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Medical Assistant

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Are you considering a career in healthcare? Becoming a Medical Assistant might be the perfect choice for you. As a medical assistant, you handle both administrative and clinical tasks to ensure the smooth functioning of health practitioners' offices. Whether you're on your feet visiting patients or seated at a computer managing administrative duties, you play a crucial role in keeping everything running efficiently.

On Dreambound, there are 775 medical assistant programs and 285 upcoming classes; the average class length is 6 months.

Find top-rated medical assistant classes in your area with the help of Dreambound. Let's hear directly from one of our students, Amani Crawford, about their experience with Dreambound:

"Dreambound gave me many many many opportunities and choices to look through. It helped me obtain very important information to help me with a decision on a course and schedule to choose. I am very confident that with the help of Dreambound I am going to find something and go through with my career. Thank you."

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Requirements for Medical Assistant Training

Requirements for Medical Assistants are pretty uniform across the United States, unlike some other certifications like CNA or HHA. One common question we get from students is if a high school diploma is required to become a Medical Assistant. While a high school diploma isn't strictly required to become a Medical Assistant, most training programs do require it. In addition to a high school diploma or equivalent, you may need to meet other prerequisites, such as:

  1. Having a clean background check (no felonies or certain misdemeanors involving theft or assault)
  2. Passing a drug screening (not required by the school but most employers will do testing)
  3. Being at least 18 years old (generally not required by schools but many employers require it)
  4. Having up-to-date immunizations (TB test, COVID vaccination unless you have an allowed exemption)
  5. Possessing basic computer skills

Some programs may require you to take a Wonderlic 8th grade placement test if they don't require a high school diploma.

Types of Medical Assistant Training Programs:

There are several types of Medical Assistant training programs, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Let's explore some of the most common options:

Certificate Programs: Certificate programs are the shortest and most focused type of Medical Assistant training. They typically take 4-12 months to complete and are designed to get you your certification and job as fast as possible. Costs can range from $3,000 to $10,000. In-person and online certificate options are available. Some examples of certificate programs include:

MedCerts Medical Assistant Certification

  • Length: 28 weeks (self-paced), plus in-person externship matching
  • Cost: $4,000 total, loans and WIOA funding may be available
  • Not available for all states

CareerStep Medical Assistant Certification

  • Length: Self-paced, 12 months access
  • Cost: $3,799 total
  • Not available for all states

Pros of certificate programs:

  • Shorter duration, which means you can start working faster
  • May have lower cost compared to associate degree programs
  • More online options available

Cons of certificate programs:

  • May not provide as comprehensive an education as associate degree programs
  • You don't get a degree at the end of it, although there may be some options for college credit transfer with some schools

Associate Degree Programs: Associate degree programs offer a more comprehensive education, combining Medical Assistant training with general education courses. These programs typically take 18-24 months to complete and may provide a broader range of career opportunities. Examples of associate degree programs in Indiana include:

Herzing University: Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting

  • Length: 20 months
  • Cost: Depends on financial aid qualification
  • Payment Options: Financial aid for those who qualify, scholarships, loans
  • Not available for all states

Fortis College: Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting

  • Length: 18 months
  • Cost: Approximately $25,000
  • Payment Options: Financial aid for those who qualify, scholarships, loans

Pros of Associate Degree Programs:

  • Provides a more well-rounded education
  • Having a degree in general may lead to better job prospects and higher earning potential
  • Credits may transfer to a bachelor's degree program in the future

Cons of Associate Degree Programs:

  • Longer duration compared to certificate programs
  • Higher cost of tuition and fees, and may not lead to better job prospects
  • May include coursework not directly related to Medical Assisting

Diploma Programs: Diploma Medical Assistant programs are somewhere in between, a college degree and a certificate. They typically take 9-12 months long and are offered by colleges. Costs can range from $10,000-20,000 but financial aid may be available for those who qualify. Examples of diploma programs include:

CCI Training: Online Medical Assisting Diploma Program

  • Length: 8 months
  • Cost: Depends on financial aid qualification
  • Payment Options: Financial aid for those who qualify, scholarships, loans
  • Not available for all states

Herzing University: Diploma in Medical Assisting

  • Length: 10 months
  • Cost: Depends on financial aid qualification
  • Payment Options: Financial aid for those who qualify, scholarships, loans


  • Shorter and more affordable than an Associate's Degree
  • College credits may transfer for a degree program in the future
  • Financial aid may be available for those who qualify


  • Longer duration compared to certificate programs
  • Depending on financial aid qualification, may be more expensive than certificate programs


The best Medical Assistant training option depends on your individual circumstances, goals, and learning style. If you're looking for a quick entry into the workforce, a certificate program may be the best choice. If you can't afford to pay for a certificate out of pocket or want to be able to have college credit that can count towards a degree, you might want to inquire into Associate's or Diploma programs. Online programs are available across all types and can be a good option if you need flexibility or have other commitments that make attending a traditional on-campus program difficult.

Regardless of the path you choose, ensure that the program is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Accreditation ensures that the program meets industry standards and prepares you for a successful career as a Medical Assistant.

📖 Learn more about the Medical Assistant certification

How long is a medical assistant program?

Medical assistant programs can vary in length, typically ranging from 9 months to 2 years. The duration depends on factors such as the program type (certificate, diploma, or associate degree), full-time or part-time enrollment, and the specific curriculum requirements. The fastest medical assistant programs are about 3 months long. They are either self-paced courses that require you to put in near full-time hours or are accelerated in-person ones where you're going to class close to full-time.

What will you learn in a medical assistant training program?

Most medical assistant programs include essential subjects such as anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, medical billing and coding, clinical patient care, and infection control. Additionally, you'll likely learn about phlebotomy, EKG, medical law and ethics, pharmacology, surgical assisting, office administration, and customer service basics.

How to become a medical assistant

To become a medical assistant, you typically need to complete a postsecondary medical assistant program. These programs often lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. Additionally, some states may require medical assistants to be certified, although it is not always a mandatory requirement.

What do medical assistants do?

As a medical assistant, you'll be the heartbeat of a healthcare provider's office, ensuring everything runs seamlessly. Picture yourself chatting with patients, learning about their symptoms, and jotting down their medical backgrounds. You might spend some time on your feet, moving between rooms to take vital signs and measurements, while at other times, you'll be stationed at a computer, managing administrative tasks like documenting lab test results. It's a dynamic role where each day brings new interactions and challenges, all aimed at providing top-notch patient care.

Medical assistant job outlook

The job outlook for Medical Assistants is excellent, with a projected growth rate of 16% from 2021 to 2031. The increasing demand for healthcare services and the expanding role of Medical Assistants contribute to the positive job prospects in this field.

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Medical assistant salary

The average salary of a Medical Assistant can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the employing healthcare facility. On average, Medical Assistants earn around $35,000 to $50,000 annually.

Where do medical assistants work?

Medical Assistants work in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, physicians' offices, outpatient centers, and specialty practices. They can also find employment opportunities in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare facilities.

Choosing the right medical assistant certification

Requirements for working as an MA are different for each state. Remember that each state has its own list of recognized certifications. It's essential to check which ones they accept.

Can I get my MA online?

Yes, you can! It's surprising but the whole class can be done online. There are self-paced and live online options. Your school then usually matches you with an externship site close to you, though it's not required for you to do this (but a good idea)! Check out online Medical Assistant classes.

CNA vs Medical Assistant

A lot of people ask if Medical Assistant is "higher" than CNA. MAs get paid more and have more clinical and administrative training, but both are entry-level roles. A Medical Assistant wouldn't supervise a CNA.

Medical assistant classes by city

In order to help you find a medical assistant class at Dreambound, we've gathered the most comprehensive list of medical assistant classes in the US. Below you can find a list of medical assistant classes organized by city. If you don't see your city listed, you can always search by zip code.

How to become a medical assistant

We know taking the first step to becoming a medical assistant can be scary. That's why we're trying to demystify the process by writing guides on how to become a medical assistant. Since State processes or requirements may vary, we've written separate guides for each state:

Exploration of medical assistant versus other programs

Considering other programs? Read our guides on Medical Assistant versus other similar programs in the field, providing a comprehensive overview to assist you in making the right choice for your career path.

Arwena Payumo
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Arwena Payumo
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