When you’ve decided that becoming a medical assistant is the right career path for you, the next step is selecting a medical assistant training program. It’s an important decision because the medical assistant school that you choose will require an investment of both time and money. You want to be sure you’ll get as much return on this investment as possible and that you’re well-prepared to find employment as a professional medical assistant.
The 10 Best Medical Assistant Schools
A medical assistant is a specially trained healthcare provider who plays an important role in many settings including hospitals, urgent care facilities, health clinics and doctor’s offices. The best medical assistant programs prepare you to perform a wide variety of administrative and clinical tasks as directed by doctors and nurses. Your duties will include patient care such as assisting with patient exams, taking patients’ vital signs, doing lab work and sterilizing supplies. You may also be responsible for office duties including scheduling appointments, billing, filing insurance claims and updating patient records.
Finding an Accredited School
Formal postsecondary education isn’t always required to work as a medical assistant, but a large number of employers prefer candidates who have completed accredited training programs. Before you begin looking for a medical assistant school near you, it’s important to determine whether the school you’re considering is accredited, which is a requirement to take a certification exam.
Schools can become accredited through the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Once you graduate from a medical assisting program through an accredited school, you’re eligible to take a certification exam. Trained medical assistants can obtain one of five possible certification exams:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)—through the American Association of Medical Assistants.
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)—through the National Health Career Association
- National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)—through the National Center for Competency Testing
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)—through American Medical Technologists
Some states require medical assistants to pass a certification exam or graduate from an accredited program. Even in states where this isn’t a requirement, passing a certification exam can help you to prove your expertise to potential employers.
Questions to Consider When Choosing a Medical Assistant School
Medical assistant schools have both laboratory and classroom portions, and most require a high school diploma or the equivalent to enroll. Once you’ve identified accredited programs to consider, it’s time to narrow down your choices so you can determine the best medical assistant school for you. Most training programs for medical assistants take one or two years to complete and are offered at vocational schools, community colleges, technical colleges and universities.
Take the time to research all the options available to you for obtaining the training you need to become a medical assistant. You’ll need to consider how much time you have available to devote to your education along with your financial resources and available financial aid options if needed. To determine the best medical assistant programs near you, there are a number of questions to consider. Examples include:
- Does the school offer a certificate, associate degree or diploma?
- How long does it take to complete the program?
- Are there academic prerequisites?
- What is the total cost of attending the school?
- Are classes offered on a full-time or part-time basis?
- What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
- Does the school offer hands-on training?
- Can you transfer credits you may have earned at a different college?
- What percentage of students graduate and pass the certification exam?
- What percentage of students find employment in the field?
- Does the school offer job placement?
As you consider these questions, you’ll be able to find the best options for obtaining the needed training for a career as a medical assistant. Your research will help you know what to expect when it comes to cost, along with the time required to complete your training. You’ll also know the school’s track record for helping prepare graduates to pass the certification exam and find employment. Some of the best medical assistant programs are listed on this page.
1. Pima Medical Institute
With 17 campuses in the western part of the United States, Pima Medical Institute is a great choice if you’re looking for an accredited certificate program in medical assisting. This program can be completed in approximately nine months. Classes are taught by qualified and experienced instructors who are well-regarded in the field. In this program, you’ll learn to assist doctors in patient care, sterilize medical instruments, perform office tasks and learn about medical law and ethics, pharmacology and more. It includes hands-on training and financial aid for those who qualify as well as career planning and internships for eligible students. Campuses are in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington.
2. Altierus Career College
Attending Altierus Career College provides you with the knowledge you need to pass the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification exam. Test preparation and exam fees are included in your tuition. This 10-month diploma program is offered at campuses in Tampa, FL, Norcross, GA, and Houston, TX. It consists of a blend of on-campus and online learning. You’ll obtain hand-on learning and interaction with instructors three days a week while completing studies online the other two weekdays. Hands-on learning includes working with professional tools such as EKG machines and multipurpose venous training arms. This is a 60-credit program consisting of 920 contact hours and a 200-hour externship.
3. Carrington College
Complete a certificate program in medical assisting in as little as nine months or an associate degree in as little as 16 months at Carrington College headquartered in Sacramento, CA, with additional locations in Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. In this program, you’ll learn to perform clerical functions in a medical office setting, along with assisting with patient procedures, performing diagnostic tests and maintaining needed equipment and supplies. The program includes a 180-hour externship in a physician’s office where you’ll be able to put into practice the skills learned in class under the supervision of a faculty member from Carrington College. You’ll be qualified for an entry-level position as a medical assistant after completing 36 weeks, but you can obtain an associate degree in 66 weeks.
4. Pasadena City College
Three certificate programs are offered at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, CA, which is recognized as one of the best community colleges in the state of California. Full-time students can complete the medical assisting program in 12 months, and classes are only offered during the day. Practicum training is completed over six weeks during summer intersession. Once accepted to the medical assisting program, students need to obtain health clearance, pass a background check and obtain a First Aid certificate and an American Heart Association Basic Life Support for Health Care Providers card. Available programs include Medical Assisting, Medical Office Administrative and Medical Office Insurance Biller.
5. Rasmussen College
Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), Rasmussen College offers a diploma program in medical assisting at multiple locations including Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. In as few as 12 months, students learn to perform routine diagnostic procedures, first aid and direct patient care including recording vitals and administering medications. This program consists of a blend of in-person and online training leading to a solid understanding of the healthcare system. Hands-on training helps students develop confidence in their abilities and prepares them to take the Medical Assisting CMA exam or RMA exam. The exam fee is included in the total cost of the program. Students who wish to pursue more advanced learning can transfer credits earned for the Medical Assisting Diploma toward a degree in Health Sciences or Health and Wellness.
6. Keiser University
Located in Florida, Keiser University offers an Associate of Science Degree in Medical Assisting at 15 locations across the state. This is a 60.5-credit program, which takes approximately two years to complete. Students learn skills in a hands-on environment under the direct supervision of a physician. Skills learned include performing lab tests, preparing examination rooms and taking medical histories and vital signs from patients. Administrative skills are also part of the program including billing, scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records, processing insurance claims and ordering supplies. Completion of the program helps students to be well-prepared for a variety of credentialing exams and ready for jobs in the medical assisting field.
7. Ross College
Ross College offers hands-on medical assistant training at 41 locations including Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia. Day students can complete the program in approximately 30 weeks, and evening students can complete the program in 36 weeks. The training program consists of six modules and an externship that lasts for six weeks. Students receive classroom instruction on medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, first aid, infection control, disease processes and assisting with examinations. Training is also given on administrative skills including filing, computer skills, medical charting, financial recordkeeping and insurance billing and coding. At this school, modules can be completed in any order. There’s no waiting period for externships.
8. Bryant and Stratton
An Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Assisting is offered at Bryant and Stratton with locations in New York, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Students complete courses in liberal arts along with healthcare and administrative courses and can attain this degree in approximately two years. Students have the opportunity to complete an externship for hands-on clinical practice. After completing the program, students are prepared to communicate effectively with patients and other members of the healthcare team in diverse environments and to demonstrate skills consistent with the ethical and legal standards of the profession. Bryant and Stratton also offers a Medical Office Assistant diploma, which acts as a stepping stone into the healthcare field. Completion of this diploma prepares students to perform diverse administrative tasks in a healthcare setting such as billing, coding, filing insurance claims, records management and other clerical duties.
9. Midwest Technical Institute
A nationally accredited community college with three campuses in Illinois and one in Missouri, Midwest Technical Institute offers hands-on and theory medical assistant training, which can be completed in less than one year. Program instructors have real-world experience and are well-qualified to help students build knowledge and skills. Students will learn phlebotomy, first aid, how to prepare patients for exams and perform clinical procedures, and how to sterilize and care for instruments. The program also prepares students to effectively handle office procedures including billing, coding and insurance claims. This diploma program consists of 765 clock hours, including 225 externship hours and an additional 135 outside clock hours. Both day and evening classes are available.
10. Ivy Tech Community College
Graduates of the medical assisting school at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana are highly sought after by many doctors and hospitals all over the state. This community college has 40 locations and is the largest community college system in the United States. Ivy Tech prides itself on providing a small class size to allow students to enjoy personalized interactions with college faculty members. A technical certificate in medical assisting can be earned in 33 credit hours, or three semesters. For more advanced training in the field, you can attain an Associate of Applied Science by completing 60 credit hours. The school provides access to a clinical skills lab, a laboratory skills lab, a phlebotomy lab and a computer lab, so you will be well-prepared to take the certification exam and begin your career as a medical assistant.
Starting Your Career as a Medical Assistant
A career as a medical assistant is an important and rewarding one. Pursuing a career as a medical assistant starts with choosing one of the best medical assistant programs through an accredited school that meets your personal, financial and educational goals. Once you’ve chosen a school, completed your medical assistant training and passed a national certification exam, you’re ready to start your career as a medical assisting professional.