As the baby boomer population ages, medical administrative careers are expected to grow as much as 23% by 2024. Now is an excellent time to pursue a career in medical office administration and take advantage of the healthcare industry's upward trends in employment and annual earnings. This guide will help you navigate curriculum requirements and career paths so you can choose the best medical office administration certificate program for you.

Curriculum for an Online Certificate in Medical Office Administration

Although courses vary by school, most medical office administration certificate programs require the following core courses. These courses teach skills crucial for careers in medical office administration, such as typing skills and familiarity with medical terminology.

  • Keyboarding: Students learn the most efficient keyboarding techniques, including touch typing and use of special keys. Students gain skills in medical document typing with an emphasis on speed and accuracy. Keyboarding skills are necessary for positions as medical receptionists and medical transcriptionists.
  • Medical legal issues: This course explores moral and legal issues that impact healthcare personnel, such as patient confidentiality and medical office liability. Students examine the relationship between ethics and the law and explore acceptable ethical behavior in medical environments, preparing for careers as medical bookkeepers and schedulers.
  • Medical terminology: This course explores the language of medicine and introduces students to medical vocabulary in areas such as anatomy, physiology, and pathology. Students learn the prefixes, suffixes, and root words used in medical language, important knowledge for health information associates and medical review assistants.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Certificate in Medical Office Administration?

An online medical office administration certificate typically requires 18 to 20 credits, which full-time students complete in two semesters. Part-time students who take one course per semester complete the program in approximately three years. An online diploma in medical office administration requires 40 to 50 credits, depending on the program. The student's prior experience and prerequisite requirements also influence completion time.

Online certificate or diploma in medical office administration programs may be individually paced or cohort-based. Individually paced programs allow students to work independently. This flexible approach to learning is popular among online programs and emphasizes convenience and self-motivation. Cohort learning takes a community approach; students enter and progress through a program together, emphasizing group collaboration.

Rank School Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1 Surry Community College Dobson, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

SCC is located in the foothills of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains and has several satellite locations across Surry and Yadkin counties. The school offers a variety of career-focused online programs, including a 47-credit diploma in medical office administration. The curriculum includes courses on several foundational topics, such as office and records management, medical terminology, coding, and legal issues in healthcare. Students learn the fundamentals of the EHR/EMR system and are prepared to pursue careers in hospitals, laboratories, and dental offices.

SCC offers a variety of online student resources, including free tutoring services through the Academic Support Center and Moodle training and tech support. Applicants must submit an application and have a high school diploma or GED to be considered. Transfer students can forward SAT or ACT scores to the admissions office to become eligible to skip placement testing requirements.

2 Pitt Community College Winterville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

PCC is a community-centered college that serves Pitt County and all of Eastern North Carolina. The school boasts 50 different online programs, including a medical office receptionist certificate. This online medical office administration certificate is ideal for students who want to pursue a career as a medical office receptionist.

Courses are offered through Moodle and cover topics such as keyboarding and office software, training in professional development, and medical terminology. This 17-credit program can be completed in just two semesters. As part of the admissions process, students must complete a placement test. This test can be taken at a different North Carolina community college or anywhere with a valid proctor. Out-of-state students should check PCC's state authorization page before applying to ensure that their program is available in their state.

3 Craven Community College New Bern, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

Craven has three campuses located throughout Craven County, North Carolina: the main campus in New Bern, as well as satellite locations in Havelock and MCAS Cherry Point. The school has partnerships with several local colleges, including East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, and Southern Illinois University. Craven offers a 44-credit online diploma in medical office administration that prepares students for health office careers such as receptionist, coder, and patient representative.

The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, such as medical terminology, coding, legal issues, anatomy and physiology, and computer literacy. There are also courses like medical office procedures and medical office simulation that provide students with advanced workplace knowledge. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 throughout the program to graduate. Craven is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

4 Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 18%

FTCC offers programs focused on technical and occupational training in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The college offers over 70 online programs, including an 18-credit a medical office administration certificate that can be completed in two semesters. The curriculum includes courses on subject like coding, legal terms, and medical terminology. Students can choose to transfer their credits into an associate of applied science degree at FTCC after graduation.

Online courses are delivered through Blackboard. FTCC has an open-door admissions policy and requires applicants to have a high school diploma or GED to be considered. Distance learners who live over an hour's drive away from campus may take their placement exam remotely. Out-of-state students should check the school's state authorization page to ensure that their desired program is offered in their state before applying.

5 Lenoir Community College Kinston, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 35%

LCC is one of the oldest institutions in the North Carolina Community College System and serves Lenior, Greene, and Jones counties. The school specializes in offering courses with flexible scheduling that are ideal for working adults. LCC offers a variety of evening and weekend courses on-campus, as well as over 180 online and hybrid courses through Moodle.

The college offers a specialized medical office administration certificate for students who are interested in the fields of medical coding, billing, and insurance. This 16-credit certificate includes two semesters of medical terminology coursework, which satisfies the requirements of the school's office administration and medical assisting programs. Thanks to an articulation agreement, students who are interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree can easily transfer into any school that is a member of the University of North Carolina System.

6 Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 38%

GTCC was founded in 1958 as the Guilford Industrial Education Center and is now the third largest community college in the North Carolina Community College System. Today, the school serves more than 40,000 each year across five campuses and online, with a main campus in Jamestown, North Carolina.

The 17-credit online medical office administration certificate in medical office billing and coding is ideal for students who want a lighter course load than in an associate degree and can be completed in three semesters, including a final semester in the summer. Graduates are prepared to pursue medical coder positions as well as sit for the American Association of Certified Professional Coders' Certified Professional Coders Exam. Distance learners who want to complete this certificate completely online can apply for priority registration. To do so, interested students must apply for a seat in a two-week online readiness workshop.

7 Jefferson College of Health Sciences Roanoke, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

JCHS was founded in 1914 in Southwest Virginia and offers degrees on healthcare topics to students in Roanoke, Virginia. The college offers diplomas, certificates, and degrees ranging from associate to doctorate that can be completed either on-campus and online. JCHS offers a specialized certificate in medical practice management that is designed for clinicians and healthcare professionals who already have an associate degree.

The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, such as managerial communications, healthcare quality management, healthcare operations management, and health information management. Students can complete this 21-credit program in just one year by enrolling in two classes each semester. Graduates are prepared to continue their education in a bachelor's degree in healthcare management or pursue certification by the American College of Medical Practice Executives. JCHS is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8 Beaufort County Community College East Washington, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 18%

BCCC is located in East Washington, North Carolina, and offers a wide range of associate degrees to high school students through an early college program. The college also offers a variety of distance learning programs through Blackboard, including a medical administration specialist program that teaches students the skills needed to pursue a career in medical and dental offices.

The curriculum includes courses on topics such as medical terminology, coding, ethics, law, and professional etiquette and writing. Students should note that they are required to attend the first class in person. Graduates are prepared to sit for the National HealthCareer Association's Medical Administration Assistant Certification exam. Applicants must complete a residency determination process and pass an online assessment before enrolling in online courses. BCCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

9 Wake technical Community College Raleigh, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 0%

WTCC is the largest community college in North Carolina with a student body of over 72,000. The school has five campuses across Wake County and also offers several courses online. WTCC offers a medical office professional diploma that prepares students for a career in healthcare facilities and insurance billing offices. This 36-credit program includes courses on medical terminology, keyboarding and formatting, office software applications, medical office procedures, and more.

Online courses are delivered asynchronously through Blackboard, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. All distance learners must complete the eLearning Intro course before enrolling in online courses. They can also access online tutorials and support services at the school's Individualized Learning Center. WTCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

10 Wayne Community College Goldsboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 0%

WCC offers 20 different online degrees, diplomas, and certificates, allow which are offered through Moodle. Students can earn a diploma in medical office administration with a specialization in medical coding online in just three semesters of full-time study. The 50-credit curriculum includes courses on medical coding, terminology, and legal issues. Students can also earn a medical office administration certificate in insurance or a diploma in medical transcription.

Students who want to enroll in online courses must demonstrate that they have experience with computers or complete a computer placement test to be considered. WCC allows distance learners to complete all steps of the application process remotely. Online students can also meet with a counselor for a required advising interview over the phone. WCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Medical office administration certificate and diploma programs feature similar courses; however, a diploma program provides more in-depth training and typically requires twice as many credits. While diploma programs equip students with a greater breadth of knowledge, they take longer to complete and are more expensive than certificate programs. Below are potential career paths for graduates with a diploma in medical office administration.

Career Paths for Medical Office Administration Certificate Holders

Graduates with a diploma in medical office administration pursue healthcare roles such as health information technician or medical transcriptionist. Graduates work in hospitals, clinics, and community agencies, and work hours may follow a clinic's business hours or may include night and weekend shifts at hospitals. Successful medical office administrators possess strong communication and customer service skills, organizational skills, and integrity.

Medical assistants

Medical assistants record patient histories and personal information, schedule appointments, enter patient information into medical records, and gather insurance information.

Median Annual Salary: $31,540

Projected Growth Rate: 23%

Medical bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

Medical bookkeepers use booking software, online spreadsheets, and databases to record a medical facility's transactions. They prepare bank deposits, handle payrolls, prepare invoices, keep track of overdue accounts, and purchase office supplies.

Median Annual Salary: $38,390

Projected Growth Rate: -8%

Medical records and health information technicians

These healthcare professionals collect patient data and perform clinical coding. They work closely with nurses to ensure the accuracy of patient records and frequently correspond with billing and insurance offices.

Median Annual Salary: $38,040

Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Medical secretaries and administrative assistants

Medical secretaries ensure that offices operate smoothly. They answer phones, take messages, and schedule appointments. They also arrange for patient hospitalization and may prepare reports for physicians or medical scientists.

Median Annual Salary: $37,230

Projected Growth Rate: 3%

Medical transcriptionists

Also known as healthcare documentation specialists, medical transcriptionists transcribe recorded dictation from doctors and other healthcare personnel. They are familiar with medical terminology and are able to identify inconsistencies or missing information in patient reports.

Median Annual Salary: $35,720

Projected Growth Rate: -3%

Certificate in Medical Office Administration Salary

Occupational setting and location, educational level, and work experience influence the annual earnings of medical office administrators. According to PayScale, medical office administrators can expect pay increases of up to $30,000 over a 20-year career. The following table highlights salary trends for common medical office administration occupations.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Medical receptionist $29,805 $26,000 $29,000 $32,000
Medical billing clerk $34,006 $28,000 $30,000 $32,000
Medical office administrator $46,515 $30,000 $36,000 $60,000
Medical coder $41,310 $34,000 $42,000 $47,000
Bookkeeper (medical or dental office) $53,039 $36,000 $39,000 $42,000

Accrediting bodies regulate the quality of education in the U.S. by enforcing guidelines based on national standards. Accredited medical office admin certificate or diploma programs are typically offered through four-year universities and vocational schools. The most common types of accreditation are regional and national; more than 85% of U.S. universities are regionally accredited. Credits earned from regionally accredited programs are more likely to transfer than those earned from nationally accredited schools. However, nationally accredited programs typically have lower tuition rates and less stringent admissions criteria. While medical office administration certificate and diploma programs are not governed by program-specific accrediting agencies, students may look for accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which assures the quality of online learning programs.

Certification in medical office administration is an affordable option for beginning a career in healthcare. Numerous financial aid opportunities exist to further offset the cost of education, including grants and scholarships and federal and private loans. Students pursuing certification in medical office administration should also seek out scholarships awarded specifically to health administration students. Students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to determine their eligibility for federal funding.


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