Considering a career as a medical assistant? Here’s what you need to know about medical assistant certification, including how long the process takes.
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Medical assistants are in high demand due to the growing healthcare industry. In order to become a medical assistant you must complete a certificate or diploma program and pass a certification exam. The length of time it takes to complete a medical assistant program varies, but most programs can be completed in about a year. Once you have completed a program and passed the certification exam, you will be ready to start your career as a medical assistant
The different types of medical assistant certification:
There are three different types of medical assistant certification: the Certificate of Completion (CC), the Associate Degree (AA), and the Bachelor Degree (BS). Each type of certification has its own benefits and drawbacks.
The Certificate of Completion is the shortest path to certification, and can be completed in as little as two semesters. However, this type of certification does not carry the same weight as the AA or BS, and may not be accepted by all employers.
The Associate Degree can be completed in two to four years, depending on the program. This type of certification is more widely accepted by employers, and can lead to higher starting salaries. However, it may take longer to complete, and may require more coursework than the CC.
The Bachelor Degree is the most comprehensive level of medical assistant certification, and can take four years to complete. This type of certification is generally required for positions with more responsibility, and can lead to higher starting salaries. However, it may take longer to complete, and may require more coursework than the CC or AA.
The requirements for medical assistant certification:
To become a certified medical assistant, you must complete an accredited medical assisting program and pass a certification exam. The requirements for medical assistant certification vary by state, but most states require certification.
Medical assistants can become certified through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), the National Healthcare Association (NHA), or the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). To be eligible for certification through the AAMA, candidates must graduate from an accredited medical assisting program and pass the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam. Candidates who have not completed an accredited program may be eligible for certification through the NHA if they have at least five years of experience working as a medical assistant and pass the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam. The NCCT offers two certifications for medical assistants: the National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) and the National Certified Insurance Medical Assistant (NCIMA). Candidates must pass an exam to earn either certification.
The process of medical assistant certification:
The process of medical assistant certification varies by state. In most states, certification is not required, but many employers prefer to hire candidates who are certified. There are a number of different certifications available, but the most common is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) designation from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
To become a CMA, you must first complete an accredited medical assistant program. Once you have completed your training, you must then pass the CMA exam administered by the AAMA. The exam consists of two parts: a written examination and a clinical skills examination. Once you have passed both portions of the exam, you will be awarded your CMA credential.
The benefits of medical assistant certification:
The benefits of medical assistant certification:
Medical assistants who are certified have an edge over those who are not when it comes time to find a job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants who are certified can earn up to 10% more than those who are not certified. Certification also shows potential employers that you are committed to your career and have the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job well.
In addition, many employers will only hire medical assistants who are certified. This is because certification demonstrates that you have completing a recognized training program and have passed a rigorous exam. This assures employers that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform your duties effectively.
The drawbacks of medical assistant certification:
There are several drawbacks to medical assistant certification. First, it can be expensive. Certification exams can cost hundreds of dollars, and you may need to purchase study materials as well. In addition, you may need to take time off from work to attend certification classes or to take the exam, which can also be costly. Finally, your employer may not reimburse you for the cost of certification or recertification, meaning that you will have to pay for it out of your own pocket.
The cost of medical assistant certification:
The cost of medical assistant certification can range from $0 to over $1,000, depending on the route you take. There are four main ways to become certified: exam, training program, work experience, and apprenticeship.
-Exam: The cost of taking the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) is $125 for members and $250 for non-members. However, many training programs will pay for the exam fee as part of your tuition.
-Training program: The tuition for a medical assistant training program can range from a few hundred dollars to over $5,000. If you choose to attend a private career school or college, you may be able to find financial aid to help cover the costs.
-Work experience: Some certifying organizations will grant certification to candidates with a certain amount of relevant work experience. The length of time required varies by organization but is typically at least two years.
-Apprenticeship: Similar to work experience, some certifying organizations will grant certification to candidates who have completed an approved medical assistant apprenticeship program. These programs typically last one year but can vary depending on the sponsoring organization.
The time commitment for medical assistant certification:
How long does it take to get certified as a medical assistant? The process of becoming a certified medical assistant (CMA) varies by state, but generally speaking, there are three steps: completing an accredited training program, passing a certification exam, and completing continuing education (CE) requirements.
The length of time it takes to complete these steps depends on the individual. On average, it takes about 18 months to become a CMA. However, some students may be able to complete their training and certification in as little as 12 months, while others may take longer than 18 months.
Once you have completed your training and passed the certification exam, you will need to complete CE requirements in order to maintain your certification. CE requirements vary by state but typically include taking courses or attending conferences on topics related to medical assisting. Most states require CMAs to complete CE every two years.
The job outlook for medical assistants with certification:
Medical assistants are in high demand, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 23 percent growth in employment from 2016 to 2026 — much faster than the average for all occupations.1 As the healthcare industry continues to expand, medical assistants will play an increasingly important role in providing quality patient care.
While certification is not required to become a medical assistant, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a certified medical assistant program. Certification provides validation of your skills and knowledge and can give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs.
How long does it take to get certified as a medical assistant? The answer depends on which organization you choose to certify with and whether you have already completed a medical assistant program. Below is an overview of certification requirements for two of the most popular organizations: the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the National Healthcare Association (NHA).
The AAMA offers two levels of certification for medical assistants: the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). To be eligible for CMA certification, candidates must have graduated from an accredited medical assistant program within the last five years or must have been working as a medical assistant for at least five years. Candidates who do not meet either of these requirements must successfully complete an accredited medical assistant program before taking the exam.
Registered Medical Assistants (RMAs) are those who were grandfathered into certification when the CMA credential was established in 1991 or who have worked continuously as certified medical assistants since that time. RMAs are not required to take the exam but must submit proof of their eligibility to the AAMA along with a small fee. There is no expiration date for RMA certification.
The CMA (AAMA) Exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering five content areas: general, administrative, clinical, infection control, and safety. Candidates are given three hours to complete the exam, which is administered year-round at testing centers across the country. To prepare for the exam, candidates can purchase study materials directly from the AAMA or use one of several free online resources.
So how long does it take to get medical assistant certification? It depends on your program, but most students can expect to be done within two years.