If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a medical assistant, you should be aware that medical assistant certification could be a great way to enhance your credentials. While every state and employer has different requirements, some hospitals and health care practices may prefer to hire a certified medical assistant. Read on to learn more about what medical assistant certification means, how to go about pursuing a career as a certified medical assistant, and what governing bodies issue the certification. It’s not as complicated as it sounds!
Medical Assistant (MA) vs. Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
It’s possible to become a medical assistant, or MA, without certification. In some states, all you need is a high school diploma to get started working in a doctor’s office or other health care practice. [i] But whether or not certification is required in your state, you’ll likely find that certified medical assistants, or CMAs, are highly preferred. [i]
How do I pursue a career as a certified medical assistant?
The first step to pursuing a career as a certified medical assistant is to earn a degree or diploma from an accredited medical assistant program. You’ll probably also have to pass a medical assisting exam before you can become certified. Requirements vary depending on the organization offering the certification. Your medical assistant program should be able to tell you exactly what your next steps are for becoming certified.
What medical assistant certification is most common?
There are several certifications available for medical assistants, but the two most common are Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from American Medical Technologists (AMT).
What is the difference between CMA (AAMA) and RMA (AMT)?
CMAs are certified by AAMA, the American Association of Medical Assistants. They must renew certification every 60 months. [ii] RMAs are registered by American Medical Technologists (AMT) and must recertify ever three years. [iii] Otherwise, the requirements for certification/registration are similar:
You’ll have to graduate from an accredited medical assistant program, including a practicum, and pass a medical assisting exam. RMAs may also qualify to take the registration exam if they have worked as a medical assistant for five out of the last seven years, or if they have other relevant experience. [iv]
Confused yet? Rest assured that CMAs and RMAs typically carry out the same duties, so choosing between the two usually comes down to your preference or your employer’s preference.
If you’re serious about embarking on a career as a medical assistant, certification is likely your next step. Even if you’re already employed as an MA, medical assistant certification may help you prove your competency and find more opportunities in this rewarding field.
[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-4 | [ii] aama-ntl.org/continuing-education/faqs-recertification | [iii] americanmedtech.org/StayCertified.aspx#177126-recertify | [iv] americanmedtech.org/GetCertified.aspx#177227-eligibility