Our guide will be providing a comprehensive insight into  How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in the United States. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics the –

“Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The growth of the aging baby-boom population will continue to increase demand for preventive medical services, which are often provided by physicians.”

If you are looking to get into the healthcare industry, pursuing a career as a Certified Medical Assistant is a GREAT platform for you to start. This is because you will have several CAREER PATHS you can transition into later on in your career should you wish to.

To help you along your journey, our career guide explores areas such as educational requirements, roles and duties of medical assistants, career paths to salaries, and a breakdown of the Certified Medical Assistant examination.


Table of Contents

What Does A Medical Assistant Do?
Overview Of The Steps To Become A Medical Assistant (CHART)
Medical Assistant Educational Requirements And Prerequisites
Medical Assistants Continuing Educational Requirements
Renewing Your Medical Assistant Certification
Understanding The Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) Exam
How to Transfer Medical Assistant Certification to Another State
Certified Medical Assistant Career Paths
Certified Medical Assistant Salary
Certified Medical Assistant Industry Statistics
Certified Medical Assistant Earning Potential by State
Certified Medical Assistant Highest Paying US Cities
Choosing The BEST Certified Medical Assistant Program For You
Search Certified Medical Assistant Jobs In Your Area
Additional Resources


What Does A Medical Assistant Do?

As a Medical Assistant, you will be working in physician’s offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities. You will also be working closely with physicians performing both administrative and clinical duties. A medical assistant’s role will vary depending on where they are working and the requirements at the time. For example, some physicians may give certified medical assistants more or fewer responsibilities, which depends on the environment/facility they are currently working at. With that said, some of the duties may include:

Using computer programs to streamline patient medical records

Welcoming patients

Filling out insurance forms and/or documentation

Scheduling/confirming appointments

Explaining treatment procedures to patients

Preparing patients for examination

Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens

Helping physicians with patient examinations

Measuring vital signs, such as blood pressure

Giving patients injections or medications as directed by physicians and as permitted by state law


Overview Of The Steps To Become A Medical Assistant (CHART)

 





Medical Assistant Educational Requirements And Prerequisites

Before you can APPLY to write the Certified Medical Assistant examination, you NEED to ensure the following educational requirements are met as per the guidelines set out by either one of these two associations –  the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) OR the American Medical Technologists (AMA).

To be ELIGIBLE, you MUST fall into ANY one of these following categories:

CATEGORY 1

You are a CURRENT student or RECENT graduate from a Certified Medical Assistant program within the United States. More information on accredited certified medical assistant programs can be found here –  CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited.  

CATEGORY 2

You, the applicant, MUST have been employed as a medical assistant for a minimum of five (5) of the last seven (7) years (with no more than 2 of those years as an instructor in a post-secondary medical assistant program). The work requirement is full-time at 40 hours/week (part-time combination allowed). Experience must include both clinical and administrative duties

If you are eligible under this category, please visit AMT (American Medical Technologists) for DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED.

CATEGORY 3

If you are a NONRECENT graduate from a program that is accredited by the CAAHEP- or ABHES then you MAY be ELIGIBLE to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) exam. A candidate who applies for the exam more than twelve (12) months after graduation is a NONRECENT graduate.

PLEASE NOTE: Any candidate who is a graduate from a CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited program that meets the following criteria is ELIGIBLE to apply for the CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam.  

1) The CAAHEP- or ABHES-program was accredited at any time during the student’s enrollment, or

2) The candidate graduated within the 36 months prior to the program becoming CAAHEP or ABHES accredited.

 CATEGORY 4

The American Medical Technologists (AMT) does allow INSTRUCTORS who have a MINIMUM of five (5) years of full-time teaching experience in a medical assistant discipline to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant examination.

For more information regarding this ELIGIBILITY CATEGORY, please visit the following – American Medical Technologists (AMT)

CATEGORY 5

Candidates are ELIGIBLE to SIT for the exam if they have previously passed the CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam and are applying to recertify the CMA (AAMA) credential.

For more information regarding this ELIGIBILITY CATEGORY, please visit the following – American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)


Medical Assistants Continuing Educational Requirements

After SUCCESSFULLY passing the Medical Assistant certification exam, you will have to meet the continuing education (CE) requirements to remain CERTIFIED. The requirements to remain CERTIFIED will depend on what association you are licensed with –  the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) OR the American Medical Technologists (AMA).

Let’s EXPLORE the continuing education (CE) requirements for each association:

 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANTS (AAMA)

You have two (2) routes to RECERTIFY through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

1) Candidates who have previously PASSED the exam can RECERTIFY by SUCCESSFULLY passing the examination again. Review and complete the CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam Application and provide the required documentation and enrollment fee of $125.00.

2) Candidates can choose to RECERFITY by completing the continuing education (CE) credits. As a Certified Medical Assistant, your license will be VALID for 60-months from the initial date of certification or recent recertification.

To qualify for RECERTIFICATION through continuing education (CE), you MUST complete a total of sixty (60) recertification points in three (3) content areas. Review the Continuing Education (CE) guide for more information.

AMERICAN MEDICAL TECHNOLOGISTS (AMA)

As a Certified Medical Assistant, you are required to RECERTIFY every three (3) years with the American Medical Technologists (AMA).

A TOTAL of thirty (30) points are required to RECERTIFY. More information can be found here – Maintain Medical Assistant Certification.


Renewing Your Medical Assistant Certification

As just mentioned above, continuing education units are required for your certification to remain active and imperative for you to be able to RENEW your Medical Assistant certification.

Please read section – Medical Assistant Continuing Education Requirements and visit the applicable agency relevant to you for more information.





Understanding The Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) Exam

Understanding The Certified Medical Assistant Exam Structure – AAMA vs. AMA

Let’s explore the Certified Medical Assistant examination structure as outlined by both –  the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the American Medical Technologists (AMA).

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANTS (AAMA)

The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering topic areas that are listed in the CHART below. The examination is in a computerized format, and the candidate will be given a tutorial on how to use the computer INTERFACE before starting the exam.

STRUCTURE

SCORING

Once you have completed the examination, you will be SCORED on the number of correct responses on the TOTAL examination. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)  uses a SCORING SYSTEM that has been standardized and fixed on a SCALE comprising of graduates of CAAHEP accredited programs.  The scale ranges from 200 to 800.

Once you have completed the examination, you will receive an official pass/fail notification immediately.

COST

If you are a member of the AAMA or a CAAHEP or ABHES completing student or recent graduate, your fee is $125. All others pay $250. If your credential has expired, you will pay an additional $50 reactivation fee.

AMERICAN MEDICAL TECHNOLOGISTS (AMA)

The examinations set by the American Medical Technologists (AMA)  consist of 200-230 four-option MULTIPLE-CHOICE questions. You MUST select the best option from the four (4) options given with each question.

STRUCTURE

SCORING

The Certified Medical Assistant examination issued by the American Medical Technologists (AMA) is scored on a SCALE ranging from 0 to 100. To PASS, the candidate MUST obtain a scaled score of 70 or higher. To learn more about the SCORING system and how the PASSING Criterion is set, please visit the American Medical Technologists (AMA) –  Read the Candidate Handbook

The candidate will receive a letter notifying them of their examination performance.

COST

The FEE to take the Certified Medical Assistant exam is $90.00 – $120.00


How to Transfer Medical Assistant Certification to Another State

The Medical Assistant certification from both the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the American Medical Technologists (AMA) is a Nationally recognized qualification, and therefore can be used across any State. Hence, if you decide to relocate to another STATE at any point, your certification will remain valid. No forms or recertifications exams are required.


Medical Assistant Career Paths

As a Certified Medical Assistant, you will be part of a growing industry. You will have several opportunities to grow throughout the years, and this will ultimately mean higher SALARY with increased BENEFITS. Our research has shown that many people will become Certified Medical Assistants to get their foot in the door so they can gain the experience to transition into other roles in the healthcare profession. With that said,

As a Certified Medical Assistant, here are some of the careers you will have the OPPORTUNITY to transition into once you gain the necessary experience – Clinical team leader, Medical office manager, Medical records manager, and even clinical specialties.

Let’s explore these three options:

Clinical Team Leader: The experience you gain as a Medical Assistant will allow you to transition into a Clinical Team leader further down the line. In this position, you will be overseeing and coordinating the tasks of the entire clinic and the clinical teams involved. In essence, you will be responsible for ensuring that efficient and effective care is provided to clinical care patients. Glassdoor has reported that Clinical Care Leaders can make anywhere from $49,000 to $69,000 per year plus benefits.

Medical Office Manager: This is another excellent position to transition into where you’ll enjoy greater responsibilities while building on your experience. As an Office Manager, you will take charge of the medical facility. You will coordinate the staff and entire team every day to provide quality, cost-effective patient care. As a Medical Office Manager, you’ll enjoy a BASE salary of approx. $50,717 per year, depending on experience.

Medical Records Manager: This is another AMAZING position you can transition into after gaining the necessary experience working in medical facilities. It does require you to further educate yourself by obtaining a Bachelor’s degree (if you DON’T have one already). As a Medical Records Manager, you will be responsible for the medical records within a healthcare organization. This position requires GREAT attention to detail with exceptional organizational skills. As a Medical Records Manager, you ensure the healthcare information/records management processes and practices comply with governmental regulations and policies. The SALARY range for a Medical Records Manager is $41,000 to $76,000 with excellent benefits.

Other Clinical Specialties: As a Certified Medical Assistant, you can transition into Clinical Specialties once you have gained the necessary experience and educational requirements if required. For example, Podiatric Medical Assistant, EKG Technician, Ophthalmology Medical Assistant, Pediatric Medical Assistant, and others.





Certified Medical Assistant Salary

The average annual Certified Medical Assistant salary is $35,355, with the average Certified Medical Assistant hourly pay being $15.28.

Figures are reflective as of July 2020 (Indeed.com)


Certified Medical Assistant Industry Statistics

 

Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)

Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)


Certified Medical Assistant Earning Potential by State

 

Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)


Certified Medical Assistant Highest Paying US Cities

 

Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)


Choosing The BEST Certified Medical Assistant Program For You

When you have decided to become a Certified Medical Assistant, it’s time to choose an accredited training program that WILL prepare you for the CERTIFICATION exam. Medical Assistant programs that have been ACCREDITED by the CAAHEP- or ABHES have a curriculum that will NOT only provide you with the right foundation to PASS the Certified Medical Assistant exam but excel in your career also. With that said, here are a few factors to consider when choosing a training program:

1) Is the Medical Assistant program your applying to accredited by the CAAHEP- or ABHES?

When choosing a Medical Assistant program, you need to ensure the program has been ACCREDITED by the CAAHEP- or ABHES; otherwise, you will NOT be eligible to SIT the certification exam. Apart from enabling you to SIT the exam, ACCREDITED programs will provide you with the right tools, knowledge, and skills for you to excel in your career. You can find out if the program is ACCREDITED by visiting the program page offered by the schools.

2) How long does it take to complete the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) program?

 Before choosing a program, you want to see what options you have available to you. For example, is the program part-time or full-time? In order to determine the answer to this, you need to assess your priorities and your level of flexibility. Meaning if you have a full-time job, then perhaps part-time classes will be more viable for you. However, bear in mind, part-time classes will perhaps delay your timeline in terms of qualifying, finding a job, and gaining experience. Also, it’s ESSENTIAL to know that part-time classes may be more compressed and compact in terms of the curriculum, which subsequently may impact your learning pace.

3) Are there any applicable student reviews/ratings about the Certified Medical Assistant Program Being Offered?

 Its always necessary to research the program you are applying to in terms of its reputation, quality of education, tuition, pass rates, and job opportunities. The good news is, these days, you can find the information you are looking for online by doing a quick search in Google to gather student ratings and reviews. These will act as a good indication of the quality of education that the program provides. Alternatively, you can also ask fellow students or visit the school to get first-hand information.

4) Will the Medical Assistant training program offer opportunities to transition into other progressive roles or further education?

Many people will become Certified Medical Assistants to get their foot into the healthcare industry. Furthermore, medical assistants do have career path options available to them (ADD LINK).  It’s always a good idea to choose a program that perhaps will train you for other opportunities and career advancement. From our experience, ACCREDITED schools do provide several other relevant programs that will be a good option for individuals looking to broaden their skillset and pursue a lifelong career in healthcare.


Search Certified Medical Assistant Jobs In Your Area



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