Certifications required to become a Medical Assistant

Updated on October 27, 2021

Medical assistants are in high demand. According to the BLS, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for MAs will grow by 29 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than average compared with other occupations. It is estimated that the need for medical assistants will be over 100,000 jobs per year. This is due to several factors, including an ageing population and a growing number of insured Americans thanks to the Affordable Care Act. In order to let our readers know more about the candidature, as well as certifications required, we created this article with the help of MedAssistantEdu

Medical assistant education should include a minimum of 1,500 to 2,000 hours of classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience in at least one area of medical practice. The Commission must also accredit the program on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org). All states also require licensure for medical assistants who want to work independently without supervision by physicians or other healthcare professionals. Some employers may require applicants to have certification awarded by passing an examination given by either the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the Certified Medical Assistant Board of Governors (CMABG). Certification is only valid if the CMABG of AAMA is recognized in the applicant’s state.

A medical assistant performs administrative and clinical duties under a doctor’s supervision, but some stand on their own feet without physician supervision. In addition, medical assistants also support physicians during health care delivery by performing office management duties such as scheduling appointments, ordering laboratory tests, contacting insurance companies to verify benefits and patient status, processing bills for services provided, answering telephones and greeting patients. Medical assistants may further specialize in areas such as phlebotomy (phlebotomists) or coding.

Certification through AAMA or CMBAG requires hundreds of hours of classroom study plus a minimum number of hands-on clinical hours before taking examinations. AAMA requires that applicants graduate from an accredited medical assisting program, be certified or registered by state licensing agencies, American Heart Association (AHA) CPR-certified and pass the AAMA examination. The AAMA Certification Examination is administered in April and October of each year in more than 50 locations throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Mexico.

The Certified Medical Assistant exam is accepted at many hospitals throughout California based on eligibility requirements set forth by individual hospitals. 

Administered by the CMBAG of AAMA at various locations throughout North America every April and October, the CMA examination evaluates a candidate’s knowledge of administrative procedures required to provide effective front office management for physicians practices. It tests clinical skills associated with assisting the physician during physical examinations and treatments.

Information on the CMA examination is available from the AAMA. To sit for this exam, a candidate must be a graduate of an accredited medical assisting program and meet one of three eligibility requirements: 1) employment in a physician’s office for at least six months under supervision; 2) graduation from a medical assistant training program approved by the Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB); or 3) successful completion of a continuing education course in medical assisting offered by a state-approved provider.

Certification through CMBAG requires passing an exam given at various locations throughout North America every April and October. The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam tests clinical skills associated with taking patient histories, performing assessments and assisting during physical examinations.

The CMAA certification examination is administered by the AAMA and evaluates a candidate’s ability to demonstrate knowledge of medical office management. This exam measures skills such as billing, coding, scheduling appointments and making financial decisions.

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