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Online Medical and Dental Assistant Certificate Programs

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The College Board states that the history of medical and dental assisting dates back to when doctors trained their secretaries to fill in for nurses during World War II. While the role of medical assistants has evolved since then, medical assistants may still be seen carrying out both administrative and clinical tasks, acting as a bridge between the two in a medical facility. Technology, however, has in many ways revolutionized their role with the electronic storage of medical records, mobile devices, telehealth services and other software programs that can make the tasks of a medical assistant more efficient, while expanding the range of their responsibilities.

The advancement of the use of technology may make the role of a medical or dental assistant vital to the healthcare industry, according to the American Institute of Medical Sciences. Medical and dental assistants are highly in demand with a job growth rate of 29 percent and 19 percent, respectively, (faster than average) between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

An entry-level job as a medical/dental assistant can allow you to test the waters to see what life is like in the medical field. A medical/dental assistant certificate can help you gain the relevant skills to work in such settings. While every individual's career path is different, medical/dental assistants may later decide to study further to become nurses or healthcare administrators and continue working in the medical field.

Online medical or dental assistant certificate programs may suit recent high school graduates, career changers and working professionals who do not have the time to attend traditional schools due to work, family and other commitments. Read on to learn how you can get a medical assistant certificate online.

Online Certificate Programs in Medical Assisting

Prerequisites:

High school diploma or GED

Typical Duration:

Up to one year of full-time study

No. of online colleges offering this program:

10

    healthcare_administration_badge
    See Methodology
    Ranking Seal

    We present featured online certificate programs in medical and dental assisting, using factors that are important to you as an online student. Our ranking methodology includes factors like tuition, average financial aid, the percentage of overall online students in the college, student to faculty ratios and career services. You can have a detailed look at our methodology as well.

    In addition, to help you in your search, we have also included quality factors pertaining to the college's online programs such as whether they participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) or whether their online degree programs have been certified by Quality Matters.

    1
    Southeast Community College Area, Lincoln, NE-
    Admission Rate
    N/A
    Graduation Rate
    N/A
    No. of Online Programs
    21
    Tuition Fees
    $3,468
    Program Offered:
    Online Diploma in Dental Assisting. Through this program, students can develop specialized skills in dental health education, chair-side assisting skills, various laboratory procedures, coronal polishing, radiation exposure and processing, business office procedures and management and gain more than 300 hours of clinical experience.

    Flexibility:
    • Hybrid program
    • Full-time; completed in 2-4 terms
    • Classes begin each July, October, January, and March
    • The courses are not self-paced and run the full length of each term
    • Online track students may be required to attend scheduled labs on the Lincoln campus each term
    Quality Factors:
    • Southeast Community College is a SARA-approved institution
    • It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
    • The program is accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation
    Credit Hours:
    • Typically involves a total of 46 credit hours
    • Transfer credits may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions in courses where the student has acquired a grade of C or better
    Differentiators:
    • Students may be required to gain experience in practical dental assisting skills by performing approximately 15-20 hours of clinical work per week at a pre-approved clinical site
    • Students who graduate from the program may be eligible to appear for the certified dental assistant (CDA) exam that is recognized by the American Dental Association, and facilitated through the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc
    • Access to online library catalog and guides
    • Access to online tutoring service
    • Career services on offer are job interview preparation and assistance with resume development
    Type of Institute:

    Public

    Scholarships Offered:
    • Eligible students may apply for scholarships such as the Dental Assisting Scholarship. Please visit the college website for more information.
    2
    Dakota College at Bottineau, Bottineau, ND-
    Admission Rate
    N/A
    Graduation Rate
    N/A
    No. of Online Programs
    23
    Tuition Fees
    $3,607
    Program Offered:
    Online Medical Assistant Certificate. The program aims to teach students in a combination of clinical and administrative duties in a medical facility.

    Flexibility:
    • Available as a fully online or blended program
    • Online classes are offered every semester -- fall, spring and summer
    • Courses are offered in 16-week or 8-week terms
    Quality Factors:
    • Dakota College at Bottineau is a SARA-approved institution
    • It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
    Credit Hours:
    • 38 credits
    • Transfer credits may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions
    Differentiators:
    • Students may be required to complete a 180-hour cooperative education experience to gain hands-on experience
    • After earning this certificate, a student may be eligible to appear for the nationally certified medical assistant (NCMA) exam through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
    • Online access to various library resources such as books, journals and databases
    Type of Institute:

    Public

    Scholarships Offered:
    • For those who qualify, the college offers New Students Scholarships and Returning Students Scholarships. Please visit the college website for more details.
    3
    Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN-
    Admission Rate
    80%
    Graduation Rate
    45%
    No. of Online Programs
    38
    Tuition Fees
    $8,255
    Program Offered:
    Online Undergraduate Certificate in Dental Assisting. The program aims to prepare students for a career as a certified dental assistant, through coursework that may include 1000 hours of lecture, laboratory, and clinical instruction.

    Flexibility:
    • Hybrid program with around 80% to 99% delivered online
    • The program may be completed in nine months
    Quality Factors:
    • Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis is a SARA-approved institution
    • It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
    • The certificate program is accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation
    Credit Hours:
    • 31 credit hours
    • Transfer credits may be accepted from regionally accredited institutions in courses where the student has acquired a grade of C or better
    Differentiators:
    • Students may be required to spend one or two Saturdays a month attending pre-clinics, labs, and exams at the School of Dentistry on the IUPUI campus
    • The course may include an experiential component that can be conducted at a dental clinic in the student's hometown
    • Students who complete the certificate program may be eligible to appear for the Dental Assisting National Board Examination to become certified dental assistants
    • Online students may access library resources and seek research guidance from librarians
    • Online students may also avail of one-on-one success coaching
    Type of Institute:

    Public

    Scholarships Offered:

    Various admission-based and competitive awards may be available for eligible students, such as:

    • Academic Excellence Award
    • Distinguished Scholarship
    • Dean's Recognition Award

    Visit the university website to view complete list.

    4
    Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD-
    Admission Rate
    N/A
    Graduation Rate
    N/A
    No. of Online Programs
    16
    Tuition Fees
    $2,736
    Program Offered:
    Dental Assisting - Certified Part-time Hybrid E-Degree (With Optional Diploma Exit Point). The program aims to equip students to perform dental assistant duties including chair-side procedures and radiographic techniques, to maintain patient records and manage office responsibilities.

    Flexibility:
    • Hybrid program with a blend of distance and on-campus learning
    • Part-time program with a duration of about 14 months
    Quality Factors:
    • Lake Area Technical Institute is a SARA-approved institution
    • It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
    • The program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation
    Credit Hours:
    • 43 credits
    • Transfer credits may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions in courses where the student has acquired a grade of C or better
    Differentiators:
    • The program includes a combination of online courses and on-campus lab experience for about 12 days per semester
    • Students may be required to complete around 300 hours of clinical experience at an approved dental facility
    • Graduates are eligible to become certified dental assistants by completing the Dental Assisting National Board exam
    • Access to various scholarly materials and research guides through the institute library's webpage
    • Access to online tutoring and job search assistance
    Type of Institute:

    Public

    Scholarships Offered:

    Eligible students may apply for Lake Area Tech Foundation scholarships. For more details, please visit the school website.

    5
    Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest, CA-
    Admission Rate
    N/A
    Graduation Rate
    N/A
    No. of Online Programs
    25
    Tuition Fees
    $1,288
    Program Offered:
    Online Administrative Medical Assisting Certificate. The program aims to prepare students in the skills and competencies required for a career as an effective administrative medical assistant. It particularly focuses on building skills for front office responsibilities at a physician's office, including office management, billing, and coding.

    Flexibility:
    • Fully online program
    • Online courses are offered in fall, spring, and summer terms
    Quality Factors:
    • Cerro Coso Community College is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
    Credit Hours:
    • Typically requires the completion of 20.5 units
    • The online program likely spans two semesters
    • Transfer credits may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions
    Differentiators:
    • Students may be required to complete a 90-hour supervised externship to apply the theory and skills learned in the classroom
    • Access to scholarly resources and research assistance from the library
    • Online students may also avail of online tutoring and career services such as job search assistance
    Type of Institute:

    Public

    Scholarships Offered:

    Eligible students may apply for scholarships such as:

    • Myrlan "Speed" Handeland Family Scholarship
    • Gilbert Plain Family Scholarship

    Visit the college website for more details.

    6
    Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, NY+
    Admission Rate
    N/A
    Graduation Rate
    N/A
    No. of Online Programs
    20
    Tuition Fees
    $4,500
    Program Offered:
    Online Certificate in Dental Assisting. It aims to prepare students for tending to responsibilities at a dental office such as sterilizing instruments, preparing dental materials and carrying out front office duties

    Flexibility:
    • Fully online program
    • Duration of one year
    • Online coursework is generally asynchronous
    Quality Factors:
    • Hudson Valley Community College is a SARA-approved institution
    • It is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
    Credit Hours:
    • 27 credit hours
    • Transfer credits may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions in courses where the student has acquired a grade of C or better
    • A minimum of 50 percent of the required credits should be obtained from Hudson Valley Community College
    Differentiators:
    • The program may require about 225 hours of hands-on clinical experience in the form of a clinical internship
    • On completion of the program, students may appear for the New York State Professional Dental Assisting (NYPDA) Examination, Radiation Health & Safety (RHS) Exam and Infection Control Exam (ICE)
    • Online students may be provided with access to library resources such as research databases, catalogs and research assistance from librarians
    Type of Institute:

    Public

    Scholarships Offered:

    Scholarships available to eligible students are listed on the college website. Some of them are:

    • Dr. Anthony M. DeBonis Health Sciences Scholarship
    • First Advantage Dental Hygiene Scholarship
      Fastest-Growing Occupations
      Annual Median Wage
      Job Growth (2016-26)
      Phlebotomists$35,56024%
      Massage Therapists$45,88024%
      Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics$37,76015%
      Medical Records and Health Information Technicians$44,01014%
      Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses$47,05012%
      Pharmacy Technicians$34,02012%
      Surgical Technologists$49,04012%
      Source: 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

      Medical or dental assistants need to have administrative and clinic knowledge to carry out their duties. Depending on the state you live in and the healthcare facility you work in, your duties may range from recording patient details to preparing blood samples, to taking x-rays for lab work. Some states may also permit you to give patients injections and medication under the supervision of a doctor.

      Step 1: Needed prerequisites:

      According to the BLS, high school students interested in careers as medical and dental assistants should take courses in biology, chemistry and anatomy. Computer and business courses can work as an added bonus. The College Board stresses the importance for being discreet as medical assistants often handle confidential patient records. Being a good communicator and having an interest in medicine is also important.

      Step 2: Education / work experience required:

      There are no formal requirements for individuals wanting to make their careers as medical or dental assistants. They may be able to learn on the job immediately after completing their high school diploma or equivalent. However, according to the BLS, many employers prefer hiring students who have at least completed a medical and/or dental assistant certificate program.

      Certifications

      According to the BLS, medical/dental assistants are not required by law to be certified in most states. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects medical/dental assistants with certification and the ability to use electronic record systems to have the better job prospects in this field.

      Depending on the certification you have in mind, you may need to sit for an online certification test for medical/dental assistants, graduate from an accredited program for medical assistants and/or have work experience among other criteria. There are five accredited certifications for medical assistants:

      The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is the national certification board for dental assistants. Several certifications are offered by the DANB:

      • National Entry level Dental Assistant (NELDA)
      • Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
      • Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)
      • Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA)
      • Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA)

      You may need to renew your certifications at periodic intervals through examinations or continuing education classes.

      Licensure

      Medical and dental assistants are not required to hold licenses to practice their professions. However, professional certifications are highly encouraged. If you do come across the term medical/dental assistant license, it refers to the professional certifications mentioned in the section above which are mandatory in some states. Your state board of medicine will be able to provide you with information for your state.

      The job opportunities for medical and dental office assistants are going to grow rapidly in the decade leading up to 2026, according to the BLS. This means that individuals with advanced degrees are more likely to command better wages and opportunities than those without.

      While obtaining a certificate in medical and dental assisting can be a vital first step toward a career in the field, obtaining an associate degree may give you that extra edge. Associate degrees in medical and dental assisting typically take up to two years of full-time study but you may be able to finish yours in less if you have already earned your certification by transferring credits. A bachelor's degree in medical or dental assisting may allow you to choose a specialization so you can focus on an aspect of the field or industry that interest you the most.

      If you enjoy your interactions with patients while assisting them through medical procedures, another option you may want to consider is entering the nursing profession through further education.

      Sources
        Methodology:

        To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in business administration by degree level all colleges had to meet the following 4 requirements:

        1. Offer a bachelor's degree in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
        2. Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
        3. Have awarded at least one bachelor's degree in that subject in 2016-17
        4. Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for bachelor's and 11 ranking variables for master's (listed below)

        We then ranked 115 colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:

        1. Bachelor's Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
        2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
        3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
        4. Retention rate
        5. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
        6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
        7. Student-to-faculty ratio
        8. Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
        9. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
        10. The availability of any tuition plans: Payment
        11. The availability of any tuition plans: Guaranteed
        12. The availability of any tuition plans: Prepaid
        13. The availability of any tuition plans: Other
        14. Services: Academic/Career
        15. Placement for Completers
        16. Credit offerings: Dual
        17. Credit offerings: Life
        18. Credit offerings: AP
        19. Credit offerings: Military
        Sources: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
        X
          Sources

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          • National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, on the Internet at https://www.nc-sara.org/states/IN (accessed on May 24, 2019)
          • National Center For Education Statistics, College Navigator, on the Internet at https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=purdue+university+global&s=all&id=489779 (accessed on May 24, 2019)
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