So you’ve decided you’d like a career as a clinical medical assistant. That’s an excellent choice as this rewarding career can be lucrative, offers job security, and doesn’t require years of medical school.

But determining your career path is just the beginning of your journey. You’ll also need to get trained and pass your certification exam.

But which certification should you go for? CCMA or CMAC?

All those letters can make things confusing!

**But don’t worry**, we’re about to lead you through everything you need to know about medical assistant certification.

But before we begin, we do want to point out that there’s really no need to stress over certification.

What you should be focusing on is choosing the RIGHT training program; one that will get you FULLY prepared to take the certification exam, whichever one you decide to go with. And don’t worry, we’re also going to share some awesome training programs that are affordable, so be sure to read this article all the way to the end!

Before we get into all things certification, if you want to read more about the Certified Medical Assistant Salary, benefits, and job prospects, you can learn more about a career as a clinical medical assistant here:

Also read: Medical Assistant Degree vs. Certificate

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Why Get Certified Anyway?

Think about how you make choices in your own life. If you moved to a new town and needed to find a dentist, you would make darn sure the dentist you chose was board certified. This certification gives you peace of mind because it shows that the dentist has received proper training.

Employers make decisions similarly. They want to choose employees they know have gotten the right education and will benefit their organization, not jeopardize it in some way.

This is particularly true in certain industries, healthcare most definitely being one. Many states require healthcare workers to be certified. And even in those states that don’t require their clinical medical assistants to be certified, certification is still preferred by most employers.

Also see: Medical Assistant Scope of Practice by State

Here’s something to keep in mind: The job market comes with a lot of stiff competition. A CMA position is coveted by many and depending on where in the country you live, there may not be a ton of these jobs in your area. This means you will definitely want to make sure you get certified so you can stand apart from the competition and stand a better chance of getting hired!

Without question, certification offers medical assistants likely better job prospects, greater job security and typically higher pay!

See also: Medical Assistant Certification Requirements

So let’s take a look at the two certifications available to you:

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CCMA Certification

What does CCMA stand for?

CCMA stands for Certified Clinical Medical Assistant.

What is the CCMA certification?

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 23% over the next few years. With greater demand comes an influx of these professionals into the field. And with that influx comes more competition for new candidates.

Obtaining a nationally accredited certification like the CCMA can help candidates stand out from the crowd and show prospective employers they have the credentials to become valued members of an allied healthcare team.

Many healthcare organizations are also offering medical assistants what is called “career laddering” opportunities. These opportunities come with elevated responsibilities and elevated pay. Certification will almost certainly be required to qualify for these positions. (CMAA vs CCMA)

Also read: 12 Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant

Who offers CCMA? The National Healthcareer Association

Founded in 1998, the National HealthCareer Association has prepared and awarded over 750,000 certifications to healthcare students and professionals, providing them with nationally recognized measurements of competency.

NHA’s mission has always been to empower students to better their own lives while at the same time improving healthcare through greater competency. The organization strives to reach these goals through education, advocacy and certification.

NHA’s certification exams are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and updated regularly. This ensures that students always obtain the most job-relevant knowledge and skills.

Also read: Medical Assistant Educational Requirements

The CCMA Exam

The exam can either be taken at your school or a PSI Testing Center near you. You will need to bring a valid driver’s license or another photo ID with you.

Students will be given 3 hours to complete 150 scored questions and 30 pretest questions.

Also see: Is Medical Assistant School Hard?

How much does the CCMA exam cost?

The fee to take the CCMA exam is $125 for NHA members and $250 for nonmembers. Many certification training programs, like the ones we’re about to share with you, provide a voucher to students to offset these costs.

See more on: Certified Medical Assistant 

What topics will the exam cover?

The CCMA exam will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Clinical Patient Care
  • Patient Care Coordination and Education
  • Administrative Assisting
  • Communication and Customer Service
  • Medical Law and Ethics

What are the requirements to sit for the CCMA exam?

Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also have completed a certification program that is accredited by either
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

See: Accelerated Medical Assistant Program

CMAC Certification

What Does CMAC stand for?

Clinical Medical Assistant Certification.

What is the CMAC Certification?

Clinical Medical Assistants have a variety of job duties including everything from taking patient history to preparing specimens to preparing exam rooms and much more. By obtaining the CMAC certification, a candidate demonstrates they have taken the time to acquire the medical assistant skills and knowledge necessary to perform medical assistant job duties professionally and per the high standards set by the healthcare industry.

Who offers CMAC? The American Medical Certification Association

The American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) was established in 2010 as to enhance the allied healthcare industry by providing national certification exams that validate a professional’s credentials. Collaborating and actively participating in the allied healthcare industry, the AMCA is nationally approved and recognized as a certification organization in all 50 states. Obtaining certification through the AMCA increases a candidate’s marketability and enhances their career portfolio.

The CMAC Exam

Candidates will have 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete 200 questions.

How Much Does the Exam Cost?

The exam costs $139.00. Again, this fee may be waived, depending on the certification training program you complete.

Topics covered on the exam

Topics on the CMAC exam include Phlebotomy, EKG, anatomy and physiology, law and ethics, safety/infection control, medical office/patient care, and healthcare systems.

Also see: Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomist

Requirements to sit for the CMAC exam

Candidates must have obtained their high school diploma or equivalent and have completed a comprehensive certification training program that offered instruction on numerous healthcare topics such as anatomy and physiology, choice of equipment, proper techniques – including sterile technique, hazards and complications; and emergency procedures.

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Choosing the Right Certification Training Program

Okay, that was A LOT of information we covered, so let’s recap.

We’ve learned why it is essential for candidates to become certified and looked at the two main certifications – CCMA and CMAC. We’ve also learned a bit about the organizations that offer each one. While the NHA, the organization that offers the CCMA certification, has been around longer, the AMCA, the organization that offers the CMAC certification, is recognized in all 50 states.

The tests cover roughly the same topics and will have roughly the same number of questions and time to complete them. The CCMA test will cost about $100 more if you’re not a member of NHA. But again, we’re about to show you some training programs that will cover the cost of your certification exam, so there’s no need to worry.

So, comparing both of these certifications, which one is best for your particular career path?

Well, there’s actually a far more important question that should be asked, and that is what makes a good certification training program?

See more on Medical Assistant Career Path

At the end of the day, in order for you to pass either one of these certification exams, you’ll need to have obtained comprehensive training. So before you spend time deciding which certification to go with, focus on finding an excellent medical assistant program that will get you FULLY prepared!

In our experience, there are a few specific criteria that make a certification program worthy of your time and money:

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Also see: Medical Assistant Programs Cost

The Right Preparation

As I just mentioned, the right training will prepare you for ANY certification exam, whether it’s the CCMA or CMAC. So what you should focus on right now is looking for an exceptional training program that will help you pass ANY of these tests.

Take our free quiz to see what training program perks you could qualify for:

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How Do I Choose the Right Clinical Medical Assistant Program?

To find the right program:

Choose an Authorized School

Be warned: there are a lot of unauthorized training programs out there that have not been approved. It’s important that you do some research to find an approved program. You have a couple of options on how you go about this:

  1. You can spend hours each weekend doing Google searches and keep track of all of the information you find in some sort of spreadsheet.
  2. You can let help you find the right certification training program for you.

If that second option seems like the best choice, then keep reading because we’ll tell you how we can help in just a moment.

Online Training

You’ve found an approved training program. Great. Now, how easy is it for you to take your courses? If you’re a busy adult, you’ll need a program that is flexible and allows you to study when it’s convenient for YOU. An online program fits into a busy adult’s schedule and makes it convenient for you to learn. (Recommended Guide: How Long Does It Take To Become a Medical Assistant?)

Also see: Medical Assistant Courses

It’s Affordable!

There are clinical medical assistant programs out there that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Who can afford that? Certainly not someone with a family and other financial responsibilities! That’s why has gone ahead and found excellent certification programs that are incredibly affordable.

In fact, many of the schools we’ve partnered with offer discounts and low monthly payment plans.

Take the free quiz to see if you could qualify!

See: Cheapest Medical Assistant Program

Books Should be Included

Have you seen the price of textbooks? They can cost a fortune! The right program will include the price of books in the tuition.

Read more: National Certified Medical Assistant NCMA

An Externship is Also Included

Doctor With Nurse Working At Nurses Station

To sit for the examination, you may be required to have had at least 6 months of experience under your belt. The right program will include an externship placement so you can get this critical experience! (Also see: How to get Medical Assistant jobs with no experience)

Read more on: Medical Assistant Externship

Next Steps to Become a Clinical Medical Assistant wants to help you get an affordable education that will set you up for an exciting and rewarding career.

That’s why we’ve partnered with schools that could meet ALL of these criteria.

Take a few moments to take our quiz to connect with the right certification program that matches your career goals and life situation.

All it takes is five minutes and you could be on your way to a rewarding and exciting career as a clinical medical assistant!

Also read: Is Medical Assistant a Good Career?

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Related Resources:

About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.