Medical Office Technology Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Info

About this article
What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in medical office technology? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and medical office technology degrees.
View available schools

Studying Medical Office Technology: Degrees at a Glance

Medical office specialists perform a range of administrative tasks that support the daily operations of doctors' offices, hospitals or long-term care facilities. Professionals in the industry code medical records, bill insurance companies and utilize technology to perform medical research. The job requires in-depth knowledge of medical vocabulary, transcription and office procedures.

The associate's degree program in medical office technology can prepare you for an entry-level position as a receptionist, administrative assistant or information technician in a medical setting. At the bachelor's level, you'll typically find medical office technology studies as part of a healthcare administration program. The bachelor's program focuses on management principles as well as medical office operations.

Job growth for several careers in the healthcare industry should be strong; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that medical and health services managers would see a 22% increase in jobs, and medical secretaries would see a 41% increase in employment opportunities from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov).

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level medical administrative positions People interested in health service management positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Medical records and health information technician ($33,000)*
- Medical records coding technician ($45,000)**
- Medical secretary ($33,000)**
- Medical transcriptionist ($33,000)*
- Medical and health services manager ($87,000)*
- Healthcare business office director ($112,000 - with 10 years of experience)**
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 10-15 courses covering medical office operations
- Internship or field experience
- Roughly 20 courses covering healthcare office operations
- Professional internship or field experience
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Not at this time Yes

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (August 2012 figures).

Associate's in Medical Office Technology

The associate's degree program in medical office technology can give you basic knowledge and skills in medical office operations, common medical technologies and standard medical office procedures. Your program may offer CPR and first aid training throughout your studies. Schools sometimes give you a variety of concentration options, such as digital health records, medical coding or medical transcription. Most programs also include an internship opportunity, giving you a chance to learn how a medical office actually operates.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many of the jobs an associate's degree prepares you for were projected to have solid employment prospects (medical secretaries were expected to see 41% growth, and medical assistants were predicted to see 31% growth between 2010 and 2020)*
  • Some programs offer multiple concentrations, giving you the chance to tailor your learning experience at the associate's level
  • Employers may prefer someone with an associate's degree over others who have high school diplomas

Cons

  • Advancement to upper-level administration careers may require a bachelor's or master's degree
  • Although you'll learn some basics about how an office operates in the program, most of the skills you'll learn are specifically designed to help you work in a medical office and can't be transferred to other careers
  • Many of the positions you're prepared to pursue only require a high school diploma

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree program consists of roughly 60 credits of coursework in general education, medical information management and industry billing practices. You can learn about medical reporting and transcription and gain office management skills from the program. By the end of the program, you should have a strong foundation using word processing applications and other types of software programs commonly used in medical offices. Following are some common courses you might take in the program:

  • Health information management
  • Health information technology
  • Medical transcription
  • Medical office procedures
  • Electronic health records
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical office management

Many programs require you to complete an internship or an office practicum towards the end of your program.

Online Degree Options

Although you may find related associate's programs completely online, associate's degree programs in medical office technology are not currently available. Most schools that offer 2-year programs offer a few courses online, but you can expect to take the majority of your course load at the campus. If you do happen to come across any schools that claim to offer this program online, make sure it's accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Stand out With This Degree

Physicians' practices, hospitals and other medical facilities continue to move toward electronic health records (EHR) systems. Gaining familiarity with EHR software may increase your job prospects and marketability. Medical office workers also work with a variety of software applications, so taking additional courses that cover these programs may reduce the amount of training you'll need once you're hired.

Obtaining the appropriate certification may also make you a more competitive candidate. For example, you could become a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant upon passing the certification exam administered by the National Healthcareer Association. The American Medical Technologists offers the Medical Administrative Specialist designation, which requires 4 years of experience without any postsecondary education or 2 years of experience with an associate's degree. A variety of certifications are offered by other organizations, so you may want to see what options you have before preparing for a certification exam.

Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration

The bachelor's degree program takes a managerial approach to medical office training. You'll still learn about medical office technology, but the program is focused on preparing you for mid-level management positions within the healthcare industry. Programs offer a range of coursework in communications, financial administration and healthcare facilities operation. You can learn about health care system operations and gain knowledge of the legal concerns faced by modern medical facilities. Most schools offer a healthcare internship as part of the program, giving you a chance to see what it takes to work in healthcare administration before you graduate.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can lead to high paying careers (medical health and service managers earned a median salary of about $87,000)*
  • Gives you a chance to learn advanced concepts in healthcare operations
  • May give you an edge over other applicants who only have an associate's degree or a high school diploma

Cons

  • Some of the high-paying careers may require up to 10 years of experience in addition to spending 4 years pursuing a bachelor's degree
  • Despite your degree, you may have begin your career as an administrative assistant if you work in a larger facility
  • Many medical office careers don't require a bachelor's degree

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

Since you may be overseeing other medical administration workers, the bachelor's program is designed to ensure that you can handle managing a healthcare facility. The bachelor's program covers basic medical office technology concepts with courses in medical terminology, health information systems, medical billing and health facility operations. After you complete some of the introductory courses, you'll move on to courses that cover legal issues in healthcare, healthcare management and healthcare finance. Towards the end of your degree program, you're usually required to complete a healthcare internship.

Online Degree Info

The healthcare administration bachelor's degree program is available as a complete online learning experience. Schools may require you to have an associate's degree before you can enroll in an online program, so be aware you may not be able to jump into a distance learning program right out of high school. The curriculum of an online program is very similar to an on-campus one, and you may still be able to pursue an internship through an online program.

Stand Out with This Degree

Obtaining a professional certification, such as the Certified Patients Account Manager designation from the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, could give you an edge over other applicants who have a similar education background. The right certification for you may depend on the type of healthcare facility you plan on working at.

You'll want as much experience working with other people as you can get before pursuing a healthcare management position. While getting experience in a healthcare facility may be the best option, you can still gain valuable skills from working in other office settings. You may have the option to take some elective courses that cover communication skills as well, which are extremely important for working in a healthcare office setting.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
      • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Life Sciences
  • Hamlet, NC

    Richmond Community College

  • Winterville, NC

    Pitt Community College

  • Bloomington, MN

    Normandale Community College

  • Clyde, NC

    Haywood Community College

  • Bolivia, NC

    Brunswick Community College

  • Grants Pass, OR

    Rogue Community College

  • Asheville, NC

    Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

Featured Schools

Herzing University

  • Associate: Health Information Management
  • Associate: Healthcare Management
  • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
  • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding

What is your highest level of education?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Life Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Richmond Community College

Pitt Community College

Normandale Community College

Haywood Community College

Brunswick Community College