Many employers accept degrees or certifications of completion from a medical assistant training program for an entry-level medical assistant role. However, even while you’re employed, it’s always beneficial to complete other medical assistant certifications, as they’re proven to help you grow your skills and, in turn, your career.
Certified Medical Assistant or Registered Medical Assistant Programs
The first certification many medical assistants choose to pursue is either the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). Some employers may even require one of these certifications as part of their job prerequisites. While the two certifications are offered by different organizations, they offer similar learning opportunities.
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA): Most CMA programs take approximately two years to complete and are considered an associate degree upon completion. There are one-year programs available that do not result in an associate degree, but rather a certificate. CMA programs are usually offered through community or junior colleges. After completing coursework and on-the-job training, CMA candidates must pass an examination to complete the program. Upon passing, candidates are considered to be CMAs and are highly sought in the labor market.
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA): In order to become an RMA, candidates must have their GED and some type of continued education such as an associate degree or completion of a certificate program. Once these steps are complete, candidates are permitted to register for the RMA examination. The exam takes approximately two hours to complete. If passed, the candidate becomes an RMA. The RMA certification can be renewed every three years to show commitment to continued medical assisting education.
In addition to the CMA and RMA certifications, medical assistants can choose to pursue additional education. These include the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA), and National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) certifications.
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA): In order to obtain a CCMA certification, candidates must pass the CCMA examination. This exam requires knowledge of anatomy and physiology, administrative assistant duties, and medical ethics. The majority of the exam covers clinical patient care, a nod to the name of the certification itself. CCMA certifications offer lots of room for career advancement within the clinical field of medical assisting. They also stand out on resumes to potential employers and can give an edge during the application and hiring process.
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA): Similar to the CCMA certification, the CMAA certification requires passing the CMAA examination. This exam is focused primarily on the administrative side of medical assisting. The certification is a great addition to those medical assistants who wish to pursue more of an administrative career path or get into management.
- National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA): Medical assistants who chose the NCMA certification must pass the NCMA examination with a score of 70% or higher. Similar to the other certifications, the NCMA certification provides additional training and career growth opportunities. This certification is great for medical assistants looking for comprehensive medical assistant education.
Each of these certifications requires a certain amount of workplace experience and passing an examination. Whether you are just getting started in your career as a medical assistant or looking to enhance your knowledge and skills, your success can depend on completing certifications. Research which ones are right for your goals, discuss them with your employer, and plan your path ahead.