Cheapest Medical Assistant Programs (Online & In-Person)

Medical assistants are in high demand all over the country, and that demand continues increasing every year. Medical assistants can start looking for jobs right after earning a high school diploma or GED, but they might have more success if they get a certification first. 

Medical assistants earn their certification by completing a medical assisting program and then passing a certificate exam. Medical assisting programs last between 4 months and 2 years, depending on whether or not you want an associate’s degree. 

Medical assistant training programs vary widely in cost based on type, location, and more.

This guide goes over the cheapest medical assistant programs currently available, including both online and in-person options. 

Cheapest Medical Assistant Programs

There are many options to choose from for medical assistant training. You can choose from online programs, community college certificate programs, associate degree programs, or pursue a role with on-the-job training.

As mentioned, the cost of medical assistant programs vary greatly based on the type of program, location, and more.

Here is a list of some of the cheapest medical assistant programs currently available:

Stepful’s Online Medical Assistant Program

Here at Stepful, we offer an online medical assistant certificate program that can be completed in just 4 months. We  cover everything you need to know to pass your Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification exam and become a successful medical assistant. 

Some unique benefits of our program is that we offer a 100% job placement guarantee and help you find a job. We also help you get an in-person externship to help you get real-life experience, making you more attractive to employers.

  • Cost: $1,999
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 4 months 
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Notes: Stepful’s program includes an externship and a 100% job placement guarantee after successful graduation. 

US Career Institute

The US Career Institute offers an online course that is self-paced. It can be completed in 4 months, but most people finish in 6 to 10 months. They have a 92% exam pass rate, and cover topics ranging from basic pharmacology to common front office procedures. 

  • Cost: $1,239 to $1,568
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 4-10 months
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) or Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  • Notes: US Career Institute includes a career coach program after you graduate, which helps you with things like resume building and interview skills. 

Stanly Community College

Stanly Community College offers many associate degree programs and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. To apply to the program, you must have a GED or high school diploma, and complete or test out of basic English and Math courses. 

  • Cost: $1,368 (in-state), $4,824 (out-of-state)
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Type of program: Certificate and associate degree options available
  • Time to complete: 6 months (certificate) to 2 years (associate degree)
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
  • Notes: Stanly College also offers a program for high school students who can earn their certificate as juniors and seniors in high school. 

Davidson Community College

Davidson Community College offers in-person medical assistant training through their diploma and certificate programs. They have a job placement rate of 86% within one year of program completion. 

  • Cost: $1,216 (in state), $5,813 (out of state)
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Type of program: Certificate and associate degree programs
  • Time to complete: 2 years
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
  • Notes: This program has an administrative medical assistant program for high school students who want to get a head start on their medical assisting education. 

Community College of Philadelphia

The Community College of Philadelphia offers an online medical assisting program that accepts new students at any time throughout the year. They offer video lectures, online quizzes, and lessons that can be completed at any time.

  • Cost: $2,599
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: Must be completed within 6 months of enrollment
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Notes: This program also offers an optional externship opportunity. They will help you coordinate with a local company where you can get some hands-on experience. 

Craven Community College

Craven Community College offers a medical assisting program that accepts students once per year with a Fall start date. Craven also has a childcare program for parents who want to complete their education. 

  • Cost: $2,741 (in state), $5,813 (out of state)
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Type of program: Diploma or associate degree
  • Time to complete: 18 months to 2 years
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
  • Notes: They have a 72% exam passing rate and 76% job placement rate.

Pima Community College 

Pima Community College offers a medical assisting certificate program that focuses on both front office work and direct patient care skills. Courses include basic anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and office procedures. 

  • Cost: $2,403 (in state), $8,383 (out of state)
  • Location: Tucson, Arizona
  • Type of program: Certificate 
  • Time to complete: 12 months
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
  • Notes: The third and final semester of the program is a medical assisting internship where you will get hands-on experience working in a doctor's office or clinic. They have an 82% exam passing rate. 

San Francisco State University Clinical Medical Assistant 

San Francisco State University prepares you with the knowledge and skills to assist physicians with basic assessments and responsibilities related to a medical office. Courses include phlebotomy and EKG recordings. 

  • Cost: $2,599
  • Location: Online or hybrid with classes in San Francisco
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 3 to 6 months
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Notes: Both the online and hybrid programs include 160 hours of externship opportunities to practice your skills. 

Penn Foster Medical Assistant Associate Degree

Penn Foster offers an online medical assisting program where you will earn your associate degree and medical assisting certification when you complete the coursework and exams. Courses include medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and clinical procedures. They work with Lifebridge Health, Kawasaki Memorial Health Center, and Geisingere to find employment opportunities for their graduates. 

  • Cost: $4,800
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Associate degree
  • Time to complete: 2 years
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), or Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  • Notes: The Penn Foster program includes 160 hours of externship opportunities. They also offer high school programs for seniors in high school who want to start their medical assisting education early.

MedCerts Medical Assist Program

MedCerts offers online training for medical assistants, dental assistants, surgical technologists, and phlebotomists. Their courses include interactive learning, video lectures, and game based learning. 

  • Cost: $4,000 if paid in full, up to $4,800 with payment plans
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 7 months
  • Resulting certificate: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Notes: MedCerts does not include an externship during their program. It is not available for students living in WA. 

How Stepful Can Help You Become a Medical Assistant for Just $1,999

Stepful’s Medical Assistant Training Program is a 4-month long online program. When you complete the program, you’ll be eligible to take the CCMA exam and become a certified medical assistant

The program includes an externship for you to get some real life experience in addition to the educational courses. 

Stepful’s course content includes anatomy and physiology, healthcare systems, infection control, phlebotomy, medical law and ethics, and customer service. We help you feel confident as you enter into the workforce. 

Taking our online medical assistant certification program allows for flexibility for people with busy schedules. You can choose daytime or evening courses and complete most of your work during times that work well for you. Even though it is online, you’ll work with attentive teachers and a supportive community of people who want to see you succeed. 

After graduation, Stepful assigns you a career coach to help you find a job. We offer a 100% job placement guarantee and 80% of graduates are working as medical assistants within 3 months of graduation. 

How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program

When looking over program options, it is important to consider what your priorities are and what type of learning style you have. Choosing a program is a big decision, and there are many different factors you should consider, including: 

Cost

Make sure you know the total costs of a program before you enroll. Some programs may have hidden fees or expensive books, or require you to buy supplies to complete the program. 

Find out if a program has scholarships available or if you can use a federal Pell Grant to pay for your education. Some programs may offer payment plans, but make sure you ask about interest or other fees. 

Time to Complete

The goal of medical assistant certification is to get you working and earning money in your chosen field. Shorter programs allow you to get into the workforce faster. Keep in mind that there is a lot of information to cover, and short programs almost always require full-tiime studying until the end of your training. 

If you have a family or are working while in school, you may want to consider a longer duration part-time program to make sure you are able to continue working and caring for your family. 

Certification Pass Rate

Always ask your school counselor or program director about their certification exam passing rate. The national average passing rate for the CMA, for example, is around 65%. If a school has a lower passing rate than the national average, you should consider a different program. 

Resulting Certificate

There are many different types of medical assisting certificates. While most employers are satisfied by any type of certificate, you want to choose the one that works best for you. For example, Certified Clinical Medical Assistants may focus more on clinical tasks of medical assistants, while certified Medical Administrative Assistants will do more office tasks. 

If It’s Accredited

Make sure that the program you choose is accredited. Accreditation means that the school or program has been reviewed by experts and that it meets certain educational standards. 

Online vs In-Person

There are benefits andd drawbacks to both online and in person courses. Online classes offer more flexibility, but require more self motivation and independent study. In person courses do not have scheduling flexibility, but have more opportunities for practicing skills and asking questions. 

Location (If In Person)

Choose a program that is close to where you want to live while you complete your training if you’re opting for an in-person program. Also keep in mind that out-of-state tuition is generally much more expensive than in-state tuition. 

If an Externship is Included

Medical assistant externships are learning experiences where a student gets to shadow an experienced medical assistant during their workday. They offer great opportunities for hands-on learning and practicing skills with supervision. Not only will it help you decide if a medical assisting career is right for you, they look good to employers.

If There’s a Job Placement Guarantee

Many programs offer career counseling after graduation but few offer job-placement guarantee. Choosing a program with a job placement guarantee, like Stepful’s program, means that the program is more committed to helping you find a job after you finish your training. 

Medical Assistant Program FAQs

Are cheap medical assistant programs a good idea?

Finding an inexpensive medical assisting program is a great option for people who want to become certified. As long as the program is accredited and has a good certification exam passing rate, a cheap medical assisting program is a good idea. 

What is the average cost of a medical assistant certificate program?

Medical assistant certificate programs usually cost between $2,000 to $5,000. 

What is the average cost of a medical assistant degree program?

Associate degree programs can cost between $1,500 and $10,000 depending on the school, and whether you are paying in-state or out-of-state tuition. 

Is a medical assistant degree or certificate program better?

Choosing whether a degree vs certificate medical assistant program is better depends on your needs and goals. Usually, employers care more about whether their medical assistants are certified than whether or not they have an associate degree.

What is the shortest medical assistant program?

The shortest medical assisting program is offered through Phlebotomy Career Training and can be completed in 6 weeks. It is a self-paced courses and could take up to 6 months or longer to complete if you do not study full time. Learn more about 6-week medical assistant programs here.

Are medical assistant programs hard?

Medical assisting programs are not too difficult. However, they do require commitment and study time. You should not expect to complete a program successfully without putting in some effort. 

What is the shortest possible time to become a medical assistant?

If you have a high school diploma, you can become a medical assistant right away. Since certification is not required, becoming a medical assistant without experience only takes as long as it takes for you to get hired. 

Are online or in-person medical assistant programs better?

Online programs and in-person programs each have benefits and drawbacks. Consider your learning style when choosing between online and in-person classes. If you choose online, try to find a program that includes an externship so you can get some real-life experience. 

What is the best medical assistant certification?

No medical assistant certification is considered better than another. They do all have slightly different eligibility requirements, so you should choose whichever eligibility fits the best for your experience and goals. You can compare CMA vs RMA vs CCMA certifications here.

How much do medical assistants make?

Medical assistants make about $37,000 per year. This can change based on location, experience, education, and type of clinic you choose to work in. 

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