What do health coaches, panel managers, medical translators, and health navigators have in common? They can all start their careers as certified medical assistants in North Carolina. Medical assistants learn in-demand skills that often lead to flexible and lucrative careers in allied healthcare; this is especially true in North Carolina, where the job growth rate for medical assistants is higher than the national average.
So, how do you get started? To become an NC-based medical assistant, you must graduate from an accredited certification program, many of which can be completed in as few as six months. We know the prospect of finding a program that suits your interests, goals, and needs can seem daunting, but there are plenty of high-quality online NC medical assistant programs to choose from, and we’re here to help you find them. To refine your search and make the application process easier, we’ve spotlighted some of the best programs in the state, their common admissions requirements and tuition costs, and more. Read on for everything you need to know about becoming a medical assistant in 2024.
Profiling Top-Tier North Carolina Programs
When trying to find the best online medical assistant certification in NC, there are a few factors to consider, including cost, academic rigor, learning outcomes, and student support resources. To begin your search, explore the three stand-out programs we’ve highlighted below. All three are accredited online programs that produce some of the best career outcomes in the state.
Durham Technical College
Durham Technical College offers an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting, after four semesters of which students earn a diploma in medical assisting. In this time, students take their courses online, with the option to take evening or summer classes to shorten the length of the program. Coursework at Durham Technical College covers subjects in insurance, billing, medical technologies, and laboratory procedures. Students also take classes in medical terminology, anatomy, electrocardiography, and supervised medication administration. Finally, students take a course on legal/ethical issues surrounding patient care. Once they complete their coursework, students are eligible to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants’ certification exam.
To apply, students must meet several standards that the university sets out in its admissions checklist. These include attending an information session and graduating high school with a 2.8 GPA or higher. Students must also complete some college-level prerequisites at Durham Technical or another accredited institution before applying for the medical assistant program.
Considered one of the best NC online medical assistant programs available, UNC Charlotte offers a program that focuses on inpatient treatment and clinical operations — if you have your heart set on working in outpatient settings, this may not be the program for you. To prepare students to work in these settings, the curriculum includes coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, and laboratory procedures, as well as the legal regulations and HIPPA considerations that medical assistants need to be familiar with.
In order to cover the requisite material in such a short time — most students graduate in six months to one year — the program is divided into two parts: a didactic medical terminology unit and a more practical, comprehensive unit with classes specifically designed for certified clinical medical assistants. Unlike some other programs, the course also has a section dedicated to ethical considerations. This program is accredited by the National Healthcare Career Association, meaning students are eligible to sit for the certified clinical medical assistant exam upon graduation.
Wake Technical Community College
Wake Technical Community College offers a robust online Medical Assisting certification program in NC. Students can choose between a one-year diploma or a two-year associate degree. After both degrees, whose first year of coursework is the same, students can sit for one of two credentialing exams: CMA-AAMA or RMA-AMT. The clinical component required in the first year of both programs must be completed online, meaning most classes are offered in a hybrid format. Students who decide to complete the associate degree, can take more courses online in their second year. Students in both tracks move through a curriculum that includes classes in medical terminology, medical procedures, and coding and insurance processing. They also have the option to take classes in medical technology and examination and treatment, during which time they learn to perform laboratory procedures, electrocardiography, and supervised medication administration. Graduates work in a variety of healthcare settings, including physician’s offices, health maintenance organizations, insurance companies, and hospitals.
What to Look for in Online Medical Assistant Programs in North Carolina
While the three featured programs are fantastic, that’s not where your search for high-quality NC online medical assistant programs should end. That’s why we’re not just giving you a list of programs to start your search, but a list of features to look for as you keep it going. When looking at your options, consider their accreditation, certification exam eligibility, faculty qualifications, and graduation rate.
Requirements to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in NC
In addition to earning your online medical assistant certification in NC, there are a few requirements that demonstrate you have the skills you need to succeed as a medical assistant. These include completing a clinical externship, passing the certification exam, and renewing your license as needed. Take a closer look at what these entail below.
Answering FAQs About Online Medical Assistant Programs in North Carolina
You’ve probably had several questions pop up as you’ve read through this guide — we’d expect nothing less. To answer these, we compiled the most commonly asked questions and collected relevant information on everything from financial aid, to professional medical assistant organizations, and more.
Are scholarships or grants available for online medical assistant students in NC?
Getting an online medical assistant certification in NC can be expensive, but you don’t have to tackle the financial burden alone. There are many scholarships for medical assistant students in NC. Take a look at the following to help you get started:
- The NCCHCA Medical Assistant Apprenticeship Initiative covers the cost of training through select NC online medical assistant programs.
- The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants Scholarships covers academic expenses for students interested in working in podiatry.
- The Joan Michaels Memorial Scholarship Award: awards $300-$500 scholarships to medical assistant students in North Carolina.
Are there professional organizations or networking opportunities for North Carolina medical assistants?
Yes. Joining a professional organization can help make the prospect of finding a job straight out of your medical assistant program less overwhelming. In fact, joining a professional organization is one of the best ways to gain career clarity as you work toward your certification. Three popular professional organizations for medical assistants in North Carolina include:
- North Carolina Society of Medical Assistants
- North Carolina Community Healthcare Association
- American Association of Medical Assistants
Once a member of these groups, you can attend networking events, ask career questions to current medical assistants, and connect with potential employers.
Do I need to complete any prerequisites before applying?
An online medical assistant certification in NC is typically students’ first step into healthcare. As a result, there are usually no prerequisites to applying. Many programs, such as Wake Technical College, say explicitly on their website that the program has no prerequisites. Even so, you usually need to be a high school graduate or possess a GED to apply.
How much should I expect to pay for my program?
Program costs can vary widely. For four NC online medical assistant programs, tuition totals:
- Central Carolina Community College (hybrid): $7,675
- Durham Technical College: $1,216
- NC Central University: $2,295
- Wake Technical College: $3,846
The average cost of those four programs comes out to roughly $3,800, which is comparable to in-person programs like that at Central Piedmont Community College whose program costs a total of $3,344.
What are the admission requirements for NC medical assistant programs?
As we alluded to above, the admission requirements for most NC online medical assistant programs are simple and similar across programs: a high school diploma or GED. Some programs may have additional requirements, however, like Durham Tech which requires a high school GPA of 2.8 or higher.
What does an online medical assistant curriculum in North Carolina cover?
The medical assistant curriculum in North Carolina is similar at most academic institutions. Often it covers medical terminology, anatomy, and medical documentation procedures related to HIPPA, as well as medical assistants’ legal responsibilities, and state-specific medical regulations. The curriculum at Central Carolina Community College’s hybrid program, for example, includes topics in medical law, laboratory procedures, and medical terminology.
North Carolina Medical Assistant Salary and Career Insights
North Carolina medical assistants will find salaries and job opportunities that mirror national trends. The median salaries for almost every area of North Carolina were within $2,000 of the national average of $38,270 per year. In metropolitan areas, such as Charlotte, Durham-Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem medical assistants can make up to or over $47,000 a year — almost $10,000 more than the national average.
The job growth rate in North Carolina (19.20%) is also similar to that of the country as a whole (18.4%). Both are well above the national average for all professions, meaning graduates of online medical assistant certification programs in NC should find it relatively easy to land a job. Further, there are plenty of different fields, like health coaching or medical supervision, that medical assistants can transition into after gaining experience in the field.
For salary ranges for specific areas of North Carolina and more about the job growth rate, explore the two tables below.
Source: Projections Central
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics