What is Medical Assisting Certification?

Why and how you should get your medical assisting certification? Find out everything here...

When you graduate from medical assisting school, you may think all the preparation and testing is over. But most experts recommend one more step to prepare you for the job market - get certified!

Getting certified is a way of telling employers that you are serious about your profession, that you have a certain basic set of skills, and that you are an expert in your field.

It requires you to actually sit for an additional test, but most employers are requiring their medical assistants to have this certification now to work in their offices.

If they see two qualified applicants, one with certification and one without, the one who's gone the extra mile to get this important paper is more likely to get the job.

Do yourself a favor - look into medical assisting certification as soon as you graduate from school to increase your chances of getting hired!

Reasons to become certified

Medical assisting certification

The credential you would be shooting for is the Certified Medical Assistant credential, or CMA, that is administered through the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

The first reason you should pursue this credential is because it is the most prestigious certification for medical assistants that you can obtain.

Yes, there are other bodies out there offering other credentials, but none has the backing and power of this particular one from the AAMA. As a certified medical assistant, you'll be viewed as someone who is a dedicated professional in the field.

You'll have more job security, as well - you have something that sets you apart from your peers. By passing a test that asks you questions about basic medical assisting procedures, you show your future employer that you have what it takes to be a useful member of their team.

Eligibility requirements

Medical assisting certification

You have to meet some basic requirements before you're eligible to sit for the exam to earn the CMA credential.

The first category of eligibility is for students who are still in school or have graduated from an accredited school within the past 12 months. Students who have not graduated yet cannot take the exam more than 30 days before their last practicum.

Category 2 students are those who have graduated from an accredited school more than 12 months ago. Category 3 applicants are those who are applying for recertification.

One of the reasons you may not be eligible for the exam is if your school is not accredited, or has only gotten its accreditation within the last three years. If you graduated from a school in this category, the board is not willing to make exceptions for you.

Another popular reason to deny eligibility is if you have been convicted of a felony, or plead guilty to a felony. However, you may request a waiver in this case from the board.

School accreditation

Before you even apply to a school, you must verify that the school has accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

If your school isn't accredited through one of these 2 bodies, you'll not be eligible to sit for the medical assistant certification exam.

You also want to thoroughly investigate your school before you apply, to make sure that it's going to give you a well-rounded education so that you can pass this important certification exam.

For instance, you want to ensure the school has classes in:

Medical assisting certification
  • anatomy and physiology
  • medical terminology
  • computer applications
  • accounting
  • medical insurance processing
  • lab techniques
  • procedures
  • medical law
  • medication administration
  • first aid
  • office practices
  • and patient relations.

Ask your school about tuition, the length of the program, and what sort of practicum they offer to students as clinical preparation. If you research your school before settling on one, you are far more likely to find one that will enable you to pass your certification exam when the time comes.

Certification exam outline

Click to see an outline of what's in the medical assisting exam.

Recertification procedures

Your certification is valid for 60 months. You can choose to recertify by taking the test again, or by collecting 60 continuing education points.

These points have to be approved by the AAMA to count towards your totals for recertification. You need 10 administrative points, 10 clerical points, 10 general points, and 30 from any combination of the categories to get recertified for your credential.

In addition to these points, you also have to maintain provider-level CPR training to get your credential recertified with the AAMA. If your credential has expired for more than 60 months, then you can't recertify by using continuing education points.

You would actually have to take the exam again to get the credential back in good standing.

The fee for certification for non-members is $250, but if you become a member of the AAMA, the price of certification drops down to $125. The fee to recertify is $130 for non-members, and it is $65 if you are a member.

The best of luck!

After you become certified, you may be wondering where to find medical assisting jobs - check the link for our advice!

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