How to Become a Medical Office Administrator

How to Become a Medical Office Administrator?

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

How to Become a Medical Office Administrator

Medical office administrators (MOAs), or medical record technicians, are the unsung heroes who provide behind-the-scenes support in many healthcare settings. In fact, it’s their job to help medical offices run smoothly. To be successful, MOAs must be well-organized and have great interpersonal skills.

If you’re considering a career as a Medical Office Administrator, and you’re curious about the benefits and requirements that go along with it, this article will serve as a great resource.

Below you’ll find a wealth of information about how to start your career as a medical office administrator.

What Is Medical Office Administration?

Medical Office Administration Definition

Medical office administrators are multi-competent health professionals who play a vital role in the organization and management of data in a medical office. They are often referred to as medical records and health information technicians.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they organize and manage health information data by ensuring that it maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems.

Medical office administrators utilize several systems to code and categorize patient information for the following purposes:

  • Insurance reimbursement
  • Databases and registries, and
  • Patient medical histories

Medical Office Administration Job Description

What Does a Medical Office Administrator Do?

Medical records technicians might not provide direct patient care, but they frequently work with registered nurses and other healthcare professionals. MOAs document the health information of patients, including their medical history, symptoms, test results, and treatments.

While job duties may vary depending on the employer and size of the facility, medical office administrator responsibilities typically include the following:

  • Perform opening and closing office procedures
  • Manage medical records
  • Create electronic health records
  • Assign insurance codes for medical diagnoses and procedures
  • Process insurance claims
  • Perform entry-level bookkeeping and accounting procedures

Soft Skills for Medical Office Administration

What Are the Key Traits an MOA Must Have?

Soft Skills for Medical Office Administration

In addition to the medical office administrator duties mentioned above, you should also have:

  • A detail-oriented nature, as medical record technicians must be accurate when recording and coding patient information.
  • Integrity, as medical record technicians should exercise discretion when working with patient information.
  • Interpersonal skills, as medical record technicians need to be able to discuss patient information with other professionals (i.e. physicians and finance personnel).
  • Analytical skills, as medical record technicians must understand medical records/diagnoses and determine how to code them in a patient’s medical records.
  • Technical skills, as medical record technicians will need to use the electronic health record (EHR) system that their employer has adopted.

How Long Is Medical Office Administration Training?

Medical Office Administrator School

In the U.S., most aspiring MOAs will require a postsecondary certificate. Depending on your location and employer, you may also need an associate degree.

One things for certain, however. Certification is usually required.

Formal training may generally take anywhere from nine months to two years to complete, depending on whether it’s a certificate/diploma or degree program. For instance, the medical office administration program at some healthcare colleges, can be completed in as little as nine months.

Option 1: Medical Office Administration Certification

More often than not, you must graduate from a medical office administration certificate or diploma program. These programs usually require about a year of school. Most are offered by vocational schools or community colleges.

Medical office administration classes often cover topics like:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Communication
  • Health data requirements and standards
  • Classification and coding systems
  • Healthcare reimbursement methods
  • Healthcare statistics
  • Computer systems

Bonus tip: High school students who want to become medical record technicians may better their odds by taking courses in health, computer science, math, and biology.

Option 2: Associate Degree

Some schools offer an associate-degree program for aspiring medical record technicians. In these degree programs, general education courses are typically combined with health information technology education. Most associate degree programs can be completed in about two years.

For associate-degree programs, the medical office administration courses are very similar to those in certificate/diploma programs.

MOA Degree vs. Certificate

Aspiring medical office administrators looking for a competitive edge could seek formal training. However, degree and diploma-certification programs each have their own advantages.

While degree programs lay the foundation for higher study—and potentially more job opportunities—they also require more time in school. Additionally, they are usually not required for entry-level medical records technician positions.

On the other hand, you can typically complete medical office administration training in a diploma-certification program in a year or less. These programs may not set the foundation for higher study, but they will equip you with the necessary skillset to launch a successful MOA career.

How to Pick a Medical Office Administration Program

How to Pick a Medical Office Administration Program

There are several questions you should ask when searching for a medical office administration program. Prospective students should consider various factors, including cost, length, location, accreditation, and certification.

Medical Office Administration Courses

You should also consider the school’s coursework/curriculum. Why?

A program’s medical office administration courses can give you a glimpse into your potential career. For example, below are course descriptions for the MOA program at Unitek College:

Medical Office Administration Courses Instructional Hours Out-of-Class Hours Semester Credits
MOA 110: Fundamentals of Health Care 80 20 3.0
MOA 111: Computer Fundamentals 80 20 3.0
MOA 112: Medical Office Administration 80 20 3.0
MOA 113: Business Practices in the Medical Office 80 20 3.0
MOA 114: Health Records Management 80 20 3.0
MOA 115: Medical Insurance Billing 80 20 3.0
MOA 116: Medical Insurance Coding 80 20 3.0
MOA 117: Medical Office Externship 200 0 4.0
TOTALS 760 140 25.0

Fundamentals of Health Care

This course introduces students to the principles of medical law and ethics, including HIPAA and the Patient’s Bill of Rights. They use prefixes, suffixes, and root words to create medical terms related to body position, planes, and cellular structure. Plus, students learn how to take patient vital signs and perform basic first aid.

Computer Fundamentals

In this course, students use the computer to practice keyboarding skills and perform basic office functions. They draft appropriate office correspondence and email communications. Basic anatomy, physiology, and common disorders of the integumentary system are also discussed.

Medical Office Administration

The course introduces students to front office operations. These include, among others:

  • Procedures used to open and close the office
  • Patient intake methods
  • Telephone etiquette
  • Patient communication techniques
  • Appointment management
  • File creation
  • Medical terms related to the urinary and reproductive systems

Business Practices in the Medical Office

In this course, students use Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks to perform general accounting and bookkeeping functions. They learn how to create ledgers, process payments, and discuss payment arrangements with patients.

Health Records Management

This course introduces students to the laws and regulations that govern patient medical records. Students use software to create, audit, and modify electronic health records. Secure data transfer procedures are also discussed.

Medical Insurance Billing

This course presents information about various types of insurance plans, including HMOs, PPOs, Group Plans, and Medicare. Students also:

  • Familiarize themselves with forms used by insurance plans, Medicaid, Workman’s Compensation, and Disability
  • Use software to process and submit mock billing forms
  • Troubleshoot and correct denied claims

Medical Insurance Coding

This course introduces students to various coding procedures. Additionally, they learn coding principles, code modifiers, and how to apply the correct code to inpatient and outpatient procedures. Finally, students practice evaluating records submitted by healthcare providers.

Medical Office Externship

The externship is a field experience that is completed as the final course in the program. Students will have the opportunity to work in a real-world environment and practice the skills they acquired in class. In addition to demonstrating subject knowledge and skills, students should demonstrate teamwork, professionalism, and initiative.

Medical Office Administration School Cost

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Medical Office Administrator?

Medical Office Administration School Cost

Out-of-pocket school costs can vary depending on your individual situation. They will also depend on the location, school, and type of program. Generally, however, annual tuition can range anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000.

It’s important to research your favorite schools and ask the admissions representatives about tuition costs as well as financial aid options.

You might be eligible for financial aid, which can cover many college expenses, such as:

  • Tuition
  • Transportation
  • Room and Board
  • Books
  • Computer Equipment
  • Living Expenses

Medical Office Administration Certification

Do You Need a Medical Office Administration Certificate?

According to the BLS, most employers prefer to hire medical record technicians who possess certification. If they choose to hire an applicant who isn’t certified, they may expect them to earn certification shortly after they’re hired. There are several credentials/certifications you can seek, such as:

  1. Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
  2. Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS)
  3. Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)

You’ll find that some organizations base certification on passing an exam. Others simply require graduation from an accredited program. In addition, many coding certifications require experience in a work setting.

Once certified, many medical record technicians must renew their certification on a regular basis. Some are also required to complete continuing education courses.

Medical Office Administrator Jobs

Where Do Medical Office Administrators Work?

Medical Office Administrator Jobs

Medical record technicians usually find employment in hospitals or the offices of physicians. In 2018, they held about 215,500 jobs. The largest employers of medical office administrators are as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 34%
Offices of physicians 19%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 8%
Administrative and support services 7%
Nursing care facilities 5%

Medical Office Administration Work Hours

According to the BLS, most medical office administrators work full time. Keep in mind that some healthcare facilities are open 24/7, which means that technicians may need to work night or weekend shifts.

Medical Office Administrator Salary

How Much Does a Medical Office Administrator Make?

A medical office administrator’s pay varies depending on their location, employer, and experience. However, as of 2018, the average annual salary for medical record technicians was about $44,010. On average, medical office administration hourly pay was around $21.16.

These numbers may increase soon, given the bright job outlook for MOAs. Here are some of the top industries where the highest-earning MOAs work:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Annual Salary
Pharmaceutical & Medicine Manufacturing $30.17 $62,740
Insurance Carriers $25.40 $52,830
Scientific Research & Development Services $25.05 $52,100
Federal Executive Branch $24.19 $50,320
Business, Professional, Labor, Political Org. $24.16 $50,260
Management of Companies $23.78 $49,470
Specialty Hospitals $22.69 $47,200
General Medical & Surgical Hospitals $22.45 $46,690
Office Administrative Services $21.94 $45,640
Outpatient Care Centers $21.46 $44,630
Nursing Care Facilities $19.59 $40,750
Physicians’ Offices $18.13 $37,720

Where Do Medical Office Administrators Get Paid the Most?

Top States for Medical Office Administration Employment

Though medical record technicians can find employment anywhere in the country, there are some states with more opportunities than others. Currently, the highest-paying states for MOAs are New Jersey, District of Columbia, California, Connecticut, and Hawaii.

Here’s the breakdown by location and average salary:

State MOA Hourly Pay MOA Annual Salary
New Jersey $25.97 $54,020
District of Columbia $25.69 $53,430
California $24.94 $51,880
Connecticut $24.71 $51,400
Hawaii $24.49 $50,940

Highest-Paying Cities for Medical Office Administrators

Now that we’ve covered the top states, let’s delve into the U.S. cities with the best salaries for medical record technicians (BLS).

City MOA Hourly Pay MOA Annual Salary
Atlantic City, NJ $30.06 $62,520
San Jose, CA $28.82 $59,940
Yuba City, CA $28.05 $58,350
Riverside, CA $27.59 $57,390
Danbury, CT $27.53 $57,260
Trenton, NJ $26.97 $56,100
Sacramento, CA $26.75 $55,630
San Francisco, CA $26.37 $54,850
Hartford, CT $26.22 $54,530
Longview, WA $26.16 $54,410

Bonus tip: A medical records technician can become a medical or health service manager after earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree and completing the required certification courses. They make an average salary of $99,730 per year!

Medical Office Administration Job Outlook

Are Medical Office Administrators in Demand?

Medical Office Administration Job Outlook

The medical office administration profession is expected to grow. In fact, the BLS predicts that employment opportunities will increase 11 percent by 2028. As the baby-boomer population ages, demand for preventive medical services will likely increase. Physicians will “hire more Medical Office Administrators to perform administrative duties, allowing the doctors to see more patients.”

Why Choose Medical Office Administration?

Is Medical Office Administration a Good Career Choice?

The answer depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. Some might seek job stability, while others might pursue meaningful careers with solid pay.

One thing is for certain. The vibrant world of healthcare is full of great specialties, careers, and people. There are several paths you can choose, as healthcare professionals will always be needed. This is especially evident when you consider the expected job growth for medical record technicians, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Think about your personal goals, and when you’re ready, we’ll be here to support all your future career aspirations.