How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

By | September 2, 2023
How to become a Medical Assistant.
Medical Assistants are specially trained to play important roles in clinics, hospitals, and other health facilities. Image source:

This post provides in-depth information on how to become a certified medical assistant (CMA), including the training programs you will be expected to complete.

Medical Assistants play important roles in clinics, hospitals, and other medical centers where they assist nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers to be able to provide quality service to patients.

They perform both administrative and medical support functions: More on the duties of Medical Assistants.

You can become a Certified Medical Assistant, CMA, by taking any of the two ways: on-the-job training or educational program and/or Certification:

On-the-job Training

If you have taken courses in Biology, Chemistry, and anatomy at High School, you can be taken in by healthcare centers for in-house training on the job. This is possible because in most states, medical assistants are not mandated to pass through a formal educational program or be certified.

At the medical center, the new assistant in training is taught how to take and answer calls, speak to patients, and perform routine office duties. They are also taught medical terminologies, name and uses for different instruments, as well as how to code all forms of medical records, and document patient information.

This kind of training can last for several months to enable the trainee to gain all the knowledge, skills and abilities they needed to have to be able to provide adequate assistance to a medical practitioner.

Educational Program and/or Certification

Another way you can become a medical assistant is to go through an educational program and/or become certified.
Although most states do not require educational program or certification to work as medical assistance, it is increasingly becoming important to go through a one or two-year program because more employers are hiring only those formally trained.

Also, some states may need you to have completed an accredited program or be certified or both, to be able to perform such advanced duties as administering injections and taking of x-rays.

There are several schools – vocational schools, technical schools, community colleges, and universities – that have been accredited to offer programs in medical assistance.

A one-year program leads to the award of a diploma, while you will bag an associate’s degree for a two-year study.

All the programs consist of both classroom and laboratory sections, where you will take courses in medical terminology and anatomy.

How to be certified as Medical Assistant

To obtain certification as medical assistant, you will have to take and pass an exam from an approved certification body.

There are presently four organizations that have been approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

They include: the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA); the American Medical Technologists; the National Center for Competency Testing; and the National Healthcareer Association.

Certification through the American Association of Medical Assistants confers the award of Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) on the individual.

To qualify to take the AAMA exam, you will be required to have completed a medical assisting program after high school education.

The program should be accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Passing the certification exam of the American Medical Technologists leads to the award of Registered Medical Assistant (RMA); while the National Center for Competency Testing confers National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA); and the National Healthcareer Association awards Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA).

All the three certification bodies: the American Medical Technologists; the National Center for Competency Testing; and the National Healthcareer Association do not require applicants to go through formal educational training in medical assisting before taking their exams.