Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

What is a certified medical assistant?

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) is a credential given by American Association of Medical Assistant (AAMA) to those applicants who pass the certification exam offered by the association. AAMA is established in 1955 with the following mission:

Enable medical assisting professionals to enhance and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and professionalism required by employers and patients; protect medical assistants’ right to practice; and promote effective, efficient health care delivery through optimal use of the CMA (AAMA).

CMA is the prime credential among various medical assistant certifications. AAMA certification exam is monitored and get consultation from National Board of Medical Examiners.

How to become a certified medical assistant

In order to become certified medical assistant, one must meet the following requirements:

  • You must complete your medical assisting training in one of CAAHEP or ABHES accredited schools
  • If you are currently attending medical assistant training, you can start the application process one month prior to your graduation date. If you are not in a hurry, you can also do it within 12 months of completing your training. If you don’t take the exam within 12 months of graduation, you will be required to submit official transcript and $250 instead of the usual $125 exam fee. If you are a member of AAMA, you will get 50% discount.
  • AAMA also accepts application for the exam from students who were graduated from non accredited schools. But the school now has to be accredited and the time difference between your graduation and the school accreditation date has to be less than three years.
  • AAMA also require that applicants must not have any felony or if they do, they need to present evidences which can mitigate the felony. This is a case by case procedure and AAMA will review each applicants situation based on the documents submitted and may grant access to the exam.

About Certified Medical Assistant Certification Exam

Certified medical assistant exam is contains 200 multiple choice questions and provided as computer based test or in a paper and pencil format. The exam question contains 20 pretest questions which do not count as score but you will be required to answer them anyways. The exam is divided into four 40 minutes long sessions. You will get 5 minutes break between each session. If you want to find out what topics are included in the exam please check this link.

How to Prepare for the Exam

AAMA provides two certified medical assistant practice tests on Anatomy and Physiology and Medical Terminology topics. You should take those and if you need more preparation you should connect with other certified medical assistants to learn more about the exam questions.

Keeping Your CMA Certification Status Active

All certified medical assistants are required to re take CMA exam every five years or must earn so called re-certification points. 60 points are required and among which 30 points has to come from AAMA approved continuing educations. The other 30 points are distributed according to the following: 10 for Administrative tasks, 10 Clinical tasks and the remaining 10 goes for general tasks. CPR certification is also required when re-certifying. Fees involved for CMA re-certification are $130 application fee for none members who wish to re-certify with CEU (continuing education units) only and $250 to re-certify by examination. If you are member, you will get 50% discount.

How Much does a Certified Medical Assistant make?

After having all the answers on how to get certified as a medical assistant, you may also wonder about how much this certification will help your career and your earning potential. First of all, you should know that getting certified as a medical assistant either as CMA, RMA (Registered Medical Assistant), (NCMA) National Certified Medical Assistant, Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) or Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) will boost your employablity right off the bat and your salary bargaining power also increase. That is one big benefit you get in becoming certified. However, there may not be that big a change between non certified and certified medical assistant salary, so you may not benefit much on that.

We have a certified medical assistant salary data for all states across US and we are also conducting a small survey to see how much certified medical assistant make in general. Please visit this page for more information: Certified Medical Assistant Salary by State.

Certified Medical Assistant Job Description

There is absolutely no difference in certified and non certified medical assistant’s job description. Since certification is voluntary in all states, there are no regulations imposed by any states that restrict non certified MAs from taking on CMAs duties and responsibilities. However, this statement can be override by the doctor you work for because its up to your boss (the doctor), to decide which tasks should be delegated to you in the end.  Read this article to learn more about medical assistant duties in various settings.