If you’re a medical assistant looking to become professionally certified, there are a number of options offered by various certification organizations, each of which is considered valid and respectable within the medical assisting field. All of the major certifications require you to pass an exam, but each has its own specific guidelines and processes. Here’s a look at the basic information for each certification.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
Organization: American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
Eligibility: To be eligible to take the CMA (AAMA) exam, you must be one of the following:
- A recent graduate (within 12 months) of, or a student in the process of completing (with 30 days of completion) a medical assisting program accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
- A non-recent graduate of a CAAHEP or ABHES-accredited medical assisting program who is applying for the exam more than 12 months after graduation.
- Someone who has previously passed the CMA (AAMA) certification exam and is taking the exam again for recertification.
Renewal/Recertification: You must recertify, either by retaking the test or by showing proof of your continued education, every 60 months.
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
Organization: American Medical Technologists (AMT)
Eligibility: To be eligible to take the RMA exam, you must be”of good moral character” and be one of the following:
- A recent graduate (within the past four years) of, or be scheduled to graduate from, a medical assisting program accredited by a regional or national accreditation agency approved by the US Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or otherwise approved by the AMT Board of Directors.
- A recent graduate (within the past four years) of, or be scheduled to graduate from, a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces.
- A medical assistant with a high school (or equivalent) diploma who has been employed for at least five of the last seven years, no more than two of which have been as an instructor in a post-secondary medical assistant program.
- A current instructor in an accredited medical assisting program with a minimum of five years of MA teaching experience, or a minimum of one year MA teaching experience combined with at least three years of full-time clinical work experience.
Renewal/Recertification: To maintain certification, you have to pay an annual fee and every three years certify that you have completed various activities that help you remain current in the medical assisting field.
National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
Organization: National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
Eligibility: To be eligible to take the NCMA exam, you must be all of the following:
- A high school graduate (or have an equivalent diploma).
- A graduate of an approved program of study as a medical assistant or a working medical assistant with at least two years of qualifying, verifiable experience.
Renewal/Recertification: To maintain certification, you have to take 14 hours of NCCT continuing education every year.
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
Organization: National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
Eligibility: To be eligible to take the CCMA exam, you must have done all of the following:
- Earned a high school diploma or GED.
- Completed either a training program or one year of working in the field.
Renewal/Recertification: To maintain certification, you have to complete a predetermined amount of NHA continuing education every two years.
(Sources: AAMA, AMT, NCCT, NHA)