Where to Study Medical Assisting in Illinois

With 10,000 baby boomers entering the Medicare age of 65 every day, the U.S. 65+ population, now comprising 15% of all Americans, is projected to double over the next decade. This rapidly aging group holds great promise for those entering the medical field at practically any level (specialist doctors, general physicians, nurses, medical assistants, and other). [Leer en español]

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Earning your diploma is a great first career step that embarks you into this vastly promising medical field. Medical assistants are critical to the effective functioning of most medical centers, whether in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and wherever else people go for their health needs.

Illinois State Requirements

There is a distinction in Illinois between “medical assistant” and “certified medical assistant”.

Medical assistants: For medical assistants, the State of Illinois does not have any specific licensing or certification requirements, other than being aware of the regulations of the Illinois Department of Medical and Professional Regulation (DMFR). The Department empowers licensed health care providers, at their discretion, to train employees, either through a formal study program, or by way of hands-on training, or both. The licensed health practitioner can however require that the medical assistant they hire be certified.

Certified medical assistants: While the State of Illinois does not have any certification requirements, you can obtain a certificate through one of these two certifying institutions, both accredited by the Illinois Department of Medical and Professional Regulation:

  • You can get a national certification as a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) by American Medical technologists (AMT). AMT provides a list of study requirements that lead to the exam you must pass to obtain your certification.
  • Or you can also get nationally certified as a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). They require that you first graduate from an accredited medical assisting program (CAAHEP1 or ABHES2), then sit for their exam.

Job outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for medical assistants in the U.S. in 2016 was $15.17 per hour, or $31,540 per year, with a typical entry-level education of post-secondary vocational. For the entire country, the demand for assistants is estimated to grow by 23% over the period 2014 to 2024.

There were 19,099 medical assistants in Illinois in 2015, estimated to grow by 2,292 by 2023, for a total of 21,391. This represents a growth rate of 12% for those years.

Salaries for Medical Assistants in Illinois

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), salary ranges are as follows:

The overall mean hourly wage in Illinois is $15.83 (this compares with $17.61 in California, $14.56 in Texas, and $14.94 in Florida). The corresponding mean annual wage for Illinois is $32,920.

The Illinois annual mean entry-level wage (lowest 10%) is $10.65 ($22,150 on an annual basis). This goes up to a mean hourly wage of $12.80 for the first 25% ($26,630 on an annual basis).

The Illinois annual median hourly wage for the first 25% is $15.34, increasing to $18.29 for the first 75% ($31,900 annually), and to $21.96 for the first 90% ($45,680 annually). The top 10% can naturally earn more.

Illinois entry-level (First 10%) wages break down into the following sample of regions:

  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin: hourly mean wage of $16.12 ($33,530 annually)
  • Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Metropolitan Division: hourly mean wage of $16.37 ($34,050 annually)
  • Champaign-Urbana: hourly mean wage of $15.50 ($32,230 annually)
  • Peoria: hourly mean wage of $13.43 ($27,940 annually)
  • Springfield: hourly mean wage of $14.33 ($29,810 annually)

Well-Known Schools in Illinois

The first thing to do is pick from the list we provide those schools that are close to you and research them carefully. Generally, a one-year diploma at a vocational school costs $1,200-$4,000+, depending on each program. The same can cost $2,500-$10,000 for an associate’s degree at a community college. In view of these disparities, you will need to contact the school of your choice and ask about tuition costs and other expenses. Here though is a description of what a few typical schools offer:

Parkland College-Champaign: Located at 2400 W Bradley Avenue, Champaign, Illinois 61821 (217-351-2200), Parkland offers small classes (maximum of 20 students per class) leading to a Medical Assistant certificate program. Admitted only at the beginning of each fall semester, students must complete the program in 4 consecutive semesters, with a C or higher score in each semester to remain in the program. Each semester is 25-28 credit hours, and their certification is approved by the American Registry of Medical Assistants (arma-cert.org), and by the National Healthcareer Association (www.nhanow.com).

Midwestern Career College-Chicago: Located at 20 North Wacker Drive, Suite 3800, Chicago, Illinois 60606 (312-236-9000), Midwestern offers a Medical Assisting Diploma program that can be completed in as little as 40 weeks. With the diploma in hand, students then have the option of participating in a 160-hour medical assisting externship, and a120-hour optional phlebotomy externship. Midwestern’s diploma program is approved by the Council on Occupational Education.

College of Lake County-Grayslake: Located at 19351 w Washington street, Grayslake, Illinois 60030 (847-543-2000), the college’s campus (operating since 1969) spans over 226 acres, offering a Medical Assistant Applied Science (AAS) certificate that can be completed in less than one year. Upon completion of the program, graduates are prepared to sit for the AAMA certification exam to become Certified Medical Assistants (CMA). Their certificate program is approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health education programs (www.caahep.org).

Southwestern College, Southwestern Campus-Bridgeview: Located at 7725 South Harlem avenue, Bridgeview, Illinois 60455 (), Southwestern offers a Medical Assisting Associate in Applied Science (AAS) certificate program that can be completed in less than one year. This has an average student satisfaction rating of 90.67% for the 5-year period 2011-2015, and an average employer satisfaction rate of 95.83% for the same period. Their certificate program is approved by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Higher Learning Commission.

Employment Options

Employment options are plentiful in Illinois. To cite just the one example of the Chicago area, there are numerous hospitals, specialized doctors’ offices and other medical centers to which you could apply. Here are but a few:

  • Shriners Hospital for Children
  • Chicago Lakeshore Hospital
  • University of Chicago Medicine
  • Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
  • Adventist Glen Oaks Hospital
  • Community First Medical Center
  • Presence Health
  • Kenilworth Medical Associates
  • Midwest Primary Care
  • Pinnacle Dermatology
  • Presence Center for Advanced Care


1 CAAHEP refers to Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
2 ABHES refers to Accredited Bureau of Health Education Schools

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How much do medical assistants earn in the state of Illinois?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants in the state of Illinois made an average of $36,500 per year in 2019. Entry-level medical assistants earned around $26,340 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $49,250.

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