Best Medical Assistant Programs in Pennsylvania – 2023
Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
If you live in Pennsylvania and you are interested in a great entry-level career that will help you break into the medical and healthcare industries, medical assisting is a great choice. There are more than 27,000 MAs spread across the great state of PA, and they each play a crucial support role for doctors and nurses. If you want to become a medical assistant, it is important to get a good education. We have ranked the best medical assistant schools in Pennsylvania below to help you make better choices that fit your individual needs and budget while securing your future.
How will an Educational Program Prepare me for a Successful Career as a Medical Assistant?
Though there are no formal education requirements to work as a medical assistant in the state of PA, employers increasingly desire MAs who have completed certificate, diploma, and especially associate degree programs. In many medical professions, studies have shown that more education has a direct impact on the quality of patient outcomes. When you complete a medical assistant program in PA, you will learn everything you need to know to provide outstanding support to the doctors and nurses you work with every day – as well as to the patients who depend on you for their health.
You will take various courses during your program designed to help you learn clinical and clerical skills. Biology, anatomy & physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, computer skills, and communication will be integral parts of your education. You will also undergo intensive clinical training in a real-world setting and gain valuable job-ready skills.
Medical Assistant Program Length & Cost in Pennsylvania
The amount you will pay (and the length of time you will spend) for your education will vary depending on the type of program you choose. A certificate or diploma program takes up to 18 months to complete and can cost anywhere from $1550 to $30,000. An associate degree takes about two years and costs up to $48,640, but may present you with more lucrative employment opportunities.
| Type of Program|| Length|| Cost|
| Certificate / Diploma|| 8 – 18 Months||$1,550 - $30,000|
| Associate Degree||2 Years||$5,710 - $48,460|
WHAT ARE THE BEST MEDICAL ASSISTANT PROGRAMS IN PENNSYLVANIA?
(Based on our Ranking Methodology, below are the 10 best Medical Assistant programs in Pennsylvania. The list includes both campus-based and online programs.)
Committed to ensuring medical assisting students receive sound hands-on training, the state-of-the-art laboratory at Lincoln Technical Institute is equipped with the latest EKG machines, sterilizing tools, injection simulators, and simulation mannequins. Further, the Doctor’s Office Classrooms (DOCs) which include everything from a reception area to an exam room aids in providing a perfect learning experience in a real-world-like environment.
LTC currently offers two programs in med assisting -
This 34-credit program is available in three-time slots – day program (38 weeks), afternoon program (38 weeks), and an evening program (55 weeks). The 900-hour curriculum is divided into 370 didactic learning hours, 350 lab hours, and 180 clinical externship hours. Coursework is delivered in a blended format – 75% in the traditional classroom setting and 25% in web-enhanced format.
Associate in Specialized Technology Degree:
This 66-week degree offered as either a day or afternoon program comprises 1545 hours of coursework, divided into 835 classroom learning hours, 470 lab hours, and 240 externships hours. The curriculum includes core med assisting courses, general education courses, 60-hour medical externship (compulsory), and a 180-hour clinical or administrative externship.
*Graduates from either program can sit for the CMA or RMA exams.
At YTI Career Institute, medical assisting students receive thorough hands-on training by working with similar tools and equipment that they will be using in a medical office once they start with their employment.
This around 20-month associate degree in medical assisting imparts employment-ready medical assisting skills through a perfect balance of clerical and clinical functions. This 97-credit coursework will teach you about front office procedures like welcoming patients, managing appointments, and performing medical billing. The clinical part of the coursework will train you in taking vital stats of patients, assisting physicians/doctors during the patient examination or minor surgeries, and removing sutures, among others. You will also undergo a 12-week externship in a real-world working scenario where you get to hone your skills gained during theory and lab classes. Upon graduation, you can seek entry-level positions at physician clinics, healthcare clinics, or patients care centers.
At Northampton County Area Community College, the comprehensive medical assisting education imparts a deeper understanding of administrative as well as clinical procedures. Furthermore, you will also enrich your critical thinking skills to help you deal with patients effectively.
This 34-credit medical assistant program in PA is a rigorous three-semester coursework. The 13-credit first semester covers topics such as basic anatomy and medical terminology, whereas the 17-credit second semester includes medical office management procedures and CPT coding methodology. The third and final semester is devoted to a 4-credit externship, where you can master professional skills before you take up an actual job. This is a sequential program that starts each fall, and full-time students can complete the coursework in one year, whereas, for the part-time students, the time it takes to complete this program will vary based on the number of classes they can take per semester.
All-State Career School’s medical assistant school in Pennsylvania is equipped with advanced medical equipment, simulation labs, and dedicated faculty to prepare students for a career in the competitive allied health field. Also, the college’s career service center is quite pro-active in helping you find suitable employment post program completion.
The 36-week medical assisting diploma focuses on providing a well-rounded clinical and administrative education. You will learn everything that is required to work as a medical assistant, starting from how to interact with patients when you meet them for the first time to taking their vital stats or providing the first aid if required. You will learn to efficiently perform medical billing and coding, manage the insurance paperwork and, create and maintain electronic health records. You will also be trained to assist physicians with patient examination, treatment, or minor surgeries.
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College offers an A.A.S. degree in medical assisting technology at its Richland Campus located in Johnstown, PA. The college not only offers personalized training with its low student to faculty ratio but also provides the latest lab equipment to help students hone their skills and knowledge.
The coursework of this 60-credit program is divided into four semesters – semester I (13 credits), semester II (15 credits), semester III (18 credits), and semester IV (14 credits). The core courses cover both the important functions of medical assisting – clinical and clerical. On the one hand, you will learn about legal healthcare practices, patient assessment, anatomy, pharmacology, among others to gain clinical knowledge; while on the other hand, you will be trained in medical billing & coding, insurance coding procedures, among others to help you perform clerical duties functions in a medical office. Graduates will be eligible to take the NCMA exam administered by the National Center for Competency Testing.
Montgomery County Community College (MC3) prepares students for a promising career in the healthcare sector through its qualified faculty, who provide individualized attention to students during both classroom and clinical sessions.
For students interested in becoming a medical assistant in PA, the college currently offers a 31-credit certificate program with three flexible formats to choose from –
- The accelerated format
is ideal for those students who want to complete their education faster and enter the workforce as quickly as possible. It covers the entire medical assisting curriculum in just two semesters – 16 credits in first and 15 credits in the second semester.
- Fulltime format
is for regular students who want to complete their education at a normal pace. The coursework is divided into three semesters, and you will complete 12, 13, and 6 credits in first, second, and third semester respectively.
- The part-time format
is apt for students who have work or family commitments, and this format will help them balance their medical assisting education and commitments. Its curriculum is spread over five semesters; in which the 2nd semester has 7 credits whereas all the other semesters have coursework of 6 credits each.
South Hills School of Business & Technology offers medical assisting education through its 2-year associate in specialized business (ASB) degree program. One of the key highlights of the program is that students are well trained before they start their internship; thus, for many of them, the internship experience often translates into a full-time job. The internship takes place at renowned healthcare facilities in the region such as Altoona Heart and Vascular Institute, Nason Hospital, State College Family Medicine, among others.
The 125.5-credit curriculum is spread over six terms, covering general education courses, administrative and clinical procedures, business communication, internship, and preparation for the CMA exam. You can complete the entire coursework by devoting around 1,853 clock hours. Upon graduation, you can look for entry-level medical assistant positions; additionally, you will also be competent to perform the duties of an ECG technician or a phlebotomist, which will broaden your job prospects.
*Credits earned in this degree can be partially transferred toward the bachelor’s degree in healthcare management at St. Francis University.
If you are a native Spanish speaker and still not comfortable with your English, it is worth noting that the bilingual faculty at Esperanza College of Eastern University makes your transition from Spanish to English classes smoother, and ensures a seamless completion of medical assisting education.
The 67-credit curriculum is divided into four semesters – the 16-credit first semester focuses on basic subjects like English, Computers, communication skills, math, and an intro to faith, reason, and justice which is a dedicated course on Christian beliefs. Other three semesters are of 17 credits each. The second semester will give you an insight into medical terms, general chemistry, basics of med assisting, and the third semester will walk you through knowledge of physiology, psychology, phlebotomy, and medical billing and coding. Your last or fourth semester includes medical law and ethics, as well as a 160-hour clinical practicum meant to hone your medical assisting skills.
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology as part of its job-centric medical assisting curriculum trains students with ActivSim software in its simulated clinical lab to better prepare them to take up work as clinical medical assistants, EKG technicians, or patient care technicians.
PIT currently offers two types of medical assisting programs with an option of taking classes either during the day (full-time) or evening (part-time).
The 4-term certificate program
is available in two tracks – a 30-credit externship track where students will receive clinical experience in a real healthcare environment, and a 36-credit internship track where students will undergo clinical experience in a simulated setting.
The 8-term A.S. degree program
in clinical medical assisting is delivered in a blended format, a combination of on-campus and online studies. Just like the certificate, this program can also be pursued in either of the two tracks - a 62-credit externship track or a 68-credit internship track.
The med assisting training at Harris School of Business is designed to train you for a variety of positions such as a clinical medical assistant, specialized medical assistant in areas such as ophthalmology and pediatrics, clerical medical assistant, or an administrative medical assistant.
This one-year coursework is a combination of extensive – classroom, laboratory, and clinical training sessions. Classroom learning will lay a strong groundwork for your med assisting career by covering covers topics such as medical terminology, physiology, pharmacology, medical billing & coding, filling the insurance paperwork. The lab work will train you in taking a specimen, drawing blood, learning about human structures, among others, whereas, during clinical sessions/externship, you will receive hands-on experience of working alongside physicians or doctors in a full-fledged medical office.
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Medical Assistant Career Information For Pennsylvania - 2023
How Many Medical Assistants are Currently Employed in PA?
Where do Medical Assistants Work in Pennsylvania?
Medical assistants provide crucial support in various facilities and industries across PA. Well over half work in doctors’ offices where they work under the direct supervision of doctors and nurses performing clerical and clinical tasks that allow their superiors the time to focus more on patient outcomes. Less than a fourth of all MAs combined work in hospitals, chiropractors’ offices, and outpatient care centers like clinics, urgent care centers, labs, and others. They perform many of the same duties in these locations as they would in a doctors’ office, though the environments may be a little more high-stress depending on the department or specialty. As an example, a shift in an emergency department will be far more fast-paced than a shift in the general care wing of a hospital.
| Industry|| Number of Medical Assistants|
| Offices of Physicians||13,340|
| Outpatient Care Centers||2,200|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||1,920|
What is the Average Salary of a Medical Assistant in Pennsylvania?
Medical assistants across PA earn an average annual salary of $38,950. This is equal to $18.73 an hour or $3,250 a month, and it is representative of all the MAs in the state, regardless of their education or experience. There are several things you can do to earn a higher-than-average medical assistant salary in PA, including earning an associate degree if you do not already have one, gaining experience as an MA, and applying to work in fast-paced, high-stress environments like trauma centers. Some facilities may offer significant shift differentials if you opt to work overnights, which can add up to $8000 a year to your salary if you work full-time.
| 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) || $14.84 || $2,570 || $30,870 |
| 1-4 years || $16.92 || $2,930 || $35,190 |
| 5-9 years || $17.90 || $3,100 || $37,230 |
| 10-19 years || $21.12 || $3,660 || $43,920 |
| 20 years or more || $22.61 || $3,920 || $47,030 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Medical Assistant Average Salary Comparison: Pennsylvania vs. National
When compared to the national average salary for medical assistants, which is $40,700 a year, Pennsylvania falls a little short at $38,950. This is a small but still noticeable difference of $1,750, or roughly 4.30%.
|Pennsylvania|| National|| Difference|
| Number|| %|
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
While your pay may be slightly less in PA than in other parts of the country, there is no denying that your job security will be fantastic. In 2020, there were 27,980 medical assistants spread across the state, and data suggests that this number will grow to 33,160 MAs by the year 2030. This is an addition of 5,180 medical assistants, and it represents growth of 18.51% - much faster than average for all occupations combined.
Though Pennsylvania’s population is not growing as fast as some other states, including New York, California, and Florida, it is on the rise. The more people in the state, the more healthcare providers the state will require to take care of its population. Medical assistants support doctors and nurses, and while they perform only basic duties, those duties are crucial. As the population grows, so will the entire medical industry – including medical assisting.
| Employment|| Employment Growth (2020-2030)|
| 2020|| 2030|| Number|| Percent|
Annual Job Openings
| New || Replacement|| Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)|
Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data
Finally, it is important to take a look at the differences in employment and income in some of Pennsylvania’s biggest and most popular metro areas. The difference in pay between the smallest and the largest metro can be as high as $5000 a year, and that can make a huge difference in your quality of life. However, it is important to also consider employment opportunities. Not all metros that pay a high salary have job openings available for MAs frequently, and that means positions are few and far between.
As an example, if you are looking for balance, the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro is by far the best place to work. Well over half of the state’s MAs work here, and they earn an average annual salary of $41,520 a year. You can earn a similar salary if you work in York-Hanover ($37,830 a year), but keep in mind that there are only 700 MAs in this area, so job opportunities will not be as diverse.
| Metro || Employment || Average Salary |
| Hourly || Monthly || Annual |
| Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington || 12,250 || $19.96 || $3,460 || $41,520 |
| Pittsburgh || 5,230 || $18.26 || $3,170 || $37,980 |
| Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton || 1,610 || $19.01 || $3,300 || $39,550 |
| Harrisburg-Carlisle || 1,310 || $18.56 || $3,220 || $38,600 |
| Lancaster || 900 || $18.63 || $3,230 || $38,740 |
| Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton || 800 || $17.77 || $3,080 || $36,960 |
| Reading || 710 || $19.21 || $3,330 || $39,960 |
| York-Hanover || 700 || $18.19 || $3,150 || $37,830 |
| Erie || 470 || $16.94 || $2,940 || $35,240 |
| Altoona || 360 || $16.36 || $2,840 || $34,030 |
| Chambersburg-Waynesboro || 260 || $18.47 || $3,200 || $38,410 |
| Johnstown || 240 || $16.17 || $2,800 || $33,640 |
| Williamsport || 230 || $17.45 || $3,020 || $36,290 |
| East Stroudsburg || 200 || $16.77 || $2,910 || $34,890 |
| Lebanon || 190 || $18.33 || $3,180 || $38,130 |
| State College || 180 || $18.06 || $3,130 || $37,560 |
| Gettysburg || 150 || $18.39 || $3,190 || $38,250 |
| Bloomsburg-Berwick || 140 || $17.42 || $3,020 || $36,240 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Useful Medical Assistant Organizations & Associations in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Society of Medical Assistants
– The Pennsylvania Society of Medical Assistants
is an affiliate of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and offers numerous resources for current and aspiring MAs in the state. Numerous local chapters make it easy for MAs to attend meetings, and benefits include things such as certifications, advocacy, access to continuing education courses, information about changes in the MA profession in the state, and much, much more.
Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
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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.