Online Medical Assistant Programs Directory

Thank you for visiting OnlineMedicalAssistantPrograms.com, a comprehensive online resource built for students thinking about a career and education in the medical assistant field. We have created this research-based site to give you all the information you need to make smart decisions about your future.

Top Accredited Online Medical Assistant Programs of 2014

Start by clicking on any school of our top sponsored online schools to get more information now.

1. Kaplan University

2. Herzing University

3. Keiser University

4. San Joaquin Valley College

5. Allied Schools

Using the Directory

Filter through more than 6,200 medical assistant training programs at more than 2,000 schools using the program directory we're compiled for you. Use the directory to locate the program that best matches your study preferences, career goals, and lifestyle. Then, learn everything you need to know about qualifying to become a medical assistant in the guide that follows.

Studying Medical Assisting

I’m interested in studying medical assisting. What can you tell me?

Medical assisting consists of performing administrative and clinical tasks in medical offices like clinics and hospitals. Medical assistants are the first people that patients interact with at the doctor’s office, so they act as mediators between physicians and patients.

If you want to study medical assisting, you should be organized, flexible and pleasant. You should be able to keep track of many things at the same time, because each day will require you to balance tasks that range from scheduling appointments to collecting urine samples. And you need to maintain a pleasant demeanor so that you can put patients at ease when they must visit the doctor.

Many students are attracted to medical assisting because job prospects are good and this career does not require extensive formal education. In fact, some clinics hire medical assistants who have only a high school diploma, so you may not need a degree to work in this field. However, although most training will occur on the job, a degree may help you to stand out among the competition.

Let’s hear some other perspectives

An Interview with Natalie Weber

Natalie Weber

Student, Diploma Program for Medical Assisting, Western Iowa Tech Community College

“Being a people person and being able to communicate easily with others will help you considerably in this field, since medical assistants are constantly working with others.”

Read the Full Interview >>

An Interview with Fataun Poureetezadi

Fataun Poureetezadi

Student, Certificate in Medical Assisting, Everest College

“The most important trait for someone who wants to succeed in a medical assisting program is tenacity. This program moves fast and throws a ton of information at students. Many people drop out of medical assisting programs because they lack the iron will to keep up.”

Read the Full Interview >>

An Interview with Jin Kim

Jin Kim

Instructor, Medical Assisting, Portland Community College

“The biggest hurdle that medical assisting students face is the challenging coursework. Some students expect the medical assisting program to be easy and fast, but this is far from the truth. Students should be prepared to take rigorous classes in math and science.”

Read the Full Interview >>

Medical Assistant Overview

What exactly is a medical assistant?

Medical assistants are healthcare professionals who aid coworkers and doctors with administrative and clinical tasks. Some of their administrative duties include taking medical histories, scheduling appointments and managing employee health records. Their clinical tasks vary according to the type of doctor that they work for, but medical assistants may record vital signs, chaperone exams, give shots and prepare blood work for the lab. It is important to note that medical assistants are not the same as physician’s assistants, who perform more advanced clinical procedures and assist with surgery. Additionally, physician’s assistants are authorized to make medical decisions, while medical assistants must work under the supervision of doctors.

Let’s hear some other perspectives

An Interview with Lisa Simpson

Lisa Simpson

Certified Medical Assistant, Based in Illinois

“A CMA job is a wonderful position for someone who is thinking about working as a nurse or in some other aspect of the healthcare field. This job will place you in the clinical or hospital setting so that you can see what it would be like to work at a medical facility and rid yourself of any misconceptions about the field.”

Read the Full Interview >>

Personality Quiz

How do I know if medical assisting would be a good fit for me?

Here is a quick quiz to help you decide if you have the personality it takes to succeed as a medical assistant. Rate, on a scale from 1 to 5, how well each of the following statements describes you.

I am observant and I pay attention to social cues.

Medical assistants must be able to sense a patient’s discomfort so that they can give them proper care. You should be socially perceptive and aware of your environment if you want to work in healthcare.

I am not squeamish about bodily fluids like blood.

Clinical medical assistants take blood samples, remove stitches and change bandages. If you have a sensitive stomach, you will not enjoy medical assisting.

I work well on a team.

Medical assistants must be able to work closely with physicians, other healthcare professionals and patients. Teamwork is essential to providing quality care for your patients.

I have excellent language skills and I can communicate complex ideas using simple words.

Medical assistants explain complex technical procedures and clarify physician’s instructions for patients. You should have good communication skills if you want to work in medical assisting.

I am organized and I can keep track of many things at once.

Medical assistants are responsible for scheduling appointments, handling bills and bookkeeping. You should be able to perform several tasks simultaneously if you want to work in this field.

I respect privacy and I can keep a secret.

Medical assistants must keep medical information private. You must be able to keep things to yourself if you want to work in medical assisting.

I am flexible and I can adapt to new duties.

Medical assistants are required to perform a wide variety of clinical and administrative tasks. You will be expected to adapt to many different job duties.

I listen actively to others.

Medical assistants must be able to accurately document patient’s concerns and doctor’s instructions. You must be a good listener to succeed as a medical assistant.

I am kind to others and I have a pleasant attitude.

Many patients are distressed when they have to visit the doctor. As a medical assistant, you will need to be calm and courteous as you help patients deal with their medical problems.

I am comfortable taking direction from others.

Medical assistants work under the supervision of doctors and other healthcare professionals. You must be willing to take instructions from others if you want to be a medical assistant.

Get My Score

*Note that this is not a scientific quiz. The result is simply my rough estimate of how well I believe your personality matches that of a successful medical assistant.

By my assessment, a career as a medical assistant is probably not a good fit for your personality.

By my assessment, although a career as a medical assistant may not be an ideal fit for your personality, if you are willing to adapt in a few areas, you can still find success in the field. Please see the list to the right for information on the areas that you may need to work on.

By my assessment, your personality is a good fit for a career as a medical assistant. Scroll through our site to gain valuable insight into what it will take you to earn the necessary credentials.

Making the Right Choice

Is there anything else I should consider in deciding if medical assisting is the right choice for me?

In addition to personality compatibility, there are a few other considerations that you should keep in mind before you decide to study medical assisting.

Limited Career Advancement

If you want to work as a medical assistant, you should be aware that there is little career mobility in this field. Although you may gain greater responsibility and pay over time, you won’t have the opportunity to learn other healthcare skills. For instance, some medical assistants become medical office managers. But you will need to obtain an advanced education to move beyond medical assisting.

Clinical vs. Administrative Training

Medical assisting contains 2 major knowledge areas, which are clinical skills and administrative skills. Some programs give you the option to study 1 of these knowledge areas alone, but your employment opportunities will be greater if you are skilled in both clinical and administrative duties. Clinical skills include medical procedures like drawing blood, giving shots and laboratory techniques. On the other hand, administrative skills refer to medical office duties like stocking supplies, scheduling appointments and medical coding.

Medical Assistant Professions

What medical assistant professions can I choose from?

Education Required:

Certificate (9 months to 1 year)

Average Salary:

$28,900 (Lowest 10% earned less than $20,810; highest 10% earned more than $40,190)

Work Environment:

Medical clinics, hospitals

Job Description:

Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs) perform both clinical and administrative duties. They take patient histories, conduct basic laboratory work, bill patients, collect specimens and explain medical instructions. To become certified, CMAs must pass the CMA Certification Exam, which is offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants.

Education Required:

High school diploma; certificate (9 months to a year) recommended

Average Salary:

$26,000

Work Environment:

Medical clinics, hospitals

Job Description:

Administrative medical assistants help run the offices of hospitals and clinics. They maintain patient medical records, work with insurance companies and handle billing issues. They order supplies and keep examination rooms stocked. In addition, administrative medical assistants schedule and confirm appointments.

Education Required:

High school diploma; certificate (9 months to a year) recommended

Average Salary:

$30,000

Work Environment:

Medical clinics, hospitals

Job Description:

Clinical medical assistants work closely with physicians and patients in a clinical setting. They aid healthcare professionals by sterilizing medical equipment, recording vital signs and explaining medical procedures to patients. Some clinical medical assistants perform additional duties like giving shots or removing stitches.

Education Required:

High school diploma; certificate (9 months to a year) recommended

Average Salary:

$28,900 (Lowest 10% earned less than $20,810; highest 10% earned more than $40,190)

Work Environment:

Clinics

Job Description:

In addition to the administrative duties that all medical assistants perform, specialized medical assistants complete clinical tasks in specific areas of medicine. For example, ophthalmic medical assistants work for eye doctors. They test patients’ vision and show them how to care for glasses and contact lenses. Some other areas that employ specialized medical assistants include podiatric and chiropractic care centers.

Job Outlook

What is the job outlook for medical assistants?

Medical assisting is a growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2010 there were about 527,000 medical assistants working in the United States. Employment of medical assistants is expected to increase by approximately 31% over the next decade, which is much faster than the average projected growth for all occupations. Medical assistants who become certified will have the best job prospects.
Profession Employment 2010 Projected 2020 Average Growth
Medical Assistant 527600 690400 31%
Medical Secretary 508700 718900 41%
Receptionist Or Information Clerk 1048500 1297000 24%

Average Salary Growth 2006 - 2011

Profession 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Medical Assistant 27190 28270 29060 29450 29760 30170
Medical Secretary 29220 30050 30800 31450 31820 32430
Receptionist Or Information Clerk 23810 24580 25400 26010 26260 26730

Salary By Percentile

Profession 10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
Medical Assistant $20880 $24670 $29100 $35080 $40810
Medical Secretary $21410 $25660 $31060 $37660 $45860
Receptionist Or Information Clerk $17900 $20880 $25690 $30930 $37500

Education Requirements

How long would it take me to become a medical assistant?

The amount of time that it takes to become a medical assistant varies according to the educational path that you choose. Remember, you can become an entry-level assistant without any formal education. But you can also earn specialized medical assistant training through a certificate or an associates degree. Certificate courses usually take about 1 year, while associates degrees typically take 2 years of study to complete.

Areas of Study

What can I expect to learn while studying medical assisting?

Formal training and study in medical assisting will significantly contribute to your knowledge and skills.

Core Areas of Study

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy is concerned with the structure of the body, including its organs, bones and tissues. Physiology, which is closely related to anatomy, describes bodily functions like breathing and the skeletal, muscular, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology prepares medical assistants for many clinical tasks.

Medical Ethics and Law

Medical ethics and law provides medical assisting students with an ethical framework to help them make difficult healthcare decisions. This subject discusses situations like patient confidentiality, medical experimentation, healthcare reform and informed consent, which means that patients must be aware of the possible risks of a medical procedure before it is performed.

Medical Terminology

Medical terminology discusses the technical language that is specific to medicine and the healthcare industry. This subject covers the vocabulary that relates to clinical procedures, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic testing and medical legislation. It also explores the Latin roots of medical terminology.

Inventory Management

Inventory management teaches medical assisting students to order, stock and organize the essential supplies that are used in a clinic like bandages and disposable medical gowns. It discusses ways to catalog different items and how often they need to be ordered. Inventory management also addresses how to track the use of necessary items.

Infection Control

Infection control is a set of procedures that medical assistants perform in order to create a sterile environment that limits the growth of microorganisms in order to prevent infection. It discusses standard precautions that medical assistants should practice, like frequent hand washing, wearing protective clothing, avoiding contact with body fluids and properly disposing of needles.

Skills

Administrative Skills

Administrative skills are necessary to keep a medical office running smoothly. In your medical assisting program, you will learn administrative skills including how to use basic technology like word processing programs, e-mail and spreadsheets. Administrative skills also include organization, prioritizing your job duties, and professional conduct in the workplace.

Phlebotomy

Phlebotomy is the technical term for drawing blood. You will be trained to efficiently and safely draw blood from patients so that it can be analyzed in a laboratory. The process of phlebotomy involves sterilization of equipment, puncturing the skin and vein with a needle and safely handling the blood sample. You will also learn various ways to help people feel comfortable when you are drawing blood.

Clinical Procedures

Clinical procedures are the day-to-day processes that medical assistants are expected to perform. During your medical assistant training, you will learn to change dressings, collect bodily fluid specimens from patients and perform simple lab tests. You will also be trained to use medical equipment like an EKG machine and to prepare patients for x rays.

Medical Coding

Medical coding is an essential part of the medical billing process. In your medical coding class, you will learn to document the medical services that patients were provided with by assigning diagnostic and procedural codes to their information file. You will also use those codes to create a claim that needs to be paid.

Measuring Vital Signs

Vital signs are clinical measurements that determine the physical condition of patients. In your medical assisting curriculum, you will discover how to accurately measure and record vital signs like temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate. Your measurements will indicate to physicians how well their patient’s body is functioning.

Academic Degrees

What academic levels are available in the field of medical assisting?

You can only study medical assisting at the undergraduate level. You can either earn a certificate or an associates degree. Remember, you do not need to have formal education to get a job in medical assisting, but it will enhance your resume and improve your job prospects.

Select the degree level you are interested in:

  • Certificate
  • Associate’s

Certificate

Many schools offer certificates in medical assisting, which will increase your employment prospects. However, you do not need to earn a certificate to be hired as a medical assistant. Certificates in medical assisting are a good idea if you want to learn the foundational knowledge and skills of medical assisting without completing a full degree.

What are the different types of certificates that I can earn in medical assisting?

You can earn undergraduate certificates in medical assisting through vocational schools or community college programs. Some medical assisting schools allow you to focus on either administrative or clinical skills, while others offer instruction in both areas.

How long will I have to study to earn my certificate in medical assisting?

Most medical assisting certificate programs require students to complete about 30 credit hours. Students normally are able to complete their medical assisting certificate programs in 9 months to 1 year.

What types of courses will I take while studying for my certificate in medical assisting?

Your medical assisting certificate program will train you in administrative and clinical tasks. The exact courses that you will take vary according to the length and depth of your program, but you are likely to take administrative courses in medical billing and coding, business applications software, healthcare ethics and medical terminology. You will also take classes that are designed to teach you hands-on clinical skills like anatomy and physiology, laboratory procedures and specimen collection. In addition, many certificate programs require students to complete an internship.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure with a certificate in medical assisting?

A certificate in medical assisting prepares you to be a medical assistant at a physician’s clinic. You may also become a specialized medical assistant who works for a podiatrist, optometrist or chiropractor.

What should I consider when deciding on a school to earn my certificate in medical assisting?

The most important thing to consider when you are looking for a medical assisting school is whether or not it provides you with the opportunity to practice your clinical skills in a hands-on setting. Quality medical assisting programs will have several hours of lab work for students to practice skills like taking vitals and drawing blood. Many programs also offer an internship, which is a valuable opportunity for you to put your skills to work in a real-world setting. If your program does not include an internship, you will have to learn to apply medical assisting theory on the job.

What about getting an online certificate in medical assisting?

There are several opportunities to earn your medical assisting certificate online. If you choose to earn an online medical assisting certificate, you should only attend a program that provides an internship or an externship, which is a training program for nonresident medical professionals. During an externship program, you will be placed in a healthcare facility where you can practice hands-on skills that you will not be able to learn through online medical assisting certificate classes. You should not commit to an online medical assisting program unless it provides ample practical instruction.

Associates Degree

An associates degree in medical assisting will increase your employment prospects and provide you with a thorough understanding of medical assisting principles. Some employers prefer that applicants can demonstrate their medical assisting knowledge and ability through an associates degree.

What are the different types of associates degrees that I can earn in medical assisting?

Associate of Science AS

An AS degree in medical assisting has classes that teach clinical and administrative skills along with general science courses. The AS is the best option if you want to transfer into a bachelors degree program.

Associate of Applied Science AAS

An AAS degree in medical assisting emphasizes technical job skills more than general knowledge. The AAS is a good choice if you want to start working as a medical assistant as soon as you graduate.

How long will I have to study to earn my associates degree in medical assisting?

An associates degree in medical assisting typically requires students to complete 60 to 65 credit hours. Most medical assistants are able to complete their programs in about 2 years.

What types of courses will I take while studying for my associates degree in medical assisting?

When studying for an associates degree in medical assisting, you can expect to take science classes like biology, anatomy and physiology. You will also take classes about medical coding, healthcare ethics, administrative procedures and medical terminology. Finally, you will take clinical labs that teach you how to remove stitches, change bandages and draw blood. In addition, most associates degrees in medical assisting require students to complete an internship or externship.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure with an associates degree in medical assisting?

If you earn a medical assisting associates degree, you will be eligible to work as a clinical or administrative medical assistant. In addition, you will be better suited for managerial positions in medical assisting after you gain some work experience.

What should I consider when deciding on a school to earn my associates degree in medical assisting?

Your biggest consideration when you are looking for a medical assisting school is whether or not its program offers an internship or externship. Internships and externships allow student to practice the skills that they learn in class in a practical setting. This work experience enhances your resume and increases your job opportunities.

In addition, you should consider accreditation. Attending an accredited program is not necessary to get a medical assisting job, but you can be sure that programs that are accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) offer a high quality education. And if you want to become a Certified Medical Assistant, you must graduate from an accredited program.

What about getting an online associates degree in medical assisting?

If you are considering attending an online medical assisting school, keep in mind that online medical assisting associates degrees are only valuable if they include a practical component, like an internship or externship. Although you can learn administrative tasks and theory in an online medical assisting program, hands-on experience is vital for medical assisting skills like removing stitches or testing blood. In addition, you should keep in mind that you must graduate from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) if you want to become a Certified Medical Assistant. Very few online medical assisting associates degree programs were accredited in 2012, although this could change in the future. You should check whether your online program is accredited if you are interested in earning this degree.

Licensing Information

What else should I keep in mind when considering studying medical assisting?

Certification Requirements

You can distinguish yourself in the job market by becoming a Certified Medical Assistant. Certification will assure potential employers of your knowledge and ability, which makes you a more competitive job applicant. Remember, you are only eligible for certification if you complete a certificate or degree from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). After completing an accredited program, you must pass the CMA Certification Exam, which is administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In addition, you will need to recertify every 5 years to keep your certification current.

Questions & Answers

For additional information on studying medical assisting, select a category to find answers

Resources

What are some other resources that can help me learn more about pursuing a degree or certificate in medical assisting?

Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

American Association of Medical Assistants

American Medical Technologists

American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Medical Assistants

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology

National Healthcareer Association

O*NET Online – Medical Assistants