Medical office administration is the day-to-day business of keeping healthcare facilities running smoothly. Working directly with clients and behind the scenes, professionals in this field ensure that all your health records are confidential and that routine doctor's visits are kept hassle free. If you are considering a career in this field, an online associate degree in medical office administration is suitable preparation. Associate-level degrees can usually be completed quickly, and you'll learn valuable, in-demand skills that will help you land a job after you graduate.
What are the best medical office administration programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Vance-Granville Community College||Henderson, NC|
|2||Southwestern Community College||Sylva, NC|
|3||Craven Community College||New Bern, NC|
|4||Wayne Community College||Goldsboro, NC|
|5||Surry Community College||Dobson, NC|
|6||Rowan-Cabarrus Community College||Salisbury, NC|
|7||Beaufort County Community College||Washington, NC|
|8||Wake Technical Community College||Raleigh, NC|
|9||Pitt Community College||Winterville, NC|
|10||Guilford Technical Community College||Jamestown, NC|
The healthcare field is experiencing a period of strong growth, owing to an aging population and changing practices brought on by industry-wide adoption of new technology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 23% increase in the number of available medical assistant jobs between 2014 and 2024. This is far above average projections, which is good news for students just entering the field.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Medical Office Administration Program?
- Time to Complete
Full-time students can usually complete an associate-level medical office administration online degree in two years or less. Some programs, especially those tailored for students who have already completed college-level coursework, can be completed in around one year.
- Credit Hours
To graduate, most online colleges for medical office administration require students to complete between 60 to 64 credit hours of coursework. The number of credit hours you take in a given semester will depend on how your program is structured and how quickly you plan to finish your degree.
- Program Costs
The top online colleges for medical office administration have tuition rates ranging from about $200 to about $800 per credit hour.
- Core Courses
Most programs cover the following topics in their core courses:
- Health information management (including electronic health records management)
- Healthcare systems and operations
- Medical terminology
- Medical law and ethics
- Scheduling and office operations
- Financial records management
- Health information management
- Medical billing and insurance coding
- Mental health
- Clinical laboratory practice
- Medical administrative services
In addition to national and region-specific accreditation, students should look for programs endorsed by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
- Additional Considerations
Some programs require students to complete work placement practicums to qualify for degree completion.
2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Medical Office Administration Programs
Vance-Granville Community College
|Henderson, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
One of 58 schools comprising the North Carolina Community College System, Vance-Granville Community College serves a four-county area through four campuses and an online division. Students can choose from more than 40 degree, diploma, and certificate programs.
VGCC's online associate in medical office administration requires 65 credits and takes two years to earn. The AAS curriculum teaches learners career-specific skills, such as patient scheduling, electronic health records management, and medical coding and billing. Graduates qualify to sit for national credentialing exams, including the certified medical administrative assistant exam.
Students may complete a capstone and/or a work-based learning experience. To be eligible for admission, applicants must submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. VGCC accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year.
Southwestern Community College
|Sylva, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Southwestern Community College enrolls nearly 7,600 students across two physical locations in North Carolina and an online campus. Students can choose from nearly 30 online/hybrid degrees and certificate programs through SCC's e-learning system.
The college's AAS in medical office administration requires 66-67 credits, which students complete over five semesters, including a summer term. Course topics include medical terminology, medical legal issues, and records management. At the end of the program, participants complete two administration capstone courses.
SCC admits students into its online medical office administration program in the fall semester. Applicants must be 18 years or older and submit high school transcripts or the GED equivalent. Support services for online learners include advising, tutoring, and career counseling.
Craven Community College
|New Bern, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Craven Community College oversees two campuses and an extension center in North Carolina, as well as an online division. Craven enrolls more than 13,000 students in degree and continuing education programs, including several online undergraduate programs.
Craven offers multiple pathways for aspiring medical office professionals. Students may pursue an associate in medical office administration with available concentrations in general studies, medical billing/coding, and patient services representative. The curriculum includes 66-69 credits, which students complete over five semesters (including a summer semester). Most classes can be completed online.
Craven maintains an open-door admissions policy for high school graduates who are at least 18 years of age. All students must attend a new student orientation session prior to registering for courses online. Support services include career planning, transfer, and first-year experience resources.
Wayne Community College
|Goldsboro, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Wayne Community College provides workforce training programs from its main campus in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and at continuing education sites across the state. WCC offers more than 140 associate degree, diploma, and certificate programs, including roughly 50 that are available online.
WCC's online associate in medical office administration requires 69-73 credits. The curriculum spans four semesters, and coursework covers topics like records management, medical insurance and billing, diagnostic coding, and medical terminology. Students must also complete college student success and professional development courses. This AAS culminates in an office administration capstone.
Applicants must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. They must also submit to placement testing in English, math, reading, and computer skills. WCC supports online learners through career counseling, virtual tutoring and advising, and new student orientation services.
Surry Community College
|Dobson, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Surry Community College enrolls more than 18,000 students on campus and online. SCC offers eight online degrees and six online certificates in fields including business, technology, education, and criminal justice.
Students can earn the school's 67-credit associate degree in medical office administration online. The curriculum develops broad career skills, including those related to word processing and keyboarding, business communication, and administrative office management. Students also explore topics like procedure coding, medical insurance and billing, and medical terminology.
The fourth and final semester of the program includes a work-based learning component and a medical office simulation course. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or the equivalent and submit to placement testing.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
|Salisbury, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Spanning five North Carolina campuses and an online division, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College offers more than 60 online degrees, diplomas, and certificates across 12 major study areas. RCCC boasts a student-to-instructor ratio of 18-to-1.
RCCC's associate in healthcare management technology requires students to complete 72-73 credits. Learners can choose full-time or part-time enrollment options, with most full-time students graduating in five semesters. Coursework includes medical office terms, principles of management, and diagnostic coding. Degree-seekers must also complete a medical office simulation and a work-based learning course.
Resources for online students include 24/7 Blackboard assistance, library and bookstore access, and virtual advising and tutoring options.
Beaufort County Community College
|Washington, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Beaufort County Community College enrolls more than 1,600 students on campus in North Carolina and online. BCCC provides career and technical programs in allied health, business/industry, and arts and sciences, including more than 30 online degrees, diplomas, and certificates.
BCCC's 66-credit associate in medical office administration includes general education, core, and major requirements in subjects like humanities/fine arts, English, and computers. The online curriculum also features a concentration in GMO management. Students must complete three credits of professional development or work-based learning.
BCCC requires new student orientation for all students, which it offers on campus and online. Students may begin the online medical office administration program in the fall, spring, or summer.
Wake Technical Community College
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
As the largest school of its kind in North Carolina, Wake Technical Community College enrolls more than 74,000 students each year across six campuses and an online division. Students may choose from more than 200 degrees and certificates, including nearly 100 available through Wake Tech Online.
Wake Tech offers a 66-credit associate degree for aspiring medical professionals. This program includes online coursework in office applications, medical insurance and billing, and electronic health records. Students also choose general education electives from areas including English, social science, and the humanities and fine arts.
Graduates may qualify to sit for credentialing exams, such as the medical administrative assistant certification exam. Applicants must complete an online readiness assessment module prior to enrolling in an online course. Wake Tech offers comprehensive technical support and discounts on computer software and equipment.
Pitt Community College
|Winterville, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Pitt Community College enrolls more than 23,000 students online and at its campus in Winterville, North Carolina. Students may choose from more than 60 degree, certificate, and professional training programs. Dozens of these programs are available online, in fields such as arts and sciences, business, and public services and fine arts.
PCC offers associate degrees in medical office administration in four concentrations: general, medical auditing, medical billing and coding, and patient services. Students complete 71-76 credits to earn their AAS, depending on the concentration. Each concentration requires core coursework in topics like medical legal issues, procedure coding, and electronic health records. The program culminates in a medical office capstone.
Students may start their online program in the fall, spring, or summer. Applicants must hold a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and undergo placement testing to determine which prerequisites they need to complete to enroll in the online medical office administration program.
Guilford Technical Community College
|Jamestown, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
As the fourth-largest school in North Carolina's higher education system, Guilford Technical Community College enrolls more than 35,000 students each year. GTCC offers more than 80 associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates across six campuses and online.
GTCC's 66-credit associate in medical office administration features online coursework in medical office management, computer applications, and medical legal and ethical issues. Students complete their clases over five semesters (two years), and the program culminates in an office administration capstone requirement.
Students interested in medical office administration may also pursue a certificate in electronic medical records or a diploma in patient relations at GTCC. Applicants must submit high school transcripts, satisfy placement testing requirements, and complete an orientation and an initial appointment with a student advisor.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Medical Office Administration Degree?
Online colleges for medical office administration prepare students for careers as medical assistants, medical records and health information technicians, and medical transcriptionists, among other related positions. Detail-oriented candidates with strong organizational and interpersonal skills, and solid keyboarding and computing abilities are well-positioned to succeed in the field.
Specific duties and working hours will vary according to the nature of the employer's medical practice. Medical transcriptionists with proven skills and experience can even build freelance careers with the freedom to work from home on a self-directed schedule. Below is a profile of three popular career paths:
- Medical Assistants
Medical assistants oversee administrative functions in hospitals, clinics, and private medical offices. They also interview patients about the purpose of their visits, review and record patient medical histories, and help prepare patients for physical examinations. In many professional settings, medical assistants handle billing and insurance processing.
Median Annual Salary - $31,450
Projected Growth Rate - 23%
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
This specialized career path focuses on organizing, administering, and managing health information and patient records. Health information technicians ensure pertinent data is well-organized, accessible, and secure. They also use a range of coding and classification protocols to track patient treatment histories, supervise insurance claim processing, and manage medical registries and databases.
Median Annual Salary - $38,040
Projected Growth Rate - 15%
- Medical Transcriptionist
Many physicians dictate patient information into handheld recording devices. Medical transcriptionists use these recordings to generate accurate and detailed written reports, which are then added to patient files. Transcriptionists frequently employ voice recognition software to assist them, but require advanced interpretive skills to translate the shorthand terms physicians often use.
Median Annual Salary - $35,720
Projected Growth Rate - -3%
Because of the high demand for administrative healthcare workers, there is a healthy job market for both associate and bachelor's degree holders. Some who have already earned their associate degree may choose to transfer into a bachelor's program in medical administration to position themselves for future career advancement. You can also combine a bachelor's degree in medical administration with a concentration or minor in business, which can enhance your employability.
Here are examples of specific programs that you can pursue with an online associate degree in medical office administration:
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration and Management: Delving deeper than the core competencies of the average medical assistant, B.S. programs in healthcare administration and management introduce students to advanced administrative practices used in both public and private healthcare settings. Policy development, healthcare technologies, and facility management are among the topics covered in these programs.
- Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management: Students in baccalaureate-level health information management programs learn to analyze, manage, and protect patient data. Students apply advanced informatics skills to improve workflow patterns in clinical settings. Professionals in this field often function as liaisons between administrative, clinical, and operational job categories.
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Business Administration: Balancing a healthcare organization's ethical obligations and financial needs requires business acumen. B.S. degrees in healthcare business administration prepare students for mid-level careers by focusing on resource management, organizational administration, healthcare-specific business practices, and leadership.
Employment Outlook for Associate in Medical Office Administration Graduates
In the past, it was common for medical office administrators to enter the field with a high school diploma or GED, and advance through on-the-job training. The employment environment has changed significantly in recent years, and postsecondary education is now considered a basic requirement for entry-level positions in the field.
Some employers hire candidates with non-degree diplomas from community colleges, but those without degrees will likely face limitations in terms of both career advancement and earning potential. Data generated by PayScale indicates the average salaries earned by medical office administrators at three education levels:
|Education Level||Low-End Salary for Entry-Level Employees||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees||High-End Salary for Experienced Employees|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Professional organizations can be a valuable tool for students, recent graduates, and entry-level employees. Through these organizations, you can attend industry events and training programs that increase networking opportunities and improve career prospects. Membership in these organizations is also attractive to employers, as it signals a commitment to career-long professional development. As a member of a professional organization, you will get up-to-date information on employment trends, applicable legislation, and technological advancements affecting the industry.
Here are three leading medical administration professional organizations to consider:
Financing Your Online Associate in Medical Office Administration Program
Even though many online degree programs are more affordable than their traditional on-campus counterparts, students commonly require financial aid. Be sure to contact the financial aid departments of the schools you are considering to see what assistance they offer beyond the standard set of federal loans and grants. It is generally best to exhaust all possible government sources of financial aid before looking into private loans and funding sources. To that end, be sure to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.