Medical Secretary Education Requirements and Career Information

Apr 15, 2021

Medical secretaries perform typical office duties in a variety of medical settings. Associate's or certificate programs are usually mandatory, and professional certification is offered for those interested in advancing their career.

Essential Information

Medical secretaries, also known as 'medical administrative assistants', are charged with keeping a medical office or clinic running smoothly. Many medical secretaries have completed a certificate or associate's degree program to prepare them for a career in office administration. Continuing education is required because of frequent upgrades to office technologies and software. Optional certifications are available.

Required Education Associate's degree (preferred) or certificate program
Other Requirements Voluntary certifications available
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 10% for medical secretaries
Median Annual Salary (2020)* $37,350 for medical secretaries

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical Secretary Educational Requirements

Medical secretaries need to have either a certificate or an associate's degree from an accredited school. Certificate programs are typically completed in less than one year and prepare the student for entry-level positions. Coursework covers medical documents and procedures, business math and business communication. It also addresses office technology, including training in computer software specific to the medical field. Some certificate programs require previous administrative experience as a prerequisite and are designed for those seeking career advancement.

An associate's degree is most desired by employers of medical secretaries. A 2-year undergraduate degree program offers specialized course content such as human anatomy, medical terminology, office technology, medical office management, medical insurance billing, machine transcription and business communications. Students may choose to focus on medical insurance and coding or medical transcription. Typing speed and accuracy, composition, grammar, customer service and attention to detail are all beneficial to the prospective medical secretary, and therefore may be goals of associate's degree programs.

After graduation, individuals may earn CPS (Certified Professional Secretary) or CAP (Certified Administrative Professional) certification through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). A medical secretary looking to further his or her career may choose to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants.

Career Information

Medical secretaries may work in doctor's offices, clinics, nursing homes, hospitals and insurance companies. In addition to typical secretarial duties, they keep the office well-organized and efficient by managing data bases and patient files, processing medical claims, scheduling, coding, billing, word processing and transcribing medical reports. They also record simple medical histories, arrange for hospitalization and order supplies. Medical secretaries must recognize and understand medical and scientific terminology.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 10% increase in job opportunities for this career field is expected from 2019-2029. The median annual salary of medical secretaries in 2020 was $37,350. Opportunities are expected to be best for those with extensive computer software knowledge and advanced communication skills (

To recap, a medical secretary performs administrative duties and communicates with patients. Their activities include scheduling appointments, handling billing and insurance, and organizing files. Good people skills and a detail-oriented attitude are imperative. Most medical secretaries earn an associate's degree, but certificate programs are a viable option.

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