Best Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs

by TBS Staff

Updated September 27, 2022

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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.

Featured Online Schools

The Best Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs

#1

California State University, San Bernardino

School Information
Location San Bernardino, California
Admission Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 55%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

California State University, San Bernardino offers an online medical administrative assistant certificate that appeals to students seeking flexible career training.

The curriculum incorporates industry-tailored classes that provide a deep insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers train for their career goals by taking on experiential learning opportunities. Flexible online classes and several enrollment options meet the needs of multiple learners. Full-time and part-time students take medical assisting classes as part of the certificate program. The program's flexibility helps working professionals and other busy students.

Learners can reach out to the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for assistance. Qualifying students in certificate programs can pay for school using the Pell Grant, for example. The institution reports that 93% of enrollees receive financial aid and the overall graduation rate is 55%.

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#2

University of Alaska Southeast

School Information
Location Juneau, Alaska
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 26%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The medical assisting certificate at the University of Alaska Southeast introduces students to career-focused topics in a flexible learning environment. Learners choose from 24 certificate programs offered by the public institution from its Juneau campus.

The curriculum covers industry-relevant topics while providing a deep insight into the medical assisting profession. Certificate-seekers prepare for the workforce by pursuing experiential learning opportunities. Learners can modify the program based on their schedule. The online program offers full-time and part-time tracks. Busy students rely on this flexibility to balance school with work and other responsibilities.

Distance learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for certificate programs. Qualifying students can cover the cost of their certificate program with funding sources like the Pell Grant. Out of the total student body, 75% receive financial aid. The school reports a 26% graduation rate.

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#3

University of Providence

School Information
Location Great Falls, Montana
Admission Rate 55%
Graduation Rate 38%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The online medical assistant certificate at the University of Providence ranks high for students seeking online training. The private institution supports distance learners from its main campus in Great Falls, Montana.

The medical assisting curriculum introduces participants to key industry topics while providing insights into the profession. Certificate-seekers participate in experiential learning opportunities to gain relevant skills for their career path. Enrollees can modify the program based on their schedule. The program offers full-time and part-time schedules for distance learners. This flexibility allows busy students to balance school with work or other obligations.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements to distribute financial aid assistance. Other financial aid options include external scholarships and internal funding opportunities. The institution reports a graduation rate of 38%, with 99% of enrollees receiving financial aid.

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#4

Spokane Community College

School Information
Location Spokane, Washington
Graduation Rate 26%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The online medical assistant certificate at Spokane Community College offers a flexible route to career training. Located in Washington, the public institution offers 60 certificate options.

With career-focused classes, the medical assisting program covers core topics while also offering insights into professional roles and responsibilities. Certificate-seekers work with faculty mentors to individualize their program and pursue experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can modify the curriculum based on their schedule. The online program provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. Busy students rely on this flexibility to balance school with work and other responsibilities.

Learners can contact the financial aid office for information about assistance and eligibility guidelines for certificate programs. The school's funding options include institutional aid, external scholarships, and federal financial aid programs. Out of the total student body, 76% receive financial aid, and the school reports a 26% graduation rate.

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#5

Dakota County Technical College

School Information
Location Rosemount, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 55%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Dakota County Technical College’s online AAS in medical assistant is an attractive option for students seeking flexible training relevant to the medical assisting field. From its Rosemount, Minnesota, campus, the public institution welcomes learners to 82 certificate training programs.

Participants in the associate program deepen their knowledge of the medical assisting field through industry-tailored classes. Degree-seekers prepare for the workforce by pursuing experiential learning opportunities. Learners can adapt the schedule to fit their needs with flexible coursework options. The program offers full-time and part-time options for distance learners. This flexibility allows working professionals and busy students to balance school with other responsibilities.

Individuals can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for assistance and financial aid opportunities. Qualifying students enrolled in certificate programs can submit the FAFSA and pay for school with the Pell Grant. Currently, 77% of the student body receives some form of financial aid, and the school has a 55% graduation rate.

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#6

San Francisco State University

School Information
Location San Francisco, California
Admission Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 57%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

San Francisco State University offers an online clinical medical assistant certificate that provides a flexible route to training for the medical assisting field.

With career-focused classes, the medical assisting program introduces participants to industry-relevant topics while providing insights into professional roles. Certificate-seekers prepare for the workforce by pursuing experiential learning opportunities. Learners can modify the program based on their schedule. The program offers part-time and full-time tracks for distance learners. Busy students can balance school with work and other responsibilities thanks to this flexibility.

At the accredited institution, distance learners can qualify for several forms of financial aid. The college offers numerous internal and external funding opportunities, including scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. According to the most recent data, 77% of the student body receives financial aid, while the school reports a graduation rate of 57%.

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#7

Lenoir Community College

School Information
Location Kinston, North Carolina
Graduation Rate 30%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Lenoir Community College’s online medical administrative assistant certificate is an attractive option for students seeking flexible training relevant to the medical assisting field. From its campus in Kinston, North Carolina, the public institution lets learners choose from 63 certificate options.

The curriculum draws on industry-relevant topics to provide participants with a deep understanding of the medical assisting profession. Certificate-seekers can also prepare for the workforce with workshops, events, and experiential learning opportunities. Learners choose flexible enrollment options based on their schedule. Full-time and part-time students can enroll in the online program. This flexibility makes learning easier for busy students to balance school with work or other responsibilities.

The financial aid office works with distance learners to find scholarships, grants, and other funding sources. The school's financial aid options include external scholarships, internal funding opportunities, and federal financial aid. According to the most recent data, 73% of the student body receives financial aid, while the school reports a graduation rate of 30%.

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#8

Neosho County Community College

School Information
Location Chanute, Kansas
Graduation Rate 33%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The online medical assistant certificate at Neosho County Community College offers a flexible route to career training. From its main campus in Chanute, Kansas, the public institution delivers 24 certificate programs.

The medical assisting program offers industry insights and career-focused training throughout its curriculum. Certificate-seekers participate in experiential learning opportunities to gain relevant skills for their career path. Learners choose flexible enrollment options based on their schedule. The program offers full-time and part-time options for distance learners. This flexibility appeals to busy students and working professionals.

Distance learners can qualify for several forms of financial aid to cover the cost of a certificate. Qualifying students can cover the cost of their certificate program with funding sources like the Pell Grant. Currently, 92% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the school has a 33% graduation rate.

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#9

Cerro Coso Community College

School Information
Location Ridgecrest, California
Graduation Rate 25%
Percent Online Enrollment 61% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Cerro Coso Community College offers an online administrative medical assisting certificate that appeals to students seeking flexible career training. From its Ridgecrest campus, the public institution provides 29 certificate options for learners.

Participants in the medical assisting program benefit from industry-tailored classes, deepening their knowledge of the field while gaining insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also participate in hands-on learning opportunities relevant to the field. Flexible course options make it easier for learners to fit classes around their other responsibilities. The online program offers tracks for full-time and part-time students. Busy learners rely on this flexibility to balance school with work and other responsibilities.

Distance learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for certificate programs. The school's financial aid options include external scholarships, internal funding opportunities, and federal financial aid. Currently, 77% of the student body receives some form of financial aid, and the school has a 25% graduation rate.

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#10

Jackson College

School Information
Location Jackson, Michigan
Graduation Rate 17%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The online medical assistant certificate at Jackson College ranks high among programs of its kind. Learners enroll in 63 certificate programs offered from the public institution's Michigan campus.

With industry-tailored classes, the medical assisting program builds key knowledge and skills while providing insights into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also participate in hands-on learning opportunities relevant to the field. Flexible enrollment options allow learners to fit school into their schedule. Distance learners choose from full-time and part-time options in the medical assisting online program. Busy students rely on this flexibility to balance school with work and other responsibilities.

Learners can reach out to the financial aid office to learn more about opportunities to pay for a certificate. The school connects students with financial aid resources, including scholarships and federal aid programs. With 90% of all enrollees receiving financial aid, the school boasts a 17% graduation rate.

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Best Online Programs

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 Technician

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 Secretary

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 Coder

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

Anatomy and Physiology

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.

Medical Terminology

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.

Human Diseases

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.

Pharmacology

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.

Medical Assistant Skills

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.

The American Association of Medical Assistants awards the CMA credential to candidates who attend accredited medical assisting programs. Qualifying candidates must take a certification exam that covers general, clinical, and administrative knowledge. Applicants complete the 200-question exam in four 40-minute sections. Offered by the American Medical Technologists organization, the RMA credential recognizes experienced medical assistants. Applicants must attend an accredited medical assisting program with at least 720 hours of instruction and 160 hours of externship. Alternately, candidates can apply with at least five years of work experience in clinical and administrative duties. Aspiring RMAs must pass a 210-question exam on anatomy, administrative medical assisting, clinical medical assisting, and clinical patient interaction. The National Center for Competency Testing offers the NCMA credential to both current students and recent graduates of authorized medical assisting programs. Candidates can also apply with at least two years of full-time medical assistant experience. Aspiring NCMAs must pass a 150-question test. Offered by the National Healthcareer Association, the CCMA credential recognizes professionals who complete a medical assistant training program or those with at least one year of supervised work experience in medical assisting. Candidates take a 150-question exam to complete the certification. The National Healthcareer Association also offers the CMAA credential for professionals who complete medical administrative assistant programs or hold at least one year of professional experience in the field. Candidates take a 110-question exam, which takes two hours and 10 minutes.

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)
Chiropractors' Office $30,870
Physicians' Office $34,870
Hospitals $36,080
Outpatient Care Centers $36,810
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Become a Medical Assistant?

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.

Do I Need To Get Certified as a Medical Assistant?

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.

What Is the Salary for a Medical Assistant?

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.

Can You Take the Medical Assistant Exam Without Going to School?

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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