Pennsylvania Medical Assistant Salaries & Schools

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The medical assisting field in Pennsylvania is poised to grow over 17% through the next decade according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That translates to just under 4,000 new jobs. The forces driving this trend are an aging population and the increased availability of health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Pennsylvania schools offer programs in medical assisting at the certificate, diploma and associate degree level. Programs can be found at the state’s community, private and technical colleges. And, while Pennsylvania law does not mandate specific training for medical assistants, many employers prefer to hire Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs)-a designation that can only be obtained by graduates of accredited programs who pass a national credentialing exam. Read on to find out more about certifications, schools, and salary information for medical assistants in Pennsylvania.

Top 10 Pennsylvania Medical Assistant Salaries & Schools

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Top Medical Assisting Schools in Pennsylvania

  • Methodology


    To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:

    Accredited at the institutional level
    Private nonprofit or public school
    Minimum of 1 bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area for 4-year schools
    Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools

    Schools were then scored on factors such as:

    Cost & Financial Aid
    Number and variety of program offerings
    Student-teacher ratios
    Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
    Placement and support services offered
    Academic/Career counseling services
    Employment services
    Loan default rates

    These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.

The need for trained medical assistants has rapidly increased in recent years, making a degree earned in medical assisting a valuable asset for students looking to begin a career in the medical field. We’ve looked into some of the best online programs in Pennsylvania, basing our findings on an institution’s class sizes, student-teacher ratio, and overall graduation rate. Look below to find the best medical assisting programs in Pennsylvania for 2017.

4 – Year Colleges

  1. Harrisburg Area Community College
    Location

    Harrisburg, PA

    The medical assisting program at HACC prepares students for entry-level positions in a variety of ambulatory environments. They will learn how to perform administrative duties as well as to work directly with patients and other caregivers. There is a certificate and an associate degree option, both of which qualify students for the same work at similar pay. If students complete the certificate program, they may then pursue the college's health science associate degree, provided they achieve the CMA credential first. Students who earn a supplementary degree in administration or management could pursue careers as office managers. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

  2. Bucks County Community College
    Location

    Newtown, PA

    The three-semester medical assisting certificate program at Bucks County Community College culminates in a full externship, which constitutes the entire final semester. The program focuses on career preparation, and although transfer to a four-year school is possible, students planning to continue their education should work closely with an advisor to ensure a successful transition. The program concentrates on the clinical and administrative aspects of the profession, and graduates will leave prepared to perform a wide range of functions, including administering immunizations, drawing blood, collecting lab specimens and performing front-office duties like managing accounts receivable and payable.

  3. Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
    Location

    Media, PA

    Students at the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology can earn an allied health-clinical medical assistant degree in 18 months. The program provides general education not only in health, but in math, science, humanities and English. Once they achieve the associate of science degree, students will be prepared to begin developing a specialization within the field. The program also provides sufficient coursework for continuation onto a full bachelor's degree at a four-year school. The non-profit school offers students access to academic advising, job-placement services, transfer services and a wide range of other academic support programs.

  4. Community College of Allegheny County
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    The medical assistant program at the Community College of Allegheny County results in an associate of science degree. Upon completion, graduates will be ready to enter the field at the entry level. They will be qualified to assist with procedures, complete insurance forms, maintain medical records and perform routine laboratory procedures. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Student services include career and development planning, tutoring and academic help, technology support and counseling services. Students who need them will also have access to supportive disability services.

  5. Harcum College
    Location

    Bryn Mawr, PA

    Graduates of the Harcum College medical assistant associate degree program will be prepared to support doctors and other wellness professionals by performing a range of clinical and administrative duties. The Office of Career and Transfer Services works to prepare students for their job search or further education after their time at Harcum, and the Dress for Success program offers students of both genders and varied body types the opportunity to borrow business attire for interviews and other professional encounters. The library offers students access to research materials, ebooks, print journals, archives and media services. Students will also receive academic advising and counseling services, if required.

  6. Lehigh Carbon Community College
    Location

    Schnecksville, PA

    Before enrolling in the medical assistant associate of applied science degree at Lehigh Carbon Community College, students are urged to first meet with an academic advisor dedicated specifically to that program. Students will receive complete medical secretarial training, as well as laboratory and clinical education. The program, which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, prepares students to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) certification examination once they graduate. For the last several years, the overwhelming majority of program graduates passed the exam and found employment within six months.

  7. Delaware County Community College
    Location

    Media, PA

    The medical assistant program at Delaware County Community College, which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education under recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board, offers both a certificate and an associate degree track. New students will have access to assessment services and help with college planning. Some will be eligible to receive credit for prior learning. Incoming students will benefit from an orientation, and a program called First-Year Experience offers outreach activities and other services and programs for those new to college life. The college also offers veterans services, disability services and counseling.

  8. Pennsylvania Highlands Community College
    Location

    Johnstown, PA

    Once they earn an associate of applied science degree from Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, graduates of the medical assisting technology program will be prepared to work in medical offices or similar settings. Other career opportunities include health claims analyst, insurance claims reviewer, billing coordinator and medical office manager. During their time at PHCC, students will have the opportunity to join a wide range of organizations and activities, and they will be kept in the loop through PEAK, the school's text message notification system. Students will have access to advising and career services, as well as the Student Success Center.

Certification & Training Requirements for Medical Assistants in Pennsylvania

1 How is medical assisting defined in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, medical assistants are unlicensed personnel working in a health care setting. Pennsylvania does treat certified medical assistants (CMA) and registered medical assistants (RMA) differently than uncertified medical assistants. The essential difference comes down to what tasks and duties practitioners are able to delegate to medical assistants. For example, only “credentialed medical assistants”, meaning CMAs or RMAs, can enter a medical order into the electronic medical records for meaningful use.

2 Is certification required?

Certification is not required for medical assistants in Pennsylvania. However, the Pennsylvania medical code states that in order for physicians to delegate clinical and administrative tasks, they must have “knowledge that the delegatee has education, training, experience and continued competency to safely perform the medical service being delegated.” One way to ensure and, for legal purposes, be able to prove a medical assistant can be given specific tasks in through nationally recognized certification.

3 What MA certification is available?

The most commonly recognized and accepted certification is the CMA. CMA candidates must be recent graduates of medical assisting programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). And, they must pass a national credentialing exam administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants. Below is a list of nationally recognized credentials.

  • Certified Medical Assistant
  • Registered Medical Assistant
  • Registered Medical Assistant
  • Medical Assistant (NCMA)
  • Medical Office Assistant (NCMOA)
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

4 Is formal education and/or training required?

It is not required, but often preferred. And, again, in order to become a CMA, you must be a graduate of an accredited program.

5 Are there additional requirements?

Many employers in Pennsylvania will require a background check, immunizations and a physical including a drug screening.

6 What tasks are within the scope of medical assistants in Pennsylvania?

According to Pennsylvania law, physicians may delegate administrative and clinical tasks “consistent with the standards of acceptable medical practice” to medical assistants provided that certain conditions are met. Doctors must know that medical assistants have training and experience to handle such tasks, and the tasks must fall within the physician’s own scope of practice. An example of clinical tasks medical assistants can perform include:

  • Measuring vital signs
  • Administering medications
  • Authorizing drug refills (though initial prescriptions must come from licensed practitioners)
  • Removing sutures or changing wound dressings

Salaries for Medical Assistants in Pennsylvania

The table below compares annual and hourly wages for medical assistants in Pennsylvania with the nation as a whole.

 Annual Wage
25th percentile
Annual Wage
Median
Annual Wage
75th percentile
Hourly Wage
Median
Pennsylvania$24,930$28,820$34,430$13.86
National$25,500$29,960$36,070$14.41

Source: BLS, 2014

Pennsylvania Medical Assistant Salaries by City and Area

Salaries in Pennsylvania can vary as much as $2 per hour across the state. In general, nonmetropolitan areas have lower hourly wages than cities and metropolitan centers such as Lebanon or Philadelphia. However, wages in the cities of Altoona and Erie are actually lower than those found in Eastern nonmetropolitan areas.

     
AreaAnnual Wage
25th percentile
Annual Wage
Median
Annual Wage
75th percentile
Hourly Wage
Median
Altoona, PA$22,520$26,150$30,190$12.57
Lebanon, PA$26,940$31,830$36,840$15.30
Philadelphia, PA (Metropolitan Division)$27,480$32,630$37,410$15.69
Pittsburgh, PA$24,030$27,750$32,370$13.34
Reading, PA$25,870$28,540$32,100$13.72

Source: BLS, 2014

Pennsylvania Medical Assisting Employments Trends

The medical assistant field is in Pennsylvania poised for considerable growth through the next decade-nearly 4,000 jobs will be added.

Medical Assistant Estimated Employment Growth 2012-2022

 Average Annual
Openings
Current
Employment
Projected
Employment 2022
Jobs
Added
Growth
Rate
Pennsylvania82022,49026,3903,90017.4%
National26,990560,800723,700162,90029%

*Source: Projections Central, 2012-2022

Pennsylvania Medical Assisting Schools Spotlight

Your medical assistant education can really set the tone for the success of your career. By attending a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, you are eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam, a credential that is often required by Pennsylvania employers. Here are a few accredited schools to help kick off your search for the right school.

Butler Country Community College

School Type:

Community college

Accreditation:

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Middle States Commission On Higher Education

School highlights:

Butler’s associate degree in medical assisting program is designed to build upon the certificate of achievement program

Both programs include an externship providing valuable, supervised hands-on practice

Certificate program can be completed in 18 months

Associate degree graduates are eligible to sit for the CMA exam

Programs offered:

Certificate of Achievement in Medical Assisting

Applied Associate of Science, Medical Assisting

Butler County Community College

Delaware County Community

School Type:

Community college

Accreditation:

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Middle States Commission On Higher Education

School highlights:

All students participate in a supervised clinical externship in a local health care facility

All students are required to sit for the CMA exam

Programs offered:

Medical Assistant, Certificate of Proficiency

Medical Assistant, Associate in Applied Science

Delaware County Community College

Pennsylvania Medical Assistant Resources

American Association of Medical Assistants

The AAMA provides continuing education, advocacy, and credentialing for medical assistants-specifically the certified medical assistant (CMA) exam.

Pennsylvania Medical Society

This organization is an education, advocacy, and professional organization for physicians and their site contains useful information on the scope of practice for medical assistants in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Society of Medical Associates

This is the state chapter for the American Association of Medical Assistants and has local chapters in Allegheny, Beaver, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Erie, Lancaster, Lehigh, and York Counties, as well as the Tri-County area.

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