Are you interested in becoming a medical assistant but need a flexible and convenient way to study? An online MA schools might be the perfect fit for you.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about pursuing a med assistant career through online schools.
5 Types of Online Medical Assistant Schools
Before choosing a med assistant schools you should know different types of school you want to attend:
1. Community colleges
Community colleges are educational facilities to further educate high school graduates in a particular area. You can obtain a medical assistant certificate which is a great way to enter the field of medical assisting. Also, if you want to further your education, an associate’s degree can count towards credits at the university level.
2. Technical schools
Technical schools also offer online medical assistant programs. Usually, you’ll complete all the theoretical work at home. You then do real-life work experience to complete the practical side of the qualification.
3. Vocational schools
Vocational schools are defined by practical application within a specific field. So, while you can learn the theory in an online format, you’ll need to complete the hands-on training in person.
Many universities have moved to more of a hybrid education experience. Meaning students can work on their degree at home in their own time. However, just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s less expensive, so prepare for the same sort of fees. The same practical requirements are necessary to graduate.
5. Private online schools
Private online schools are fast becoming one of the most popular forms of education. You can often get your qualification more quickly and you’ll get more one-on-one interaction with the lecturer. However, this is more expensive than technical schools and community colleges.
Online Med Assistant School Application Process
Here’s what you need to know about applying to an online medical assistant school:
The application process differs for each institution. For some, you simply enroll and get going. It’s self-study, meaning you do the work when and where you can.
But note that some university programs work on a strict course deadline because you’ll get live lectures that you need to take part in.
For a medical assistant program, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED. They also need to know your English skills are up to scratch and you might need to take a test for this.
Additionally, you may be required to supply proof of residence to show you stay in a specific area. This is mainly for community college as it affects the tuition.
As mentioned, some medical assistant institutions don’t have deadlines because you’ll go at your own pace. So, no need to worry about application deadlines here.
Some universities and colleges require an application to be in by a certain date. You need to try to get this in as soon as possible because some courses for medical assistants take a limited number of applicants.
The deadline might be there because of the course timeline but it could also be there for exams. Some programs require you to take an exam before completion. This is mainly seen in degrees and not certificate programs.
Here’s a list of documents you may need for your application. But please note this can differ between institutions and their application requirements:
- High school diploma/ GED
- ID/ passport/ birth certificate
- Letters of recommendation
- English proficiency test scores
- Certificates of completion (outside of school)
- Proof of funding
Most online applications for certificates in medical assisting require application fees. It’s generally around $40 but might go up to $100. So, something to be aware of before applying.
This isn’t a must for online learning but some institutions prefer doing an admissions interview. It gives you a chance to ask questions about the course and for the advisor to assess whether it’s a good fit.
You’ll likely encounter an admissions interview for associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in medical assisting. This is due to the longer study duration and work needed to complete the program.
How Long Does it Take to Complete an Online MA Program?
The length of an online MA program varies depending on the school and program you choose. However, here’s a breakdown of the average length of time it takes to complete:
- Certificate program: 3-9 months
- Diploma program: 6-12 months
- Associate degree program: 16-20 months
- Bachelor’s degree program: 2 years
Completing a program in med assisting might take longer if it offers vocational training. This can be super helpful in preparing students for the day-to-day practical application of the skills needed.
So, you’ll learn the medical terminology in class but learn how to apply it in the practical parts of the medical assistant programs.
For example: Completing an associate’s degree in medical assisting might have a month’s externship included in your study duration.
How Much do Online Medical Assistant Classes Cost?
This depends largely on the program you apply for. A medical assistant certificate program could be less than $5,000 for the entire course.
On the other hand, completing a medical assistant Bachelor’s degree program can set you back upwards of $10,000.
It all depends on where you want your studies to take you. A certificate program is a great place to start and get your on-hands experience at the same time. Then if you want to further your career you can get started with an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.
You’ll need all the training you can get to become a certified medical assistant.
How to Apply?
A step-by-step guide to the application process
Here is a general guide to applying to online schools for medical assistants:
- Do your research: You need to find a medical assistant school that fits what you want to accomplish and your personal needs. If you can only commit two days a week then find a program that fits in with that. Luckily most online medical assistant programs are self-study, so you go at your own pace.
- Provide your personal details: Most programs require some basic information like names, phone number, email, and physical address. They then send further information about the medical assistant program and offer any assistance needed.
- Gather your documents: Make sure you have all your documents ready. If you’re applying from a different country then look at the requirements for translation and grading systems. The most important thing is your transcripts.
- Complete the online application: Here you’ll add all your information, upload your documents, and pay the application fee.
- Go for admission interviews: This isn’t very likely for online medical assistant programs. But you might be required to do this for Associate and Bachelor’s programs. Be sure to prepare because some online schools for medical assistants have a long waiting list, so you’ll need to stand out.
- Wait for the outcome: This can take two weeks or two months. That’s why it’s vital you note the application deadline.
Common application mistakes to avoid
Here are some common mistakes that you can avoid when making your medical assistant school application:
- Not meeting the application deadline.
- Avoiding harder-to-reach online schools for medical assistants. You should apply to every institute you want to. You won’t know unless you try.
- Don’t be afraid to stand out. Competitive programs look for why you’re special and whether you’ll fit in with the program.
- Not applying with the right transcripts and documents. Take note of what your application needs very closely. If the school doesn’t have it, you won’t be considered.
The Best Online Med Assistant Schools
You can obtain an Associate of Science degree in Medical Assisting Science. To graduate, you need to earn 60 credit hours with a C grade or higher to be accepted into the externship.
Keiser University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission. This means they’re able to provide you with your degree and certifications.
You need a high school diploma or GED to apply for the medical assistant degree. Plus, you need to speak with an admission counselor, attend a virtual open house, and submit the relevant admission forms.
Average price per year: $19,000-$22,000.
Purdue University Global
Here you will receive a Medical Assistant Certificate. The program takes an average of 1.5 years to complete when doing it full-time.
You will do the theoretical work online but must complete an externship at an approved clinical site. For example an ambulatory care facility or medical office. You’re required to have at least 160 hours of practical experience.
Please note, before doing the practical parts of the medical assistant course you’ll need to have a completed:
- A CPR training course (American Heart Association, American Red Cross, or ProCPR)
- Vaccinations (MMR, tetanus, Hep B, varicella, COVID-19)
States differ on the certifications needed. But for most, completing this course will prepare you to take your Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) examination.
The cost per credit is $371, you’ll need 58 credits, costing a total of $21 518 for the entire medical assistant course.
Dakota College at Bottineau
This is a highly sought-after program because there are two options available for online medical assistant schooling.
You can obtain a one-year diploma or a two-year associate’s degree. Both options allow you to study online at a pace that works for you. It also encourages you to study while you work, allowing you to gain practical experience while learning the theory.
If you’re not able to work, don’t worry. The medical assistant courses provide 180 hours of cooperative education experience in a registered medical facility.
To apply you need to provide:
- High school transcripts
- A criminal background check
- A $35 application fee
- Evidence of MMR vaccine
For the medical assistant certificate, you’ll need 38 credits and 61 for an associate’s degree. Dakota College charges $189 per credit for in-state medical assistant learners. That works out to $7,182 (certificate) and $11,529 (degree).
Here you can receive a medical assistant certificate program in as little as ten months, depending on how quickly you get through the coursework.
Upon completion, you’ll be ready to sit for the Medical Assistant Certification exam. You’ll also do an internship with a licensed healthcare practitioner. This enables you to become a certified clinical medical assistant.
To get your medical assistant education going here’s what to do:
- Apply online
- Complete the free financial aid application
- Send through your transcripts and test scores
- Attend the online orientation and registration
- Get your course materials
For in-state medical assistant learners, Jackson College charges $176 per credit. You need a total of 34 credits to graduate. The total course will cost you $5,984. If you’re out of state it’s $8,976.
How long does it take to complete an online medical assistant program?
The online medical assistant program duration is different for each program. It depends on the type of program you’re doing. The length of online medical assistant programs generally goes by accreditation. A certificate might take six months, while an associate’s degree can take two years. Your study duration is also dependent on how quickly you get through the work.
Can I complete a medical assistant program entirely online?
For the theory, yes you can complete this online. However, for most programs, you need contact hours at a registered medical assistant facility. Medical assisting is a physical job and your chosen school needs to know you can do the work required for this field of work.
Why do I need proof of vaccinations when I apply to online schools for medical assistants?
Your theory is online, but your practical working hours are going to be in a real-life medical facility. Since you’ll be working with patients, you need to show you’re covered for the basics like MMR and COVID-19.
Do I need to be certified to be a medical assistant?
Technically no, you might find a job where they’re willing to teach you as you go. But this isn’t the norm. Employers are looking for a certified clinical medical assistant who has the basics down, like medical terminology and clinical procedures. Having a medical assistant certification also provides opportunities to grow in your career.
How much money can a registered medical assistant make?
The average salary for a certified clinical medical assistant is $38,000 per year.
Selecting an online school for medical assistants isn’t easy, there are so many options. The most important thing is knowing where you’re going with your career.
If you know you want to get a clinical medical assistant certification, then you should select a program that can prepare you as far as possible.
In the same breath, you should select a program that fits your needs. Do you want something full-time or part-time?
We hope our guide on medical assistant schools helps you gain the information you need for a fulfilling future in healthcare.