Maintain a prosperous medical office with one of the best medical office administration degrees.
Medical office administrators, also known as medical secretaries, are the backbone of the healthcare industry. Yes, doctors are the stars—they diagnose, treat, and advise patients. But without medical office administrators, doctors couldn’t run their offices. Who else would do the billing, checking in, records management, and office computation? The 5 Best Associates in Medical Office Administration programs will teach you the vital skills to be an excellent medical office administrator.
Medical office administrators are the first people you see at a doctor’s office. And usually, they’re the last people you see. They check you in, ask you for your records, catalog your insurance provider to expedite the process, and advise you when your doctor is ready to see you.
At their best, medical secretaries can make the medical office run seamlessly. At their worst, though, a medical office administrator can ruin a patient’s experience and disturb a doctor’s schedule. It’s for that reason that, while medical office administrators don’t need an associate degree, many doctors prefer hiring medical secretaries with proof of their skills.
What Is a Medical Office Administration Degree?
Beyond the administrative and computational tasks of medical office administrators lies an elementary medical background. Without knowing the context of the medical field, how could a medical secretary confidently operate within the medical system? Medical office administration degrees combine everything from typing and computational classes, to introductory courses, to medical terminology.
Students enrolled in medical office administration programs take classes like Office Computations, Spreadsheets, Medical Legal Issues, Medical Office Terms, Diagnostic Coding, and Introduction to Human Biology. As we’ve said, these courses run the gamut from administrative classes to basic medical courses. As these programs prepare you for work, they also prepare you to take certification exams to become certified coding specialists, certified professional medical auditors, and certified professional coders.
Are you interested in applying for a medical office administration program? Most schools ask you to submit the following:
- A 2.0 or higher GPA, but some schools ask for a 2.5 GPA or higher
- Application essays
- Letters of recommendation
- Application fees
Careers for Medical Office Administration Majors
Medical office administration programs are trade-specific degrees. If you’re in a medical office administration program, you’re gaining the skills and certifications only to become a medical secretary. If your dreams lie outside of the medical secretary field, you should consider another program. Or, you can gain your associate before transferring to a four-year program.
Medical office administration is a growing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the sector will grow by 22% between 2018 and 2028. That’s very promising—the average growth rate across every industry in the United States is only 4%. Medical office administrators most frequently work in dentist offices, medical hospitals, outpatient care centers, and physician offices.
Technically, medical office administrators don’t need an associate degree. But don’t disregard the degree; just because it isn’t required doesn’t mean it won’t help you get a job. In a stack of resumes with a lack of credentials, an associate in medical office administration will stand out.
Medical Office Administration Salary Potential
Looking at the salary of a position isn’t enough to determine its worth. Before looking at the salary of a profession, you should first examine the investment required to join that profession. Lawyers earn a lot of money, but law school often puts students over $100,000 in debt. For many people, that much debt is far from worth it.
Medical office administrators don’t make as much as lawyers. According to the BLS, the average medical secretary earns $18.31 per hour or $38,090 per year. But few medical office administrators graduate with more than $10,000 in debt, and many don’t graduate from associate programs with any debt at all.
Here is a further breakdown of the average earnings of medical secretaries, according to the BLS:
- Medical secretaries working in dentist offices earn $41,620 per year.
- Medical office administrators in physician offices earn $36,800 per year.
- Those working in outpatient care centers earn $41,100 per year.
What Are the Best Medical Office Administration Degrees?
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Wake Technical Community College
Raleigh, North Carolina
Average Net Price
Wake Technical Community College offers the best Associate of Applied Science in medical office professional program in the country. The program design shows that the faculty have a clear understanding of the field and the skills required to prosper in it. And with the program’s affordability and the option of online classes, there’s nothing not to love about Wake Tech.
Students begin the program by learning about medical terminology, office computer skills, and basic spreadsheets. By a student’s final semester, they take courses like Advanced Office Editing, Medical Legal Issues, and a math elective, and they complete a medical office administration capstone.
Upon graduation, students can apply for medical secretary jobs in dentist offices, outpatient care centers, physician offices, and everywhere in between. Additionally, they’ll have the skills required to pass industry-recognized certification exams like the Billing and Coding Specialist. Whether you live in North Carolina or you want to enroll online, Wake Tech is your best choice.
Pitt Community College
Winterville, North Carolina
Average Net Price
Another school from North Carolina, Pitt Community College has the second-best medical office administration program in the nation. Graduates from this program have worked as medical secretaries, auditors, health information specialists, insurance specialists, and patient access representatives. Whatever you want to do in a medical office, Pitt Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in medical office administration will take you there.
Students begin their first semester with introductory classes, such as College Student Success, Medical Terminology, Keyboarding, and Office Applications. Through the next two semesters, students advance their skills in administrative tasks. In their final semester, students take Medical Office Simulation, Procedure Coding, Healthcare Customer Relations, and Medical Office Administration Capstone.
Students choose several electives throughout the program, including math, science, humanities, and business courses. Students do have some autonomy as to what they study, but given the short length of the program there’s only so much room for more classes. If you wish to continue your studies past an associate, though, most of these credits can transfer to four-year programs.
Wayne Community College
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Average Net Price
Wayne Community College offers an excellent Associate of Applied Sciences in medical office administration. The program is affordable, accessible, and dynamic, with an on-campus and online option. To gain admission into this program, students are required to have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, prospective students must take several placement tests to determine the sequence of their program.
Students at Wayne Community College take courses like College Student Success, Introduction to Computers, Records Management, Spreadsheet, World of Work, Diagnostic Coding, and Professional Development. These classes will give you the necessary skills for the many administrative tasks around a medical office. And some of the skills, like medical coding, are transferable to other careers.
Students supplement their core program with a humanities and fine arts elective. While these classes may not seem necessary, the liberal arts are an essential part of our education system. They allow students to think in new ways, gain perspective, and absorb material that is critical to their future.
Guilford Technical Community College
Jamestown, North Carolina
Average Net Price
Guilford Technical Community College offers three pathways within its medical office administration program. Students can pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in medical office administration, which is the option we will review below. But they can also choose between a patient relations diploma and an electronic medical records certificate if an associate degree isn’t right for them.
The associate program includes introductory courses like Office Applications, Word Processing, Comprehensive Keyboarding, and Office Editing. As each student advances in the program, they take more specific classes like Office Procedures, Office Financial Solutions, and Electronic Health Records. Students also take electives like Critical Thinking, Public Speaking, General Psychology, and Emerging Technologies.
This program also prepares students for the Microsoft Office User Specialist Exams. While you may already have the necessary Microsoft Office skills, it never hurts to show an official document that proves your knowledge. While the program is affordable, students can apply for financial aid to assist them through the program.
Southwestern Community College
Sylva, North Carolina
Average Net Price
Southwestern Community College has two options: an Associate of Applied Science in medical office administration and a diploma in medical office administration. While having a diploma is more than likely enough of a certification to get a job as a medical office administrator, it isn’t as dynamic as an associate degree. With an associate degree, you will look more dedicated to your profession, be able to transfer to a four-year program, and find jobs outside of the degree.
While your schooling is up to you, we suggest completing an associate degree. It’s a two-year program that’s affordable, useful, and beneficial to anybody who wants to become a medical secretary. Students take courses like Medical Legal Issues, Records Management, General Psychology, Medical Terminology, and Professional Development.
Students near the Southwestern Community College campus in Sylva, North Carolina, can enroll in the full-time on-campus option. But if you’re far away and you don’t want to commute, or you simply wish to study from the comfort of your home, you can enroll in the online program. It is the exact parallel of the on-campus program, so you won’t be losing anything besides a long commute.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out The 20 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing Online 2020 and The 10 Best Online Bachelors Degrees in Healthcare Administration!