In this article, we will discuss how you can discover a medical assistant school that fits your budget and provides you with a great on-campus or online training opportunity so that, come graduation, you will be able to find a job in your field.
Which Schools Offer Medical Assistant Programs?
The first thing we are often asked is how you can go about finding a school that offers courses in medical assisting. Thankfully, we’ve made searching for medical assisting programs downright easy.
Below, please select your state in our interactive table to discover all of the programs available in your local area that offer students classes in medical assisting. We not only provide you with a list of accredited and non-accredited programs, but we’ll also give you program length and tuition estimates, as well as whether you can expect to graduate with a diploma or Associates degree.
|Alabama||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Alaska||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Arizona||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Arkansas||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|California||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Colorado||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Connecticut||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Delaware||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Florida||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Georgia||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Hawaii||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Idaho||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Illinois||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Indiana||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Iowa||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Kansas||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Kentucky||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Louisiana||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Maine||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Maryland||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Massachusetts||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Michigan||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Minnesota||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Mississippi||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Missouri||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Montana||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Nebraska||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Nevada||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|New Hampshire||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|New Jersey||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|New Mexico||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|New York||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|North Carolina||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|North Dakota||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Ohio||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Oklahoma||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Oregon||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Pennsylvania||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Rhode Island||No Listings Currently|
|South Carolina||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|South Dakota||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Tennessee||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Texas||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Utah||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Vermont||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Virginia||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Washington||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|West Virginia||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Wisconsin||Accredited & Non-Accredited|
|Wyoming||No Listings Currently|
Now that we’ve provided you with an easy way to find a school nearby, we’re going to list the things you should strongly consider when selecting a program to apply to. So let’s get started:
Is the Program Accredited?
It is not required that you graduate from an accredited program to land a job. But the truth is that it will probably help you in the long run. And thankfully, our interactive table features accredited programs.
Though it’s not required for you to graduate from an accredited program, here’s why it’s important for you to consider doing so: It’s very likely your peers, who are going for the same medical assisting jobs as you following graduation, may have graduated from an accredited program. So at the very least, you want to be able to keep pace with your potential competition in the job market.
But more than that, employers believe that you are likely more prepared for the job if you graduated an accredited program. Schools have to go through an accreditation process, so not every school that has a medical assisting program is accredited. Because of this, those that are accredited are seen in some circles as having a better reputation for producing graduates that are ready to step into a hospital or a physician’s office and hit the ground running.
Acquiring Proper Certification
The next thing you want to consider is certification. This goes right in hand with attending an accredited school. Why? Because you cannot become a certified medical assistant unless you have graduated from an accredited program.
To have an opportunity to become credentialed, you must attend a school that’s accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
There are four organizations or certification agencies in charge of certifying medical assistants:
- The AAMA or The American Association of Medical Assistants
- The AMT or American Medical Technologists
- National Center for Competency Testing – National Certified Medical Assistant – NCMA (NCCT)
- National HealthCareer Association – Certified Clinical Medical Assistant Medical Assistant – CCMA (NHA)
We are going to shift our focus here to the AAMA and AMT, because those two are the most highly recognized certifications when it comes to medical assistants.
After you graduate school, you will be eligible to take the AAMA’s certification exam. If you successfully pass it, you will become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). Some schools will put you on a track to take the RMA examination from the AMT upon graduation. If you complete that exam successfully, you will become a Registered Medical Assistant (or an RMA).
For all intents and purposes, registration is analogous to certification.
Those that earn certification have a leg up on their competition in the job market. While it’s important to have a strong resume or a captivating cover letter, the truth is that medical assistants that are certified are seen as extremely committed. You went the extra mile to ensure that you are the most qualified candidate possible, and proved through your successful examination that you understand what you were taught why you were in school.
Again, it should be noted that overall, attending an accredited program or gaining certification or registration status isn’t required. At least not on a nationally level. But do note, too, that there are indeed some employers that may require their medical assistants to become certified. This is not only due to the fact that being credentialed makes you appear more ready and qualified, but that a recent ruling by the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has allowed “credentialed medical assistants” to now enter orders into the Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) system for items like medication, as well as laboratory and radiology services. Previously, this was only something that “licensed providers” were allowed to do.
In short, the ruling makes it clear that earning your credential is not something that can be done at your employer. In other words, you won’t be able to simply take a 6-week course at your job to earn a credentialed status and be able to perform these important duties. You must earn your certification via an examination, and you can only earn your certification if you’ve graduated from an accredited program.
How Much Does School Cost?
Cost is always a factor in everything, but it’s especially true for medical assistants, as students are by no means rich. The good news here is that almost all schools provide you the opportunity to receive some form of student aid. Aid can come in the form of a scholarship, a federal loan, a grant, and more.
In terms of how much school might cost, the truth is that it varies. The first reason for this is based on the path you take once you’re in school. Typically, schools that offer medical assistant training allow you to earn either a diploma or an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting degree. A degree will take you longer to complete, but you will often be able to put those credits towards a Bachelor’s Degree. You will also have been in school longer than those that pursue a diploma, and therefore employers may feel more comfortable with you education and training.
The benefits of a diploma are that it’s less expensive, and you’ll be able to exit school faster and hopefully find a job at a quicker pace. The downside, of course, is that you are competing with some candidates that may have an Associate’s Degree.
Pertaining to actual cost figures, a diploma program can last anywhere from 6-12 months, and can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 on average. That price includes everything from tuition fees and books and supplies to your actual certification examination, uniform, and more.
A degree program, on the other hand, can take close to two years to complete. Cost will be significantly higher, sometimes surpassing the $30,000 and even $35,000 mark.
On-campus vs. Online training: Lastly, it’s important to talk about how you can actually receive your training. As you most likely expect, education for medical assisting takes place on-campus.
There, you will be able to learn about medical terminology, first aid, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, record keeping and accounting, clinical law, lab techniques and much more.
But in the digital age, it’s great to know you have a second option for your education. This is where Hybrid courses or on-line training comes into play.
At some schools, such as Kaplan for example, you can take online classes throughout your program. This doesn’t mean that your program will be able to be completed 100% through your computer. After all, medical assisting is a career field where you very much have to exist in the real world and have real work experience. The same is true for many programs that offer online classes, as there will be times or certain days where you will have to meet in person or get work experience in person.
With that said, online training can be great if you have a busy life, or a very young family (or simply live far away from your school), as you can work towards your certificate or degree from the comfort of your own home.
Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand not only what schools you can attend for your medical assistant education, but how to actually go about deciding what programs to attend in the first place.
If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to bookmark Medical Assistant Professional. We can’t wait to see you again!
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