Medical Assistant Certification: Exam, Requirements & Renewal

Learn all about certification options for medical assistants. Gain insight into certification exam costs and eligibility requirements and also find out what it takes to renew certification.

About Medical Assistant Certification

Medical assistant certification helps assistants enhance their value in the job market and ability to earn higher wages. While certification is not required in most states, some employers prefer to hire certified assistants because it confirms their readiness to perform office duties and supervised medical and clinical tasks in medical settings. Several certification options are currently available in the field of medical assisting, including the following:

Certification Exam Exam Cost Eligibility Requirements Recertification Frequency
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) $125-$250 Current student or graduate of CAAHEP or ABHES-accredited medical assisting program 5 years
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) $120 Current student or graduate of accredited or U.S. Armed Forces medical assisting program; Or Medical assistant working 5 of last 7 years; Or Instructor working 5+ years full-time in accredited medical assisting program 3 years
National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) $90-$135 Current student or recent graduate of a medical assistant program; Or Medical assistant working 2 of last 5 years; Or Military member with recent medical assistant training; Or military member/spouse with work experience in 2 of last 5 years 1 year for active status;
5 years for inactive status
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) $155 High school diploma or equivalent and completion of approved training program or supervised work experience in 1 of last 3 years 2 years
Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC) $139 At least 18 years old, high school diploma or equivalent and recent completion of a training program and/or full-time work experience 2 years

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification exam, which credentials medical assistants with an AAMA Certifying Board (CB). The exam features 200 multiple-choice questions and covers psychology, communication, professionalism, medical law and ethics, risk management and medical terminology as well as administrative and clinical concepts.

Exam eligibility is granted to students who have already graduated from or expect to graduate from an ABHES or CAAHEP-accredited medical assisting program. Recertification is required every 60 months by retaking the exam or fulfilling continuing education obligations. Students completing their studies in a CAAHEP or ABHES program, recent graduates and AAMA members pay $125 for the exam; others pay $250.

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) is an American Medical Technologists (AMT) certification exam accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The exam costs $120, consists of 210 multiple-choice questions and covers anatomy and physiology, administrative and clinical medical assisting and clinical patient interaction.

To sit for the exam, students must be recent or future graduates of an accredited medical assisting program or institution or U.S. Armed Forces medical services training program. Other ways to gain eligibility include working as a medical assistant for five of the last seven years or as an instructor with at least five years of teaching experience for an accredited medical assisting program. Recertification is required every three years and can be accomplished by paying a fee and either retaking and passing the RMA exam or showing compliance with the Certification Continuation Program (CCP).

National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)

National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) certification is offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) and accredited by the NCCA. Concepts covered on the exam, which features 150 scored questions, include pharmacology, medical procedures, phlebotomy, diagnostic tests, general office procedures, medical office management and billing, and law and ethics. Current students, recent graduates and military members/spouses pay $90; all others pay $135.

Exam eligibility is granted to current students or recent graduates of a medical assistant program, medical assistant practitioners with two years of work experience within the past five years, military members with recent medical assistant training or military members/spouses with two years of medical assistant practitioner work experience within the past five years. Assistants must recertify once every year to maintain an active status or can renew every five years for an inactive status. Recertification involves paying a recertification fee and completing continuing education requirements among other criteria.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers the NCCA-accredited Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam to help assistants prove their ability to perform tasks in medical offices, hospitals or other healthcare settings. The exam costs $155 and features 150 scored questions that cover basic science, anatomy, physiology, client patient care, patient care coordination, administrative assisting, communication, customer service, medical law and ethics.

To sit for the exam, candidates must hold a high school diploma or equivalent and finish an accredited training program, registered apprenticeship program or military training program or have a minimum of one year of supervised work experience in the past three years. Recertification is required every two years and can be accomplished by completing at least 10 continuing education credits and paying a recertification fee.

Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC)

The Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC) exam is accredited by the NCCA and is offered by the American Medical Certification Association (AMCA). The exam, which costs $139, consists of 200 questions covering areas that include medical office tasks, patient care, phlebotomy, infection control and safety, ethics, law, anatomy, physiology and healthcare systems.

Candidates interested in taking the AMCA CMAC exam must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent and have completed a training program within one year of attempting to take the exam and/or have full-time work experience. Assistants must renew their certification every two years by securing 10 continuing education credits.

Medical Assistant Job Duties

Medical assistant job duties can vary depending on the type of establishment in which they work; however, it is common for assistants to have both administrative and medical/clinical responsibilities. Securing certification confirms for employers assistants' ability to complete tasks that include the following:

Medical/Clinical Duties

  • Prepare exam rooms
  • Help doctors perform procedures
  • Distribute medicine, give injections and draw blood
  • Take patients' temperature and blood pressure
  • Perform lab tests, EKGs and phlebotomy
  • Ensure patients are ready for exams
  • Collect and prepare specimens
  • Discuss with patients their treatments, medication instructions and special diets
  • Send prescription refills to pharmacies
  • Perform dressing changes and suture removals

Administrative/Medical Office Management Duties

  • Greet and check patients in and out during visits
  • Log and maintain patient records
  • Book appointments
  • Utilize electronic health record (EHR) software
  • Answer office phones
  • Respond to patient questions
  • Code and complete insurance forms
  • Manage billing and bookkeeping
  • Arrange lab services and contact hospitals for patient admissions

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