Medical Assistant Certification

Who Is A Medical Assistant?

A medical assistant is a person who has experience working as a medical assistant or has completed a 4-year bachelor’s degree or a 2-year associate degree in medical assisting.

Medical assisting as a profession is fairly old and has been in practice since the 1950s. The profession has now evolved into a career of choice for both men and women who prefer to work in allied health services. Medical assistants work side-by-side with nursing practitioners, practicing medical professionals, and physician assistants.

The main focus of a medical assistant lies in assisting health care practitioners and helping patients with their medical and health care requirements. Medical assisting is a career where a person becomes an active and much appreciated contributor to the wellness of their health community.


A medical assistant can either be an administrative or clinical medical assistant. The nature of a medical assistant’s duties depends on their level of medical assisting training and experience. While smaller health establishments are happy to use a single medical assistant to perform both administrative and clinical tasks, larger establishments tend to use trained assistants for specific technical departments. Several schools conduct medical assisting training programs of varying durations, accompanied by internship periods.

Who is a Certified Medical Assistant?

A Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) is a medical assistant who has cleared the Certification Examination conducted by a national certifying authority. A certification can be considered a professional seal of approval that attests the candidate has the requisite knowledge to perform as a medical assistant in a healthcare establishment.

Why Is Certification Required?

Strictly speaking, a medical assistant does not need a certification in order to get a job or be able to do their work properly. However, a certification does open doors for a medical assistant. Medical assistants are required in a great many health establishments, starting from small doctor’s offices, clinics, small practices to large hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

The tasks that a medical assistant would be required to perform depend entirely on where the assistant is employed. A small office would require the person to work on both administrative and clinical tasks, whereas a large hospital would have a more standardized placement in specific departments. Either way, it is good for a medical assistant to undergo specialized training and be certified. Certified medical assistants are more preferred and do get more pay than those that haven’t taken up their certification.

Who Certifies Medical Assistants?

A Medical Assistant certification is awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The CMA is considered as the standard of the professionalism of the medical assisting career. When a medical assistant is certified by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), the resultant Certified Medical Assistant immediately earns a professional edge and enhanced prestige among peers apart from greater job prospects and better job security at the present job.

Who Is Eligible For Certification?

A medical assistant is eligible to take the Certification Examination after completion of a degree program from an accredited school. It is necessary to have completed the externship period before sitting for the certification examination. Before registering for a medical assistant educational program, the candidate must make sure has been accredited by one of these two following agencies that are recognized by the AAMA:

  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Steps To Becoming A Certified Medical Assistant

A medical assistant has to follow three steps in order to qualify for certification, as follows:

Study for the certification exam: The AAMA tests candidates on anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, lab procedures and general medical assisting knowledge. A part of the preparation involves studying these subjects via publications on medical assisting. The candidate is recommended to take an exam review course, review content outlines and try out practice exams. The AAMA can be contacted for any information on where this information can be found, how to participate in study programs and use teaching aids.

The candidate should review the exam Content Outline and use it as a roadmap to track the exam topics that need to be studied. Candidates must study current medical assisting publications that contain information on administrative and clinical procedures, physiology and anatomy; medico-legal guidelines and regulations; medical terminology and laboratory procedures.

Apply for the certification exam: the certification examination can be taken at any time in the year, based on the schedule that the AAMA puts up. The candidate has to first register for the examination by filling out an application and submitting the requisite documents. The AAMA sends the candidate the examination schedule and permission to attend at about three weeks before the date of the test with clear instructions on how to make an appointment at a Prometric test center in the local area.  The sooner the appointment is scheduled, the more likely it is to get a schedule permit to take the test at a preferred location and time.

Pay the certification fee: A certain fee has to be paid to AAMA to take up the certification examination. Payments are accepted via cash, card, or cashier’s check. AAMA will send the examination schedules within 45 days of the application. The examination is officiated and consulted by the National Board of Medical Examiners, which conducts the national examinations for medical professionals.  This results in the highest levels of reliability when it comes to the examination’s integrity and validity.

What Are The Benefits Of Certification?

Medical assistants are not bound by law to become certified. An uncertified medical assistant will still be able to work in any kind of medical facility, hospital, clinic, or physician’s office legally without certification. However, the trend today is to hire medical assistants who are certified, as the certification ensures that the candidate’s knowledge and capacity are above reproach.

A certified medical assistant sees several benefits to becoming a CMA. They have the best job prospects, they have the potential to earn much more than uncertified assistants, and they can also enjoy greater employment growth. Certified medical assistants are trusted with greater responsibilities than those without certification, which leads them to better opportunities and possible promotions.

The CMA Credentials

Once a candidate passes the CMA examination, they will receive an official wallet card with a photo, with the CMA designation. The official certificate is also issued. The CMA will be able to use the credentials in their resume and to apply jobs in any health center in the nation.

Prospective employers can visit the AAMA website to confirm a candidate’s CMA (AAMA) status. Along with the acknowledgement and prestige that comes with a CMA certification, an AAMA membership gives the candidate several additional benefits, including networking.

Refreshing CMA Credentials

The CMA credential must be refreshed every 60 months in order to ensure current knowledge and competency. The knowledge and competency skills of a medical assistant must be current, in order to ensure that patients and their concerns are protected. Refreshing the CMA credential can be done by taking up the recertification examination or by continuing medical assistant training programs. The idea is to keep oneself current at all times.