When considering a medical assisting career, you have two degree choices: a certificate or an Associate degree. Many junior or technical colleges offer both. Medical assisting certificate programs are typically 9-12 months long, while an Associate degree program can be 24 months long. Before deciding on a program, be sure to weigh the benefits of both education types to see what best fits your needs and lifestyle.
How do you choose?
It can be confusing to figure out whether an Associate degree in medical assisting is better, or simply a certificate. Here are some questions to help:
- How many months can you commit to an education program?
- What is the job market like for MAs in your area?
- Do local employers prefer one degree type over the other?
- Do you plan to return to school to further your education within five years?
- Do you plan to “try out” the medical profession to see if it’s for you?
Certificate Programs take just one year !
Medical assisting certificate programs are generally one year in length or less. This education type is very focused on the specific knowledge and skills you’ll need to work as a medical assistant. These programs are often very fast-paced and intense. You can expect to spend dedicated hours studying and completing externships.
- You’ll complete school sooner so you can enter the job market quicker
- A focused program that doesn’t make you take extra courses that you don’t need
- Usually less expensive than an Associate degree program
One major drawback of a certificate program is that classes you’ve taken may not be eligible for credit should you choose to continue your education. Because many certificate courses are not recognized as college credits, you may have to repeat them when entering higher education programs.
AAS Degree could get you a higher starting salary:
Associate degree programs in medical assisting are a bit more in-depth than a certificate program. You’ll be required to take general liberal arts classes, as well as core clinical and administrative courses. You may be required to take language and writing courses, business communications and sociology or speech classes as part of your liberal arts requirement.
if you are considering attending school, you could request information ( free of cost ) from multiple schools by clicking the button below
General education classes may also be a requirement, including basic math and English courses. The foundation of an Associate degree in medical assisting is similar to those found at any college or university.
- Your college credits are more likely to transfer to a Bachelor degree program or other higher education
- Employers may view you as a more well-rounded and educated candidate for employment
- You may receive a slightly higher starting salary, or be eligible for advanced employment
- You may be more likely to land a job in specialty medicine as these jobs can require a higher knowledge base that general medicine.
If you plan to further your education—say to go on to a registered nurse program—an Associate degree in medical assisting is a great choice. You’ll have more college credits to apply to your education and may feel more academically prepared for challenging classes.
One drawback of an Associate degree is the cost. These programs can cost several thousand dollars in program, externship and graduation fees.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical assistants typically earn about $28,000 per year. Depending on employer requirements for education, medical assistants with an Associate degree may make a higher yearly salary. The more education a medical assistant has, the more she shows her employer that she values her career and job. Overtime, medical assistants who also gain experience can expect to earn about $33,000 per year.
resources for students headed to school
- 1 Am i cut out for medical assisting?
- 2 Is it highly stressful?
- 3 Why is certification important?
- 4 What does a MA do?
- 5 What would i learn in school?
- 6 Are free grants and scholarships available?
- 7 Should i go for a AAS degree or certificate?
- 8 How does this differ from CNA?
- 9 Is on-the-job training better?
- 10 How does this differ from LPN?
resources for students out of college
- 1Can i call myself a nurse?
- 2What specialties can i pursue?
- 3How much salary to expect?
- 4Passing the CMA exam and earning certification
- 5What to expect in a workday?
- 6Writing an effective resume
- 7How can externships help me in my career?
- 8Frequently asked job interview questions and answers
- 9How find a job with no experience
- 10Duties and responsibilities of a MA
* Featured medical assisting schools
Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education. Eligible students can receive college credit for prior military experience and coursework—up to 75 percent of the credit needed for a Kaplan University undergraduate degree.*
- Medical Assisting
- BS in Health and Wellness
- AS in Health Science
Fortis Institute can give you the skills you need to train for a career in the healthcare field.
* Programs vary by location
* Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information
- Medical Assisting Online
- Medical Billing and Coding Online
Pioneering distance education since 1985, Liberty University is now the nation’s seventh largest university. With more than 300 online and residential areas of study, Liberty offers programs from the certificate to doctoral level.
- AA: Medical Office Assistance
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- And more...
Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati (UC) has been categorized at the highest level of higher education: the Carnegie Commission (which evaluates the achievements of faculty, current research, leading edge curriculum, and accreditation) has recognized UC as a Doctoral/Research University — Extensive. Each year, this urban, public, nonprofit university graduates 5,000 students, adding to more than 200,000 living alumni around the world. The online programs connect students to a dynamic community of devoted educators, accessible research, and a dedicated support team.
- Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy
Experience the Rewards of Caring, With ECPI’s Medical Careers Institute, you can Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in 2.5 Years or Your Associate’s Even Sooner through Our Year-Round Schedule!
- Medical Assisting - Associate
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Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.
- Allied Health Science (AS)
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- Veterinary Assistant
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- Medical Coding
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