Medical Office Administrator Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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A medical office administrator's average salary is around $53,690. Is it worth the required education? See real job requirements and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a medical office administrator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Medical Office Administration

Managing a medical office can be a high-stress career, but it also can be very rewarding to work with doctors, nurses and other personnel to provide patients with the best care possible. Examine the pros and cons to see if medical office administration might be a good fit for you.

Pros of a Medical Office Administration Career
Above-average earnings ($50,780 average salary as of May 2014)*
Opportunity to work as a team leader**
Variety in daily activities**
Positions available in all types of medical offices**

Cons of a Medical Office Administration Career
Postsecondary training and professional experience are required for many positions*
Responsible for disciplining and terminating staff**
Emergency situations could prove stressful**
Responsible for resolving disputes with patients**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **CareerBuilder.com

Job Description and Salary Information

Although some people might envision a medical office administrator working only for a pediatrician or family practitioner, there are several other employers you could consider, including dentists, podiatrists, orthopedic specialists and plastic surgeons. As a medical office administrator, you would oversee the day-to-day operations of a medical office. Your duties could range from managing human resources, including recruiting, hiring, training, supervising and evaluating office personnel, to maintaining financial records and acting as a liaison among doctors and other employees. You also might look for ways to market your office to the public and to more efficiently and effectively meet patients' needs.

According to the BLS, first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers made a mean annual wage of roughly $50,780 as of May 2014. The top ten percent of these professionals earned about $82,000 or more per year.

Education Options and Skills

While a high school diploma might qualify you for some medical office administration positions, many employers seek job candidates with postsecondary education. One option is an associate's degree program in medical office administration. In addition to learning basic clerical skills, such as data entry, office software application and records management, you'll likely study insurance coding and billing, medical transcription, medical terminology and legal issues in medicine. Other courses might cover accounting and office management. Additionally, you might take part in one or more cooperative work experiences and/or internships, as well as labs that simulate the day-to-day operations of a medical office.

If you're looking for a more extensive education, you might pursue a bachelor's degree in health care management. This field of study may be offered as a specialization in a broader major, such as behavioral science, business administration or organizational management. Course topics in these 4-year programs, which are sometimes offered partially or completely online, might include current trends and issues in health care, health care marketing, organizational psychology, health care policy and quality improvement. You also might explore human resource management and management information systems.

Useful Skills

You'll need to be an effective communicator and organizer to keep your medical office running smoothly. You'll also need strong mediation skills to resolve disputes involving employees and/or patients. Additionally, it might be helpful to be ambitious, since the BLS reports that most managerial positions in office and administrative support are filled by promoting from within.

What Employers Are Looking For

In addition to some postsecondary education, experience in health care management and strong computer skills are key for employers seeking medical office administrators. A sampling of job postings from February 2012 included the following:

  • A primary care practice in Florida was looking for a medical office manager with at least five years of experience managing or supervising workers in the medical field.
  • A pulmonary practice in California was seeking a practice administrator who was familiar with electronic medical billing as well as electronic practice management.
  • A sports medicine practice in Atlanta, GA, was advertising for a medical practice manager with a bachelor's degree in business administration or health care management, in addition to experience in human resources management.
  • A plastic surgery center in Maryland was pursuing a medical practice administrator with strong marketing skills, including experience with e-mail marketing, website management and social media.
  • A vein clinic in Chicago, IL, was searching for a practice administrator who is able to stay calm and be effective in emergency situations.

How to Stand Out From the Competition

Because there isn't a set education requirement for medical office administrators, earning an associate's or bachelor's degree can help you stand out from other job candidates. The BLS also notes that applicants who display leadership, team-building, technology and communications skills, as well as an ability to multitask, could catch an employer's eye.

Additionally, you can demonstrate your proficiency in medical office administration by earning certification through a professional organization, such as the American Medical Technologists (AMT). AMT offers the Certified Medical Administrative Specialist (CMAS) designation, which requires completion of an accredited program in medical office administration, certification as a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) and at least two years' experience in the field.

Other Careers to Consider

Medical Secretary

In addition to preparing you for a management career, a program in medical office administration can provide you with the skills to work as a medical secretary. In this capacity, you would take dictation for a physician and assist him or her with various writings, such as articles, letters, reports and speeches. Other tasks might include taking patients' medical histories or scheduling them for hospitalization. The BLS projected excellent employment opportunities for medical secretaries in the decade 2010-2020, with an anticipated job increase of 41%.

Medical Transcriptionist

Another option similar to medical office administrator is medical transcriptionist. In this career, you would transcribe notes from recordings made by doctors and other health care workers to produce reports of various procedures, from physical exams and operations to autopsies. You also might transcribe referral letters, discharge instructions and notes on patients' progress. The medical transcription field was expected to experience below-average growth from 2010-2020, with an expected job increase of six percent, per the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Campus Locations:
    2. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Office Specialist
      • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist - Certificate
  • Campus Locations:
    3. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma Program - Medical Office Specialist
      • Diploma Program - Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Management and Public Safety Leadership
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Information Management
    Associate's
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Office Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
      • MS - Healthcare Management - Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management
      • B.S. - Health Care Management - Health Informatics
      • B.S. - Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Healthcare Management - MBA (Master's)
  • Online Programs Available
    7. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
      • Master of Healthcare Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Health Administration
      • MS in Health Administration - Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Health Services Admin
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
      • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
      • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management

Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

What is your highest level of education?

Brightwood College

  • Medical Office Specialist
  • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist - Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

Virginia College

  • Diploma Program - Medical Office Specialist
  • Diploma Program - Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

What is your highest level of education completed?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Bachelor: Health Information Management
  • Associate: Health Information Management
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management

Are you a US citizen?

Baker College Online

  • Healthcare Management - MBA (Master's)

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
  • Master of Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management

Are you a US citizen?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Health Administration
  • MS in Health Administration - Informatics

What is your highest level of education completed?