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Medical Assistant Programs and Schools

Article Sources
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, http://www.abhes.org/
  • American Association of Medical Assistants, http://www.aama-ntl.org/
  • American Medical Technologists, http://www.americanmedtech.org/default.aspx
  • American Registry of Medical Assistants, http://arma-cert.org/
  • American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants, http://www.aspma.org/
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, OES, Medical Assistants, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319092.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, OOH, Medical Assistants, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm
  • California Medical Assistants Association, http://www.cmaa-ca.org/
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, http://www.caahep.org/
  • Cabrillo College, https://www.cabrillo.edu/academics/medicalassist/
  • Central Community College, https://www.cccneb.edu/medicalassisting/
  • Chabot College, https://www.chabotcollege.edu/MEDA/
  • De Anza College, https://www.deanza.edu/healthtech/
  • Durham Technical Community College, https://www.durhamtech.edu/health/medicalassisting.htm
  • Eastern Arizona College, http://www.eac.edu/Academics/Programs_of_Study/Alliedhealth/
  • Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus, http://www.roswell.enmu.edu/areas-of-study/health/medical-assisting-program/medical-assistant-certificate-program-description-and-onet-information
  • Gateway Community and Technical College, https://www.gtc.edu/programs/technical-diploma/medical-assistant
  • Metropolitan Community College Area, https://www.mccneb.edu/
  • Mitchell Community College, http://www.mitchellcc.edu/medical-assisting
  • Mountwest Community and Technical College, http://www.mctc.edu/program/allied-health/medical-assistant
  • Pamlico Community College, http://www.pamlicocc.edu/programs-medicalassisting.php
  • Phoenix College, https://www.phoenixcollege.edu/programs/medical-assisting
  • Santa Fe Community College, https://www.sfcc.edu/programs/medical-assistant/
  • Santa Rosa Junior College, https://medical-assisting.santarosa.edu/
  • Seward County Community College and Area Technical School, www.sccc.edu/Louie/Portal/AlliedHealth/MedicalAssistant.doc
  • South Piedmont Community College, http://www.spcc.edu/?s=medical+assistant&input=Search
  • Southwestern Community College, http://www.swccd.edu/index.aspx?page=1761
  • Stanly Community College, https://www.stanly.edu/future-students/educational-offerings/medical-assisting
  • Wilkes Community College, http://www.wilkescc.edu/MedicalAssist/
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants, Accessed January 2019, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm
  • Medical Assistant Programs, Herzing University, Accessed January 2019, https://www.herzing.edu/healthcare/medical-assisting-degree
  • Medical Assistants, O*Net Online, Accessed January 2019, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9092.00
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Medical assistants are responsible for both administrative and clinical duties in physician's offices, hospitals, and other health care facilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these health care professionals help to check vital signs, schedule patient appointments and enter patient information into Electronic Health Records (EHRs), among other duties. Because the health care industry is necessitating more widespread use of EHRs for a greater number of patients, medical assistants may see good job prospects, according to the BLS.

Medical Assisting Schools

Medical Assistant Specializations

At a medical assistant school, students learn how to perform both administrative and clinical tasks. However, after graduation, professionals in the field may go on to specialize in one of the following areas.

  • Administrative medical assistants focus on tasks that don't involve direct patient care. They may answer the phone, schedule appointments and update patient medical records.
  • Clinical medical assistants have a hands-on job that can include preparing patients for x-rays, sterilizing medical instruments and performing basic laboratory tests. State laws can affect what does a medical assistant do in this specialization.
  • Specialized medical assistants work for health care specialists. They may be employed by ophthalmologists, podiatrists or other medical practices that focus on a specific type of care.

How to Become a Medical Assistant

While everyone's career path can be different, the following steps are often followed by medical assistants.

  1. Earn a high school diploma.
  2. Enroll in a medical assistant school. Some employers may provide on-the-job training to high school graduates, but most are looking for applicants with a medical assistant associate degree or certificate.
  3. Get certified. There are a number of online medical assistant certification programs that can help you demonstrate your expertise in the field.

As part of your education, you'll need to become familiar with the following subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Medical Terminology

Degree programs

Medical assistant schools generally offer two levels of education.

  • Certificate/Diploma: These short term programs can be completed in less than a year and provide the foundation of the skills and knowledge needed to work as a medical assistant. Students will learn everything from anatomy basics to how to administer injections.
  • Associate Degree: A medical assistant associate degree traditionally takes two years to complete, but some accelerated programs can be finished in as little as 16 months. An associate degree will cover the same fundamentals as a diploma or certificate but may provide added instruction in general education topics. An associate degree can be a good choice for anyone who thinks they may want to someday earn a bachelor's degree.

Medical Assistant Schools

Community colleges and technical schools offer medical assistant programs at both levels. Online medical assistant schools are also available, and these can make it easy for busy adults to finish their education while working or raising a family. Medical assistant online schools may use a variety of digital resources such as discussion forums, e-textbooks and multi-media presentations to teach lessons. Students can often log-in at whatever time is convenient for them to review course material.

Certification for Medical Assistants

Upon completion of an associate degree, certificate or diploma program, students may choose to pursue professional certification. Although there are no federal requirements for certification, potential employers may require graduates of medical assistant programs to hold one or more certifications for employment. The following are some examples.

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) fromthe American Association of Medical Assistants
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from American Medical Technologists
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from the National Healthcareer Association

Each certification has its own set of requirements, including education, clinical hours and examination. Individuals interested in certification after graduation should contact each certifying organization to receive an up-to-date list of certification requirements.

Career Advancement

Completing online medical assistant certification programs is one way to advance a career. Employers may be seeking workers who have a specific certification or specialty. Other workers in the field choose to advance their career by going back to school to become nurses or physician assistants.

Skills and Qualities for Medical Assistants

It takes more than book smarts to be successful in this field. Good medical assistants excel because they have the following skills and abilities.

  • Active Listening: Medical assistants are often responsible for meeting with patients at the start of a visit. They must be able to listen carefully to patient concerns and ask appropriate questions so they can relay accurate information to a physician or other health care professional.
  • Service Orientation: If you want to be a medical assistant, you need to love helping others. Having a service orientation means actively looking for ways you can be of assistance.
  • Active Learning: Medicine is an evolving field, and medical assistants need to be able to learn and adapt as needed.
  • Oral Expression: Medical assistants may need to answer questions or offer instruction to patients and being able to communicate clearly and effectively is essential to the job.
  • Near Vision: A medical assistant may need to type data into electronic health records or read displays when collecting vital signs. Both require clear vision.

Career Outlook and Salary Information for Medical Assistants

The future appears bright for workers in this field, but medical assistant salary can vary depending on a person's education, experience and certification. However, you can use the national numbers below as a guideline for what to expect.

Likewise, job opportunities for medical assistants may depend on several factors. Those who live near major medical facilities or hospital systems may have the best prospects. The chart below shows national expectations for the occupation's growth.

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean WageProjected Job Growth Rate
Medical Assistants673,660$34,54029.1%
2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Professional Resources for Medical Assistants

There are several organizations devoted to promoting and assisting the medical assistant profession. They include the following.

Top Medical Assisting Schools

For many students, the greatest challenge to beginning a career as a medical assistant is deciding which program to pursue. We have collected and combed through the data to determine the best medical assisting schools, so that you can find the right one for you. The following ranking features 20 of the top four-year and two-year colleges in the nation that offer programs in medical assisting.

See our methodology

1
Pamlico Community College

This community college ranked high for instructional spending and academic support spending. It also ranked 7th for graduation rate and 13th for distance education participation, out of the 344 schools assessed. This is why it garnered the No. 1 slot for best medical assisting schools. Its medical assisting diploma program provides students with the administrative and clinical skills necessary for success in an entry-level position in the field. This program boasts an average retention rate of 68% and an average job placement rate of 88%.

  • Location: Grantsboro, North Carolina
  • Total enrollment: 410
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $ 2,347
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 3
2
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus

Our data shows strong rates of distance education participation at the Roswell Campus of Eastern New Mexico University. That, on top of low in-state tuition fees, placed in No. 2 overall in our rankings. Since 1958, this community college has prepared students for employment in a variety of fields, including the medical field. Upon completion of the Medical Assistant Certificate program at this university, students are typically eligible to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistant's national certification examination.

  • Location: Roswell, New Mexico
  • Total enrollment: 3,303
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,944
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
3
Chabot College

Out of 344 schools, this community college tied for 3rd place in our in-state tuition ranking category. In addition to affordability, it also ranked high for strong retention rates and graduation rates. Chabot College's students can choose between a 2-semester certificate program or an associate of arts degree in medical assisting. Both programs aim to provide a balanced clinical and administrative curriculum, as well as clinical internships in local health care facilities

  • Location: Hayward, California
  • Total enrollment: 13,047
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $ 1,138
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
4
Southwestern Community College

This community college ranked high for instructional spending per student and distance education participation. Plus, it boasts strong graduation rates, a good indicator of student success. This No. 3 school offers several certificates and one degree in the medical assisting field, including certificates of achievement in medical insurance billing and coding, medical assistant (administrative), medical assistant (clinical), as well as a medical assistant associate degree.

  • Location: Sylva, North Carolina
  • Total enrollment: 2,528
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,100
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
5
Eastern Arizona College

This schools' low cost of books and supplies, on top of a relatively low in-state tuition and a strong offering of institutional grants may make it a more affordable option for students. Eastern Arizona College offers several allied health programs, including its medical assisting program that prepares students to take the national certification examination.

  • Location: Thatcher, Arizona
  • Total enrollment: 6,379
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,080
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
6
Wilkes Community College

This community college ranked high for instructional spending per student, a sign of its commitment to providing a high-quality education, evidenced further by solid scores in the graduation rate category. In the medical assisting program at Wilkes Community College, students take courses in anatomy and physiology, medical law and ethics, administrative office procedure, and drug therapy, among others.

  • Location: Wilkesboro, North Carolina
  • Total enrollment: 2,718
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,508
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
7
South Piedmont Community College

This community college received an in-state tuition rank of 32, which is impressive considering it was judged alongside 344 other schools. It also ranked 21st for distance education participation, and had a strong showing in the graduation rate category. Graduates of the medical assisting program are eligible to sit for the certification exam. Courses cover such topics as coding insurance, medical transcription, and laboratory procedures.

  • Location: Polkton, North Carolina
  • Total enrollment: 2,658
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,873
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
8
Stanly Community College

This college ranks 2nd out of the 344 schools assessed for distance education participation. Our data also reveals relatively low in-state tuition rates. The medical assisting program provides health care professionals with the skills necessary for the administrative, clinical and laboratory procedures of the job.

  • Location: Albemarie, North Carolina
  • Total enrollment: 2,745
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $ 2,523
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
9
Cabrillo College

This community college ranks 18th for in-state tuition. That, on top of high rankings for institutional grants, showcases its commitment to offering an affordable education for its students. It also performed well in the graduation rate and retention rate categories. Its medical assisting program aims to graduate competent entry-level professionals through a supportive learning environment and extensive externship program.

  • Location: Aptos, California
  • Total enrollment: 13,594
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $ 1,358
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
10
De Anza College

This large community college ranked high for in-state tuition (25th), retention rate (21st) and graduation rate (11th), which is impressive considering that 344 schools were evaluated for this ranking. The medical assisting program focuses on the important legal aspects of the job. Students are given access to state-of-the-art classrooms, clinical environments and computer labs. The course can be fulfilled through day, evening, and online classes.

  • Location: Cupertino, California
  • Total enrollment: 23,104
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: 1$,542
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
11
Durham Technical Community College

Solid rankings for in-state tuition and distance education participation put this community college in our top 20 best medical assisting schools. The program offers course work in the key disciplines necessary to work in this field, including training in medical terminology, anatomy, medical transcription, computer operations, and lab procedures, among others.

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • Total enrollment: $5,035
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,840
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
12
Phoenix College

This college ranks high when it comes to affordable in-state tuition and financial support for its students; it ranked high in the academic support spending per student category. The college offers either a certificate of completion in medical assisting or an associate degree in medical assisting. In both cases, students will be prepared to take the American Medical Technologists National Medical Assisting Exam, and to perform the office and clinical duties of a medical assistant at the entry-level.

  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Total enrollment: 12,107
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $ 2,046
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
13
Santa Fe Community College

Our data shows that this community college offers a medical assistant program at an affordable price tag in comparison to its peers. It also keeps the cost of books and supplies relatively low, as well. Their medical assisting associate degree covers the key competencies to be a successful medical assistant, including training in how to set up a proper health care setting in a physician's office, clinic or ambulance. The school also offers a certificate of completion program in the subject.

  • Location: Sante Fe, New Mexico
  • Total enrollment: 5,475
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $ 1,854
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 2
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
14
Gateway Community and Technical College

Support spending for students is a clear priority for this community college, as it ranked well for the low cost of books and supplies, and also for the amount of institutional grants given to students. That in combination with solid graduation rates, makes Gateway Community and Technical College an attractive option. The program boasts a job placement rate of 66% for its medical assistant graduates, and aims to prepare students with the skills, knowledge and attitude to excel in the field.

  • Location: Florence, Kentucky
  • Total enrollment: 4,594
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $3,704
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
15
Mitchell Community College

A distance education participation rank of 4th, plus low in-state tuition and high instructional spending per full-time student awarded this community college a place on our list of best medical assisting schools. Mitchell's highly competitive medical assisting diploma program includes coursework in scheduling, medical transcription, routine laboratory procedures, and billing. Upon completion, students can sit for their certification exam or continue their education in an associate degree program.

  • Location: Statesville, North Carolina
  • Total enrollment: $3,106
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,407
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
16
Metropolitan Community College Area

Solid scores in distance education participation, in-state tuition and academic support spending per student make this community college an affordable option, especially for those who wish to study online. At the end of their four-quarter medical assisting program, graduates may receive a certificate in the field and be eligible to sit for the exam required for entry-level positions in the field.

  • Location: Omaha, Nebraska
  • Total enrollment: $14,675
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,745
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 3
17
Central Community College

Low in-state tuition figures, coupled with high amounts of spending in the areas of academic support and instruction, put this Midwest community college on our list of best medical assisting schools. Students have the choice of two programs: An AAS degree in medical assisting or an administrative medical office certificate. Both cover all aspects of the field, though AAS students receive more in-depth training.

  • Location: Grand Island, Nebraska
  • Total enrollment: 6,377
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $ 2,820
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
18
Santa Rosa Junior College

This college ranked 12th for in-state tuition, 30th for retention rate, and 31st for graduation rate, all signs that this is an financially viable program with a solid reputation for graduating medical assistants. The program is offered in three separate tracks: Administrative Medical Assisting, Clinical Medical Assisting, and Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting. No matter which track students choose, they can expect classroom training in addition to hands-on experience through externships and internships.

  • Location: Santa Rose, California
  • Total enrollment: 23,144
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,318
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 3
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0
19
Seward County Community College and Area Technical School

This school ranked 10th in our list for its low cost of books and supplies. That, combined with high rates of instructional spending and grant-giving, makes this a financially sound option for students. A graduation rate ranking of 35th also helped this college make the cut. The community college and technical schools offers a 10-month certificate and a two-year associate degree in medical assisting through both online, on-campus, and hybrid formats.

  • Location: Liberal, Kansas
  • Total enrollment: $1,852
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,816
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 2
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 2
20
Mountwest Community and Technical College

Rounding out our list of the top 20 best medical assisting schools is this community college, which ranked 10th for institutional grants given to students and also offered the most undergraduate programs in the subject of the schools in our top 20. The most robust of these programs, the associate degree in medical assisting, trains students in key administrative and clinical duties. These include scheduling patients, writing correspondence, infection control, collecting specimens, and performing diagnostic tests.

  • Location: Huntington, West Virginia
  • Total enrollment: 2,026
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: 3,816
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in medical assisting: 4
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in medical assisting: 0

Medical assistants wear many hats. They are often the first to greet patients in an exam room, and they are also hard at work behind the scenes. At doctor offices, hospitals and health care facilities across the country, you'll find medical assistants doing the following:

  • Measuring vital signs such as blood pressure and pulse.
  • Recording patient concerns and family history.
  • Assisting physicians with examinations.
  • Administering medication and preparing blood samples for analysis.
  • Scheduling appointments and updating patient records.

Top School Ranking Methodology

We ranked a set of schools offering undergraduate programs in medical assisting on several criteria pertaining to cost, program availability, and student success, among other factors, using the following data points:

  1. In-state undergraduate tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  3. Total number of degree and certificate programs in medical assisting offered at the bachelor’s level or below, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  4. Admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  5. Total institutional grants relative to enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  6. Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  7. Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  8. Graduation rate in 200 percent time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  9. Flexibility, based on the following seven factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014 and 2015
  • Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
  • Whether the school offers credit for life experience
  • Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
  • Whether the school offers remedial services
  • Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
  • Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
  • Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
Article Sources
Medical Assistant Schools
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