Best Medical Assistant Schools + Career Information – 2020
Obtaining a position as a medical assistant puts you directly in one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. Once you complete your training to become a medical assistant, you can also look forward to watching your salary increase as you gain experience. There are several accredited medical assisting educational programs being offered across the country that provide you with the required knowledge and skills to assist a physician and ensure smooth running of a medical office. You can use this list of the 5 best medical assistant programs to find one that fits your plans for an exciting future helping others.
What is the Goal of a Medical Assistant Program?
Medical assisting programs require you to complete coursework that prepares you to work in a physician’s office or healthcare facility such as a hospital. Through a combination of hands-on experiences and classroom lectures, you learn how to perform medical assistant duties such as measuring a patient’s vital signs or assisting physicians with physical examinations. By the time that you complete the program, you will be confident with your ability to demonstrate that you know how to assist with common tasks such as preparing blood work for laboratory testing on competency exams to get your certification.
Cost is always a factor that must be weighed when you choose a medical assisting program. Research the job requirements in the area that you prefer to work in after you complete the program to find out which level of education best fits your needs. Keep in mind that an associate degree may cost a little more, but it may offer you a stronger chance at obtaining the position that fits your goals best.
| Type|| Cost|
| Certificate / Diploma||$1,580 - $40,490|
|Associate Degree||$5,804 - $67,246|
Medical assisting schools offer programs that can have you working within your desired career field in as few as eight months. Longer programs can last as much as two years, but an associate degree often has classes that can be transferred to a higher level of education if you desire to further your career in the future.
| Type|| Length|
| Certificate / Diploma||8 – 18 Months |
|Associate Degree|| 2 Years|
Can I Pursue This Program Online?
In your medical assisting training program, you will learn how to give patients injections and prepare laboratory samples. You will also practice handling administrative tasks in a medical office such as scheduling patients and updating their healthcare records. These types of tasks require you to practice performing the steps in person. During your on-campus courses, you will practice doing things such as taking blood pressure with your classmates. As you near the end of the program, you may also work in clinics with actual patients under the guidance of a physician. While some types of academic courses may be completed online, the majority of your credits must come from actual classroom experiences.
Ideal candidates for medical assisting programs possess the ability to analyze important medical information and follow a physican’s directions. The program you choose to enter may also require you to meet these requirements.
• have a high school diploma or a GED
• be 18 years of age or older
The curriculum for certificate programs typically focuses solely on the tasks that you must do as a medical assistant such as the procedure for checking vital signs. Associate degree programs may also require you to complete other types of general education courses, such as biology or mathematics. Both types of programs will introduce you to basic concepts that you will use every day in the medical field such as terminology that applies to the human body and the names of instruments that doctors use. You will also learn medical coding and how to prepare paperwork for submission to insurance companies.
What are the 5 Best Medical Assistant Programs Accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES in the Nation for 2020
Purdue University offers an online medical assisting certificate program through its campus located in Des Moines, Iowa. The theoretical part of the program is delivered entirely through online classes, whereas clinical sessions required to meet the externship requirement must be completed on-site. The 57-credit curriculum, which teaches you both clinical and administrative aspects of medical assisting comprises of thirteen courses (including 160-hour externship). You can take 2 to 3 courses in a term, and each term is ten weeks long. You will be required to devote about 15 hours of studies each week to complete this program within 18 months.
• Admissions to this program typically take place every month, throughout the year, providing you the comfort of starting your studies as per your convenience.
• Graduates will be eligible to take national certification exams such as – RMA, NCMA, CCMA, CMAC, and CMA.
American Career College provides medical assisting education at its three campuses in California - Los Angeles, Orange County, and Ontario. The curriculum of this 48.5-quarter credit certificate program contains eight independent course modules. Out of these eight courses, seven courses of 6 credits each are designed to train you in administrative, clinical, and laboratory procedures. The 6.5-credit eighth or last course module is a 200-hour externship, where you will receive hands-on clinical experience in a real-world working condition. Coursework requires a total of 1029 hours of dedicated studies (760 in-class clock hours and 269 outside clock hours).
• Coursework is delivered on-campus and at a designated externship site.
• The program can be completed in approximately 36 weeks (excluding holidays).
Located in Portland, OR, Concorde Career College offers an 8-month medical assisting training program that prepares you for a promising career in the allied health field. This full-time diploma program is a combination of online and on-campus training; comprising a total of 795 contact hours, which are divided into 330 theory hours, 240 lab hours, and 225 clinical externship hours. The curriculum contains six online ‘career path success’ courses of 15 theory hours each. Following this, you will complete six core on-campus medical assisting courses of 40 theory hours and 40 lab hours each. Upon completion of all the 12 courses, you will undergo a 225-hour externship, which will be the final part of this 26-semester-credit-hour coursework.
• Concorde provides students a personalized practical experience by maintaining the student to faculty ratio at 26:1 during laboratory sessions.
• Students are admitted on the first-come-first-served basis, and as part of the entrance assessment requirement, you must score 8 or above in Wonderlic SLE test.
• The five years (2013-2017) average retention rate of the program stood at 84.46%.
Pioneer Pacific College is committed to providing quality medical assisting education in the state of Oregon. Currently, PPC offers four types of med assisting programs –
Regular Diploma Program:
This 64-credit curriculum consists of 445 lecture hours, 270 lab hours, and 180 externship hours. It is a 5-term course and can be completed in 50 weeks.
Regular Degree Program:
The curriculum of this 90.5-credit Associate of Occupational Science degree program in medical assisting consists of 655 lecture hours, 380 hours of lab sessions, and 180 externship hours. You can complete this 7-term program in about 70 academic weeks.
Diploma Program with Limited X-Ray:
The curriculum of this 70-week diploma program with Limited X-Ray consists of 575 lecture hours, 370 lab hours, and 180-hour clinical practicum. It is an 82-credit coursework, which contains the entire curriculum of the regular diploma program, and in addition to that, focuses on imparting X-ray skills.
Degree Program with Limited X-Ray:
This 90-week A.O.S. degree program with Limited X-Ray contains 825 lecture hours, 500 hours of lab sessions, and 180 practicum hours. It is a 113.5-credit program that contains a dedicated course on X-Ray technology in addition to regular degree coursework.
• Graduates of any of the four programs will be eligible to take all the four important national certification exams – CMA, RMA, NCMA, and AAMA. Additionally, graduates of diploma and degree with limited x-ray program can also take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist limited scope exam.
ECPI University offers two medical assisting programs that help you prepare for multi-skilled professions like medical assisting, phlebotomy, and EKG technology, among others.
This 46-credit program comprises of 28-credit core medical assisting courses, 12-credit liberal arts & science subjects, and 6-credit self-integration & computer applications. As a full-time student, you can complete the program in one year.
Associate of Applied Science:
This 15-month program contains the entire coursework of the diploma program and some additional general education courses. The curriculum requires you to complete 60-61 credits of coursework.
• The coursework of both programs is a mix of classroom learning, lab work, and clinical sessions. A few courses are offered online, providing a convenient learning option for students.
• Graduates of both the programs will be eligible to sit for the national certification exams such as– RMA, CMA, CPT, CMAA, CET, CBCS, and CEHRS, thus opening doors to a wide range of employment opportunities.
Why Attending a Program Accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES Makes a Difference?
The healthcare field relies upon educational programs to turn out candidates for medical assistant positions that know how to perform the tasks required to provide quality patient care. When you attend a program accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES, you can trust that you have learned the best practices for working within your field such as adhering to sanitation and hygiene practices set forth by the federal government.
Certification and Licensure Requirements to Work as a Medical Assistant
Some states allow you to work as a medical assistant without obtaining a certification. However, medical facilities that are in these states typically have their own standards in place that require certification. Licenses are usually not required. After you complete your medical assistant program and are 18 years of age or older, you are eligible to begin the process of getting certified.
There are two main types of exams that you can take to get certified as a medical assistant. The CMA exam administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants
and the RMA exam conducted by the American Medical Technologists
. Although both exams assess your understanding of similar content areas such as medical terminology and laboratory procedures, the CMA was the first exam to be recognized as a credential by employers. For both these exams, you must submit proof that you have obtained the proper educational documents such as your high school diploma and a transcript from your medical assistant program. Following the acceptance of your application, you then take an exam. You can find practice tests on these organization’s websites, and your medical assistant program will typically provide opportunities to practice your certification exam in class. To determine which credential is best for you, find out what is required by prospective employers in your area. Some medical assistants even opt to have both credentials to increase their professional standing.
Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
Offices of Physicians:
You will schedule and greet patients while also performing tasks such as taking their vitals or recording their symptoms before the physician takes over.
State, Local, and Private: Hospitals hire medical assistants to help with patient care procedures such as checking vital signs and managing healthcare records.
Outpatient Care Centers:
Your role may involve checking patients into the center and communicating after care instructions to them before they leave after a procedure.
Offices of Chiropractors:
You can expect to perform tasks such as medical coding and billing as well as in-office procedures such as blood draws and simple exams.
| Industry || Employment |
| Number|| Percent|
|Offices of Physicians ||368,402||57|
|Hospitals; State, Local, and Private ||96,948||15|
|Outpatient Care Centers ||58,169||9|
|Offices of Chiropractors ||25,853||4|
Work Environment & Conditions
Your work conditions depend upon the medical facility in which you choose to obtain employment. For instance, working in a hospital may require you to work overnight hours and on the weekends. A chiropractic office, however, may only require you to work during traditional business hours. In each type of field, you will be required to work on your feet for the majority of the day, although some sitting is required for the clerical duties such as inputting patient data into electronic records. With any type of blood draw, there is always the risk of potential exposure to bodily fluids. Medical assistants also face the risk of potential injuries if they assist with lifting patients or standing in one position for long periods of time. You will be taught how to minimize these risks in your educational program.
What Starting Salary Can I Expect as a Medical Assistant?
A typical medical assistant salary is above minimum wage, and you can anticipate making an annual salary of $25,710. Keep in mind that these figures represent the national average for someone who has completed a medical assisting program and obtained their certification. Your starting salary could be more depending upon where you live and whether or not you obtain an associate’s degree.
| Type|| Salary|
| Hourly||$12.36 |
| Monthly||$2,140 |
| Annual||$25,710 |
| (Source: In-House Research)|
How Much Will My Salary Grow with Experience?
Medical assistants that stay in the healthcare field are rewarded with higher salaries as they gain more experience. With just ten years, you can expect to see your annual salary rise by around $10,000 or more. You can also increase your salary growth by pursuing positions that require you to take on more responsibilities such as by working as the head medical assistant in a physician’s office.
| Level of Experience|| Hourly|| Monthly|| Annual|
| 1-4 years||$13.26 ||$2,300 ||$27,580 |
| 5-9 years||$15.61 ||$2,710 ||$32,480 |
| 10-19 years||$18.43 ||$3,200 ||$38,340 |
| 20 years or more||$22.07 ||$3,830 ||$45,900 |
| (Source: BLS)|
How Many Job Openings are there for Medical Assistant Graduates?
| New|| Replacement|| Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)|
| (Source: careeronestop)|
10 Year Employment Outlook
The current rate of growth for the healthcare industry means that you can expect to see job openings develop at a faster rate than many other industries. Knowing that your 10-year employment outlook includes a 29 percent growth rate allows you to feel secure about what the future holds once you complete medical assisting school. The anticipated rapid growth can be attributed to the increasing aging population that requires more medical appointments. Changing trends in healthcare, such as the opening of more urgent care and outpatient clinics, also adds to the increased demand for medical assistants.
| Employment || Employment Growth, 2016-26 |
| 2016|| 2026|| Number|| Percent|
State Wise Employment, Job Openings & Salary Breakdown
| State|| Employment|| Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)|| Annual Average Salary|
| Alabama|| 8,570|| 1,050|| $27,730|
| Alaska|| 1,610|| 240|| $42,060|
| Arizona|| 17,510|| 3,080|| $32,840|
| Arkansas|| 3,290|| 480|| $30,010|
| California|| 89,910|| 12,720|| $36,630|
| Colorado|| 9,810|| 1,560|| $35,260|
| Connecticut|| 7,520|| 1,070|| $36,510|
| Delaware|| 2,470|| 270|| $32,830|
| District of Columbia|| 1,760|| 240|| $40,570|
| Florida|| 54,220|| 8,480|| $31,980|
| Georgia|| 21,320|| 3,170|| $32,060|
| Hawaii|| 3,360|| 470|| $36,800|
| Idaho|| 3,320|| 470|| $31,950|
| Illinois|| 19,890|| 2,580|| $34,710|
| Indiana|| 13,180|| 1,880|| $31,410|
| Iowa|| 4,920|| 650|| $34,030|
| Kansas|| 4,740|| 600|| $31,160|
| Kentucky|| 8,640|| 1,170|| $31,050|
| Louisiana|| 7,610|| 750|| $27,810|
| Maine|| 3,900|| 470|| $34,020|
| Maryland|| 11,800|| 1,620|| $36,080|
| Massachusetts|| 13,030|| 1,710|| $39,310|
| Michigan|| 22,790|| 3,250|| $31,270|
| Minnesota|| 10,730|| 1,410|| $39,050|
| Mississippi|| 2,930|| 360|| $30,390|
| Missouri|| 9,780|| 1,200|| $31,370|
| Montana|| 1,300|| 180|| $33,170|
| Nebraska|| 2,870|| 450|| $33,210|
| Nevada|| 6,350|| 830|| $33,830|
| New Hampshire|| 2,640|| 370|| $35,820|
| New Jersey|| 18,930|| 2,730|| $35,770|
| New Mexico|| 5,880|| 640|| $30,000|
| New York|| 25,140|| 4,200|| $36,220|
| North Carolina|| 17,190|| 2,440|| $32,110|
| North Dakota|| 620|| 100|| $35,500|
| Ohio|| 23,240|| 3,150|| $31,220|
| Oklahoma|| 8,440|| 1,280|| $30,140|
| Oregon|| 11,430|| 1,610|| $36,990|
| Pennsylvania|| 28,260|| 3,730|| $31,980|
| Rhode Island|| 2,410|| 300|| $35,110|
| South Carolina|| 9,540|| 1,430|| $31,080|
| South Dakota|| 1,010|| 140|| $29,890|
| Tennessee|| 13,640|| 2,190|| $31,490|
| Texas|| 58,090|| 9,370|| $30,880|
| Utah|| 7,180|| 1,340|| $32,010|
| Vermont|| 630|| 90|| $37,080|
| Virginia|| 13,630|| 1,990|| $33,690|
| Washington|| 13,500|| 2,020|| $39,700|
| West Virginia|| 3,280|| 480|| $27,270|
| Wisconsin|| 11,800|| 1,560|| $36,180|
| Wyoming|| 690|| 90|| $32,930|
| Guam|| 180|| N/A|| $24,810|
| Puerto Rico|| 480|| 60|| $19,950|
| Virgin Islands|| 50|| N/A|| $28,110|
|(Source: BLS & careeronestop)|
Important Organizations & Associations
American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
Joining this organization provides you with benefits such as discounts on the CMA exam from the very beginning. Your membership also includes credential verification that makes it easier to show potential employers that you have completed the requirements for a position. As you continue working in the healthcare field, you also benefit from networking and continuing education opportunities that help you improve your professional standing as a medical assistant