Medical assisting is not a profession that is regulated by the state law when certification is in question, meaning that medical assistants are not mandated to possess credentials to practice in the field.
However, employers nowadays seek medical assistants with national certification, causing more and more people to pass the certification examination and get their license.
Not only will they become more attractive candidates for job offerings, but they will be able to negotiate the salary as well.
The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Credential
The first one that we would like to mention is a certificate that is the most widely recognized.
This is a national certification for medical assistants known as the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
Employers are those who would rather hire a medical assistant who possesses the CMA so we highly suggest that you reach your certification prior to applying for a job.
It is a kind of evidence that you are devoted to and eager to advance in your new career.
To become a CMA, medical assistants are supposed to meet the following requirements:
Each candidate for a certificate must have graduated from a medical assisting program that is accredited by either The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Plus, candidates must take and pass the CMA Certification Examination to be allowed to get the certificate.
When the examination is in question, the exam is administered by Prometric.
It is the computer-based testing service for the CMA Certification Examination.
Once you get your CMA, you must remember to renewed it every 5 years.
You can either chose to complete the CMA Certification/Recertification Exam or to complete continuing education credits.
If you choose to reach a total of 60 recertification points which are necessary to renew a CMA, you should know that at least 30 points must be accumulated the following way:
- 10 points in administrative
- 10 points in clinical
- 10 points in general
The other 30 points can be accumulated in any of the above content areas.
Furthermore, at least 30 points must be accumulated from AAMA-approved continuing education units and it counts this way – one continuing education unit, 1 contact hour, or 1 college credit hour equals one recertification point.
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Credential
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential is offered through American Medical Technologists (AMT).
Medical assistants who want to get this certificate must first meet one of the following requirements as well as take and pass the RMA exam:
- Education: Eligible are only recent graduates from a medical assisting program approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or by the AMT Board of Directors. The completed medical assisting program must consist of at least 720 clock hours of medical assisting, including a clinical externship of at least 160 hours.
- Military: Eligible are those candidates who are recent graduates from a formal medical services training program within the United States Armed Forces.
- Work Experience: Also, those candidates who are high school graduates, but have been employed as a full-time medical assistant in 5 out of the last 7 years are eligible to take this exam. However, their work experience should consist of both clinical and administrative duties.
- Instructor: Taking of this exam is also allowed to a current instructor in an accredited medical assisting program who has completed a course of instruction in a healthcare discipline related to medical assisting. These candidates are required to have at least 5 years of teaching experience in a medical assisting discipline.
- Other Recognized Examination: Eligible are those applicants who have taken and passed another certification organization’s exam in medical assisting that has been approved by the AMT Board of Directors.
The National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) Credential
The National Certified Medical Assistant Credential (NCMA) is administered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCTT).
Each candidate who meets one of the requirements will be allowed to take and pass the NCMA examination:
- He/she has to be a current student or recent graduate from a medical assistant program from a school authorized by the NCCT
- The applicant must be a foreign physician or RN with documented U.S. equivalency in the past 10 years
- The candidate must have been a medical assistant instructor with 10 or more years of experience
- He/she must have completed a medical assistant training program in the U.S. military within the last 10 years
- He/she must possess at least two years of full-time experience as a medical assistant practitioner within a period of 10 years
The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Credential
The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant Credential (CCMA) is administered via the National Healthcare Association.
Only those who meet the eligibility requirements can take and pass the CCMA examination.
The criteria are the following:
- The applicant must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent
- He/she must have successfully completed a training program or one year of work experience as a medical assistant
Specialty Certifications for Medical Assistants
In case you are a medical assistant who has a desire to work for specialty practitioners, you have a chance to choose to become certified through the following organizations:
- The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants: Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified (PMAC): Only those candidates who are podiatric medical assistants, who are members in good standing of the American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants for at least 90 days and who have been employed in a podiatry office can apply for this certification.
- The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA): If you want to become eligible for the COA credential through the Career Advancement Tool (JCAT), you should get familiar with a packaged learning resource designed to make you eligible to take the COA examination.