Accredited Online Medical Assistant Programs Guide

Medical assistant programs prepare aspiring medical assistants to pass state exams and meet other state requirements. These programs can be completed in two years or less at a technical or vocational school as well as junior and community colleges.

Though licensure requirements vary by state, those pursuing a degree in medical assisting can take advantage of the flexibility of an online degree.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for medical assistants to be hired with no experience and receive on-the-job training. As the healthcare system increases in complexities, employers seek candidates with the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in their positions. Medical assistant programs and state exams have been created to help prepare aspiring medical assistants for work in the healthcare system.

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Accredited Online College Programs


State exams are required to jumpstart your career as a medical assistant.

The American Association of Medical Assistants offers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam. Passing this exam guarantees to an employer that candidates have a current and thorough understanding of the healthcare and medical industry. The AAMA certification is quickly becoming the entry-level standard in the medical assisting field–not yet a mandate.

3 Types of Medical Assisting Degrees

Online Medical Assisting Certificate

Focused program made up of core clinical courses, without many of the general education and liberal arts classes included in an associate degree program
May not be eligible for transfer credit if you decide to further your education in the future
Often the least expensive programs, due to lower number of credit hours
Can be completed in as little as 9 months

Online Medical Assisting Diploma Programs

Entry requirements may include H.S. diploma or equivalent
Typically last 12-18 months (as little as 8-9 months)
Nearly identical to certificate programs
Self-paced study mixed with real-time elements
Credits may not transfer
Courses focus on clinical and administrative skills

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Medical Assisting (AAS)

Can be earned in two years or four semesters
~65 credits (50 core course credits, 15 general studies elective credits)
Average of 30 more credit hours than certificate programs
Includes more general, liberal arts, clinical, and administrative classes
Credits easily transfer toward a bachelor of science degree, if further education is sought
Eligible to take the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) examination and/or Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) examination once degree is earned
Offers top-level earnings and more lucrative positions
Offers immediate employability once degree is earned

3 Specialties and Areas of Concentration

Medical assistants tend to seek specific training in order to better serve their employers. This training involves one of three categories:

Clinical Medical Assisting (CMA): This focus mainly deals with patient care, side-by-side with a physician.Clinical medical assistants assist with minor procedures and examinations, chart vital signs, explain treatments and procedures to patients, and document vital signs, among other things. In small offices, CMAs often help with maintaining and ordering supplies, answering phones, scheduling appointments, working on insurance claims, and more. A two-year degree or certificate course are required to jumpstart your career as a formally trained CMA. Most online courses include real-world “practice” and study that prepare them for this field.

Administrative Medical Assisting: Administrative medical assistants, or medical […]