The Best Medical Assistant Programs in Alabama

October 6, 2021 , Modified on May 18, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Do you want to become a medical assistant in Alabama? Learn how to apply for a medical assistant program, including common admission requirements and how to find financial aid.

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The Best Medical Assistant Programs in Alabama
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Did you know around 10,120 medical assistants work in Alabama? In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare support occupations make up 65,550 positions in the state. Certified medical assistants (CMAs), a career that does not always require a college degree or even a state certification, make an average median annual salary of $31,430 per year in Alabama.

No agency regulates how to become a CMA in Alabama — all the more reason to attend an accredited CMA program. This guide explains why accreditation matters and lists the best CMA programs in Alabama.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best medical assistant programs in Alabama, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including: academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about the best medical assistant programs in Alabama, or go straight to our list of the best medical assistant programs in Alabama.

What Can You Do as a Medical Assistant?

Becoming a medical assistant leads to careers at physician offices, general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, health practitioner offices, and employment services. Salaries for medical assistants depend on the setting, with outpatient care centers paying the most at a median annual wage of $38,270.

According to the BLS, the lowest 10% of medical assistants earned less than $29,070 each year, while the top 10% of medical assistants earned more than $48,170 per year.

Medical assistants may enter the profession immediately after high school — or after completing a CMA program in Alabama. Common program options include certificates, diplomas, or associate degrees that teach future medical assistants how to provide administrative assistance by recording patient history and scheduling appointments. Students also learn how to directly help nurse practitioners or physicians by taking samples or vital signs.

What To Look For in a Medical Assistant Program

What differentiates one CMA program in Alabama from another? Not every college includes the same admission policies. In addition, admitted students complete different lessons and clinical experiences. As we detail below, every CMA program in Alabama varies in length, format, and pace.

Applicants cannot enroll in a medical assistant program unless they meet admission requirements, such as GPA minimums. Candidates submit high school transcripts or a copy of their GED certificate. Additional application materials may include a short personal essay and an in-person interview.

A CMA program in Alabama usually covers theory, labs, and externships. Lessons teach students about medical office management, billing and coding basics, professional documentation, physical examination techniques, and medical office laboratory procedures. Students also learn office communication skills and clinical techniques, such as handling phlebotomy and blood specimens.

Students enrolled in CMA programs in Alabama complete about 200 hours of externships or clinical rotations — even if the program operates online. Instructors help students find clinical placements, with some schools providing local clinical sites.

CMA programs in Alabama receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Accredited programs meet industry standards, which gives students and their future employers a level of quality assurance. Programmatic accreditation, a voluntary process, involves independent agencies validating a program's curriculum and learning outcomes.

Importance of Accreditation

How long it takes a student to complete a CMA program in Alabama depends on the format and if students study part- or full-time. An associate degree takes up to two years and requires about 60 credits, whereas a certificate or diploma can be completed in a single year or less.

The NCLEX pass rate tells students how a school prepares students to pass the nursing exam to become a registered nurse or practical nurse. While medical assistants do not need to pass the NCLEX, this metric can demonstrate the quality of education.

Schools release graduation rates which measure how many students graduate on time. This measurement sheds light on the quality of a program and tells students what they can expect.

Applying to a Medical Assistant Program in Alabama

Medical assistants hold an associate degree, diploma, or certificate. Each CMA program sets different admission criteria. Generally, students can expect the same requirements, including supplemental documents needed to prove identity, age, educational background, and residency.

Prospective students need a high school diploma or GED certificate to enroll in a CMA program in Alabama. Applicants may need to submit high school transcripts or a GED certificate. Additionally, schools may require entrance exams to test a student's proficiency in math or English.

CMA programs in Alabama do not commonly set GPA requirements. Specific requirements depend on a student's status, whether they apply as a first-time or transfer student.

Schools require identification to verify a candidate's age. Programs may also ask for residency forms to show that students live in Alabama.

Why Is Medical Assistant Program Accreditation Important?

Accredited CMA programs in Alabama offer a certain standard of education that employers and industry leaders expect. Curriculum in an accredited program meets healthcare standards by teaching students administrative and clinical tasks, such as management of office emergencies, medical terminology, and human growth and development.

Going to an accredited program can guarantee better job opportunities, since employers prefer hiring these graduates. Credentialing agencies also require that students attend accredited CMA programs to qualify for certification.

Accreditation may also affect a student's ability to transfer credits to another school or pursue a higher degree. Sometimes students cannot receive federal financial aid if they do not attend accredited CMA programs.

Paying for Medical Assistant Programs in Alabama

Many factors influence college costs. Longer CNA programs in Alabama tend to cost more. Attending a school as an out-of-state resident further increases costs.

How can students pay for college? Sometimes students pay for tuition and fees out of pocket. Costs can be prohibitive when students can't earn a living while in school. Fortunately, qualifying colleges receive federal financial aid, including loans and grants. Students do not need to repay grants, and they can also receive scholarships offered by the state, schools, and private companies. Federal financial aid may not be available at unaccredited schools.

Learn More About the Best Medical Assistant Programs and Schools in Alabama

  1. Fortis College

    Dothan, Foley, Mobile and Montgomery, AL

    Fortis College provides students with the training and skills they require to enter the health care industry. They focus on a variety of medical fields as well as other industries. Fortis is a true network of colleges and educational institutes where students can partake in a variety of career opportunities. Their focus is on making sure their applicants become fully qualified in their field, opening up new career opportunities.

    • Campus: Dothan, Foley, Mobile and Montgomery, AL
    • Type: Private, for profit
    • Accreditation: ABHES
    • Tuition: Varies depending on circumstances. Financial aid is available.
    • Minimum time commitment: One or two years
    • Online availability: No
    • Program requirements: High school or GED
    • Programs: Medical Assisting Specialist Diploma and Associate’s Degree
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

  2. South University

    Montgomery, AL

    South University offers health care courses through its College of Nursing and College of Health Professions. These colleges offer a range of degree programs that allow students to get to work in the field of health care, or to become better at what they do. The programs including hands-on training and have been developed by medical and health professionals. Students will learn about all the skills necessary to be a medical assistant, including technical, administrative, ethical and clinical skills. South University currently offers an Associate of Science degree, which is a great stepping stone for a career in health care. The emphasis is on administrative and clinical skills. Students must take part in a 200-hour externship in an office, which is unpaid. Here, they can apply the knowledge they have acquired during their studies. The program takes two years to complete and looks at areas such as anatomy and physiology, clinical and laboratory procedures, medical office administration, and medical terminology.

    • Campus: Montgomery, AL
    • Type: Private, for profit
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    • Tuition: $43,335
    • Minimum time commitment: 20 months
    • Online availability: No
    • Program requirements: High School or GED
    • Programs: Medical Assisting Associate’s Degree
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

  3. Herzing Univesity

    Birmingham, AL

    Herzing University’s medical assisting programs prepare students to ensure they are able to work in physician’s offices. They will assist physicians during examinations, perform laboratory work, deal with financial records, do the administration of an office (correspondence, insurance and so on). The goal is to make sure students are able to be the best at their job and gain successful employment on completion of the program.

    • Campus: Birmingham, AL
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
    • Tuition: Varies depending on chosen pathway and personal circumstances. Financial aid is available.
    • Minimum time commitment: One or two years
    • Online availability: No
    • Program requirements: High School or GED
    • Programs: Medical Assistant Program Associate’s Degree and Diploma
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

  4. Trenholm State Technical College

    Montgomery, AL

    Trenholme State’s Medical Assisting Technology program is a very popular program. It gives students the theoretical knowledge they require, as well as provide them with practical training. This is done by utilizing a range of different methodologies as the college acknowledges that different students have different learning styles. The focus is on both clinical duties (taking vital signs and recording then, taking medical history, assisting in treatment and examinations, performing tests like EKGs and diagnostics and to provide patient teaching) and administrative duties (computerized billing, scheduling appointments, correspondence and filing insurance claims).

    • Campus: Montgomery, AL
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: CAAHEP
    • Tuition: $137 per credit hour
    • Minimum time commitment: One year
    • Online availability: No
    • Program requirements: High School or GED, transcripts, COMPASS test, typing skills, health check, immunizations, CPR, liability insurance.
    • Programs: Medical Assisting Technology
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Assistant Programs

How do I become a medical assistant in Alabama?

Alabama does not have specific state requirements to become a medical assistant. The position does not require a license or certification. Employers may hire applicants with only a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Others prefer medical assistants who have completed an accredited certificate or an associate degree. Positions that require formal training may only hire candidates that have a current Basic Life Support certification.

How long does it take to become a medical assistant in Alabama?

It takes two years, or less, to become a medical assistant in Alabama. Medical assistants can find jobs with a certificate or an associate in medical assisting degree. A certificate in medical assisting takes as few as 4-6 months at Shelton State Community College, while an associate in medical assistant technology degree at Coastal Alabama Community College and Northeast Alabama Community College take up to two years.

What is a medical assistant salary in Alabama?

Medical assistants in Alabama make an annual mean salary of $31,390, according to the BLS. Higher salaries may go to certified medical assistants, especially candidates with a higher degree. Sometimes employers in high-demand sectors offer sign-on bonuses of up to $1,000 to new medical assistants.

How long are most medical assistant programs?

While accelerated medical assistant certificates take as few as nine months to complete, some programs take up to 18-24 months. Externships where students temporarily work in healthcare settings require additional time. Studying and passing the certified medical assistant exam by the American Association of Medical Assistants takes less than one year. Students can obtain the CMA certification when they have less than 30 days to graduation.

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