2020’s Best Online Medical Assistant Programs
With so many medical assistant programs out there, finding the right one can be difficult. To give students a closer look at quality medical assisting education, EduMed is highlighting accredited online medical assistant programs across the country. We’ve provided detailed information on cost, curriculum, and more so you can make an informed choice about which school is right for you. (Read how we chose our schools >>)
|#||School Name||Type||Cost||Online Programs||Financial Aid||More Details||School Information|
|1||Community Care College||Private not-for-profit||$$$$||1||78%|
A private institution in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Community Care College offers more than 40 diploma and degree programs. Distance students can take advantage of its online medical assistant certification program. The school’s faculty deliver courses in a hybrid format for full- and part-time learners.
Students in the program learn to measure vital signs, assist medical providers during examinations, collect laboratory specimens, perform an electrocardiogram, handle insurance claims, and more. The curriculum also covers widely transferable skills such as inventory management, office accounting, and professional workplace etiquette. Online learners may complete the program requirements in as few as 10 months.
Graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the medical assistant (RMA) exam and position themselves for careers in urgent care centers, rehabilitation facilities, doctors’ offices. Prospective students should possess a 3.0 GPA or higher. All incoming medical assistant students must participate in an interview with an admissions representative and the head of the department. Prospective students should contact the school for tuition costs.
|2||Dakota College at Bottineau||Public||$||2||39%|
Dakota College at Bottineau offers two medical assistant programs for distance learners: a two-year associate of applied science degree or one-year certificate program. Learners who complete the associate degree are eligible to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam. Certificate holders are prepared to take the Nationally Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam.
Required courses for medical assistant students at DCB include clinical procedures, medical transcription, healthcare law and ethics, and an introduction to pharmacology. The certificate requires 38 credits and focuses on administrative office skills, procedure and diagnosis coding, and medical terminology. Students seeking the 60-credit associate degree complete an additional nine courses that focus on office management, clinical specialties, human relations, and public speaking.
All DCB online medical assistant students complete a 180-hour cooperative education externship at an approved medical facility. Alums move on to work in physician practices, surgical centers, outpatient clinics, and chiropractor healthcare clinics. Online applicants must submit an application containing their official transcripts, ACT and SAT scores, and immunization records for consideration.
|3||Southeast Community College Area||Public||$||1||39%|
Southeast Community College is a public institution with regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Distance students take advantage of its online medical assisting diploma, which holds programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Full-time students typically need 18-36 months to complete the program.
In the program, students finish up to nine asynchronous classes online at their own pace. These required courses include medical diseases, basic pharmacology, medical calculations, and communication in allied health. The remaining 240 training hours of in-person lab instruction and practicum must be completed in sequence. The practicum can take place in Lincoln, Nebraska, or most other cities upon the student's request. Diploma seekers must maintain a 2.5 GPA to remain in good standing.
For applicants, the program requires minimum standardized test scores on the ACCUPLACER, COMPASS, ACT, SAT, or ASSET exams in math, reading, and writing. Prospective students without a history of standardized testing can take the SCC placement test instead, which is offered through the school's testing center. As of June 2019, in-state and out-of-state students pay $102 and $123 per credit, respectively.
|4||West Virginia Junior College-Morgantown||Private for-profit||$$||1||95%|
Established in 1892 and accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), West Virginia Junior College offers a medical assistant associate degree program for online learners. Most full-time students complete the program in less than two years.
Distance students take all required medical and general education classes online. Remote learners also work with skilled instructors in-person to learn essential medical office assistant skills such as phlebotomy, injections, various lab-based techniques, and EKGs. For in-person instruction, distance learners can attend any of WVJC's campus locations in Morgantown, Bridgeport, or Charleston, West Virginia.
Distance learners take advantage of 24/7 technical support, mobile access to course materials, interactive clinical labs, and online career services. During the 2017-2018 academic year, undergraduate students spent approximately $13,090 on tuition and fees. Upon completion of the program, alums often sit for various certification exams such as the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), Certified EKG Technician (CET), or Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) exams.
Why Online School for Medical Assisting?
There was a time when earning higher education meant sacrificing work and family obligations to sit in a classroom. But with online learning, students can get the education they need without uprooting their family, changing their schedule, or taking time off work. Here’s more on why online education for medical assisting might be right for you.
Types of Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are three primary types of medical assisting programs, all of which can be taken mostly or partially online: the certificate, diploma, and the associate degree. How do you know which one to choose? That depends on a few factors, including your desired career trajectory. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the three types of online medical assistant programs available today.
What You’ll Learn: Key Knowledge & Skills
When you take medical assisting courses, the knowledge you obtain is often applied directly to the job. That’s why each course in a program is vitally important. Since medical assistants are expected to hit the ground running when they start a new job, it’s critical to garner the knowledge and skills necessary through each course. Here are a few of the courses you can expect to take and why they matter so much.
Other courses might include phlebotomy, ethical and legal issues, a variety of laboratory tests, safety in the medical office, medical equipment and supplies, psychology, and administering medication.
How Much Does an Online Medical Assistant Program Cost?
The cost of medical assistant programs varies widely. Some programs charge by the credit hour, while others charge for the entire program from start to finish in one lump sum – this is especially true when the program is short and will be completed within the span of a typical college semester. For instance, our spotlight schools on this page range from $2,599 to $17,900 for their medical assistant programs.
To learn how you can finance your education, and for even more detail on cost, please visit our page on financial aid for online medical assistant programs.
How Long Is Medical Assistant Training?
The length of a medical assistant program depends upon the final outcome – whether you earn a certificate, diploma, or degree. Certificate and diploma programs usually take a year or less, with the certificate taking just a little less than the diploma. The associate degree often takes two years to complete, but might be finished faster if the student takes accelerated programs. To learn more about how long specific programs take to complete, check out the schools in our ranking list.
- Does Accreditation Matter?
Though many factors go into choosing the best online medical assisting program for you, accreditation might matter most of all. When a school or program earns accreditation, it means that school or program has been examined by an independent body and found to meet the rigorous standards of a quality education. In other words, accreditation ensures that your degree, diploma, or certificate teach you what you need to know.
Why does this matter so much? First, it’s important to remember that federal financial aid is available only to accredited schools; attend a school without accreditation, and you will likely have to pay for it out of your own pocket. It also speaks to career advancement, as medical assistants must graduate from an accredited program in order to sit for the certification exam. And finally, employers will readily accept credentials from a person who has graduated from an accredited program, but maybe not from someone who attended a non-accredited institution.
Medical assistant programs are accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). When learning more about a school, look for information on accreditation on the school’s website. If the accreditation is not stated there, look to one of the two agencies. If it’s still difficult to find information about accreditation, contact the school directly to get a solid answer.
- Do I Need to Become Certified?
In most states, certification is not a requirement. However, many employers prefer to hire those who have earned certification, as it proves that person has a strong working knowledge of all the things medical assistants need to know to begin their work. There are five certifications available for medical assistants:
The American Association of Medical Assistants provides the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential.
American Medical Technologists provides the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential.
The National Center for Competency Testing offers the National Certified Medical Assistant option.
The National Healthcareer Association is home to two options for medical assistants: The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
In most cases, an applicant must be 18 years of age or older to sit for an exam. They must have also completed certain guidelines, such as graduating from an accredited program or obtaining a certain amount of work experience. For more information, visit our page dedication to medical assistant certification online.
Financing Your Online Medical Assistant Program
Students who attend accredited medical assisting programs might be eligible for federal financial aid in the form of grants and loans. Grants are financial aid awards (often provided to those who demonstrate financial need) that do not have to be paid back. Student loans are often available for those who don’t receive enough grant money to cover their educational expenses. Loans can be subsidized, meaning the student will not pay interest until they are out of school, or unsubsidized, meaning that interest begins accruing immediately.
They might also be eligible for a variety of scholarships specifically designed for those in medical assisting or the allied health field in general. Scholarships, like grants, do not have to be paid back. However, sometimes scholarships can be quite competitive. For more info, read our full page on scholarships and financial aid options for medical assistants
Career Outlook for Medical Assistants
The career outlook for medical assistants is incredibly bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 29% employment growth rate from 2016-2026. To break that down a little more, the percentage translates to almost 184,000 new job openings for medical assistants across the United States. Many factors are driving the growth of medical assistant positions. Perhaps the biggest factor is an aging population; as U.S. residents get older, they require more medical care, which means busier clinics, hospitals, and private practices. Primary care in particular has a high demand for medical assistants as these practices grow to meet the influx of new patients. Though medical assistants will be needed everywhere, it’s important to remember that certification can increase your chances of getting hired, as can a strong familiarity with electronic health records.
Working as a medical assistant, you also get a thorough look at how medical offices work, as well as a peek into the jobs of others with similar positions. Medical assistants might choose to work for a while to hone their skills, and then build on their knowledge by taking more college courses – eventually moving into careers such as nursing. They might also have an opportunity to move into leadership positions, especially in a practice that might have numerous offices and a large staff to manage.
How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?
A medical assistant’s salary depends upon several factors, including the level of experience they have, whether they completed a medical assisting program (and whether it resulted in a certificate, diploma or associate degree), and the area in which a person chooses to work. The following table provides some pertinent information on medical assisting salaries.
All numbers from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics