career Institute has an online Medical Assistant Certification program which will qualify students to sit for for the Certified Clinical Medial Assistant (CCMA) exam or the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA). Accredited by by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency. Students will study courses such as: World of Healthcare, Tour of the Medical Front Office, Introduction to Medical Terminology, Medical Records, Emergencies in the Medical Office, Medical Equipment and Supplies, Introduction to Anatomy, Anatomy: Landmarks and Divisions, Vital Signs, Safety in the Medical Office, Medical Insurance, Electronic Records Ethical and Legal Issues Blood Testing, Patient Exam, Pharmacology, Preparing and Administering Medications, as well as others. Students will be able to conduct virtual clinical experiences as well for those wishing to do clinical medical assisting.
U.S. Career Institute was opened in California in 1981 as Notereader Career Institute, designed to provide educational services for students at home. Now located in Fort Collins, Colorado and offers 11 healthcare certificate programs.
2. Grantham University
Grantham University is accredited by accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and offers an online Certificate in Medical Administrative Assisting which will prepare students to sit for the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) Certification Exam. Requiring 19 hours for completion, students will study subjects such as Student Success, Healthcare Delivery Systems, Medical Terminology, Basic Diagnosis Coding Systems, Medical Assisting and Medical Administrative Assistant Certification Prep. The school reports program outcomes will allow the student to understand the function and role of various healthcare environments, know regulations such as OSHA, HIPAA and local, state and federal laws, diagnosis and coding skills and frequently used medical terminology.
Established in 1951, Grantham University originated as a traditional university in California, but as a diverse student population demanded and computer technology advanced, Grantham began offering courses exclusively online in the 1990s. The school has been named "Best for Vets Colleges" by Military Times and a "Military Friendly School" by G.I. Jobs.
3. San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University has an online Clinical Medical Assistant certification program which will prepare students to sit for the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) national certification exams. The program takes six months for completion and includes studies in: medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, universal precautions and infection control, HIPAA regulations and clinical techniques (such as patient histories, performing 12-lead EKG and strip analysis, accurate blood pressure, heart rate, weight, etc.). Students will also cover studies in phlebotomy, pharmacology and use and administration of medications. Coursework also includes proper workplace behavior, legal aspects of healthcare, ethics and patient and employee safety. Students will be required to complete a 160 hour externship placement, working under a qualified supervisor in a clinical setting. This program is a good foundation for those wanting to pursue a healthcare career in nursing.
San Francisco State University is part of the California State University System and is offered through the College of Extended Learning. San Francisco State graduated its first class in 1901 with 36 women and now graduates over 7,000 students from its seven colleges.
4. Southwestern Community College
This is an online Medical Assisting Certificate which may be completed in 13 credit hours. According to the school, this certificate program does not qualify students to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistant's Certification Examination. Students will study: Orientation to Medical Assisting, Medical Law and Ethics, Medical Terminology and Administrative Office Procedures. These courses will train students to be professional administrative staff members in a physician office, hospital or other healthcare facility. Successful students will be able to schedule appointments, process insurance payments and reimbursements, billing, medical records, computers and ethical issues dealing with patients.
Southwestern Community College was founded in 1964 in Sylva, North Carolina. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Estimated Tuition Range: $6,000-$10,000
5. Rochester Community and Technical College
Rochester Community and Technical College offers an Administrative Assistant diploma called Healthcare Documentation Specialist. This program requires 39 credit hours for completion and offers on-campus options for face-to-face experiences. Students will study: Medical Terminology, Healthcare Office Fundamentals and Documentation, Human Diseases for Health Professions, Computerized Health Information, Pharmacology, Keyboarding, Customer Relations Management, and Employment Strategies in this program. Courses are offered primarily in the fall and spring semesters; and, the diploma prepares students for employment in clinics, hospitals, insurance companies and medical offices. RCTC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
Rochester Community and Technical College is the oldest public two-year college in Minnesota. Founded in 1915 in Rochester, Minnesota by Dr. Charles Mayo.
6. Herzing University
Herzing University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and provides a Medical Assistant Diploma (DMA) online program. The diploma requires 10 months for completion. Coursework includes studies in: Medical Terminology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology, Administrative Skills for the Medical Office, Ethics and Professionalism, Insurance Claims, Processing and Adjudication, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Clinical Assisting and an Externship (working in an approved clinical setting). Students are able to sit for the Medical Assisting Certification Exam while enrolled as part of the program curriculum. Herzing University also offers a Diploma in Medical Assisting Services (DMAS).
Established in 1965, Herzing University offers 11 online programs and has been recognized by GI Jobs as a "Best Military Schools" and has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report for it's "Best Online Bachelor's Program". With an annual enrollment of over 6,000, Herzing University is located in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
7. Minnesota West Community and Technical College
This online Healthcare Administrative Assistant diploma requires 36 credit hours for completion. Minnesota Community and Technical College is accredited by the Higher Leaning Commission (HLC) as well as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Following an online orientation program, students may begin studies in the diploma program which prepares students to conduct work in a confidential position in physician offices and clinics. Courses studied involve: Body Structure & Functions, Medical Terminology in Healthcare, Medical Office Procedures, Customer Service for Office Professionals, Introduction to Microcomputers, Disease Conditions, Introduction to Medical Coding, Healthcare Documentation, Health Care & Society, Word Processing, etc. The diploma may be achieved in 12 months.
Originating as Worthington Community College in 1936, Minnesota West Community and Technical College was established in 1997 with the merger of Worthington Community College and Southwestern Technical College. The college has been recognized by Best Online College in Minnesota (bestvalueschools.org), Top Medical Assistant Programs (edsmart.com) and is considered a Military Friendly School.
8. Century College
Century College offers a robust Medical Assistant Diploma opportunity online. The program requires prerequisite coursework in Human Biology, Medical Terminology and English Composition, as well as Communication, Psychology and Computer Science studies. Once admitted into the diploma program, students will study: Medical Terminology, Laboratory Techniques, Clinical Assisting, Administrative Procedures for Medical Assistants, Pharmacology for Medical Assistants and a Medical Assistant Clinical Externship under the supervision of a physician. The diploma requires 51 credit hours to complete and holds accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and graduates are eligible to sit for the Certification Exam of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
Located in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, Century College is a two-year community and technical college that offers degrees, diplomas, certificates, and courses and has over 8,000 students enrolled. The college was established in 1967 and holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
9. State Fair Community College
State Fair Community College offers an online Medical Assistant Professional Certificate which requires 34.5 credit hours for completion. Students will study: Human Biology, Medical Terminology, Technology in Health Care, Medical Assisting General Orientation, Medical Assisting Clinical Procedures, CPR for Health Care Providers, Medical Assisting Laboratory Procedures and a Medical Assisting Capstone. The capstone project will include 160 clinical hours as well. The program requires applicants to have a minimum, high school 2.0 GPA and demonstrate a proficiency in English, mathematics and reading based on the college's criteria. State Fair Community College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Graduates will be prepared to act as administrative and clinical medical assistants.
Opening 1968, State Fair Community College is located in Sedalia, Missouri has a over 4,000 students enrolled in its programs of professional and skills certificates, diploma or Associates Degrees.
10. Minnesota State Community and Technical College
This is a blended,Medical Assistant Diploma program, with most coursework offered online, but may require some on-campus attendance at the Detroit Lakes campus. The program requires 37 credit hours for completion and Minnesota State Community and Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Coursework includes studies in: Medical Office Procedures, Medical Billing/Insurance, Interpersonal Communication, Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology and Nutrition, Clinical Procedures, Medical Assisting Capstone Project and a Medical Assisting Externship. The externship requires 160 hour clinical experience under the direct supervision of a physician. Successful graduates are eligible to sit for the Registered Medical Assistance (RMA) certification exam.
A member of the Minnesota State University system, MSCTC has campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena Minnesota and an enrollment of over 8,000 students. The two-year college dates to 1959 with the opening of the Wadena campus.
Estimated Tuition Range: $10,000-Above
11. San Joaquin Valley College
San Joaquin Valley College offers an online Medical Assistant Certificate program which may be completed in 9 months and ends with a Certificate-level Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA). Graduates are eligible to sit for certification exams offered by the National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) and the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). SJVC also offers to pay students for one of those examinations, if taken within six months of graduation. Courses involve study in 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. Additionally, the program offers instruction in Electronic Health Records (EHR), which is becoming the standard in most physician offices and healthcare facilities.
San Joaquin Valley College, a private junior college, is located in several locations California as well as their online program offerings. Established in 1978, SJVC is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and offers more than 20 online career-focused programs and claims more than 60,000 graduates.
12. Rasmussen College
Rasmussen College offers a blended provide a Medical Assistant Diploma program which may be completed within one year. Rasmussen College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and this diploma option includes studies in: Administrative Medical Assistant, Medical Terminology, Medical Law and Ethics, Clinical Laboratory Applications and Diagnostic Procedures, a Medical Assistant Capstone and a Medical Assistant Experiential Externship (200 hours in a physician office or healthcare facility. This is expected to be an unpaid experience). Additional coursework is required in Communications, Social Sciences and Math/Natural Sciences. Successful students will be able to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exams. Successful graduates will be qualified to administer vaccinations, injections, perform audiometry, spirometry and EKGs.
Rasmussen College was established in early 1900 as a business school in St. Paul, Minnesota. In it's 117 year history, Rasmussen College has grown to an estimated 17,000 students; and, is considered one of the leaders in online education.
13. The College of Health Care Professions
Offering a blended/online Medical Assisting Certificate, the College of Health Care Professions program may be completed in 49 semester hours. Because this is a blended program, on-campus attendance may be required for completion of hands-on skills courses at one of the institution's 7 campuses across Texas if the student prefers. Studies will include coursework in: Medical Terminology, Computer Applications in Health Care, Anatomy and Physiology, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Pharmacology, Medical Clinical Procedures, Medical Insurance and Managing Medical Records, Medical Law and Ethics, Medical Office Procedures/ Management and an Externship. The program is accredited by the Department of Education approved, Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Upon completion, students will be able to perform physician office procedures from patient scheduling to physician assistance with patients.
The College of Health Care Professionals dates its existence to 1953 when it opened as the MacGregor Medical Association, a part of the Texas Medical Center, to train medical center employees. The program offerings expanded in 1990 and CHCP broadened its student base to the programs we see today.
14. Laramie County Community College
Under the Laramie County Community College's Health Information Technology, the school offers a Medical Office Essentials Diploma program. The Credit Diploma programs are designed for students wishing to rapidly enter the workforce and typically range from 12-29 credit hours for completion. Requiring 16 credit hours study in: English Composition, Introduction to Health Care Careers and Workplace Preparedness, Computer Software for Medical Office Professionals, Medical Office Procedural Skills and Medical Terminology. Successful students will be eligible to perform daily functions of a physician's office, including office procedures, have an understanding of ethical and legal aspects of healthcare, computer fundamentals, an understanding of HIPAA regulations and working with patients. Students, who choose, are also eligible to take additional coursework to prepare to become medical coders or health information management.
Located in Wyoming, Laramie County Community College began in 1968 and holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The institution offers 811 degrees and certificates and has a population of over 6,000 students.
15. Charter College
Charter College has an online Medical Office Administrative Assistant Certificate; and, a Medical Assistant Certificate, which a blended program that will require some on-campus attendance for skills courses. Both programs are accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Although the school website does not provide specific curriculum information, both programs require 10 months for completion. Graduates of the Office Administrative Assistance Certificate are eligible to work in the front office of physician offices and clinics and able to work with billing, coding and receptionist. The Medical Assistant Certificate will train students to conduct patient histories, take vital signs, administer injections under the supervision of a physician, collect and prepare lab specimens and schedule tests and procedures. Students in this track will also be expected to sit for National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) (which us sponsored by the school).
Charter College is a private institution established in 1985 in Anchorage, Alaska. Today, the college has campuses in California, Montana, New Mexico, and Washington.
16. Daymar College
Here is an online Medical Assisting Administrative Diploma that is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) which a U.S. Department of Education accrediting agency. Taking 12 months for completion, this diploma prepares students become either a Medical Assistant or a Medical Office Assistant. Coursework for this diploma involves 60 credit hours that may be completed in 12 months. Studies include: Medical Office Management, Business Communication, Medical Terminology, Anatomy & Physiology, Electronic Medical Records and Reimbursement, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, Medical Office Administration, Medical Law and Ethics/Exam Review Prep, etc.
Since 1963, Daymar College has offered distance education with campuses in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, as well as it's online programming. A for-profit institution, Daymar College offers certificate, associate and bachelor degree programs.
17. Ultimate Medical Academy
Ultimate Medical Academy offers an online Medical Administrative Assistant Diploma program. Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), successful graduates are prepared to take the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam. The diploma program takes 11 months for completion. This program takes 11 months to complete and includes studies in Introduction to Computers, Medical Terminology, Medical Law, Ethics, and Records Management, Medical Transcription, Healthcare Reimbursement and Claim Cycle, Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathophysiology, Diagnostic Coding for MAA/MOBS, Procedural Coding for MAA/MOBS and Healthcare Reimbursement and Claim Cycle. This diploma allows graduates to find employment in physician offices and clinics as administrative staff members responsible for filing insurance claims, billing, coding and other office procedures.
Located in Clearwater, Florida, Ultimate Medical Academy is a non-profit, allied healthcare school and a member of the Council of College and Military Educators (CCME). UMA provides tuition discounts for active duty military, National Guard and Reserves members.
18. Concordia University
Concordia University has an online, blended program Medical Assistant Certificate program which holds accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The certificate program requires 42 credit hours of study and can be completed in 15 months. Some of the courses studied include: Student Success Strategies, Medical Terminology, Interpersonal Communication, Math for Health Care Professionals, Psychology, CPR, Medical Law, Ethics & Professionalism, Computing for Health Care Professionals, Endocrine/Urinary/Reproductive Systems, Respiratory/Cardiovascular Systems, Lymphatic/Digestive/Blood Systems, Musculoskeletal/Skin/Nervous/Sense Systems, Administrative Procedures, Bible as Literature or Heritage of Faith and a Medical Assistant Practicum. On-campus attendance for this blended program will be conducted at the school's Beloit Center once a week for 6 hours of face-to-face instruction of practical skills. Completion of the program allows students to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants National Certification Exam which will qualify students to become Certified Medical Assistant.
A Lutheran university, Concordia University was established in 1881 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and currently has an enrollment of over 8,000 students. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and ranks #37 in U.S. News and World Report's Regional Universities West rankings.
19. Sullivan University
Sullivan University (once known as Spencerian College) provides an online, blended Medical Assistant Diploma program which may be completed in 18 months. Holding accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), this diploma program requires students to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Exam of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) as part of its graduation requirements. Students will study: Information Literacy, Medical Terminology, Anatomy & Physiology, Medical Ethics, Computer Applications, Medical Laboratory Procedures, Health & Safety Techniques, Medical Software Applications, Pharmacology, Medical Office Procedures, Clinical Assisting Practicum and Medical Assisting Practicum. The program requires 69 credit hours. Due to CAAHEP standards, medical science courses can not be completed online and will require campus participation.
Beginning in 1962, Sullivan University in Louiville, Kentucky as a business college and began offering associate degrees in 1972. The university holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC).