Get Your Medical Assistant Certification
Your guide to earning a medical assistant certification
Medical assistants play a critical role in performing various tasks, such as assisting doctors with scheduling appointments, performing patient examinations, and documenting patients’ medical records.
Medical assistants also monitor patients’ vital signs, administer medication in a hospital/emergency room setting, and assist other health professionals in giving or administering intravenous (IV) injections. A medical assistant specializes in a specific healthcare subfield and usually:
- Record medical histories
Explain treatment or procedures to patients
Prepare patients for diagnostic tests or exams
Collect and prepare lab specimens
Perform basic lab tests
Guide patients on medication
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average medical assistant salary in the United States is between $35,000 and $60,000 per year. Research highlights that medical assistance will see a whopping 18% employment growth between 2022 and 2030.
The question is: What is the importance of medical assistant certification? What are the different types of certificates? How to prepare for and get medical assistance certification? Today’s article will answer these questions by giving you essential details. Read on!
Benefits of Medical Assistant Certification
A medical assistant with certification leverages many employment opportunities within the healthcare industry. A certified medical assistant can qualify for high-paying jobs, and medical institutions/organizations prefer people with extensive knowledge, experience, expertise, and skills in healthcare.
Several states require medical assistance with accreditation or certification to streamline their healthcare settings, provide patients with quality care, and improve the business’s bottom line. Therefore, organizations pay higher salaries to certified assistants.
Professional development is another benefit leveraged by certified medical assistants. The reason is that it helps you learn the latest techniques, technologies, and evidence-based healthcare delivery. Thus, it fosters career advancement and leadership growth for assistants seeking to elevate their responsibilities and build a professional reputation.
Types of Medical Assistance Certification
There are several types of medical assistant certifications. Knowing and understanding each type is critical to making an informed decision and choosing a certification/program that aligns with your career goals. Let us discuss the primary types of certifications.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers and awards certified medical assistant (CMA) certificates to graduates. Once you graduate from a medical assisting program, you can take the CMA exam within twelve months.
If you are an AAMA member, the organization will charge a $125 exam fee. On the other hand, you will pay $150 as a non-member to appear in the exam. Besides, it is a 160-minute exam. AAMA can provide a content outline and resources to prepare for the exam.
National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) is a reputable organization and certifying body that awards certification to candidates who pass the examination. Expect to pay between $90 and $135 to appear in the exam.
In addition, the exam has 165 questions covering various healthcare disciplines, including pharmacology, medical office management, and technology applications in the medical field. You can leverage the free samples offered by NCCT to prepare for the exam.
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
The National Health Career Association (NHA) awards the CCMA certificates to professionals who pass the exam. You can apply for the certificate after fulfilling the eligibility criteria. For instance, you must have a high school diploma and a graduate degree from an accredited medical assistant program.
Exam preparation requires studying science, physiology, anatomy, and patient care. The exam will cost $155 in 2022. In addition, you have to renew the CCMA certification after 24 months. The best thing about NHA is that it offers classes and sessions for professional development at the most affordable cost.
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
The American Medical Technologists (AMT) is another reputable and accredited organization that offers RMA certificates for medical assistance to improve their career. However, eligibility requirements for the RMA certificate are slightly more challenging than other programs.
For instance, AMT requires candidates to have a degree from an approved program, an externship, and five years of work experience. You are more likely to appear in the exam if you have performed as a leader of a specific department in healthcare settings.
The exam has 210 questions related to medical assisting, nurse-patient interaction, emergency room administrative tasks, patient anatomy, and physiology. Once qualified and prepared, you will pay $120 to appear in the exam.
Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
NHA awards the CMAA certificate to medical assistants who pass the exam. The CMAA certificate benefits people seeking high-paying jobs in the healthcare administration. The eligibility criteria for CMAA are the same as CCMA.
We recommend downloading the study guide/material/resources and taking free test samples before appearing in the exam. The purpose is to learn essential concepts that will help answer questions in the exam.
The CCMA certification exam has 130 questions that cover different disciplines and subjects, including office logistics, patient intake, medical scheduling, compliance/regulatory protocols in healthcare settings, and relevant topics.
NHA charges $117 for appearing in the CMAA exam. Once you have earned the CMAA certification, you can qualify for demanding and high-paying jobs, work in dynamic healthcare environments, improve your professional development and growth, and enhance your industry knowledge/experience.
How to Prepare for a Certification Examination
Getting ready for a certification exam is daunting and time-consuming because it requires thorough planning and preparation. The best way to prepare for a medical assistant certification is by attending classes offered by the certifying body.
Likewise, you can participate in online student networks to share ideas, review class notes, and pay close attention to procedures in a clinical setting. Focusing on theoretical concepts, practical/evidence-based learning, and clinical information is crucial to prepare yourself for the exams.
You can read a book related to the certification curriculum, highlight crucial topics, and take mock tests to improve your skills. Consider the following tips and tricks to streamline the entire process and ace the exams.
- Clear your expectations
Create a study plan
Participate in group studies
Leverage certifying body’s resources
Answer practice questions
Maintain your study routine
Focus on the materials covered in the class
Use external sources, such as books, research papers, etc.
Where to Get Your Medical Assistant Certification
There are numerous medical assistant certification programs available. Getting a certificate is a thorough and step-by-step process that involves choosing the right accredited program, planning, preparing, and taking the exam. Here is what you need to know about getting a medical assistant certification.
Step 1: Find an Accredited School
You can search online to find different institutions that offer study programs. List the schools, programs, study duration, and other parameters. Compare all schools to narrow your search results and select an accredited school.
You can apply for a college certificate or an associate degree. Remember, this is a crucial step to collect essential information, analyze it, and generate valuable insights to make an informed decision.
Step 2: Determine the Eligibility Criteria
Find out whether you fulfill the institution’s eligibility criteria or requirements for the certification exam. The eligibility requirements vary from agency to agency. For instance, some require graduation/degree from an approved school or college, while others combine education with professional experience. We recommend checking the certification agency’s official websites for up-to-date information.
Step 3: Apply for the Certification Exam
Once you have chosen the desired certification program, it is time to apply for the exam. Submit your application and select the exam date. Remember, you must choose a date that best fits your needs. For instance, you can appear in the exam after completing a medical assistant program/degree.
Step 4: Prepare for the Exam
Preparing for the exam is the most critical step and requires commitment, dedication, and diligence to study theoretical concepts and cover relevant topics. Most certification agencies provide candidates with resources and materials to prepare for the exam.
Some resources are free, while others require a small fee. We have mentioned the best tips for studying and preparing for the certification exam. Moreover, you must know the passing criteria and the number of questions to answer before appearing in the exam.
Getting a medical assistant certification is an excellent way to improve career opportunities, receive quality training, and enhance your administrative and clinical skills. It shows employers that you are professional, skilled, accredited, and experienced, increasing your chances of hiring and landing your dream job.