Medical assistants help improve patient quality of life by assisting with care and ensuring accurate record-keeping.
Medical assistants take vital signs, communicate with patients and physicians, and maintain medical records in healthcare settings, including hospitals and doctor's offices. A medical assistant certificate teaches the clinical and administrative skills necessary for careers in medical assistance. Accredited online medical assistant programs also meet the requirements for certification.
Medical assistants have high career demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this profession will see faster-than-average projected job growth from 2019-2029.
Our ranking lists the best online medical assistant certificate programs for students seeking a fast, flexible route to a healthcare career. Prospective students can use this list to find the right program for their scheduling, budgetary, and career needs.
This article also explores common medical assistant courses, career and salary outlook for medical assistants, and the online medical assistant certification process.
|#1||California State University – San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA|
|#2||Ogeechee Technical College Statesboro, GA|
|#3||Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome, GA|
|#4||North CarolinaA &T State University Greensboro, NC|
|#5||University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, AK|
|#6||Concordia University-Wisconsin Mequon, WI|
|#7||Renton Technical College Renton, WA|
|#8||University of Providence Great Falls, MT|
|#9||Southwestern Community College Sylva, NC|
|#10||Spokane Community College Spokane, WA|
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs
Established in 1965, CSUSB sits at the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains. The university serves an enrollment of more than 20,000 students in Inland Southern California and online. CSUSB offers hundreds of programs across seven schools and colleges, including five 100% online degrees, five hybrid programs, and dozens of courses delivered through distance learning formats.
The College of Extended Learning at CSUSB offers a medical assistant certification online through a partnership with CareerStep online professional training services. The certificate for medical administrative assistants comprises 200 hours in coursework, including healthcare structure and organization, healthcare reimbursement, and medical office management. Graduates qualify for the certified medical administrative assistant credential.
Students may complete the certificate entirely online, with no campus visits required. Distance learners may begin the certificate program at any time during the quarter-semester. While CSUSB charges a set rate for the online certificate, CareerStep offers several payment plans and supplemental funding options for qualifying students to offset the program cost. The certificate is authorized by the National Healthcareer Association and features a curriculum developed by medical professionals.
Learners can complete courses through the Blackboard learning management system. The certificate program may require both synchronous and asynchronous learning formats. In addition to comprehensive tech support, CSUSB offers resources for distance students, including online advising, tutorials, online orientation, and an introduction to the Microsoft Windows Suite.
Opened in 1986, Ogeechee Tech’s inaugural class had only 25 nursing students. Today, the college serves an enrollment of more than 2,800 throughout Georgia’s Bulloch, Evans, and Screven counties. With an emphasis in medical and healthcare career training, Ogeechee Tech offers more than 30 professional academic programs.
Ogeechee Tech’s program provides students with the opportunity to earn medical office assistant certification online. The medical front office certificate suits students aspiring to entry-level or receptionist positions in hospitals, clinics, or physician’s offices. The curriculum explores the core professional skills needed in medical office assisting, including document production, medical terminology, and medical administrative procedures.
Applicants (at least 16 years of age) must submit official high school or college transcripts and meet ACCUPLACER, Compass, SAT/ACT, or GED score requirements. Enrollees must complete a total of 22 semester credit hours to earn the certificate, and most students complete the program in two semesters. An applicant may enter the program in the semester of their choice.
Online students can complete courses through Blackboard, primarily via asynchronous learning. While Ogeechee Tech charges a set rate for tuition for the medical office assistant certificate, qualifying students may apply financial aid, including the Pell Grant, toward their online certificate programs. Resources for distance learners include career services, tutoring options, and an academic enrichment center.
With a nine-county service area, GNTC represents the largest college in northwest Georgia and one of the largest technical colleges, statewide. Since its merger with Coosa Valley Technical College in 2009, GNTC now occupies six campus locations across the state. The college serves a student enrollment of more than 4,000 and offers more than 200 academic programs.
Students can complete online medical front office assistant certificates at GNTC. The program requires completion of a minimum of 22 credit hours in topics such as medical terminology, healthcare administrative procedures, and introduction to computer literacy. Enrollees can also choose electives specific to this occupation with the help of student advisors. Students must earn a grade of “C” or above in each course to complete their certificates.
Applicants must submit official transcripts for high school or college coursework and SAT or ACT scores for GNTC admission consideration. Students who do not meet general education prerequisites may need to undergo placement testing through GNTC’s testing center. Learners may apply for admission to the medical assistant certification online program during the fall, spring, or summer semester.
Online students can complete courses through Blackboard, aided by a variety of learning resources, including tutoring, advising, and tech support options. GNTC charges in-state per-credit tuition rates to residents of Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee; resident-students of all other states pay out-of-state rates for distance learning coursework.
Set on a 200 campus, A&T opened in 1891 as a land-grant university. The school boasts a rich cultural history, serving at the forefront of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and now ranking among the nation’s top Carnegie-classified research institutions. N.C. A&T offers 54 undergraduate programs across eight schools and nearly 50 master’s and doctoral degrees through the Graduate College.
N.C. A&T offers a certified clinical medical assistant program in conjunction with Health Ed Today. The program requires completion of 140 credit hours in skills that prepare patients for exams, understanding HIPAA and patient confidentiality, and taking vital signs. Students can also learn to assist in the administration of medications, performing EKGs, and obtaining lab specimens.
Applicants must complete or be in pursuit of a high school diploma or GED for admission consideration for the medical assistant certification online program. The program suits prospective nurses seeking certification as an LPN or those planning to pursue formal certified medical assistant credentials. Graduates can qualify to sit for the certified clinical medical assistant or National Healthcareer Association exams.
Students complete courses online through the Blackboard platform. N.C. A&T offers distance learners a wealth of resources, including 24/7 mentoring opportunities, career advising, and tech support. Prospective students may apply in the spring or summer semesters.
Established in 1987, UAS maintains a scenic campus in Juneau, as one of four campuses in the University of Alaska system. The school serves more than 4,800 students in over 75 degrees and certificate programs. Additionally, UAS offers dozens of programs available on campus and online.
UAS enables students to take 100% online classes for medical assistant certification. The medical assistant certificate encompasses clinical and administrative skills, preparing students for allied healthcare practice in many settings. Each student must complete general and program requirements, including a practicum in medical assisting, to earn the certificate. Courses explore topics such as medical records management, insurance processing, taking vital signs, and specimen collection.
Each applicant must undergo placement testing to determine potential prerequisites needed in math and English before beginning the program. A prospective medical assistant certificate student must also undergo a health exam and criminal background check as part of the application process. Additionally, students must produce current TB tests, immunizations, and CPR/first aid certification.
Students enrolled in the online medical assistant certificate at UAS can complete courses through the Blackboard learning management system. The university offers resources for distance learners, including a virtual orientation, career services, veterans’ services, and tech support. Though each student can complete most of the coursework online, the program requires an in-person capstone practicum component.
Occupying campuses on both sides of Lake Michigan, CUW complements the university’s Ann Arbor, Michigan location. In total, the university maintains nine regional education centers and offers dozens of degrees and certificates across five primary areas of study. CUW enrolls more than 9,000 students in academic programs in the Lutheran tradition.
CUW delivers its medical assistant certificate in a hybrid format, combining face-to-face and online coursework. The program requires completion of 42 credits across three primary training areas: lab procedures, administrative procedures, and clinical procedures. All courses follow a liberal arts curriculum in the Christian tradition. The medical assistant certification online program culminates in a practicum experience.
Students complete most coursework online, with a six-credit course requirement on campus once a week. The program offers students a choice of full- or part-time enrollment and features both daytime and evening track options. Full-time students can complete the medical assistant certificate in 15 months.
Each applicant must possess a high school diploma or GED, earn a score of at least 18 on the Wonderlic test, and pass a physical exam. Additionally, students must sit for an interview with admissions personnel or an academic advisor. Incoming students receive assignments for their own online student success advisors, and CUW offers a variety of online learning styles, including self-paced and cohort-led courses.
RTC’s online medical assistant certification emphasizes a career-oriented program with an accelerated completion time. The certificate of completion in medical assistant comprises 71 credits over four quarters. Each student must complete a practicum and practicum seminar to conclude the certificate. Coursework explores medical office management and billing, as well as skills such as performing an EKG, administering medication, and drawing blood for lab tests.
Graduates can qualify to sit for one of four nationally recognized credentialing exams for professional medical assistants. The program offers day and evening course delivery options in a hybrid learning format. Each applicant must possess or be in the process of earning a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, prospective students must pass a criminal background check, meet health and vaccination requirements, and maintain health insurance for admission consideration.
Students can complete courses in the Canvas learning management system. The program offers entry points in both the fall and spring semesters. New students can complete a Canvas orientation online and engage with career services, the RTC library and bookstore, and veteran advisors.
UP maintains a 44-acre campus between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. The university aligns itself with the Roman Catholic Church and enrolls nearly 1,000 students to offers more than 60 liberal arts programs. UP features 10 online programs in science, liberal arts, and healthcare, including an online medical assistant certification test.
The medical assistant certificate at UP emphasizes a combination of administrative and clinical career skills. Each student must complete a total of 15 credit hours to earn the certificate. The curriculum encompasses online coursework and occasional face-to-face lab requirements at campus locations in Renton, Washington; Wilsonville, Oregon; or Great Falls, Montana. Additionally, students must attend a one-day immersion experience on campus before starting their coursework.
Enrollees may complete one, eight-week course at a time to earn the certificate in 10 months. Distance learners can complete courses sequentially through a cohort learning format. UP forms new cohorts to begin the certificate program in January and August of each year. Each applicant must possess a high school diploma or GED and submit a personal essay for admission consideration.
Distance students can complete courses through the Moodle platform. The program offers a variety of resources to online learners, such as a student success center, disability services, plus an online library and bookstore. UP charges a set per-credit tuition rate for the online medical assistant certificate, regardless of a student’s state of residence.
Established in 1964, SCC serves a tri-county area surrounding its main campus in Sylva, North Carolina. The college maintains additional Macon and Swain locations, along with a public safety training center. SCC offers dozens of associate degrees and certificates in the arts and sciences, career technologies, and health sciences disciplines, including more than 30 online programs.
The medical assistant certificate at SCC requires a student to complete a minimum of 13 credits. The curriculum provides a broad introduction to the medical assistant profession, preparing graduates for administrative medical office management positions. Coursework explores topics such as medical law and ethics, medical terminology, and administrative office procedures.
The program trains students to process insurance claims, manage medical records, and maintain phone and email communications; however, graduates do not qualify to sit for the national medical assistant certification examination. Each applicant must submit a high school diploma or GED and SAT or ACT scores with their application.
SCC plans to transition its online courses from Blackboard to Moodle in 2019. Upon enrolling at SCC, students can receive a complimentary version of the Microsoft Office Suite. The university maintains a mobile app featuring select resources such as student accounts and limited course access. SCC offers comprehensive tech support through a ticketed help desk system. The program encourages students to complete the online Blackboard orientation upon course registration.
The online medical assistant certification at SCC combines training in clinical and administrative medical assistant tasks, such as performing diagnostics, assistant with exams, preparing medical records, and finance management. Each student must complete a clinical internship in their final quarter to earn the certificate. The college enables students to apply completed certificate credits toward applied science associate degrees in medical assisting.
The program does not accept advanced placement or transfer credits, and prospective students must earn all credits toward their medical assistant certifications at SCC. Applicants must satisfy prerequisites in subjects like math, English, and computer skills to qualify for admission into the certificate program. Students may enroll in the fall, winter, spring, or summer terms.
Each student must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in all courses before proceeding to the next quarter-semester. The certificate requires enrollees to complete a total of 67 credit hours. Distance students can complete courses through Canvas, and coursework may require synchronous or asynchronous learning styles. SCC offers 24/7 tech support for Canvas by phone and through an online chat tool.
Founded in 1970, DCTC occupies its main campus in Rosemount, Minnesota, and an IT training facility in Eagan. The college enrolls more than 2,250 students to feature 55 associate degrees and more than 90 certificates and diploma programs, including an online medical assistant diploma. DCTC offers a variety of campus, online, and full- and part-time learning options.
The medical assistant certification online encompasses 42 credits emphasizing the clinical duties required of medical assistants in the field. Students can develop skills to perform diagnostic tests, administer medications, and assist with exams and minor surgeries. Course topics include medical terminology, pharmacology, and radiologic imagery. Students conclude the certificate with a practicum experience and capstone project.
Students may complete most coursework online, save for the practicum requirement. DCTC allows students to take courses on campus, through a hybrid format, or according to full- or part-time schedules. Sample course sequence plans for the medical assistant diploma span two semesters and a summer session.
Students can complete courses online through the D2L Brightspace platform. Resources for distance students include advising and tutoring services, library and bookstore access, and links to financial aid and registration through the student portal. Distance students can request tech support for D2L or other virtual learning systems through the DCTC ticketing system.
SFSU, one of 23 schools in the California State University system, opened in 1899 as a two-year teacher-training facility. Today, the university occupies three campuses in downtown San Francisco, Marin County, and the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. SFSU offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degrees, plus more than 50 certificates and credentialing programs.
The College of Extended Learning at SFSU offers a clinical medical assistant program online. The curriculum includes a 160-hour clinical internship requirement, paired with 140 credit hours in coursework such as performing echocardiograms, administering medications, and collecting lab specimens. Graduates can qualify to sit for the national certified clinical medical assistant exam.
A student may enter the program in the fall, spring, or summer semester. Each applicant must possess a high school diploma or GED for admission consideration. Additionally, advisors recommend that non-native-English-speaking applicants obtain advanced fluency in English before starting the program. SFSU charges a set tuition rate for the certificate course, regardless of a student’s state of residence.
Distance students can complete courses through the iLearn platform. SFSU maintains access to the latest distance learning technologies, including i-learn streaming videos and tutorials, CourseStream lectures, and e-library archives online. Students can seek out tech support at any time by phone, chat, email, or SMS.
Established in 1986, SCC prepares graduates for the workforce throughout the United States. SCC offers more than 45 career-training programs in more than 24 academic areas, with an emphasis in healthcare and medical programs. The college also features over 100 courses and programs available online.
SCC offers an online certificate of achievement in medical assisting. The 34-credit online medical assistant certification encompasses both clinical and administrative career skills. Coursework trains students to perform electrocardiograms, prepare patient charts, draw blood, and file insurance claims in a medical office. Graduates can qualify for entry-level medical assistant positions.
Students must complete a combination of general education and core course requirements. The certificate culminates in a clinical internship and a professional capstone experience. Program prerequisites include basic life support certification and English composition. The suggested course sequence encompasses more than one, eight-week course at a time, spanning two semesters.
Online students can complete courses through the Canvas learning management system. SCC accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. Each applicant must submit a high school diploma or GED, take an academic skills assessment/placement test through SCC, and complete a college success seminar orientation. While SCC charges different rates for in- or out-of-state districts, the college offers financial aid, such as tuition discounts and payment plan options.
Among the oldest members of the North Carolina Community College system, LCC serves a three-county area surrounding its campus in Kinston, North Carolina. The college recently achieved its highest enrollment on record, with more than 3,793 for-credit students. LCC offers nearly 50 associate degrees, more than 35 diplomas, and over 100 certificates and professional programs.
The medical assistant certification online at LCC requires a student to complete 17 credits. The pathway program suits high school students pursuing LCC’s Career and College Promise Initiative. Coursework emphasizes career skills such as medical terminology, basic anatomy and physiology, introduction to computers, and medical law and ethics. Students can complete the program entirely online, with no campus visits required.
Graduates of the pathway medical assistant certificate can qualify to sit for the certification exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants. Students who complete the certificate may also go on to pursue the associate of applied science degree in medical assistant at LCC. A high school applicant in their junior or senior year may apply to the certificate program, provided they possess at least a 3.0 GPA or a recommendation from their principal with all prerequisites met.
Students can complete certificate coursework through the Moodle learning management system. LCC offers resources for distance students, including tutoring and counseling services, online library access, and comprehensive tech support. Learners may register for and start programs online at LCC in the fall or spring semesters.
Founded in 1936, NCCC occupies two residential campuses in Chanute and Ottawa, Kansas, plus an online portal for distance learning programs. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students in any given semester, with more than 400 registered online. NCCC offers dozens of online academic and professional training programs in more than 12 areas of study.
The medical assistant certificate comprises 41 total credit hours that meet the requirements for the Kansas Board of Regents state alignment. Its curriculum combines general education and core program courses in administrative and clinical skills. Coursework emphasizes office management training in computer concepts, medical terminology, medical office reimbursement, and emergency preparedness. Additionally, students complete coursework clinical training that includes eligibility to sit for the certified nurse aide and certified medication aide state examinations.
In addition to online classes for medical assistant certification, students complete skills practice and check-offs in the evening lab setting which culminates in a 160-hour medical assistant externship. Graduates qualify to sit for the national registered medical assistant (RMA) exam. Students may choose from a list of recommended electives, such as introduction to health information technology for more administrative skills, or courses such as phlebotomy for more medical skills. Graduates of the certificate program may apply credits toward related associate degrees.
Students can log in to the myNeosho portal to access their accounts and distance coursework through the learning management system (LMS). NCCC offers resources for distance students, including library and bookstore access, financial aid, and LMS tech support. The recommended course sequence begins in the summer and comprises a total of four semesters.
Established in 1912 as an industrial training school, NTC expanded its program offerings over the years but remained at its main campus location in Wausau, Wisconsin. Today, the college encompasses five more campus locations in Antigo, Phillips, Medford, Wittenburg, and Spencer, with additional learning centers located throughout the state. NTC offers nearly 200 technical diplomas, associate degrees, and certificate programs on campus and online.
The 32-credit medical assistant technical diploma provides students with the administrative and clinical skills needed for entry-level medical assistant positions. While students complete most courses online, some may require campus attendance. Course topics include clinical procedures, insurance and finance, and digital literacy for healthcare. The curriculum spans two terms of study, culminating in a medical assistant practicum course.
Each applicant must submit either high school transcripts with a minimum 2.5 GPA or college transcripts for at least 12 credits earned at only one college with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Additionally, candidates must score 16 or above on the ACT and undergo ACCUPLACER placement testing. Prospective medical assisting students must maintain current CPR certification and undergo criminal background checks for admission consideration.
Distance learners can complete courses through the Canvas platform. Students can access their accounts to view registration, grades, and financial aid information through the MyNTC portal. Resources for online learners include library and bookstore access, a help desk for technical support, and advising/counseling options.
The administrative medical assisting certificate emphasizes career training for aspiring medical office managers and assistants. Students may complete all coursework online, save for the medical assistant administrative internship required to conclude the program. The curriculum explores medical insurance and billing, medical coding, and electronic health records management. Each student must complete 20.5 units over two semesters to earn a certificate, and graduates can qualify to sit for the state exam for medical assistants.
Each applicant to the medical assistant certification online program at Cerro Coso should be at least 18 years old, with a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, every candidate must meet with an advisor to determine their academic placement in English and math coursework. Students must attend an orientation session and familiarize themselves with the online system before starting their certificate programs.
Students may apply to online programs on a rolling basis throughout the year. Courses Typically, last for 10 weeks, though some certificate programs require shorter-term courses. Cerro Coso offers courses online during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Distance learners can complete courses through the Canvas learning management system, aided by resources like tech support, tutoring options, and math and writing labs.
Opened in 1928 as Jackson Junior College, JC maintains a rural 500-acre central campus. The school also operates several satellite locations throughout its tri-county service area plus an online campus, the latter enrolling about 20% of JC students. The college offers more than 70 undergraduate degrees and certificates across six major academic departments.
The medical assistant certificate at JC encompasses an interdisciplinary curriculum in clinical and administrative skills. The program combines general education and core requirements such as electronic health records, physical exams and diagnostic testing, surgical procedures and lab preparation, and medical billing and coding. The online medical assistant certification culminates in a clinical practicum and capstone course.
Each applicant must complete 50 credits and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 to complete the certificate, and they must earn at least 15 of the required credits at JC. The core program coursework, in subjects like foundations of clinical practice and specialty exams and treatments, requires a minimum 2.5 GPA. Graduates can qualify to sit for the national certified medical assistant exam.
Students may apply to the medical assistant certificate program during any semester. Enrollees complete courses online through the Moodle platform and access registration assistance, financial aid services, and tech support through the JetNet portal. As a member of the Michigan Colleges Online consortium, JC also offers its online students’ resources such as academic advising, library databases, test proctoring, and tutoring options.
As the largest community college in North Carolina, Wake Tech encompasses six campuses and four additional learning sites, in addition to offering programs online. The school serves an enrollment of more than 74,000 students. Prospective distance learners at Wake Tech may choose from dozens of online courses and programs in many areas of study.
The medical assisting diploma program at Wake Tech follows a hybrid format, combining online course delivery with on-the-ground requirements at the Perry Health Sciences campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. The one-year online medical assistant certification requires each student to complete 46 semester credit hours. Enrollees can explore administrative and clinical skills, including PC literacy, medical terminology, and exam room procedures, culminating in a clinical practicum.
Each applicant must provide academic transcripts and complete the North Carolina residency determination interview to help determine whether they meet residency and academic placement requirements. Wake Tech favors a candidate who applies early and completes the maximum general education prerequisites with a grade of “C” or above in each course. Prospective students must also take a typing test and meet minimum score requirements to qualify for unconditional admission to Wake Tech.
Students can complete courses through the Blackboard and Moodle learning management systems. Enrollees can enjoy a free e-learning introduction demo online. Wake Tech also offers a comprehensive Blackboard orientation and tech support options for distance learners. Students can also explore online support resources, including academic advising, financial aid services, and tutoring options through the individualized learning center and the student portal.
Founded in 1906 as the North Dakota School of Forestry, DCB opened just 17 years after the state itself achieved ratification. Today, the school enrolls nearly 1,000 students and offers two types of programs: career and technical certificates, and transfer degrees. Students may decide whether to complete any DCB program on campus or online.
The medical assistant certificate at DCB requires full-time study over one fall and one spring semester. Students can explore administrative course topics specific to this field, including procedure and diagnosis coding, medical transcription, and medical law and ethics. Earning the medical office assistant certification online also provides students with a strong foundation in clinical skills, with courses such as lab and diagnostic procedures and first aid/CPR. The certificate culminates with a clinical cooperative education experience.
A graduate can qualify to take the nationally certified medical assistant exam and apply their credits toward an associate of applied science in medical assisting by completing nine additional courses. Each student must maintain a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA and earn at least a “C” grade in each course leading to the culminating coop requirement.
Students can complete courses through the Blackboard platform. DCB maintains small class sizes to guarantee personalized attention from instructors to distance learners. While DCB charges different tuition rates based on a student’s state of residence, the school caters to a variety of districts, with discounts for students residing in North Dakota and Canadian provinces, Minnesota, Montana, and South Dakota.
Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
What Is an Online Medical Assistant Certificate?
An online medical assistant certificate prepares learners for entry-level healthcare careers. After completing a one-year certificate program, graduates can apply for medical assistant certification and pursue roles at hospitals and doctor's offices.
During a medical assistant program, students learn to read medical charts, interpret medical terminology, and create and maintain medical records. A certificate also builds clinical skills, teaching students to use clinical instruments like heart rate and blood pressure monitors. Many online programs also incorporate internships or practicums to help learners develop their skills under supervision.
While studying medical terminology, anatomy, and medical office assisting, certificate students also strengthen their interpersonal and clinical abilities. Coursework encourages a detail-oriented approach, and the online learning format can make a medical assistant certificate more accessible.
What's the Difference Between a Medical Assistant Certificate and an Associate Degree in Medical Assistance?
Both a medical assistant certificate and an associate degree in medical assisting offer clinical and administrative training. During a certificate or associate degree, students complete courses in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and medical office assisting. Both options meet the requirements for certification as a medical assistant.
However, a certificate program does not award a degree and typically takes less time to complete. While a medical assistant certificate generally spans one year, an associate degree takes two years. In addition to medical assisting coursework, associate programs often include general science courses.
Some employers prefer candidates with degrees, and associate graduates can more easily transfer into a bachelor's program, having already met general education requirements. This makes career advancement easier for associate degree-holders than certificate-holders.
What Can You Do With a Medical Assistant Certificate?
Medical assistance professionals can specialize in clinical or administrative assistance, taking courses like medical terminology, office administration, and anatomy. Depending on specialization, certificate holders can pursue opportunities like ophthalmic technician, medical administrative assistant, or medical coder. Graduates can also work in education, emergency services, and social services.
Ophthalmic technicians assist ophthalmologists with administrative and clinical duties. They work in eye doctors' offices, where they maintain patient files, administer eye exams, and provide instructions to patients regarding the use of corrective lenses and contacts. Ophthalmic technicians also perform clinical functions, like administering diagnostic tests.
Most ophthalmic technicians complete specialized training through a certificate or diploma program. A medical assistant certificate provides clinical training in healthcare functions, which can benefit ophthalmic technicians.
Medical secretaries, also known as medical administrative assistants, perform administrative duties in healthcare settings. They submit billing information, manage medical charts, and help patients schedule appointments. Medical secretaries also greet patients and check them in for appointments.
Most medical secretary positions do not require a certificate or degree. However, a medical assistant certificate provides foundational training in medical terminology and healthcare procedures, which can help applicants stand out among the competition for these roles.
Medical coders manage health information data in hospitals and doctor's offices. They review medical notes from physicians and use classification systems to file insurance reimbursement claims. They also maintain medical histories and review medical records to identify patient conditions or procedure codes.
Careers in medical coding require training in medical terminology, healthcare privacy rules, and insurance reimbursement systems. A medical assistant certificate program teaches many of these skills.
Choosing an Online Program
Online programs offer a flexible schedule, but how can students find the best online program for their unique goals and needs? First, prospective applicants should research whether programs offer classes through live sessions, provide online tuition discounts, or accept transfer credits. Learn more about how to choose an online program at the links below.
Accreditation for Medical Assistant Programs
Graduates of accredited medical assistant programs meet the requirements to pursue more advanced professional certifications. Most employers also prefer to hire candidates who attended accredited programs. Thus, prospective medical assistants should always research the accreditation status of potential programs before applying, and should only attend regionally accredited institutions.
Students can also look into programmatic accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools accredit medical assistant programs. Learn more about why accreditation matters in our accreditation guide.
What to Expect From a Medical Assistant Certificate
The standard medical assistant curriculum includes courses in medical terminology, human anatomy, and administrative assisting. Most programs incorporate internships or practicums, which help enrollees gain practical experience.
This section introduces common courses in an online medical assistant certificate. While each program sets its own unique curriculum, many offer the following courses.
Medical Assistant Curriculum
This course considers the human body by emphasizing the development of anatomical structures and physiological processes. Learners explore topics like sensory and nervous systems, tissue classification, cell structure, and the skeletal system. The class also includes laboratory activities on urinary, reproductive, and digestive systems.
Enrollees develop an understanding of medical terms by studying the origins of the vocabulary, including suffixes, prefixes, and roots of words. Students also examine commonly used abbreviations, symbols, human anatomy vocabulary, and jargon. This helps them better support medical professionals and improve communication in the workplace.
In this class, students explore common diseases and disorders of bodily systems. They consider pathologies that affect each system and lern to recognize signs and symptoms, develop management and treatment strategies, and design diagnostic protocols. They also learn the basic steps for disease prevention.
Learners delve into the details of medication, focusing on safety, actions and adverse reactions, side effects, and interactions with food and other medications. The course also covers how to calculate doses and administer medicines, along with the various forms of medications and medication classifications.
This course builds the social and technical competencies necessary to assist doctors in professional practice. Students learn to sterilize equipment and prepare sterile instrument trays. They also study infection control, electrocardiography, and gender-specific examinations. Coursework in advanced studies include radiology, nutrition, and collecting and analyzing patient specimens.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Medical Assistant Certification?
A medical assistant certificate typically takes 1-2 years, depending on the program and the student's enrollment status. Online programs often allow learners to complete requirements in a flexible scheduling format, which appeals to working professionals and students balancing school with other responsibilities.
After completing a certificate, medical assistants often pursue professional certification. Certified medical assistants (CMAs) and registered medical assistants (RMAs) stand out on the job market.
Medical Assistant Certifications
A medical assistant certification helps certificate graduates compete for available jobs. While most states do not require certification, many employers prefer to hire CMAs. Several organizations offer certifications for medical assistants.
To qualify for certification, candidates typically need to pass an examination that tests their knowledge and skills. Certified professionals must complete continuing education requirements to maintain their credentials. An online medical assistant certificate from an accredited program meets the eligibility requirements for the following certifications.
What Is the Difference Between a Certified and Registered Medical Assistant?
Both CMAs and RMAs must pass a national certifying examination to receive their credentials. Both typically complete an accredited medical assistant program, and some certifying organizations also require professional experience to receive a credential.
However, a CMA receives their credential from a different organization than an RMA. Neither credential is necessarily "better" than the other. Within the field of medical assisting, several organizations provide credentials for professionals, leading to different titles. Check with potential employers when deciding which credential is right for you.
Medical Assistant Organizations
Professional organizations help medical assistant students prepare for the workforce. They also help working medical assistants renew their certifications, network with other professionals, and advance their careers. For example, the American Registry of Medical Assistants and the American Medical Technologists offer certifications.
The American Association of Medical Assistants offers continuing education opportunities. Organizations like the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management and the Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals both help medical assistants connect with others in their specializations.
Medical Assistant Careers
After completing online certificate programs, graduates can pursue medical assistant careers in healthcare. Medical assistants work in many different settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, outpatient care centers, and chiropractor's offices.
The salary for medical assistants varies depending on the setting, with those working in hospitals and outpatient care centers tending to earn the highest salaries. However, these workplaces often require shift hours, while a doctor's office usually operates on a typical work schedule.
|Workplace||Median Salary (2019)|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$36,810|
Frequently Asked Questions
Aspiring professionals can complete certificates and pursue certification to become medical assistants. The process can take as little as one year, although actual time varies by program.
Most states do not require certification to work as a medical assistant. However, many employers prefer to hire candidates who are certified, so medical assistants often benefit from earning CMA certification.
Medical assistants earn a median salary of around $35,000 per year, according to BLS data. They also benefit from faster-than-average projected job growth: a projected 19% growth between 2019-2029.
Some certifying bodies will award credentials to medical assistants who have several years of professional experience, even if they do not attend medical assistant programs. However, earning a certificate is often the best way to prepare for the exam and certification.
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