Medical office administrators interact with patients, organize sensitive records, and assist patients and their families with insurance claims and billing processes.
Many students aspire to work in the healthcare industry but do not have the time or money to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree. These learners can instead earn an online medical office administration certificate to qualify for healthcare support positions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that, among all major occupational groups, healthcare support positions will grow at the fastest rates: 22.1% from 2019-2029. COVID-19 has underlined a critical need for medical professionals at every level. An aging population and expanding scope of responsibilities have also led to increased demand for these professionals.
Prospective students should consider what educational and professional pathways they can take to enter this field. This guide explores medical office administration certificates and ranks the top programs.
|#1||Pitt Community College Winterville, NC|
|#2||Johnston Community College Smithfield, NC|
|#3||Piedmont Community College Roxboro, NC|
|#4||Surry Community College Dobson, NC|
|#5||Craven Community College New Bern, NC|
|#7||Lenoir Community College Kinston, NC|
|#8||Gaston College Dallas, NC|
|#9||Randolph Community College Asheboro, NC|
|#10||Wake technical Community College Raleigh, NC|
|#11||Bladen Community College Dublin, NC|
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Certificate in Medical Office Administration Programs
Originally founded in 1961, Pitt Community College now offers classes both online and on campus in Winterville, North Carolina. Students at PCC can pursue associate degrees and certificates in the arts, sciences, business, and health. PCC offers a medical office administration certificate online that prepares students to work in areas such as medical administration, billing, medical auditing, and insurance.
The medical office administration program at PCC covers skills such as diagnosis coding, billing and filing software, and patient privacy laws and regulations. The curriculum includes courses in word processing, data entry, medical terminology, keyboarding, professional development, and healthcare customer relations. The certificate requires 17 core semester hours of coursework.
Johnston Community College has offered associate degrees, certificates, and diploma programs since 1969. Johnston's sprawling campus in Smithfield, North Carolina features a 16-acre arboretum, and one of the satellite campuses maintains a 2,800-acre wildlife preserve. Johnston serves around 15,000 students every year, both online and on campus.
Johnston offers a 44-credit medical office administration diploma that students can complete completely online. Learners may choose to enroll on a full-time or part-time basis. The curriculum includes classes in medical terminology, keyboarding, diagnostic and procedure coding, and records management. Students can also pursue a degree in medical office administration.
With two campuses in Roxboro and Yanceyville, North Carolina, Piedmont Community College serves students across Person and Caswell counties. With the growth of its online programs, Piedmont also educates learners from across the country. Piedmont offers degrees, diplomas, and certificates in a variety of fields, including business studies, public health, natural science, and manufacturing.
Students can earn certificates in medical office administration and electronic health records entirely online. These online medical office administration certifications each require 16 credits, with courses in medical terminology, medical office transcription, and keyboarding. The electronic health records certification requires an additional course. Students can complete both certifications as part of a medical office administration associate degree, which consists of 65-67 credits and includes general education courses.
Located about an hour northwest of Greensboro, North Carolina, Surry Community College serves students from all over Surry and Yadkin counties. Distance learners can enroll in Surry's programs from anywhere in the country. Surry offers courses in 48 different areas of study, including public service, law enforcement, fire and rescue, and business and computer technologies. The school awards associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas.
Surry's 17-credit medical office administration certificate online generally takes about two semesters to complete. Students take courses in keyboarding, records management, office editing, text entry and formatting, and medical terminology. Graduates often work in medical and dental offices, hospitals, and medical supply companies.
Craven Community College has served students in North Carolina for over 50 years. Craven offers fully-online and hybrid programs, including degree, certificate, and diploma options. The school focuses on workforce development and concrete skills that students can use to find long-term employment.
Craven offers both a diploma and certificate in medical office administration that students can complete almost entirely online. The curriculum emphasizes office skills, keyboarding, text entry, spreadsheets, and general management. Student can also specialize their certificate in areas such as medical billing and coding or patient services. Each certificate requires 14-19 credits. Online students must complete a special online orientation prior to the start of classes.
Lenoir Community College offers extensive online programs in areas such as applied science, aviation management, and accounting. Lenoir maintains an "open-door" admissions policy, which encourages anyone over 8 who may benefit from post-secondary education to enroll in courses. The school also serves dual-enrollment high school students.
Students can earn a certificate in medical billing, coding, and insurance entirely online. The 15-credit certificate includes courses in medical office terminology, medical insurance and billing, and procedural and diagnostic coding. The program prepares learners to find entry-level jobs in medical offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.
Gaston College focuses on affordability, student success, and program completion. The school offers over 170 programs of study, including 81 unique certificates. With more than 200 distance learning courses, students can complete several programs entirely online. Gaston also promotes workforce development and continuing education.
The medical billing and coding online certificate at Gaston consists of 16 required credits. Students can complete the program over one academic year. The curriculum includes courses in medical terms, procedural and diagnostic coding, medical legal issues, and coding for billing and insurance. Students begin this program during the fall semester and complete it at the end of the following summer term. Learners take just two classes per term.
Located in the center of North Carolina, Randolph Community College offers distance learning courses in accounting, education, English, computer science, medical technology, and several other fields. Despite starting with just 75 students in 1962, the college has grown to serve thousands of students across many academic programs.
Students at Randolph can earn their medical office administration certificate online. The certificate program consists of 18 credits, including many that carry over to the 36-credit diploma program. Courses include introduction to computers; medical office procedures; medical office terms; and medical coding, billing, and insurance. Student can complete the certificate in two semesters by taking three courses in the fall and three in the spring.
As North Carolina's largest community college, Wake Technical enrolls 74,000 adults every year. Wake Tech students can take courses through six different campuses, three unique training centers, and various community learning sites around the state. Learners can also take classes online through Wake Tech's extensive distance learning program. Wake Tech offers more than 240 different programs of study, including associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates.
The medical office professional certificate online program requires 18 credits. Students can complete all courses online, and some courses are offered on campus in a hybrid format. The curriculum features courses in keyboarding and word processing skills, medical office terms, medical insurance and billing, spreadsheets, and electronic health records. The certificate provides the skills students need for entry-level positions in medical offices and settings. The courses and credits in the Medical Office Professional Certificate program apply to both the diploma and AAS degrees.
Originally known as Bladen Technical Institute, Bladen Community College offers 14 unique academic programs both on campus and online. Situated in Dublin, North Carolina, Bladen hosts college transfer programs, early college high school courses, adult education, and distance learning. Students can begin their degree at Bladen and seamlessly transfer to a four-year institution.
Students interested in working for medical offices can earn their medical office administration certificate online. Students must have at least a high school diploma in order to begin the 18-credit certificate program. The diploma in medical office administration includes many of the same courses as the certificate program, including medical office terminology, medical billing and coding, and word processing.
More than 35,000 students attend courses through the five campuses of Guilford Technical Community College, the fourth largest institution in North Carolina's community college system. Guilford offers more than 80 programs of study, including associate, diploma, and certificate options in areas such as accounting, dental hygiene, and medical assisting. Students can also attend classes at Guilford's Small Business Center.
Students interested in earning their medical office administration certification online can enroll in Guilford's medical office administration billing and coding diploma program. The program prepares students for entry-level careers in medical billing and coding. Coursework emphasizes skills in writing, medical legal issues, and medical office terminology. The program requires 15 credits, and students generally complete the diploma in two semesters.
Located in North Carolina, Fayetteville Technical Community College serves 16,000 students through six campuses and education centers. Students can pursue more than 250 unique programs of study, including occupational, transfer, technical, continuing, and general education programs.
FTCC offers several fully online programs, including a medical coding specialist certification. The 18 credits required for this certification also apply toward FTCC's associate medical office professional degree. Students generally take three semesters to complete the certificate. The curriculum includes courses in medical office terminology, medical insurance and billing, and procedure coding. FTCC students can also take advantage of a career coach and job center to help find employment upon graduation.
Located less than an hour from Seattle, Washington, Green River Community College enrolls 8,000 students in 75 different programs of study. International students make up more than 1,700 of Green River's student body, representing more than 64 countries. All new students enjoy a trip to Seattle as part of orientation. Green River offers degrees, diplomas, and certificates in areas such as economics, computer science, and accounting. The school also provides transfer options to four-year universities.
Green River offers three unique medical office administration certifications online: medical front office, medical office manager, and medical office support. All of these programs include hands-on learning and internship opportunities. Students may also earn credit for prior experience. The certificates require 54-59 quarter credits each, including coursework in medical office procedures, business correspondence, business math applications, and human relations.
Based in Pueblo, Colorado, Pueblo Community College serves more than 7,000 students through three campuses and one high school learning site. PCC emphasizes open access and admits any college-ready student over 18. Students can pursue general, technical, and career education programs. In the last academic year, more than 400 graduates from PCC transferred to public four-year institutions in the state. The school confers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates.
PCC offers a medical office administration certificate online. The 27-credit program usually takes two or three semesters to complete. Courses emphasize skills in communication, project management, organization, and problem-solving. Credits earned in the certificate program can also contribute towards an associate degree in applied sciences with a concentration in office administration. The associate degree requires 68-78 credits.
Online Medical Office Administration Certificate Program Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
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4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
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- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
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6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
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- Public or private status
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Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
What Is an Online Medical Office Administration Certificate?
While earning a medical office administration certificate online, students acquire the skills and training necessary to work in healthcare support positions, including terminology, transcription, and technology skills. Students learn how to process patient information, follow healthcare procedures and guidelines, and communicate with other medical professionals.
These programs typically take 6-18 months to complete, so medical office administration certificates attract individuals who are looking to quickly join the healthcare workforce. Certificates can also help experienced professionals advance their careers and develop useful administrative skills. Earning a certificate may also qualify graduates to take industry certification exams.
What's the Difference Between a Medical Office Administration Certificate and an Associate Degree in Medical Office Administration?
A medical office administration associate degree provides much of the same instruction as a medical office administration certificate, with added general education credits. With this additional coursework, the associate degree takes approximately two years to complete. Associate degrees can also count toward general education credits for a bachelor's degree, so students often choose this path as a foundation for later training.
Like a medical office administration certificate, pursuing an associate degree can lead to employment as a medical assistant or medical records technician. Some employers prefer candidates with an undergraduate degree, as they have more specialized skills. Many schools offer both types of programs to accommodate diverse student goals.
What Can You Do With a Medical Office Administration Certificate?
Earning a medical office administration certificate online can lead to work in many healthcare sectors. BLS employment data indicates that most healthcare support professionals handle administration, patient examinations, and clinical work in family services, hospitals, nursing care facilities, and physician offices. However, despite their medically focused training, graduates can also use their administrative skills in other industries, including office and administrative support.
The following section explores three major healthcare industries where certificate-holders can find employment.
Most classes in an online medical office administration certificate program train graduates to work in private practices, where they may support patient examinations and take vitals. They may also handle administrative duties, such as managing patient records, scheduling, and processing insurance information.
Students aiming to work in this field should choose a program that includes clinical practice and classes in facility and medical records management.
Medical office administration certificate-holders typically work on the administration and patient records side of dental offices. These professionals manage patient information and databases, process insurance claims, and schedule appointments.
Candidates pursuing careers in dentistry should take classes in recordkeeping and facility management. Courses in dental terminology and processes could also be useful.
In hospitals, medical office administration certificate graduates typically oversee administrative tasks, such as handling medical records, processing insurance claims, taking patient information, and scheduling.
Understanding hospital regulations and guidelines could give certificate-holders a competitive advantage in this field. While clinical training can help medical assistants pursue laboratory positions, aspiring hospital administrators typically focus on medical coding and billing courses.
Choosing an Online Program
When choosing a certificate program, students should consider factors like accreditation, study times, and program offerings. Every student has unique needs, goals, and circumstances. The following sections and links aim to help aspiring students make informed decisions.
Accreditation for Medical Office Administration Programs
Accreditation ensures that the program and training meet or exceed industry standards. Attending a regionally accredited institution can influence what funding, employment, and certification opportunities you can access after graduation.
Though not always mandatory, medical office administration certificate programs may receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Some industry certifications require CAAHEP accreditation, so candidates should always research a program's status before committing.
What to Expect From a Medical Office Administration Certificate
Coursework in online medical office administration certificate programs varies among schools, but the following list outlines some common courses.
Medical Office Administration Curriculum
- Office Editing: Office editing courses develop writing and grammar skills, with a focus on office documentation. Students learn to compose written messages and edit coworkers' communications.
- Records Management: Students examine recordkeeping techniques used in various healthcare settings, including specific medical record requirements, coding and filing protocols, and legal regulations.
- Medical Terminology: In medical terminology courses, students learn the proper spelling, pronunciation, and use of medical terms. They also explore the etymology of common medical words.
- Medical Office Terms: This course introduces students to medical concepts and procedures, human anatomy, and basic terminology. In most healthcare occupations, students need this training to communicate effectively.
- Medical Billing and Insurance: Students in this course learn to process patient bills and claims. They use industry-standard processes, terminology, and software.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Medical Office Administration Certificate Online?
A medical office administration certificate's timeline depends on each student's enrollment type and course load. Most programs run 9-18 months, though accelerated programs may offer faster completion times.
Conversely, students with busier schedules can also pursue part-time programs that progress more slowly.
Medical Office Administration Certifications
While certificates are educational documents awarded by schools and universities, certificates are typically awarded by professional organizations or associations. Earning these credentials typically requires a passing score on an examination that tests candidates on industry standards.
Eligibility requirements vary by certification, but some require candidates to have completed an accredited program and have relevant work experience. Examinations vary in scope, often covering different specialties, but accredited medical office administration certificates can qualify graduates to take some of these tests.
Once certified, professionals need to maintain their credentials by completing continuing education credits and renewing their certifications, usually every 2-3 years.
Medical Office Administration Organizations
Professional medical office administration organizations, such as the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management and the Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals, help students, graduates, and experienced professionals strengthen their career prospects.
Members can access educational support resources, career services, and industry news and publications. After entering the workforce, they can also keep up with continuing education, research, and professional development programs.
Medical Office Administration Careers
After earning a medical office certificate online, graduates can access medical careers in hospitals, physician offices, outpatient care centers, and nursing care facilities.
The administrative skills learned in these programs can also lead to positions outside the healthcare sector. The data below looks at some of the most popular career pathways and their median annual salaries, but students can also pursue positions that are not listed.
|Career||Median Salary (2020)|
|Medical Records and Health Information Technician||$44,090|
|Medical Secretary and Administrative Assistant||$40,990|
Frequently Asked Questions
Graduates with a medical office administration certificate can pursue healthcare and office support positions. Their medical knowledge also makes them strong candidates for medical assistant careers.
Medical office administration certificates can help graduates become medical office administrators in less than one year. To qualify for MOAC credentials, graduates may need one year of supervised experience, bringing the total time to about two years.
For the Practice Management Institute's CMOM credential, candidates need at least one year of supervised experience and must pass an examination. Since it takes approximately one year to earn a medical office administration certificate, this process takes about two years.
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