Online Medical Office Administration Certificate and Certification

Understanding the Differences to Choose the Right Path

Medical professionals enjoy consistent demand worldwide, making the medical field a popular option for students. Medical degrees prepare students to become nurses, family doctors, anesthesiologists, and other professionals in positions directly related to patient care. The medical office administration field focuses on the clerical aspects of medical care, including billing, scheduling appointments, medical office management, patient outreach, planning events, and record keeping.

Medical office administration professionals can pursue opportunities across settings in the medical field. A certificate or associate degree in the field equips professionals with the skills and knowledge to effectively handle all clerical aspects of running a medical office. Programs in the discipline explore topics including bookkeeping, billing, common office procedures, and risk management.

How to Become a Medical Office Administrator

Students interested in becoming medical office administrators can consider two educational and training programs to achieve their professional goals. Learners can focus on a medical office administration certificate program or an associate degree in medical office administration.

Medical Office Administration Certificate Program

Certificate programs in medical office administration allow learners to explore a variety of courses focused on topics such as keyboarding, medical terminology, and medical legal issues. Classes prepare degree-seekers to succeed in medical office administration careers after graduation. Earning an online certificate typically requires 18-20 credits of coursework.

Full-time certificate students often finish their requirements within two semesters, while part-time students take longer to complete their programs. Part-time students who complete one course each semester can earn their certificate in three years. Learners might also pursue a diploma in medical office administration, which typically requires 40-50 credits.

Completing a medical office administration certification online can be beneficial. Programs follow a variety of formats, depending on the college or university. Some programs utilize cohorts, allowing students to begin and end their program with the same group of peers. Others highlight individually paced formats, featuring both asynchronous and synchronous components.

Many students pursue a medical office administration certificate to earn qualifying credentials quickly. Associate programs take around two years to complete, but full-time students can complete a certificate within two semesters.

Associate Degree in Medical Office Administration

An associate degree in medical office administration helps learners develop the skills and knowledge to succeed in the medical office administration field. Many colleges and universities offer medical office administration associate degrees through flexible online formats, granting students the convenience to earn their degrees while pursuing entry-level career opportunities in the field. After graduation, associate degree-holders often pursue certification to qualify for medical office administration roles across a variety of settings.

Many associate graduates go on to pursue bachelor's degrees, sometimes continuing their education at the master's and doctoral levels. Job opportunities for associate graduates include administrative services managers, medical assistants, medical records technicians, and administrative assistants.

Associate programs vary in length depending on the college or university and each student's enrollment status. Part-time students may take close to three years to earn their associate degree, while full-time learners can do so within two years. Many institutions also feature accelerated opportunities, allowing degree-seekers to graduate in as little as one year.

What is Certification?

Gaining certification is different from completing a certificate program. Certificate programs operate through colleges and universities, which format them similarly to associate and bachelor's programs. On the other hand, the certification process requires individuals to first satisfy educational requirements. Graduates interested in earning certification must meet other requirements, as well, including field experience and passing a certification exam.

The medical field features a variety of certification opportunities. Earning certification in a particular area can lead professionals to more advanced and specialized job opportunities in their field. Many employers require candidates to hold particular certifications to qualify for certain roles.

Many medical office administration graduates focus on pursuing their certified medical administrative assistant (CMAA) certification, required by many employers in the medical office administration field. Offered by the National Healthcareer Association, CMAA certification remains active for two years following the CMAA certification exam.

CMAA certification prepares professionals with office administration training in areas such as bookkeeping, billing, office maintenance and organization, and insurance. Employers often seek candidates with this type of experience for medical office administration roles. CMAA certification candidates must complete an exam featuring 100 multiple-choice questions across three areas of content. Focus areas include office procedures, financial procedures, and risk management. Individuals must complete their exam in one hour and 45 minutes.

Career Advancement for Medical Office Administrators

Medical office administrators can begin their careers and return to college after gaining a few years of work experience, allowing them to advance their education and career levels. Potential career paths include medical assisting and health administration. Readers can review more information about these program opportunities below.