Medical Assisting Certification Bodies

Medical assistant is one of the most versatile professions in the allied healthcare field. The reason for this is that they are not only tasked to do clinical duties involving patient care but they also perform administrative and clerical duties. Although they are not licensed healthcare professionals, they play a significant role in large and small medical care facilities.

This job is complex but it is never boring. They take vital signs of the patient and collect laboratory specimens. They are also the ones disposing contaminated supplies and sterilizing medical instruments. Apart from that, they can instruct patients on how to take their medications and show them their special diets. When ordered by the physician, they can prepare medications and call in prescriptions. They also arrange the examining rooms to make them look neat and clean.

These are just some of the jobs and duties of a medical assistant. In terms of salary, an individual can earn as little as $20,000 a year or to as much as $40,000 annually †. The salary remmuneration will depend on the location and the duties of the individual.

Is certification required when working as a medical assistant?

The answer is no! You can work as a medical assistant even without certification. However, your job opportunities will be slim and you are competing against those who do have. Employers are increasingly demanding even forced to hire only those medical assistants that hold a certification designation. This is due to the pressures of potential malpractice suits. Lawsuit mania is aggresively present in the healthcare industry. If you understand this then you can appreciate that entry into this field without certification will greatly decrease your chances of employment.

With regards to the certifying bodies, there are four medical assisting credentials you can choose from:

  1. 1. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
  2. 2. The Association of Medical Technologists (AMT)
  3. 3. The National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  4. 4. National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)

Certification Eligibility Requirements

Certifying Body American Association of Medical Assistants American Medical Technologists National Healthcare Association National Center for Competency Testing
Credentials CMA (Certified Medical assistant) RMA (Registered medical Assistant) CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant) NCMA (National Certified Medical Assistant)
Is it Mandatory No No No No
Exam Fees
If member of the AAMA or a CAAHEP/ABHES student/recent graduate ,fee is $125. All others pay $250.
$95 $149

If student/recent graduate: $90

All others: $135

What are the eligibility requirements? To get the CMA credential, AAMS only allows eligibility if you: To get the RMA credential AMT offers 5 options to choose from: To get the CCMA credential NHA offers 2 options to choose from: To get the NCMA credential NCCT offers 2 options to choose from:
Graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assistant program.

1. Successfully have completed a medical assisting program approved by CAAHEP or ABHES.

or/

2. Graduated from a medical assistant program in an institution (post-secondary school or college) that has been accredited by a regional accrediting commission or by a national accrediting organization approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

or/

3. A formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces.

or/

4. Worked in the medical assisting field for a min. of 5 years.

or/

5. Certification from another approved medical assisting certification agency and worked in the medical assisting profession for the past three out of five years.

 

Be at least 18 and have a high school diploma (or equivalent), as well as one of the following:

1. Successful completion of an allied health training program within the past year;

or/

2. One year of medical assisting employment, and employment as a medical assistant within the last year.

Must have a high school diploma (or equivalent), as well as one of the following:

1. Graduated from an NCCT approved medical assisting program within the last 10 years;

or /

2. Two years of qualifying full-time employment (4,160 hours) or equivalent part-time employment as a medical assistant within the last 10 years.

Validity Valid for 5 years. Recertifcation is then required. Valid for 3 years. Recertification is then required. Valid for 2 years. Recertification is then required. Valid for 1 year. Recertification is then required.
Note: Recertification requirements differ for each of the four medical assisting certifying bodies. Check out each sponsoring organization for further details.

Advantages of Obtaining Medical Assiting Certification

Offers a competitive edge. As mentioned earlier, employers prefer to hire individuals who are certified. The reason for this is that a certification is a representation of your commitment to becoming a medical assistant. It also shows that you have a good level of competency, as well as knowledge in this field.

Shows high standard of proficiency. Before you can obtain certification, you will still have to undergo training and complete an education program (certificate, associate degree or bachelor degree). Because of that, your proficiency in this field is higher than those who do not have certification.

Leads to better opportunities and security
. Certified medical assistants can be promoted to become an office manager or clinical supervisor. Some could also obtain teaching positions that offer higher salary package.

They earn more. They have a greater level of competency than those who are not certified. As a result, they can enjoy more competitive salaries and receive valuable benefits.

Average salary for certified full time medical assistants CMA's vs. Non-CMA's (AAMA certified medical assistants)

HOURLY RATE AVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY
CMA's
Non CMA's
CMA's
Non CMA's
$14.94
$13.43
$29,460
$26,568

References:

US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition: Medical Assistants.
American Association of Medical Assistants
American Medical Technologists
National Healthcare Association
National Center for Competency Testing