Medical assistants play a vital role in today's healthcare industry. These professionals typically serve as go-betweens for patients and doctors. Their duties often include checking patient vital signs and diagnostics, administering injections, collecting blood and other bodily samples and other tasks that must be performed before and after physician exams. Medical assistants also update patient records, and are often proficient at using electronic health record (EHR) software programs.
Educational requirements for medical assistants and other supportive healthcare personnel are relatively relaxed; many enter the workforce with a high school diploma or less. Aspiring medical assistants can boost their career standing and expand their job opportunities by earning an associate degree in their field. Medical assisting associate programs cover both the clinical and administrative aspects of medical assisting, and some programs allow students to specialize in one of these areas. Administrative medical assistants usually work in an office setting, while clinical medical assistants work more closely with patients.
Most programs include clinical practicum courses, which allow students to receive supervised onsite training from experienced medical assistants and other healthcare professionals. Many of today's students choose to earn their associate degree in medical assisting online. Web-based students follow the same demanding curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of post-degree job opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule of most online medical assisting associate programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online associate degree in medical assisting and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE MEDICAL ASSISTING ASSOCIATE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
Online associate degree programs in medical assisting provide a comprehensive overview of the principles, laws and ethics guiding modern patient care and support. Courses will cover basic diagnostics, medical technology, patient record-keeping and healthcare administration. During the latter stages of their online program, students will have the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained in clinical practicum courses. The best online medical assisting degree programs also prepare students for additional career requirements, such as professional certification.
WILL AN ONLINE MEDICAL ASSISTING ASSOCIATE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online associate degree in medical assisting programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional, classroom-based education. Students will be able to access course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their own home. Current technology also allows them to study away from their desktop computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online students can usually coordinate onsite courses at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities near their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MEDICAL ASSISTING ASSOCIATE DEGREE?
Although most states do not have formal education requirements for medical assistants, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that many employment-seekers in this field have a postsecondary background. Candidates with an associate degree will be well-positioned to compete for top positions in the job market. An associate degree in medical assisting will also prepare students for alternative careers, such as EMTs and paramedics, occupational therapy assistants and aides, nursing assistants and orderlies and healthcare administrators.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MEDICAL ASSISTING ASSOCIATE PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online associate degree in medical assisting programs in the United States. If you are considering an online associate in medical assisting, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific associate degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Medical Assisting Programs
Georgia Northwestern Technical College
|Rome, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
Georgia Northwestern Technical College's medical assisting program boasts a 100% satisfaction rate. Furthermore, GNTC maintains a high retention rate of more than 90% of students.
GNTC's associate in medical assisting online degree includes 28 credits of core education requirements, including math and English composition. Degree candidates must complete two anatomy and physiology courses and one medical terminology class before starting the medical assisting curriculum. The major-focused section of the program includes 35 credits in pharmacology and medical insurance management.
Candidates should submit scores from the Psychological Services Bureau entrance exam and immunization records with their applications. Before enrolling, applicants must pass background checks, drug screenings, and CPR certification courses. Students must also pay for medical liability insurance for the duration of the program.
GNTC also offers a certificate program that requires fewer hours for graduation. Learners in this program complete 22 general education hours and up to 16 credits in their chosen medical assisting specialties. Students can transition into the associate program after they complete the certificate.
Students from Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama pay low in-state tuition rates. GNTC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). In order to stay in the associate program, learners must maintain a 2.0 GPA or above, keep their CPR certifications current, and maintain liability insurance.
Minnesota West Community and Technical
|Granite Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Minnesota West Community and Technical College offers a medical assistant associate degree online that focuses on the administrative side of medical offices. The 60-credit curriculum includes courses in medical coding, job seeking, customer service, and management. The course outline also includes general education courses. This associate degree can help graduates work as medical office managers, assistants, and secretaries.
Learners complete their courses entirely online in an asynchronous format. MWCTC’s online learning software allows students to complete quizzes, submit tests, and participate in discussions. The lab portion of classes also takes place online through innovative software that gives degree candidates hands-on learning without leaving their homes.
Candidates should submit their application, a small fee, and transcripts for consideration. MWCTC accepts students with GEDs or high school diplomas. Students who meet this requirement receive a letter from the school with instructions on taking the ACCUPLACER exam and completing registration. Finally, accepted candidates must submit proof of diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, and rubella immunizations.
Students with residency in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota pay the lowest tuition rates at MWCTC. The school boasts small class sizes, hands-on learning opportunities, and practical skills that lead to thriving careers.
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has granted regional accreditation to MWCTC, which can help graduates apply their degree towards bachelor’s programs at regionally accredited universities. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs approves the school’s allied health programs, including the medical assisting degree. These credentials help graduates both stand out to employers and qualify for continuing education programs.
Barton County Community College
|Great Bend, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
Students who want to work in the growing healthcare field without participating in direct clinical duties may find a fit in Barton Community College’s medical administrative technology program. This associate in medical assisting online program focuses on the administrative and technological tasks performed in medical offices, including insurance coding, scheduling, customer service, and billing.
The curriculum includes general education courses and major-specific classes in ten-key mastery, medical administration, and customer service. Degree candidates also select elective courses from offerings like database management systems, payroll procedures, business law, and ethical issues in healthcare.
BCC’s instructors boast personal experience in medical assisting and office management. Students benefit from instructor experiences through small classes and one-on-one interactions. Students choose between the online and hybrid programs, both of which promise personalized attention from the faculty and staff.
Whereas many community colleges charge out-of-state students nearly double the tuition rates that local learners pay, BCC only raises the nonresident tuition prices by a slight margin. BCC also makes college affordable with its free application. The school operates on an open admissions policy. Any candidates with a high school diploma or GED may attend. New students receive admission confirmation shortly after submitting their applications.
Candidates with high GPAs or test scores earn substantial scholarships to BCC. For example, first-year college students from Kansas high schools may earn $1,000 if their GPAs fall between 3.00 and 3.49. Learners with GPAs above 3.49 can receive full-ride scholarships that cover both books and tuition.
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Keiser University offers one of the top online medical assistant associate degree programs that blends clinical and administrative courses. First, students earn 24 credits from general education courses. Then, degree candidates complete 20 hours in medical assisting core courses and 16 hours in clinical classes.
The core curriculum includes courses in medical law and ethics, pharmacology, and computerized medical office management. These courses give learners the administrative skills needed to work as medical office managers or secretaries. The clinical classes in the curriculum include lecture, procedures, and a laboratory courses. Learners must pass each of these courses before they can complete the the externship. Through these classes, learners obtain the skills needed to take vital signs, record patient histories, give physician-prescribed injections, perform specific lab tests, and administer electrocardiograms.
Applicants must submit proof of high school diplomas or GED results. Keiser does not require scores from entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT. Candidates must first contact an admissions counselor and attend an online open house for more information.
Dr. Arthur Keiser and Evelyn Keiser founded the university in 1977 to start a school geared toward teaching career skills. Now, Keiser serves 20,000 students as Florida’s third-largest nonprofit university. Keiser works with employers in the state to ensure students develop the most in-demand job skills. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) awards the university with regional accreditation.
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health
|Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
Nebraska Methodist College hosts an associate in medical assisting online for students who already hold certificates in medical assisting, radiologic technology, or surgical technology. Applicants must earn these certificates from programs that the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology have accredited. Candidates should also hold a GPA of 2.5 or above.
NMC's medical assisting online degree curriculum includes 21 hours in general education. Courses include reasoning and logic, science electives, and English composition. Once students complete these requirements, the school awards up to 40 transfer credits based on the previous certificates. Degree candidates can complete degree requirements in about two semesters. Graduates earn associate degrees, which can help them move up in their current organizations, transfer into a bachelor's program, or pursue more lucrative positions in larger companies.
While some graduates reenter the workforce after commencement, others go on to earn bachelor’s degrees from NMC. The school allows such candidates to easily transfer into these programs and study sonography, surgical technology, physical therapy assisting, respiratory care, or radiologic technology at the bachelor’s level.
Students complete their coursework entirely online in asynchronous format. The school charges all students in this online program the same tuition rates, regardless of residency.
This private, nonprofit school specializes in training medical professionals. NMC boasts some of the highest graduation rates in Nebraska and maintains regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). NMC’s main campus is located in Omaha.
Alexandria Technical & Community College
|Alexandria, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
Alexandria Technical & Community College's online medical administrative specialist program includes courses in computer technology, basics of healthcare, and general education. Students complete classes in typing, job seeking, medical terminology, medical reception, and medical office management to prepare them to complete administrative tasks within medical offices.
Students in the online associate program in healthcare assisting also complete internships to gain hands-on experience. In total, the ATCC curriculum includes 60 credits and takes about two years to complete. Graduates may work as medical receptionists, insurance specialists, healthcare secretaries, and medical transcriptionists. ATCC also boasts some of the highest job placement rates among two-year schools in Minnesota.
As part of their tuition, ATCC learners gain access to other academic resources, including writing assistance, tutor.com, the Khan Academy, and study groups. Degree candidates who live near the campus in Alexandria, Minnesota, can visit the counseling center for mental health treatment, as well.
Although prospective students may apply to ATCC year-round, the school waives the applications fee between September 1 and October 31 each year. The institution does not require new or transfer college students to complete entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT.
Students who transfer from accredited colleges complete the program faster than their peers. Once learners submit their previous college transcripts, ATCC assigns transfer specialists to review the documents. These professionals then tell learners how many credits apply toward the healthcare assisting associate degree. ATCC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Olney Central College
|Olney, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Olney Central College provides an associate degree in medical office assisting that includes few general education courses. Instead, almost all of the 68 required credits focus on giving students the skills they need to excel in their new careers. Classes cover electronic health records management, clinical processes, anatomy, medical transcribing, and insurance coding. Graduates work as insurance coding specialists, transcribers, healthcare office managers, and medical secretaries.
OCC is the central institution in the Illinois Eastern Community College (IECC) network. Learners can easily transfer between IECC campuses, including Frontier Community College, Lincoln Trail College, and Wabash Valley College. IECC as a whole holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). This credential helps graduates transfer to four-year universities if they choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Out-of-district and out-of-state students pay much lower rates through OCC’s online programs than they would as traditional on-campus learners. OCC charges all online students tuition rates well below the national average for two-year colleges. The school also accepts veteran benefits and awards dozens of scholarships exclusively for OCC students.
Learners who want to attend OCC should send completed applications at least 30 days before their preferred semester begins. Prospective students should send the results from any national and standardized entrance exam, including the ACT, SAT, ACCUPLACER, or ASSET. Applicants must also submit previous transcripts, but the school does not post a minimum GPA requirement. OCC recommends that transfer students contact their advisers before enrolling to ensure previously earned credits apply toward the degree.
State Fair Community College
|Sedalia, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
State Fair Community College’s online medical assisting program teaches students administrative and medical skills. The curriculum spans 61.5 credits and includes courses in healthcare technology, medical administrative procedures, clinical procedures, and customer service management. This balanced approach allows graduates to work on either the administrative or clinical sides of medical assisting. Graduates work in physician offices, clinics, medical laboratories, and large healthcare centers.
The school recommends that applicants possess excellent communication skills, attention to detail, and computer knowledge before entering this program. Although SFCC generally uses an open admissions policy, the medical assisting program utilizes competitive admissions. Candidates first apply to the college, then to the specific program. The program begins each August. Students who want to start during other terms can take the general education requirements before applying for the medical assisting program.
SFCC also offers a certificate program in medical assisting. Associate degree candidates must first complete the requirements for the certificate program and pass the correlating exam before finishing the associate degree courses. SFCC’s online courses sometimes require synchronous and in-person elements. For example, some instructors request to meet students face-to-face once at the beginning of the semester. Students must take exams in proctored testing centers.
Students who live in Sedalia, Missouri and the surrounding districts pay the lowest tuition rates. SFCC offers payment plans for all learners, which can help make college more affordable and allow learners to use fewer loans. Degree candidates pay either monthly or through the FAFSA pending program.
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
|Fergus Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers an online medical assisting program that focuses entirely on the complex administrative systems in healthcare. Students in the medical administrative assistant program learn in-demand skills such as outpatient coding, medical office procedures, and medical billing. The 60-credit curriculum also includes a course that helps learners navigate the changing healthcare field and a capstone class that allows students to put all learned skills together for a project.
M State operates on an open admissions policy for most programs, including the medical administration degree. Students do not need to submit test scores or hold a certain GPA. Candidates should submit online applications with proof of either a high school diploma or GED. Transfer students from other institutions must also send official college transcripts.
Once enrolled, learners complete the ACCUPLACER exam. Low scores do not keep students from entering the school. However, some students may need to take additional reading, writing, or math courses to prepare for the medical assisting program.
M State students with previous work experience save money on tuition. The school awards credit for military, work, and life experiences that cover the same topics as applicable courses. Prospective learners should contact admissions representatives to see if they can utilize this service. M State also accepts transfer credits from other accredited colleges and universities.
Students can complete this program entirely online or take some courses on the Moorhead, Minnesota campus. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) awards M State regional accreditation, which ensures learners receive high quality instruction.
Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical
|Winona, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
With campuses in Red Wing and Winona, Minnesota, Minnesota State College delivers numerous online programs and small class sizes to give students an intimate learning experience. The medical administrative assistant (AAS) program provides graduates essential medical administration skills such as transcribing, word processing, and insurance coding. Many learners pursue administrative careers in healthcare as a medical office manager, transcriptionist, or secretary.
The 60-credit curriculum includes several general education hours, and MSC allows learners to choose their general education courses from a long list of electives. Not only is it easier to transfer credits from an accredited college or university, but learners can pursue coursework relevant to their personal or professional interests.
MSC features an open admissions policy to students with high school diplomas or GEDs. Learners apply online and submit a small application fee, or they can apply for free on campus with an admissions adviser. MSC grants credit for prior learning through CLEP, AP, or challenge exams, and the school also accepts credits from military training. Transfer students with these credentials or other college credits should speak to admissions officers before applying.
Although learners do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores, accepted candidates must take the ACCUPLACER English exam. Those who do not earn a minimum score must take developmental communication courses to prepare for the program. Although MSC does not require the math ACCUPLACER for medical assisting students, degree candidates without the test must instead complete low-level mathematics courses in their general education requirements.
Northland Community and Technical College
|Thief River Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
With four campuses across northern Minnesota and North Dakota, Northland Community and Technical College is comprehensive two-year college with over 80 program options. The school's online medical administrative assistant degree gives graduates secretarial and office management skills for the healthcare environment. The 60-credit curriculum includes courses in computer technology, leadership, billing, insurance, coding, electronic records, and ethics. Students also receive hands-on experience through a course that simulates a real medical office environment. The curriculum includes some additional general education courses, although degree candidates must complete either public speaking or interpersonal communication courses.
NCTC charges all students in the online medical assisting program the same low tuition rates, regardless of their residencies. Distance education learners can also apply for scholarships through the college’s foundation. Furthermore, the college holds transfer agreements with other public schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, making the transfer process easier for students. Online courses at NCTC are asynchronous, giving students the flexibility to complete coursework when it suits their schedule.
Candidates submit online applications through the Distance Minnesota website, not the NCTC. Immediately following the application, students submit either high school transcripts proving graduation or GED results. Transfer students should also send official college transcripts. NCTC does not require standardized exam scores for admission, such the ACT or SAT. Once admitted, degree candidates must complete the ACCUPLACER exams to earn placement in math and English courses. Students who have ACT, SAT, or MCA scores may use these scores instead.
Kirtland Community College
|Roscommon, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Kirtland Community College offers students numerous programs in health sciences, public safety, and business and technology across its four Michigan campuses and online. Learners can pursue their associate degree at a fraction of the cost of a larger school, including the online health information management program. The associate in health information technology is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM), which means graduates are eligible to sit for national certification exams.
Students complete a minimum of 64 credits to earn their degree, which includes courses in electronic health records, health information management, procedure coding, and medical ethics and law. Courses are entirely online and asynchronous, giving students the flexibility to balance personal and professional commitments with their education. Earning a medical assistant associate degree online from KCC prepares graduates to work as medical records and health information technicians.
KCC operates on an open-door policy for all learners who complete high school or an equivalent. All applicants who meet this requirement gain admission and no candidates pay application fees. The school also accepts all transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities, as well as credits through several types of examination. Students may transfer credits from schools without regional accreditation; however, the school's dean holds discretion over whether to accept the credits.
Community College of Vermont
|Montpelier, VT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
The Community College of Vermont offers a variety of associate and applied science degrees at 12 locations throughout Vermont and online. The 60 credit associate in medical assisting at CCV is fully online and develops both clinical and administrative skills. The curriculum includes courses in phlebotomy, medical coding, intercultural communication, and clinical medical assisting. After the first four semesters, degree candidates then complete 80 hours of a medical assisting internship to gain hands-on experience.
Graduates are prepared to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant exam through the American Medical Technologists organization. Candidates who pass the test may work as medical assistants that serve as liaisons between patients and their doctors. These medical professionals take vital signs, give injections, and record medical histories. CCV graduates also enjoy greater career flexibility, which allows them to take positions as medical secretaries and office managers.
CCV welcomes all applicants with high school diplomas or GEDs. Students can complete the first step in the open admissions process in just 10 minutes. Admitted learners then take the ACCUPLACER exams to determine mathematics and English placement.
CCV is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, which allows for graduates to transfer to bachelor's programs easily.
Dakota College at Bottineau
|Bottineau, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Founded in 1906 as the North Dakota School of Forestry, DCB is now an affiliate campus of Minot State University. The student body of nearly 1,000 pursue a range of degrees to prepare for careers in the field or continue on to four-year programs.
Students in the associate of applied science in medical assisting at DCB can graduate in about two years. This program prepares learners to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant exam, which can lead to a career as a certified medical assistant. These professionals can give prescribed injections, take vital signs, record patient medical histories, and chart for insurance billing in physicians' offices. Some professionals even work from home, in hospitals, and in skilled nursing facilities.
The curriculum of this online medical assistant associate degree program focuses on the skills professionals need for clinical medical assisting. Courses include clinical procedures, healthcare laws, pharmacology, coding, diagnostic procedures, and CPR. Once students finish the online curriculum, they complete 180 hours of field experience at a nearby medical facility to gain valuable hands-on experience.
DCB also offers a certificate program in medical assisting that takes about one year to complete. Graduates can then sit for the National Center for Competency Testing exam to become Nationally Certified Medical Assistants. The curriculum includes many of the same courses as the associate degree; however, candidates who complete the associate program enjoy more career flexibility and may find themselves more marketable than their peers with certificates.
Applicants for DCB need a high school diploma or GED, but the school does not require any specific GPA to gain admissions. While DCB does require applicants to submit either SAT or ACT scores, the school does not enforce minimums for these results. Instead, the ratings help admissions advisers determine which mathematics and English courses degree candidates may need.
|Springfield, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
Cox College was established in 1907 as a training school for nurses with an initial student body of three. The school now hosts 900 students on its Springfield, MO, campus, and offers a range of associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees to aspiring medical professionals.
The associate of science degree in medical assisting can be completed mostly online. The program blends flexible learning with hands-on experiences to accommodate students with demanding personal or professional obligations. Graduates are prepared to sit for the certification exam through American Medical Technologist, which can lead to a career as a medical assistant. These professionals complete clinical duties such as measuring vital signs, recording health data, and giving prescribed injections.
Students must complete 60 credits to earn their associate. However, transfer students with general education credits can complete the program with just 34 credits. Cox College also offers a degree completion program for certified medical assistants who do not yet hold associate degrees, these learners only complete 27 credits.
The blend of hands-on training and small class sizes creates an environment for students to thrive. In fact, the class of 2016 enjoyed a 96% job placement rate, while 100% of the medical assisting graduates pass the licensure exam on the first try.
Degree candidates can take advantage of Cox College’s tuition payment plans through the school’s partnership with Nelnet Business Solutions. Unlike traditional student loans, this payment plan offers an interest-free way to pay for college over time. Cox College students pay the same tuition rates regardless of their residency statuses.
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
|Cincinnati, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 15%||
With multiple campuses around Cincinnati and online, Cincinnati State offers over 100 associate degree programs in the humanities, sciences, information technology, and business. The school's administrative office professional degree features three tracks that lead to an associate of applied business, including one in medical administrative assistance.
The curriculum for this associate in medical assisting online introduces sound office and administrative procedures, proficiency with relevant technology, and critical thinking skills. Learners take courses in subjects such as office procedures, business document formatting, social media, and document editing. Students then complete a course in medical administrative procedures and a capstone course that pulls all of the skills together. Graduates pursue careers as medical office managers and secretaries; however, the degree qualifies learners to find employment outside the medical sector.
Full-time students can earn their degree in two years, which includes summer coursework. The program can be completed entirely online and asynchronously, allowing learners to complete their classwork when it fits their schedules. Cincinnati State offers online learners access to the same resources as their on-campus classmates, including an online orientation to help degree candidates get started.
Although the school does not require internships, Cincinnati State partners with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Cincinnati VA Medical Center to provide students with internship and co-op learning opportunities. Graduates often transfer to nearby Mount St. Joseph University, Franklin University, and Northern Kentucky University to complete their four-year degree.
Guilford Technical Community College
|Jamestown, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Founded in 1958 as Guilford Industrial Education Center, the initial class featured 42 students. Today, GTCC offers over 80 programs of study to serve its more than 35,000 students. With six campuses around the North Carolina and online, GTCC is the third largest institution in the North Carolina Community College System and provides students with a wealth of resources.
The medical office administration - general option program covers the administrative and billing tasks of medical office personnel. The 66-credit curriculum can be completed in two years, and includes courses such as comprehensive keyboarding, medical office terms, insurance billing, customer service, and electronic health records. Additionally, the Microsoft Office application courses prepare learners to sit for the Microsoft Office User Specialist exams, leading to higher paying positions.
Students can also choose electives such as healthcare management, social media for medical offices, and emerging technologies. These subjects allow graduates to stand out in competitive candidate pools and offer additional services to employers. The curriculum culminates with a capstone course in which learners leverage prior learning to complete final projects.
GTCC provides open admissions for the college, but all health programs operate on limited admissions. This process means that prospective students must attend a program information session and contact the Limited Entry Programs Office to see if they qualify to enroll. The advisers in the office review each candidate and may make recommendations for improving their chances of success.
Rochester Community and Technical College
|Rochester, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Established in 1915 by Dr. Charles Mayo, Rochester Community and Technical College is one of the oldest community colleges in the nation. The school offers more than 100 associate, certificate, and diploma options, including the healthcare office professional program. This associate program prepares graduates for careers in the medical offices, hospitals, clinics, ad insurance.
The 60-credit curriculum emphasizes medical terminology, office communications, pharmacology, and emerging healthcare technology. Students complete coursework on human diseases, computerized health information, meeting planning, and Microsoft Office applications. These courses directly prepare graduates to write reference letters between medical offices, record patient health information, write health reports for physicians, and manage healthcare offices. Additionally, the 17-credit general education curriculum is designed for healthcare office professionals with courses such as bioethics.
Students can enroll in this program in the fall and spring semesters, but RCTC offers courses during the summer semester as well. Learners register on a part-time or full-time basis, with each class is delivered entirely online and asynchronously. The flexible learning schedule accommodates students with demanding professional or personal obligations.
RCTC charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state learners, and also offers an open-door admissions policy. Prospective students who hold high school diplomas or GEDs automatically gain admission. Some candidates without those credentials may also qualify, depending on their circumstances. English language learners may enroll in developmental courses to help them succeed. Candidates apply online quickly and do not need to send standardized exam scores.
Umpqua Community College
|Roseburg, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Umpqua Community College, near Roseburg, Oregon, offers numerous associate degrees and certificates to its more than 13,000 students. Students can complete the medical office administration program in just two years, and are qualified for careers such as healthcare secretaries or medical office managers.
The 91 credit curriculum includes topics such as customer service, medical terminology, electronic health records, insurance concepts, practical accounting, and medical coding. Students complete the program entirely online, while asynchronous courses allow learners to watch lectures, participate in discussions, and submit homework when it fits their schedule. The college also provides round-the-clock technical support for students who have trouble with their online courses
Students from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and California qualify for in-state tuition rates, while additional scholarship and work-study aid may be available. The school also waives tuition requirements for 12 credits per semester for qualifying students with 3.5 GPAs or higher in high school.
Candidates apply for admissions to UCC online in just a few short steps, and submit high school transcripts or GED results. The school does not require any test results, and any applicant with high school credentials or the equivalent can take part in the medical office administration program.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Associate in Medical Assisting?
|Timeline||18 months to 2 years|
|Program Costs||$6,000 to $20,000 in annual tuition|
|Related Areas of Study||Nursing, Practical Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Medical Laboratory Technician, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Biomedical Equipment Technology, Surgical Technology, Pharmacy, Radiology/Radiologic Technology, Physical Therapist Assistant Studies, Health Sciences|
|Accreditation||Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)|
Employment Outlook for Associate in Medical Assisting
The projected job outlook for medical assistants and other supportive healthcare personnel is quite favorable. A growing number of patients seeking medical care has fueled the demand for qualified medical assisting professionals. More than 20 million previously uninsured Americans now receive medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and an aging baby boomer population has added to the uptick of patients requiring geriatric care.
The following table explores unemployment rates for medical assistants and other assistive professionals working in the healthcare industry.
|Occupation||Unemployment Rate (2016)|
|Occupational Therapy Assistant||1.2%|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographer||1.9%|
|Clinical Laboratory Technician||3.4%|
|Physical Therapist Assistant||5.8%|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Of the 10 careers listed on the table, medical assistants face the second-highest unemployment rate. However, this figure is still significantly lower than the national unemployment rate for all occupations, which currently sits at 4.9%.
Earning a Living
According to the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, medical assistants with an associate degree earn a median annual salary of $27,800 during their first five years on the job and $34,600 after 10 years in the workforce. The table below explores salary expectations for employees with associate degrees in medical assisting and other healthcare-oriented fields.
|Associate Degree Field||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)|
|Physical Therapist Assistant Studies||$47,400||$57,400|
|Medical Laboratory Technology||$37,200||$48,500|
|Health Information Management||$33,900||$47,600|
|Medical Laboratory Technician||$35,400||$45,300|
|Health Information Technology||$32,000||$39,300|
|Medical Office Administration||$28,200||$34,400|
|Medical Billing and Coding||$29,600||$33,200|
As the table indicates, medical assistants earned the lowest salaries at the entry-level mark and the third-lowest salaries at the mid-career mark. However, this profession experienced the fourth-highest rate of salary growth after 10 years on the job: an increase of 24.4%.
Associate degree field of study is not the only variable used to predict salary expectations for medical assistants. Earnings for these employees will also depend on specific job titles, as well as other factors like employer size, certifications and city/state of employment. The next table looks at career salary growth for five common career paths in medical assisting.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Certified Medical Assistant||$33,959||$38,251||$42,014||$46,485|
|Certified Clinical Medical Assistant||$29,125||$35,016||$35,669||$39,464|
|Certified Medical Administrative Assistant||$29,432||$39,236||$40,695||$40,081|
The average career salary growth rate for all five occupations listed is 33.28. Certified medical assistants experience the highest rate of growth: an increase in earnings of 36.9% between the entry-level and late-career stages. Certified medical administrative assistants placed a close second with 36.2% salary growth after 20 years in the workforce.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who graduate with an associate degree in medical assisting will be qualified for dozens of entry-level roles; those who obtain certification will enjoy even more job opportunities. Medical assistants and three other related career pathways are outlined in the section below.
Medical Assistants: Medical assistants offer basic patient care and support services at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. The BLS notes that nearly 600,000 medical assistants are employed nationwide, and this profession is projected to grow by 23% between 2014 and 2024.
EMTs and Paramedics: EMTs and paramedics care for sick and injured individuals in emergencies and critical situations. All states require these professionals to be licensed, although licensure requirements vary by state; many EMTs and paramedics obtain their license through certification with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies: These professionals (also known as nursing aides) offer basic patient care and support at hospitals, as well as nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. All nursing assistants and orderlies must earn a state-issued license; licensure requirements vary by state, but often include a comprehensive exam, background check and continuing education courses.
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians: Also known as medical laboratory scientists, these professionals specialize in the collection and evaluation of blood, urine and other bodily fluid samples. Some states require medical laboratory scientists to earn full licensure.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)|
|Medical Records and Health Information Technicians||$30,590||23% (+138,900 jobs)|
|EMTs and Paramedics||$31,980||24% (+58,500 jobs)|
|Nursing Assistants and Orderlies||$25,710||17% (+267,800 jobs)|
|Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians||$50,550||16% (+52,100 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to medical assisting is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for medical assistance professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- American Association of Medical Assistants: The AAMA is home to the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) professional credential, as well as other professional development and continuing education opportunities. Membership options are available to professionals and students in their first or second year of postsecondary education.
- American Academy of Physician Assistants: Founded in 1968, the AAPA is today the nation's largest professional organization for physician assistants with nearly 109,000 members in all 50 states. Membership perks include free webinars and continuing education courses, complimentary magazine and journal subscriptions, and substantial discounts on various goods and services.
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA): This organization is recognized nationally as the premier hub for professional health information management (HIM) education and training. The AHIMA website features information on certification and career options.
Financing Your Online Associate in Medical Assisting
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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 programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
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.