Steps to Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant

Steps to Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant

Mar 16, 2015 | 11:00 am

If you want to work in a healthcare environment, helping physicians with basic duties or handling administrative work (or both!), becoming a certified medical assistant could be a great career choice for you.

While some states don’t have specific requirements to work as a medical assistant, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants. So what does it take to become a certified medical assistant? Let’s walk through the steps from education and certification to find the answer.

Education Requirements

At the minimum, a high school education is required to apply for work as a medical assistant. As competition builds and employers prefer certified medical assistants who have graduated from a one-year certificate program or two-year associate degree program.

These programs provide relevant classes in human anatomy, medical terminology, insurance processing, office practices and medical law as well as supervised on-site training experience in an emergency healthcare setting. With this education, students often feel more prepared to take a certification exam. Becoming a certified medical assistant proves your skills and makes you a more desirable applicant to healthcare employers.

Certification Requirements

Depending on the type of certification pursued, students may or may not need to have completed an accredited certificate program or associate degree program. According to the BLS, the following five certificates for medical assistants are approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies:

•Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from American Association of Medical Assistants
•National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from National Center for Competency Testing
•Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from American Medical Technologists
•Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from National Healthcareer Association
•Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) from National Healthcareer Association

The credential of CMA designates that a medical assistant has been successfully prepared in general, clinical and administrative skills, notes the American Association of Medical Assistants, an organization that reports responding to more than 100 certification verifications from healthcare employers daily. Upon passing the exam from an accredited certification program and earning the Certified Medical Assistant title, the job hunt begins.

Medical assisting is an area of healthcare that’s growing much faster than the average for all occupations—the BLS projects 29 percent employment growth for medical assistants between 2012 and 2022. If this is the career for you, there seems to be much opportunity ahead. Good luck!