Medical Assistant Degree vs. Diploma – Which Should You Pursue?

Considering becoming a medical assistant? Not sure whether to get an associate’s degree or a diploma? Wondering if a medical assistant degree will help you get a job, or even a better job? Thinking that the diploma sounds good but wondering if you’re wasting your money?

It can all be very confusing, but understanding the difference between a medical assistant degree and diploma can clear things up and help you make your decision based on your current situation and what you intend to do in the future.

With a medical assistant diploma, you’ll complete your studies in a year or less, pay less to complete your education, and start work sooner. You’ll learn the basic skills of medical assisting, but you will not learn skills and basics in other disciplines which are required for certification. Also, your courses will not transfer, most likely, if you later want to pursue a medical assistant degree or go for a higher degree. These are all things to take into consideration, but if your goal is to get your qualification and get to work as quickly as possible, a diploma is a good route.

You may be thinking that it will be harder to get a job with only a diploma and that employers will be biased toward someone with a medical assistant degree, but this is not necessarily true. Employers are looking for medical assistants who can do the job, so if you’re interested in getting into the field and a diploma appeals to you, it is definitely a good way to get the education and enter the employment arena.

A medical assistant degree, by contrast, is much more involved, taking two years to complete, and offering a much more comprehensive education than a diploma. The degree includes not only coursework in medical assistant duties per se, but also clinical coding, anatomy, first aid, insurance coding, law and ethics, medical terminology, pharmacology, patient relations and more.

A medical assistant degree is excellent preparation for medical assistant certification and is also great preparation for moving into another part of the medical field or getting a bachelor’s degree and moving on at some point.

While there are definite advantages to a medical assistant degree, those advantages are not all, or not even necessary, in finding employment. You should make your decision based on what you want to do in the future, how much time you want to spend on your education, your financial situation, and how quickly you want to start working.