Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting

associates degree vs certificate

Have you considered doing an Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting instead of training for a Certificate?

An Associate's Degree is a much higher level of qualification than a Certificate, and leads to greater employment opportunities - so why then do most people only do the regular courses that qualify them for a certificate?

Well the main answer is time. You can complete a regular certificate training program in less than a year - many colleges offer courses that take 9 months or less to complete. On the other hand, it can take up to 2 years to complete an Associate's Degree.

Benefits of an Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting

This more detailed level of qualification gives you not only a wider range of skills, but also goes into much greater depth on some of the more complex topics such as Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology, and a wider range of clinical procedures.

While training for an Associate's Degree, you will generally also get a lot more experience in biology subjects and laboratory work, giving you a stronger scientific grounding for your knowledge.

Another benefit is that you get training for higher level skills including Human Resources and Management which puts you in a much stronger position when applying for jobs, and can see you get promoted into higher paying roles more quickly where you have the responsibility of coordinating other medical assistants and front office staff such as receptionists.

You will also get more training and experience using a wider range of medical technology from EKG to IV machines.

One other advantage is that should you later want to take your career in new directions such as becoming a Medical Assistant Instructor, or a Registered Nurse, then you will be better positioned, and have more of the prerequisites, than someone who only has a certificate level of qualification.

Do You Still Need Certification?

Although an Associate's Degree is a higher level of qualification, most people usually take a certification exam after completing their program. It's not a legal requirement, but some healthcare institutions require a certificate as a matter of course when advertising new positions. For more information on the certificate exam requirements see CMA (AAMA) Exam.


The choice of whether or not to get a Medical Assistant Associate Degree really depends on what your long term vision is for your career. If you want to get into medical assisting as a stepping-stone to other areas in healthcare, then it's certainly worth looking at seriously. On the other hand, if you're not sure about what you want to do in the future, then maybe start with on the job training or a certificate course - you can always go back and obtain an Associate's Degree in medical assisting at a later time.