Healthcare Administrator on the phone

How to Become a Medical Office Administrator

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Healthcare Administrator on the phone

The success of any organization hinges on staying organized and delivering a streamlined customer experience. That’s especially true in the healthcare industry, where facilities, policies, and information structures tend to be particularly complex. Medical office administrators play an essential role by serving as the first line of contact for patients and performing various clerical and organizational duties critical to the function of any healthcare facility.

This career guide will teach you everything you need to know about becoming a medical office administrator, including the educational requirements, certifications, day-to-day duties, and how long it generally takes to launch your new career.

Not sure if becoming a medical office administrator is right for you? Click here to see our full list of the best entry-level medical jobs.

Medical Office Administrator Definition

What is a Medical Office Administrator?

When any patient calls a clinic, doctor’s office, or healthcare facility to make an appointment, there’s a good chance they’ll be speaking with a medical office administrator. In addition to working with patients on scheduling, billing, and insurance claims, medical office administrators also help organize files and maintain information structures and may help doctors, nurses, or scientists prepare reports or other communications.

Medical Office Administrator: Job Description

What Does a Medical Office Administrator Do?

While medical office administrators perform many standard clerical duties like answering phones and scheduling appointments, their knowledge of the healthcare industry sets them apart from other administrative professionals. They’ll often help with billing and bookkeeping tasks and use electronic health record systems to keep patients’ information accurate and up to date.

Medical Office Administrator Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of medical office administrators include:

  • Answering phones, emails, or online request forms
  • Scheduling appointments and checking in patients
  • Processing insurance claims or patient invoices
  • Compiling reports, charts, and other resources as necessary
  • Providing general office and administrative support

Medical Office Administrator Skills

To thrive as a medical office administrator, you’ll need to have excellent interpersonal skills. You’ll often be the first point of contact for the facility or practice you represent, so being courteous and thorough with patients, insurance companies, and others will be a must. Organizational skills are equally important, as you’ll need to keep track of appointments, files, and schedules to do your job effectively. Solid writing and language skills are also a bonus, as you’ll be expected to maintain a professional tone in any communications with patients or other outside parties.

Medical students in a hallway

Where Do Medical Office Administrators Work?

All  healthcare facilities employ medical office administrators, though the majority work in hospitals, outpatient facilities, or private doctors’ or dentists’ offices. Most people in the field work full time, though part-time jobs are also available with some employers. Medical office administrators usually work relatively standard business hours, though their shifts may occasionally be scheduled during nights or weekends at facilities providing 24-hour medical care.

Medical Office Administrator Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Medical Office Administrator?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Medical Office Administrator?

One of the best ways to position yourself for a long and lucrative career as a medical office administrator is to complete a Medical Office Administration program from an accredited college or university. It’s a fantastic way to show potential employers you’re an organized and capable professional with a functional knowledge of the healthcare industry. While many healthcare-focused diploma programs can take up to two full years to complete, you could earn your Medical Office Administration diploma in as little as 34 weeks! It’s a small-time investment when you consider the opportunities it can provide to work in a fulfilling field with great benefits and an excellent long-term career outlook.

Like any long-term goal, working toward a new career as a medical office administrator seems much more attainable when you break it down into individual steps.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the education, experience, and certifications you’ll need to become a medical office administrator:

1. Enroll in a Medical Office Administration (MOA) Program

The first step in starting your new career as a medical office administrator is enrolling in an accredited Medical Office Administration (MOA) program. While you’ll have to stay focused in school to complete your diploma, it’s a career field that’s achievable for anyone with basic computer skills and people skills! For example, to enroll in the Medical Office Administration program at Brookline College, all it takes is a high school diploma or GED, plus a passing score on a Scholastic Level Exam and a computer literacy exam.

2. Earn Your Medical Office Administration Diploma

Your MOA diploma program will start with a big-picture overview of the healthcare industry, which will help establish context for all the other things you’ll learn about becoming a medical office administrator. From there, you’ll move into studying the basics of anatomy and medical terminology, which will prepare you for knowledgeable interactions with patients and healthcare providers. You’ll also study medical billing and accounting and sharpen your communication skills and overall office professionalism. All the professional skills you’ll study will be in the context of the medical industry, which will be a major benefit when it comes time to nail your first job interview.

The final portion of your medical office administration program will be a capstone program, which will give you experience in an actual medical office environment. You’ll interact with actual patients and healthcare professionals and gain valuable experience and insight that will serve you well once you’ve finished your MOA diploma and officially joined the ranks of skilled medical office administrators.

Wherever you choose to pursue your medical office administration diploma, you may want to consider prioritizing colleges or universities that offer job placement assistance to students upon completing a diploma program. When it comes to making connections and landing interviews, having somebody on your side who knows what employers are looking for can make a noticeable difference.

3. Stand Out By Earning Additional Certifications

Most entry-level medical office administrator jobs don’t require any special license or certificate. However, earning a professional certification from a nationally recognized credentialing organization is a great way to show potential employers you’ve mastered the skills and knowledge to contribute from your first day on the job. The National Center for Competency Testing is widely recognized for various healthcare industry certifications. It offers the National Certified Medical Office Assistant certification that may give you a leg up on the competition when applying for jobs. The NCMOA exam consists of 150 questions over a period of three hours, and you’re automatically qualified to take the exam as a student or graduate of any approved MOA program.

Smiling student in a university setting

How Much Does it Cost to Earn a Medical Office Administration Diploma?

Attending school has become increasingly expensive over the last 10-20 years. Many colleges and universities charge students $20,000 and up in tuition alone per semester—and often, that doesn’t even include what you’ll spend on books, lab fees, or other hidden charges. Fortunately, as online education has become increasingly popular, more people have been able to get an education and start a new career at a significantly lower cost per credit hour than traditional institutions. For example, not only does the Medical Office Administration Program at Brookline College come with lower tuition costs, the price you pay includes all books and other required course materials, plus any lab and facility fees. Best of all, over 80% of Brookline students qualify for some form of financial aid. So wherever you choose to pursue your MOA diploma, make sure it’s with a school that’s fully transparent about the actual cost of your education.

Medical Office Administrator Salary

How Much Do Medical Office Administrators Make?

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary* among all medical office administrators (also known as medical secretaries) is right around $39,000 per year, or equivalent to $18.75 per hour. Medical office administrators in the top 25% of earners take home over $45,000 per year on average, while salaries in the 90th percentile can reach $54,000 per year and up.

Highest Paying Industries for Medical Office Administrators

According to the BLS, you’ll find the top-paying jobs for medical office administrators in these industries:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Outpatient Care Facilities $21.11 $43,920
Private Dentists’ Offices $20.19 $41,990
Specialty Hospitals $19.81 $41,200
Medical & Surgical Hospitals $18.93 $39,370
Private Physicians’ Offices $18.17 $37,790

Highest Paying States for Medical Office Administrators

According to the BLS, medical office administrators in these states earn the highest average wages:

Location Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Washington, D.C. $22.65 $47,110
California $22.18 $46,140
Washington $22.11 $45,990
Massachusetts $21.59 $44,900
Rhode Island $21.03 $43,740

Highest Paying Cities for Medical Office Administrators

According to the BLS, medical office administrators earn the highest average annual pay in these cities:

Location Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
San Jose, CA $26.55 $55,220
Salinas, CA $25.92 $53,900
San Francisco, CA $25.01 $52,020
Fairfield, CA $24.74 $51,470
Sacramento, CA $23.64 $49,170
Seattle, WA $23.47 $48,820
Portsmouth, NH $23.14 $48,130
Napa, CA $22.98 $47,800
Santa Rosa, CA $22.95 $47,740
Longview, WA $22.80 $47,430

Medical Office Administrator Job Outlook

What is the Job Outlook for Medical Office Administrators?

As a significant chunk of the population enters old age and requires increasing medical care, the overall demand for healthcare services is almost certain to increase. That means the demand for medical office administrators is estimated to increase as well, despite an overall decline in the employment of administrative professionals. According to the BLS, the number of medical office administrators in the workforce is projected to increase by 10% by 2029. For reference, that’s two and a half times higher than the average growth rate (4%) for all jobs across the same time period.

Healthcare professionals in an exam room

Ready to Start Your Career as a Medical Office Administrator?

If you’re a people person who loves the idea of helping a fast-paced medical facility stay organized, becoming a medical office administrator could be the healthcare career for you. You’ll have a set of easily transferable skills you can take just about anywhere and the chance to make a difference in people’s lives by providing them with friendly, empathetic care from the first time they contact your facility.

Click here to learn more about the Medical Office Administration program at Brookline College, and get started on the road to your new career as a medical office administrator today!