Best Online Healthcare Certificate Programs
Updated September 20, 2022
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An online healthcare certificate prepares graduates for in-demand roles as medical assistants and health information technicians.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistants and health information technicians will both see much faster than average projected job growth from 2019-2029. Earning an online healthcare certificate builds the knowledge and skills required for these high-demand careers.
An online learning format appeals to working professionals and busy students balancing school with other responsibilities. Distance learners complete flexible coursework while meeting any clinical requirements in their local areas. Students on a budget can research the most affordable option for their certificate program without limiting their options to local schools.
Our list ranks the top online healthcare certificate programs to help prospective applicants find the best fit for their budget and career goals. This article also explores common healthcare certificate courses, career paths for graduates, and professional certifications in healthcare.
|#1||Charter Oak State College New Britain, CT|
|#2||Southwestern Community College Sylva, NC|
|#3||Cedar Crest College Allentown, PA|
|#4||Champlain College Burlington, VT|
|#5||Randolph Community College Asheboro, NC|
|#6||Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME|
|#7||Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO|
|#8||Roger Williams University Bristol, RI|
|#9||Allen County Community College Iola, KS|
|#10||Wayne Community College Goldsboro, NC|
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Healthcare Certificate Programs
Online Healthcare Certificate Program Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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What Is an Online Healthcare Certificate?
An online healthcare certificate trains learners in medical assistance, healthcare terminology, healthcare records management, and medical coding. During a certificate program, students strengthen their administrative and clinical abilities, learning how to interact with patients, perform basic healthcare assessments, and maintain medical records.
After a one-year certificate program, graduates meet the requirements for many allied health careers. With an online healthcare certificate, professionals can pursue careers as medical assistants, medical office assistants, and health information technicians.
Online medical certificate programs combine remote classes with practical training. Distance learning students complete clinical training through online simulations, virtual laboratory projects, and in-person supervised experiences in their local areas. Programs work with online learners to meet these requirements at approved sites close to the student's home.
What's the Difference Between a Healthcare Administration Certificate and an Associate Degree?
A healthcare administration certificate and an associate degree in healthcare administration both prepare graduates for allied health careers. However, the options differ in important ways. For example, certificate programs often take one year or less to complete, while an associate degree takes two years. Many schools offer both certificate and associate programs.
A certificate covers fundamental topics and meets the requirements for some entry-level roles. An associate degree offers more in-depth education, including general education requirements, and leads to more career-oriented opportunities, like administrative coordinator or operations assistant. After earning certificates, graduates can sometimes transfer their credits toward associate degrees in healthcare administration, depending on accreditation.
What Can You Do With a Healthcare Certificate?
A healthcare certificate trains students to work in hospitals and doctor's offices in roles like medical office assistant, medical secretary, nursing assistant, or administrative assistant. Medical assistants conduct basic health assessments and maintain patient records, while health information technicians manage medical records. Below are a few jobs that healthcare certificate-holders can pursue.
Health Information Technician
Health information technicians, also known as medical records technicians, manage medical and patient data for healthcare organizations. They check health records for accuracy and transfer information from paper records into electronic systems. Health information technicians also enter codes to submit patient information for insurance reimbursement.
Most health information technicians hold certificates. Students pursuing these certificates learn about medical coding systems, healthcare reimbursement procedures, and medical terminology. The largest employers of health information technicians include hospitals and doctor's offices.
Administrative assistants perform clerical tasks in office settings. They schedule appointments, assist customers, and organize files. These assistants also schedule meetings, manage ingoing/outgoing mail, and maintain filing systems.
Office assistants in medical settings — also known as medical secretaries — help physicians and provide clerical support in medical offices. A medical office assistant program covers medical records, terminology, and medical coding knowledge, training graduates for these roles. The healthcare industry employs the most administrative assistants of any field.
Medical assistants perform clinical and administrative tasks in many different healthcare settings. They maintain medical records, measure vital signs before doctor's visits, and assist physicians during health assessments. Medical assistants also schedule appointments and prepare materials for laboratory tests.
Most medical assistant employers require candidates to have at least a certificate. During a medical assistant certificate, learners study health information systems, medical terminology, and medical office assistance. These professionals work in outpatient care centers, hospitals, and doctor's offices.
Choosing an Online Program
How can you choose the right online healthcare certificate program for your needs? By considering factors like your budget, career goals, and schedule availability. Researching a prospective program's job placement rate can also help you make informed decisions. Learn more about choosing an online program with the following links.
Accreditation for Healthcare Programs
Accredited online healthcare certificate programs meet the requirements for professional certification, and many employers only hire graduates from accredited programs. As a result, prospective applicants should always choose regionally accredited schools.
Several specialized agencies grant accreditation to allied health schools, including The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). The U.S. Department of Education recognizes CAAHEP and ABHES as accrediting agencies for health programs.
What to Expect From a Healthcare Certificate
During a healthcare certificate, learners complete general healthcare courses in medical terminology, human anatomy, and health information systems. They also take specialized courses, such as medical assisting or medical coding. These classes build the knowledge and skills required for allied health careers.
- Customer Service: Customer service is a core skill in medical assisting and medical office assisting. In this course, learners examine the best customer service practices in healthcare, including soliciting customer feedback and managing complaints.
- Healthcare Research and Quality: Healthcare organizations use research and data analysis to improve quality of care and patient outcomes. This course covers quality improvement approaches, applying research in practice, and enhancing healthcare procedures through data analysis.
- Health Finance and Economics: Students in this course explore financial management and economics in healthcare, providing a general overview of the financial side of the healthcare system. Topics include profit analysis, capital budgeting, and healthcare consumption.
- Health Information Systems: Healthcare organizations increasingly rely on technology to manage data and improve performance. Students in this course examine healthcare information needs, computer-based analytical tools, and patient information management.
- Medical Legal Issues: Healthcare practitioners must study medical law and ethical issues to ensure compliance. Coursework in this class covers privacy rights, healthcare legislation, and court rulings on medical care. This class prepares practitioners for clinical and record management responsibilities.
- Navigating the U.S. Healthcare System: Learners in this class explore regulatory agencies, hospital systems, and health insurers and how they operate in the United States. Coursework examines the mechanisms for delivering health services and compares the U.S. healthcare system to international systems.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Healthcare Certificate?
Many community colleges, vocational schools, and technical schools offer healthcare certificate programs. Most online healthcare certificate programs take 6-12 months to complete. Online medical certificate programs typically require around nine months of coursework.
During a healthcare certificate, students complete coursework in medical terminology, health information record management, and healthcare compliance. They also gain practical training through simulations, laboratory assignments, and clinical practicums. This blend of classroom and experiential learning prepares certificate graduates for careers in healthcare.
Pursuing Healthcare Certifications Online
It is important not to confuse certificates with certifications. Certificate programs train students in particular areas through coursework, assignments, and exams, while certifications recognize professionals who are skilled in particular fields. Certificates are similar to degrees, while certifications are for working professionals.
Professional certifications help healthcare professionals stand out in the job market. For example, certified clinical medical assistants and certified electronic health records specialists can point to their certifications to demonstrate their experience and training.
Private organizations deliver certifications, while certificates are conferred by schools. Most certifications require previous training, such as a certificate or work experience, but they don't offer training themselves. Candidates pursuing healthcare certifications online must pass an exam to earn the credential, and many certifications require renewal every 2-3 years. Recertification may require continuing education credits or additional exams.
Professional organizations can help students and early-career professionals advance their careers. These organizations provide professional development support, career resources, and networking opportunities.
Professional organizations often specialize in areas within the healthcare field. For example, the Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals and the American Health Information Management Association represent medical assistants and health information technicians. Meanwhile, the American Association of Healthcare Administration Management and the American College of Healthcare Administrators advocate for healthcare administrators.
Medical Office Administration Careers
A healthcare certificate prepares graduates for careers as medical records technicians, medical assistants, and health information technicians. In these roles, professionals blend their clinical and administrative training to help hospitals and doctor's offices run smoothly. Online healthcare certificate programs can also lead to careers as medical secretaries and administrative assistants.
The information below covers median salary data for common medical careers among individuals with healthcare certificates.
|Career||Median Salary (2020)|
|Medical Records and Health Information Technician||$44,090|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Healthcare Certifications Can I Get Online?
Online healthcare certification options include certified clinical medical assistant and certified electronic health records specialist credentials. Additionally, many colleges offer online healthcare certificates for medical assistants.
What Is the Fastest Online Medical Certification to Get?
Online medical certificate programs train graduates for careers as medical assistants, health information technicians, and medical coders. Many programs take one year or less to complete.
What Healthcare Certification Pays the Most?
Allied health careers that require certification, including sonographer, respiratory therapist, and radiologic technician, earn above-average salaries. Earning a healthcare certificate can also lead to employment as a medical assistant.
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