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.
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.
What Are The Best Online Associate in Medical Office Administration Programs?
Wayne Community College
|Goldsboro, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Catering to those who want to further their immediate careers or prepare for advanced degrees, Wayne Community College offers associate degrees, certificates, diplomas, and continuing education opportunities, including an associate of applied science in medical office administration. This degree is offered on campus, fully online, or through a hybrid model; the online option employs an asynchronous format, which gives students the flexibility to study at any time of day without having to commute to campus.
WCC's 60-credit program consists of general education courses in writing, research, and medical terminology. The remainder covers medical billing, procedure coding, records management, and professional development, among other topics. Students also select electives -- such as medical coding certification preparation, social media for office professionals, or work-based (hands-on) learning -- to align their education with specific interests or career goals. WCC's online associate degree in medical office administration teaches industry-based practices to prepare students for entry-level positions in the medical industry.
To help save time and money, WCC allows students to transfer credits or replace some required credits with degree-related career experience. Applicants need to submit transcripts from all schools attended and take the NC DAP placement test.
Surry Community College
|Dobson, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
Founded in 1964, Surry Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) to grant associate degrees and certificates in both on-campus and online formats. Prospective students may earn an online associate of applied science in medical office administration, which is delivered asynchronously for student flexibility and convenience.
SCC's 67-credit program develops the skills necessary for graduates to find entry-level employment in the healthcare industry, since it emphasizes the significance of electronic medical records, writing and communication, and professional skills. Core courses include text entry and formatting, medical terminology, medical legal issues, and diagnostic coding. The medical administration associate's degree online also includes a work-based learning requirement that may require a background test. Again, this program primarily prepares students for entry-level careers in medical billing and coding, patient services, and medical documents.
Tuition rates vary depending on residency, so students should submit proof of residency if they want to qualify for lower tuition rates. SCC offers a simple application process requiring only official transcripts from any school attended.
Craven Community College
|New Bern, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
Craven Community College offers an associate of applied science in medical office administration with three concentrations that allow students to align the degree with their interests and career goals: general studies, medical billing/coding, and patient services representative. The program is offered on campus, online, or through a hybrid format.
Craven's medical administration associate's degree online consists of 67-69 credits and covers medical terminology, coding, records management, and electives. Students may complete the majority of program requirements online, but some on-campus visits may be required. Before enrolling, prospective students should speak with a program adviser for more details. The program provides a broad knowledge of medical terms and industry-related skills as it prepares graduates for entry-level positions as receptionists, coders, billing specialists, and patient service representatives.
Craven's open-door policy requires applicants to submit a high school diploma or GED, ACT or SAT scores, and a completed application. If they want to qualify for in-state tuition rates, students should also submit proof of residency. Craven Community College is accredited by SACS.
Wake Technical Community College
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and serving a student body of 74,000, Wake Technical Community College is accredited by SACS to grant associate degrees and certificates. The colleges more than 240 programs includes an online associate of applied science in medical office administration, which the school delivers fully online via an asynchronous format.
Wake Tech's 66-credit online associate degree in medical office administration provides a comprehensive overview of medical terminology, legal and ethical issues, records management, electronic medical records, and team building. The degree prepares students for entry-level careers as medical office administrative professionals in hospitals, insurance companies, research facilities, and medical offices. It also prepares students for industry-recognized certifications including certified coding specialist, certified professional coder, electronic health record specialist, and certified medical administrative assistant.
Tuition rates at Wake Tech are based on residency, so to qualify for in-state tuition, individuals must submit documentation of residency. Applicants also need to submit official high school transcripts and their ACT or SAT test scores; students without scores take a placement test through the Wake Technical Community College testing center.
Southwestern Community College
|Sylva, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Since its founding in 1964, Southwestern Community College has committed itself to providing quality education for individuals looking to further their education and advance their careers. Accredited by SACS, the schools grants diplomas, certificates, and associate degrees, including an online associate of applied science in medical office administration.
SCC offers its associate degree in medical office administration fully online via an asynchronous format, which gives students the flexibility to complete coursework when convenient for them. The 66-67-credit program covers statistical methods, records management, medical terminology, psychology, medical insurance and billing, and leadership development. A comprehensive understanding of medical tasks and skills, the degree prepares students for entry-level positions at medical or dental offices, hospitals, and insurance companies.
SCC requires applicants to submit transcripts from any school they have attended along with ACT or SAT scores; students without scores need to take a placement test to determine program eligibility. If students want to pay in-state tuition rates, they will need to provide sufficient documentation of state residency.
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.
- Best Online Associate in Medical Office Administration of 2018
Ranking School Location 1 Pitt Community College Winterville, NC 2 Surry Community College Dobson, NC 3 Lenoir Community College Kinston, NC 4 Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown, NC
- Best Online Associate in Medical Office Administration of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Pitt Community College Winterville, NC 2 Surry Community College Dobson, NC 3 Lenoir Community College Kinston, NC 4 Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown, NC