Certified Medical Assistant: Are You Eligible to Become One?

HealthcareNovember 19, 2013

Credentialed by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), a certified medical assistant can earn his or her certification by attending a formal, accredited program and completing an exam for certification. Recertification within this field is also required on a regular basis. This brief guide will give you some tips about the eligibility requirements for certification as well as the overall process and perks.

According to AAMA guidance material, the following three groups of people are eligible to take a certification exam: those who have graduated from an accredited program during the past year, those who have graduated from an accredited program over a year ago, and those who are seeking recertification. This resource also notes that the program you attended must have been accredited at some point while you were enrolled or within 36 months after your date of completion.

Programs receive accreditation from one of the following organizations: the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Your certified medical assistant program will include coursework in numerous topics including medical ethics, law, administering medication, anatomy, medical terminology and insight into billing and laboratory procedures. As part of your certification requirements, you will also need to complete a practicum, which will provide you with hands-on experience in a real-world environment.

If you have completed the necessary coursework to become a certified medical assistant, or will be completing a program shortly, you should take the next step in checking the exam schedule to see when it is offered.  Please note that you will need to send in an application that will have a due date of three months prior to your test date. Unless you are taking your examination within one year of completing your coursework, you will need to send additional documentation in with your application, including an official transcript of your coursework.  You can find the application as well as the documentation requirements and fee schedule in the AAMA's Candidate Application and Handbook.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical assistant field is expected to grow by 31 percent through the year 2020. This rate of growth is much higher than the average rate for other jobs, so you may expect job availability in this field. Earning the additional certification will give you an edge over other candidates, and possibly a higher salary as well.

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