Degrees and Certifications for becoming a Medical Assistant
Becoming a medical assistant can happen in a few different ways. You must have a high school diploma or GED to be a medical assistant in any state. Most practices prefer to hire assistants who have a formal training and have obtained either a certificate or an associates degree from a medical assistant school. This is not required for all medical practices. There can be different state requirements for certain medical tasks so be sure to contact your medical assistant school for all the detail on certification in your state. There are 4 certifying agencies listed below that are recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence). Although it is not required to receive a certification or even training from a medical assistant school to become employed as a medical assistant, your chances increase greatly when you have graduated from a medical assistant program and receive one of these 4 certificates.
- Medical Assistant Certificate or Diploma
- Medical Assistant Associate’s Degree
A medical assisting certificate or diploma program is the most basic form of training you can obtain in this field. Certificate and diploma programs usually last around 9 months, of course each school may be a little different in their program. You will learn basic training in these programs. You will master the clinical and administrative tasks that are most common in the daily life of a medical assistant. Some schools may offer a certification exam at the end of the course as part of the program. Please discuss this with each school. Learn more about this degree.
Working on your associate’s degree in medical assisting shows the employer that you are very devoted in your education and career path as a medical assistant. This will help set you up to one day obtain your bachelor’s degree if that is something that is a goal. An associates degree does take about two years to finish and you will learn much more than your basic training. You will most likely be taking some general education classes along with your core training courses. Learn more about this degree.
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA )through the American Registry of Medical Assistants
- National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) through the National Center for Competency Testing
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from the National Healthcareeer Association
Becoming a CMA is done through the American Association of Medical Assistants. This association is the only medical assistant specific association. Receiving your CMA is the most common certification that people receive after they finish their medical assisting training. There are a few steps to follow in order to receive your CMA. First find out if you are eligible. After you have completed an accredited medical assisting program you can apply for the exam. After you have your exam time, STUDY, STUDY, STUDY! Once you have passed the exam you will be awarded your official certificate and wallet card. You will have to pass the test every 5 years to remain certified. Learn more about becoming a CMA.
Becoming a RMA is done through the American Medical Technologists. This organization focuses on all allied health professionals, not just medical assistants. This is still a nationally recognized organization and reputable in your field. After you complete your medical assisting training at the school of your choice, you qualify to take this certification exam. Through AMT certifications are offered for: medical technologists, medical laboratory technicians, medical lab assistants, medical assistants, medical administrative specialists, phlebotomy technicians, dental assistants, allied health instructors, and clinical laboratory consultants. Learn more about becoming a RMA.
The National Center for Competency Testing is an independent certification organization that is recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as a qualifying body to certify medical assistants. NCMA has competency testing for multiple professions in the allied health world. They have the ability to test for competency for: medical assistant, phlebotomy technician, insurance and coding specialist, medical office assistant, patient care technician, ECG technician, tech in surgery, and certified post-secondary instructor. Learn more about becoming a NCMA.
National Healthcareer Association is an independent organization that specializes in certifying medical professionals in the allied health field. NHA has certifications tests for: pharmacy technician, operating room surgical technician, medical administrative assistant, phlebotomy technician, patient care technician, electronic health record specialist, EKG technician, medical laboratory assistant, billing and coding specialist, and clinical medical assistant. Learn more about becoming a CCMA.