Medical assistance is becoming a highly demanded career across the country, due to the rise of the baby boomer population and an increase in their healthcare needs.
The best part about pursuing a career in medical assistance is that you do not require a degree to enter the workforce. Even though certifications or licenses are not required, most employers prefer candidates who are certified, as this shows your dedication toward the field and capability of handling clinical tasks.
There are many types of certification exams available for medical assistants, such as the CCMA, CMA, and RMA exams, held by different authorities. You can take these exams once you complete your medical assistant training.
Let us read more about the requirements needed to get your medical assistant certification, requirements for certification renewal, and more.
Also see: What is a Medical Assistant?
What Are The Requirements To Get Each Type of Certification?
As mentioned earlier, there are many types of certifications available for medical assistants. Even though they are all considered to be equally legitimate, they tend to focus on different skills used in medical assistance.
Hence, it is recommended that you choose the best type of certification for yourself to meet your desired career goals.
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Certification Requirements
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification, which is designed to emphasize clinical skills in the field of medical assisting, as opposed to administrative skills. This certification is ideal for individuals who prefer to work closely with physicians, assisting in procedures and taking vital measurements.
Also see: CMAA vs CCMA
To qualify for the CCMA exam, candidates should ideally have completed a medical assistant program or have gained at least one year of experience working as a medical assistant.
The CCMA exam carries a fee of $155. Candidates are allowed to take the test up to three times per year, with a mandatory 30-day waiting period between each attempt.
By obtaining the CCMA certification, medical assistants can demonstrate their competence in clinical responsibilities and enhance their professional credentials within the healthcare industry.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Certification Requirements
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification.
The CMA certification includes both administrative and clinical education and training and provides a comprehensive understanding of the responsibilities and the medical assistant skills required.
To be eligible for the CMA exam, one must successfully complete a certification program accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. These programs can be pursued online, through technical schools, or as part of a degree program.
The CMA exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and candidates are given 160 minutes to complete the examination. The questions cover various topics, including infection control, healthcare information management, healthcare delivery, and patient safety.
The cost to take the CMA exam is $125. You will be allowed three attempts to pass the exam before they are required to repeat their medical assistant course.
Also see: Accelerated Medical Assistant Program
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Certification Requirements
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification, offered by the American Medical Technologists, provides an alternative option for medical assistants seeking professional recognition.
While not as widely recognized as the CMA certification, the content covered in the RMA certification exam is similar.
There are several pathways to eligibility for the RMA exam:
1. Graduation from an accredited medical assisting program.
2. Graduation from a medical assisting program in the U.S. Armed Forces.
3. Possessing three years of medical assisting experience within the past seven years.
4. Working as a medical assistant instructor for a minimum of five years.
5. Working as a medical assistant instructor for one year with at least three years of experience in a related healthcare field.
The RMA exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, covering various topics such as general medical assistant knowledge, administrative medical assisting, and clinical medical assisting.
The cost to take the RMA exam is $120. In case of a need to retake the exam, a $90 retake fee is applicable, and a waiting period of 45 days is required before attempting it again. Candidates are allowed a total of four attempts to pass the RMA exam. If unsuccessful after four attempts, alternative certification options should be pursued.
Also see: Where Can Medical Assistants Work?
Medical Assistant Certification Renewal Requirements
Certification renewal is also important in maintaining your medical assistant certification. It ensures that certified medical assistants stay current with their skills and knowledge, including essential areas like infection control and safety procedures.
The renewal requirements differ based on the type of medical assistant certification:
- CCMA: The CCMA certification must be renewed every two years. To renew, you are required to complete 10 continuing education (CE) credits, pay a $179 fee, and submit a renewal request to the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- CMA: The CMA certification remains valid for 60 months and can be maintained through either continuing education courses or by retaking the exam. For recertification through continuing education, you need to earn 60 continuing education points through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), apply online for recertification, and pay a renewal fee of $65 (AAMA members) or $130 (non-members). Also, if you choose to recertify by retaking the exam, you’ll need to pay a fee of $125 (AAMA members) or $250 (non-members).
- RMA: To maintain your RMA certification, you must pay an annual fee of $75. Additionally, you are required to earn 30 Continuing Competency Program (CCP) points every three years. This can be achieved by maintaining employment as a medical assistant or by completing continuing education courses.
Read more on: Medical Assistant Educational Requirements
Steps to Get Your Medical Assistant Certification
While obtaining your medical assistant certification may seem intimidating, breaking it down into manageable steps can make it more attainable.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:
1. Determine the type of medical assisting program you want to pursue: Consider factors such as online or on-campus programs, degree or certificate programs, accreditation, cost, and the potential for further education.
2. Complete your education and training: Engage in your medical assistant education and training, which can range from several months to two years, depending on the program you have selected. Take advantage of any externship opportunities to gain real-life experience.
Also read: Medical Assistant Externship
3. Take the certification exam: On the day of the exam, remain calm and positive. Avoid last-minute cramming and focus on reviewing key information. Ensure you have a nutritious breakfast and wear comfortable attire for the test.
How old do you have to be to get your medical assistant certification?
There are generally no national age requirements for medical assistants. However, most medical assisting programs do require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, some programs may have specific age requirements or preferences. While it is common for applicants to be at least 17 years old, it is important to check the specific requirements of the program you are interested in, as they may vary.
How long does it take to get your medical assistant certification?
The duration of obtaining a medical assisting certification varies based on your work experience and the education program you select.
For individuals without any prior experience, completing a training program is necessary to become eligible for certification. These programs can range from as short as 4 months to up to 2 years in duration.
However, if you already have at least one year of experience working as a medical assistant or five years of experience teaching medical assisting, you may be able to apply for the certification exam immediately. It is important to note that adequate self-study time should be allocated before taking the exam.
See more on: How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Assistant?
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