Best Medical Assistant Programs in California – 2024

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

The need for qualified medical assistants has never been hotter in sunny California, and there is no better way to contribute to the community than becoming a member of the healthcare field. We have ranked the best medical assistant programs in California that will provide you with the knowledge and skills that you need to be competent in this lucrative career, and you can complete your training within a short period of time.

What Skills and Knowledge Will I Gain from a Medical Assisting Program?

Medical assistants play many roles in their work environment such as greeting patients and helping them prepare for a physical exam. Your medical assisting program will teach you how to perform the tasks needed to check patients in, assess their vital signs and assist physicians with the examinations. You will also learn how to perform minor medical procedures such as giving injections or drawing blood for laboratory testing. You may also learn how to prepare samples that need to be sent to the lab. As part of your program, you will learn how to use healthcare information technology to schedule appointments and update patient records. Medical assistant schools in CA also focus on teaching you how to maintain a professional demeanor and follow all applicable laws regarding patient privacy rights as well as the proper sanitation and hygiene procedures for preventing communicable diseases.

Medical Assistant Program Length & Cost in California

You can be done with your medical assistant education in as few as eight months if you choose to earn a certificate. An associate degree typically takes at least two years to complete, but the extra time you spend on your education can pay off later in the form of more career opportunities. Keep in mind that a certificate program is less expensive than an associate degree, which is important if you are going to school on a budget.

Type of Program Length Cost
Certificate / Diploma 8 – 18 Months $2,170 - $41,830
Associate Degree 2 Years $7,960 - $67,570


(Based on our Ranking Methodology, below are the 10 best Medical Assistant programs in California. The list includes both campus-based and online programs.)

1) San Joaquin Valley College, Visalia

San Joaquin Valley College has been offering career training in California for the past 40 years. Students are nurtured all along from the time they enroll, be it in individual tutoring, placement assistance, interview preparation or excellent experiential learning opportunities.

This certificate program that can be completed in just 9 months will prepare you for a career as a medical assistant to help fulfill clinical as well as administrative duties at a variety of clinical settings. You will take courses in anatomy and medical terminology, office skills, computer applications, pharmacology and medical administration and clinical procedures. Your curriculum will also include a course that will prepare you for the certification exam. After finishing all the courses, you will complete a four-credit externship in a real-world clinical setting that will help you hone your professional skills.

2) Downey Adult School, Downey

Downey Adult School emphasizes on learning that goes beyond the curriculum. Learners at the school are known to demonstrate enhanced critical thinking, lifelong learning and effective communication skills.

This medical assistant certificate program can be completed in a short span of 30 weeks. On completion of this program you will be able to take up entry level positions as a medical assistant, ER technician or laboratory technician. You will complete a total of 660 clock hours, taking classes either during the day or evening, depending on the schedule you choose. With classes in medical terminology, keyboard skills, patient record keeping, clinical practice sessions in the lab, didactic classes and an externship, you will be thoroughly prepared to apply this newly acquired knowledge in a variety of clinical settings.

3) Mayfield College, Cathedral City

Healthcare education at Mayfield College is facilitated by a team of experienced instructors who keep the student learning process updated by using latest tools and techniques.

As an aspiring medical assistant, you can enroll in this 40-week certificate program and become a member of a professional healthcare team. With a combination of administrative and clinical courses, extensive training at the college’s lab and an externship in a local clinical setting, the coursework educates you to work as either a clinical or administrative assistant, medical receptionist, occupational therapy assistant in a variety of clinical settings.

4) Carrington College, Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro & Stockton

With multiple campus sites offering the medical assistant program in California, there is always a Carrington campus close by, making it convenient for you to pursue this career.

Here you can either opt for a certificate or an associate degree program in medical assisting. Both the programs emphasize on administrative as well as clinical duties required to work as a medical assistant in a clinical setting. While the coursework you take in the certificate program will only include core medical assisting related courses, the degree will include general education courses as well. Typing skills, clinical reasoning, patient communication, medical ethics, legal requirements, handling insurance claims, bookkeeping and conducting diagnostic tests are some of the areas you will gain expertise in. These skills are further enhanced by a 180- hour externship, which you will complete at a clinical setting.

5) American Career College, Anaheim, Los Angeles & Ontario

Focusing on employment ready education, American Career College is armed with an experienced faculty that brings in their expertise to the table.

This 9-month medical assistant program in CA is an accelerated course that teaches you the skills and knowledge required to work as an entry level medical assistant. You will start the coursework with an introduction about other allied health careers and end with a 200-hour externship. During this 48.5 credit curriculum you will spend 760 hours taking didactic instructions. To give you a clear understanding of concepts the faculty uses a variety of media and instructional equipment such as electrocardiograph machines, ophthalmoscope, sphygmomanometers, surgical instruments, training mannequins, wheelchairs and anatomical charts and models.

6) Concorde Career College, Garden Grove, North Hollywood, San Bernardino & San Diego

Concorde’s education is designed to cater to the employment needs of today’s healthcare industry. A popular medical assistant school in California, it continuously works towards building industry partnerships with the region’s leading healthcare facilities. This translates into excellent externships and placement opportunities for medical assisting students.

If a career in the healthcare field is your calling, then completing this diploma program can help you become a medical assistant in just 8 months. The curriculum focuses on both the clinical and administrative duties of a medical assistant. From the first day itself you will be exposed to the practical aspects of this career, that will prepare you for various functions such as performing first aid and CPR, infection control, preparing patients for medical examinations and maintaining medical records.

7) North-West College, Glendale, Long Beach, Pomona, Riverside, Santa Ana, West Covina & Van Nuys

North-West College makes pursuing a healthcare career convenient and flexible, even for a busy working individual. With classes offered at seven campus sites in California, start dates throughout the year and, day and evening schedules allow you to take the program without compromising much on your current life schedule.

This Medical Assistant certificate program can be completed in nine months. You will complete the curriculum by taking eight learning modules, after which you must go through 144 hours of clinical externship. The coursework starts with a seminar, where you will be briefed about how to successfully take the program. Then you will progress to core medical assistant administrative and clinical courses. The last module, the one you will take before the externship, prepares you for career readiness and the CPR certification.

8) Long Beach City College, Long Beach

Long Beach City College caters to its growing student population by offering education that matches personal career goals.

To become a medical assistant in CA, you can choose a certificate course that specializes in either administrative or clinical duties. In a year’s time you will master skills that will prepare you for this fulfilling career. While the administrative option typically focuses on accounting, computer competency, insurance billing and legal aspects of healthcare, the clinical certificate coursework lays emphasis on medical terminology, clinical procedures, along with the administrative courses.

LBCC also offers a certificate and an associate degree program that combines both administrative and clinical components. For students interested in gaining more in-depth knowledge or with future-plans to pursue higher education, the associate degree in medical assisting would be a good option.

9) Chabot College, Hayward

Chabot College has been around since 1961, offering employment ready training to healthcare students in the state of California. Its emphasis on hands-on learning is known to increase employability of its graduates in the region.

This 35-week Certificate course trains you for an entry and mid-level medical assistant position. On completing the coursework, you will be able to efficiently perform both administrative and clinical functions such as effective communication with the patients, keeping patient records using computer software, recording vital signs, administering medications and preparing patients for medical examinations. Graduates will be eligible to take the CMA certification exam.

10) Cabrillo College - Aptos

Programs Currently on Hold or Discontinued

Brightwood College, Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Van Nuys, Palm Springs, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego & Vista

Brightwood College provides a conducive learning environment with an infrastructure that comes with the latest medical equipment and computer labs installed with relevant professional software. Students hone practical skills in these labs under the guidance of expert faculty. With a student faculty ratio of 20:1 for lab classes, these sessions provide effective individualized mentoring.

This Medical Assistant Diploma can be completed in 36 weeks. Graduation requires completing 765 in class work and 225 in clinical training. You will be well-prepared to perform entry level tasks such as answering calls, greeting patients, taking medical histories, recording vital signs, drawing blood and preparing patients for medical examinations.


Medical Assistant Career Information For California - 2024

How Many Medical Assistants are Currently Employed in CA?


Where do Medical Assistants Work in California?

In CA, medical assistants primarily work in clinics where they work alongside physicians. Currently, approximately 63,360 medical assistants work in a physician’s office in California. In a traditional doctor’s office environment, you will develop relationships with patients as you help to check them in and assess their reason for coming in for their appointment. For simple exams, you may record information, hand the physician implements or check vital signs. In a hospital environment, you will perform similar tasks, yet you may also perform blood draws or administer medications to the patient depending upon which department you work in. Outpatient care centers rely upon medical assistants to help prep patients for procedures and provide them with instructions for their after-care at home.

Industry Number of Medical Assistants
Offices of Physicians63,360
Outpatient Care Centers10,460
Offices of Other Health Practitioners9,120

What is the Average Salary of a Medical Assistant in California?

The average medical assistant salary in California runs around $47,850 annually. This amount is well over minimum wage, and many medical facilities also round it out by offering substantial benefits packages that include health insurance and paid leave. Medical assistants who continue to invest in professional development also have higher

Type Salary
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Salary Based on Years of Experience

Years of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Less than 1 year (Starting) $17.00 $2,950 $35,370
1-4 years $18.00 $3,120 $37,440
5-9 years $21.47 $3,720 $44,650
10-19 years $27.05 $4,690 $56,270
20 years or more $33.01 $5,720 $68,670
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Medical Assistant Average Salary Comparison: California vs. National

Medical assistants in CA currently make $7,150 more a year than the national average. With an almost ten 18 percent difference, it is clear that the golden state is one of the best places to pursue a career in this position.

California National Difference
Number %
$47,850 $40,700+$7,150+17.57%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Job Outlook

California has an expected 20.00% percent increase in the rate of growth for medical assistant positions. This incredibly high demand is largely based upon the huge population boom that the state is experiencing. As more people flock to the state to take advantage of employment opportunities, more medical facilities are opening-up to fulfill the need for quality health care. The beautiful weather in CA also attracts retirees who have health needs that further increase the demand for medical assistants in the health care field.

Employment Employment Growth (2020-2030)
2020 2030 Number Percent
(Source: careeronestop)

Annual Job Openings

New Replacement Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
(Source: careeronestop)

Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data

The Los Angeles area has the highest number of medical assistant employment positions in the state with an average hourly rate of $19.11 an hour. Here, you can find work in major healthcare and educational facilities such as UCLA Health and the Anaheim Healthcare Center where you can help senior citizens enjoy greater wellbeing. In San Francisco, the pay is slightly higher with the opportunity to earn an average monthly salary of $4,890.

San Francisco has specialized programs that make health care accessible to people who have financial needs, which increases the job opportunities that are available in the area. The Riverside area pays slightly less, but living on the outskirts of the major urban cities allows you to maximize your salary while still earning nearly double the current federal minimum wage. San Diego has a similar amount of job opportunities as Riverside, but slightly higher pay. The UC San Diego Healthcare System is a popular place for medical assistants to find work, and the teaching hospital provides many opportunities for professional development.

Metro Employment Average Salary
Hourly Monthly Annual
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 36,770 $21.10 $3,660 $43,880
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 14,500 $28.23 $4,890 $58,710
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario 10,380 $19.72 $3,420 $41,020
San Diego-Carlsbad 8,810 $21.62 $3,750 $44,960
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade 7,470 $27.14 $4,700 $56,450
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara 6,420 $26.91 $4,670 $55,980
Fresno 3,190 $21.15 $3,670 $43,990
Bakersfield 2,670 $19.65 $3,410 $40,870
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura 1,700 $21.52 $3,730 $44,770
Santa Rosa 1,630 $26.77 $4,640 $55,690
Stockton-Lodi 1,590 $22.92 $3,970 $47,680
Modesto 1,490 $22.44 $3,890 $46,680
Visalia-Porterville 1,200 $20.82 $3,610 $43,300
Vallejo-Fairfield 1,160 $29.83 $5,170 $62,050
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara 1,150 $21.43 $3,720 $44,580
Salinas 1,010 $21.15 $3,670 $44,000
Santa Cruz-Watsonville 870 $23.56 $4,080 $49,010
Redding 750 $20.95 $3,630 $43,570
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande 750 $21.71 $3,760 $45,150
Merced 550 $17.85 $3,090 $37,120
Chico 520 $20.69 $3,590 $43,030
El Centro 480 $18.07 $3,130 $37,590
Napa 380 $26.38 $4,570 $54,870
Hanford-Corcoran 370 $19.54 $3,390 $40,640
Yuba City 370 $21.02 $3,640 $43,730
Madera 290 $19.00 $3,290 $39,510
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Useful Medical Assistant Organizations & Associations in California

California Society of Medical Assistants

This organization focuses on improving the professionalism of medical assistants at the national level. As a member, you have opportunities to participate in annual meetings that also provide you with continuing education units that you need to maintain your certification.

California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants

You can take your California Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam through this organization, which focuses on the goal of maintaining public safety by ensuring that the standards for quality healthcare are upheld in the state.

Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.

Medical Assistant Schools in other States

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