Medical Assistant Certification
Looking for medical assistant certification information? Medical assistants are essential professionals in the medical settings particularly in the clinics and offices of physicians, podiatrists and other health practitioners.
Benefits of Certification
It must be noted that a certification as a medical assistant is not necessary to be hired by healthcare facilities. However, medical assistant certification is an advantage in that it is proof that the individual has passed certain standards of knowledge, skills and capabilities.
The benefits of medical assistant certification begin with the preferential hiring opportunities available to the equally preferential advancement, and salary increase opportunities offered by the employer.
Also, certification as a medical assistant provides the opportunity to specialize in one area in the same way as medical professionals like doctors and nurses do. Thus, you can choose to become a medical assistant with specialization in podiatry, ophthalmology and optometry complete with the certification to back it up.
Again, your employment and advancement opportunities are greater than those who chose not to seek certification as a medical assistant.
Several organizations award the desired certification for medical assistants depending on your education and training levels. All of these professional organizations require applicants to comply with medical assistant training and education requirements before the examination can be taken. The two most notable medical assistant certification organizations are:
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) awards medical assistant certification to individuals who are about to graduate or who have recently graduated from an accredited program. Person who passes the exam becomes a CMA (Certified Medical Assistant).
The American Medical Technologists (AMT) awards the certification to two sets of individuals. First, recent graduates of an accredited program can take the exam. Second, individuals who failed to finish an accredited program but have a minimum of five years work experience as a medical assistant are also qualified for the certification process. Person who passes the exam becomes a RMA (Registered Medical Assistant).
Steps To Obtain Medical Assistant Certification
Prerequisites in Education and Training
Let’s start with education and training since certification agencies for medical assistants enforce these prerequisites for the certification examination. Programs are available from vocational-technical high schools, post-secondary vocational schools and in community colleges.
Take note that the medical assistant certification pre-requirements in terms of education varies from one certification agency to the next although a high school diploma or its equivalent is a must.
If you are enrolled in a post-secondary program, your formal education can last from just a year for a diploma/certificate to two years for an associate degree. Internships in medical settings are requirements for graduation in most, if not all, medical assisting programs. Said internships provide the practical experience that will prove useful in the workplace.
Certification agencies will also accept applicants without the above-mentioned formal education under certain conditions. For one thing, a high school diploma or its equivalent is necessary with course concentration on math, biology and bookkeeping, among others. For another thing, volunteer experience in healthcare facilities is an advantage especially when trainings and work experience are added to the resume.
Let’s discuss next the certification examination itself. You can expect multiple choice type tests although the actual details are often tightly guarded before the exam day for obvious reasons.
Most organizations cover general health topics including anatomy, clinical procedures, and medical law on one hand as well as administrative topics like bookkeeping, insurance filing and office management, among others.
If you listened to your instructors’ lectures, adopted good clinical practices and studied for the examination, it should be an easy one to complete. There are also a few study guides (see below) that we recommend to help you prepare for the exam.
How Much Does A Certification Exam Cost?
The costs for taking the certification exam vary between these organizations. At the AAMA, it costs $250 for first-time applicants and $125 for certified medical assistants seeking to renew their certification.
At the AMT, applicants are charged $95 for the examination. Take note that the medical assistant certification has an expiry date with renewal possible through retaking the exam or complying with the continuing education requirement.
Career As A Medical Assistant
Although their specific duties vary from one office to the next, most medical assistants handle administrative and clinical responsibilities to ensure smooth operations.
The salary of medical assistants depend on the size of the office, geographical location and number of clients on one hand as well as the number of years’ experience, education and training of the individual on the other hand.
Annual salaries range from $20,000 to $40,000 excluding the benefits, perks and other possible privileges.
A common thing among medical assistants despite the differences in salary is the working environment, which is characterized by clean, safe and well-lit offices. Of course, the assumption is that the individual has complied with the education, training and eligibility requirements necessary to practice as a medical assistant before these benefits are enjoyed.
The good news is that these requirements are relatively easy to attain and getting the medical assistant certification is an important step toward your career goal.