California Accredited Medical Assistant Schools and Programs

California offers many job opportunities for medical assistants. As a progressive health state, Californians are often health-conscious and may utilize a variety of modern health services, and alternative health services, like chiropractic and naturopathic health care. This presents the opportunity for medical assistants to seek employment in a variety of traditional and non-traditional work settings. California has well-written laws surrounding medical assisting practice, which serve as good guidelines for MA education in California.

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If you’re thinking of going to medical assisting school in California, be sure to take your time and visit multiple schools. Ask questions and see which school feels right for you. With many options to choose from, you’re sure to find just the right school.

Because medical assisting is not a licensed profession, earning certification in the field is important for showing competency. In order to sit for certification exams, you must graduate from a medical assisting program that is accredited. Accreditation shows that the college has met strict standards for instructional excellence.

California offers many private scholarships and grants for health care education. Be sure to inquire at each school you interview, about the scholarship or grant money that may be available.

California Medical Assistant Certification Requirements

Despite being exceptional in many respects, California, just like every other state, does not require the entry-level healthcare professionals known as medical assistants to hold nationally acknowledged credentials to work in the field. However, this does not mean that one shouldn’t seek to attain the available certifications. Those that do hold the recognized credentials are better positioned to enter into – as well as to advance within – the medical assisting field.

Presently, the two national certifications that those in the medical assisting field can pursue are: 1) The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification which is administered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT), and 2) The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) which is administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)

Healthcare professionals who opt for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential must have the following requirements met before they’re permitted by the AAMA to take the certification’s exam:

  • Provide proof of having completed a medical assisting program which has been accredited by at least one of the following agencies
  • The program must have theoretical and clinical components, covering both administrative and clinical areas like computer competency, office practices, human anatomy, physiology, and pathology, as well as topics like pharmacology, clinical and diagnostic procedures, and record-keeping and accounting, among others.
  • CMA credentials are valid for 60 months and can be regained by passing an exam or by completing continuing education credits

Alternatively, those who prefer to pursue the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential can qualify to sit for the exam by completing ONE of the following routes:

  • Route 1: Complete a traditional medical assisting program with the following features:
    • The institution administering the program must hold a regional or national accreditation which has been approved by either the US Department of Education, the AMT Board of Directors, or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
    • 720 hours of in-class/online theoretical instruction and 160 hours of hands-on clinical instruction at a healthcare facility
  • Route 2: Complete a comparable program via the US Armed Forces
    • The program must also consist of 720 hours of didactic instruction and 160 of supervised clinical training at a healthcare facility
  • Route 3: Have experience as a medical assistant program instructor
    • Worked as an instructor in a medical assistant program for at least five years, OR have at least one year of medical assistant teaching experience with no less than three years of experience working in the field
  • Route 4: Previous employment as a medical assistant
    • Have been employed as a medical assistant for five of the previous seven years, carrying out both administrative and clinical duties

List of California Medical Assisting Programs

1. Valley College of Medical Careers

Valley College of Medical Careers, located in West Hills offers a 32-week diploma in medical assisting. MA students learn a combination of both front office and clinical skills. Professional testing through the National Allied Health Professionals (NAHP) organization is required for this program. Graduates may choose to sit for other medical assisting certifying exams if they wish. The cost of the program is approximately $14,000.

2. California Regional Occupational Center

California Regional Occupational Center is located in Torrance, CA, offers a one-year certificate in medical assisting. The program consists of standard medical assisting instruction in both clinical and administrative skills. Students are required to complete a 160-hour medical externship before graduation. Students who successfully complete the course are also able to sit for the certified medical assistant exam (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants.

3. Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College, in Pasadena, CA, offers a certificate in medical assisting. Students are recommended to take several elective courses before entering the core program, in order to complete the course in a timely manner. An 8-week externship is required during the program. Graduates are eligible to sit for the certified medical assistant exam through the AAMA.

4. Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College is located in Costa Mesa, CA. The medical assisting program at Orange Coast College offers a certificate, which can usually be completed in three semesters. Prerequisites may be required prior to starting the core program. The program consists of core clinical and administrative classes. Graduates are eligible to sit for the CMA exam through the AAMA.

5. Modesto Junior College

Modesto Junior College is located in Modesto, CA. This school offers an 8-month diploma in medical assisting. Students at Modesto receive transferable college credits and often go on to earn an Associate degree in medical assisting or go on to nursing, according to the college. Students study both clinical and administrative medical assisting and may sit for certification exams upon graduation.

6. American Career College

American Career College has locations in Anaheim and Los Angeles, California. This accredited medical assisting program offers a diploma to graduates. Students may take day classes, night classes, or a combination of both. Students taking night classes usually finish the course in 50 weeks. The college also offers an accelerated program in which students can complete the course in about 20 weeks.

8. Chabot College

Chabot College is located in Hayward, CA. This college offers a certificate in medical assisting. Graduates are able to sit for the certification exam via the AAMA. Students study both foundation and core courses in administrative and clinical medical assisting. Some courses may have prerequisites. Overall, the program takes about four semesters to complete.

9. Long Beach City College

Long Beach City College (LBCC) is a public community college located in Long Beach, California which offers an Associate in Science (AS) in Medical Assisting and Medical Assisting Certificate program – both of which focus on administrative and clinical duties. LBCC’s 31-33 credit-hour Associate in Science (AS) Medical Assisting program can be completed in as little as two semesters, while the 21-23 credit-hour combined administrative and clinical Medical Assisting Certificate program can also be completed in two semesters.

Long Beach City College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

10. San Joaquin Valley College

San Joaquin Valley College is a private, for-profit junior college in Visalia, California which offers a certificate-level Clinical Medical Assisting (CMA) program which can be completed in as little as nine months. In addition to its Visalia campus, SJVC also maintains quite a few additional campuses throughout Northern and Central California. Core competencies that students will master while enrolled in SJVC’s medical assisting program include drawing blood/venipuncture, preparing patients for exams, and maintaining patient records.

SJVC is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and College.

11. Carrington College

Carrington College is a private, for-profit college with several campuses throughout California that offer students medical assisting certificate programs that can be completed in less than a year. The college also offers an Associate in Science (AS) in Medical Assisting which can be completed in less than two years. After students have completed the program, they will be able to perform a wide variety of clerical functions, conduct different diagnostic tests using various equipment, and perform and assist with routine patient procedures.

Carrington College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Search Medical Assistant Programs

Get information on Medical Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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Article Written by Rachel Dennis

Rachel Dennis works as both a professional writer and health care provider. She has been a licensed health care provider since 1998, with work experience as a medical assistant, certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technician. She has been writing since 1994 and has been published both on-line and in print.

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