*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
Entering a trade school to major in a medical assistant program won’t take you very long. While a traditional, four-year college means that you’ll be in school for four years (or more), a medical assistant program will take much less time.
If you opt for a diploma, you’ll be in school for about 12 months. If you choose an associate degree, you’ll be in school for up to two years. With this option, you’ll have a wider set of career options from which to choose.
Finally, if you choose certification (meaning you’ll be a certified medical assistant, or CMA), you may be in school for a little longer than 12 months.
Depending on where you live in the country, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,500 to more than $10,000. Your choice of program will also affect how much tuition you pay.
If you look at the entire two-year medical assistant program, expect to pay $33,720 at one school; your books and supplies would cost around $3,200. At another school, you may pay $12,482, while books and supplies would cost $507.
Once you graduate and get ready to take your certification exam, you’ll have to pay for an exam fee. All of this is worth it if you emerge at the other end with a viable, lucrative career.
For 2017, graduation rates were at 28% of all students in trade schools or community colleges. These students graduated in 150% of the “normal” amount of time required for their chosen program.
Trade schools, community colleges and vocational schools should hold regional accreditation, which highlights the high quality of the education and faculty.
Medical assistant programs should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). CAAHEP is highly regarded in the medical assistant field. It is recommended by the Medical Assisting Education Review Board of the American Association of Medical Assistance Endowment (MAERB-AAMAE).
As you get closer to graduation, you’ll have to look for a job, write resumes and cover letters, and take part in job interviews. If you’ve never done this before, you may not feel very confident in your resume-writing, cover letter-writing, or interview skills. This is where a Career and Placement Office on your campus comes in. It is staffed with professionals whose only job is to help you with everything you’re not sure of.
You’ll find good community colleges and those that aren’t so good. Speed up your search for the school that’s right for you by reading rankings of community colleges in your area. Weed out the worst schools and focus on applying to the better schools. Different internet publications provide these comparisons for you. They take different areas and discuss them for you, from academics to quality and cost. You’ll want to refer to CollegeScoreCard while you’re looking for this information, no matter what you decide.
Yes, accreditation is vital. If you want to be able to use federal financial aid and be considered for a higher salary, then an accredited school and medical assisting program may help you to get what you need. An accredited trade school has earned a standing that shows proof of the quality of their academics and faculty. Look for school-wide accreditation and accreditation of the medical assisting program.