Skip to Main Content

What Is a Certified Medical Assistant and How to Become One

Certified Medical Assistant

What Does a Certified Medical Assistant Do?

Certified medical assistants support physicians and other clinical staff by performing a variety of clinical and administrative tasks. They perform many of the same duties as non-certified medical assistants, but their certification shows a level of mastery for the job. As a certified medical assistant, you may prepare exam rooms, collect lab specimens, interview patients, provide medication, administer vaccinations, arrange referrals and hospital stays, make and receive phone calls, stock medical supplies, assist the doctor in exams and more. Every day is different, which is one thing many certified medical assistants like about the job. You find certified medical assistants in private doctor's offices, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.

How Do You Become a Certified Medical Assistant?

To become a certified medical assistant, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and then you must complete an accredited certified medical assistant training program. You must attend a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and pass the licensing exam administered by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) to become a certified medical assistant. While you do not need to be certified to work as a medical assistant, many employers prefer certified medical assistants due to the rigorous standards required to earn certification. Vocational school programs take about a year to complete, while an associate degree program at a community college takes about two years. These programs provide training in lab techniques, medical terminology, patient confidentiality, and medical office procedures. Once you have completed your schooling and passed the exam, seek certified medical assistant positions at health care facilities, clinics, and private physician practices.

What Are Certified Medical Assistant Career Paths?

There are many different types of jobs and specialties available for certified medical assistants looking for career advancement. Certified medical assistants work on both the clinical and administrative sides of medicine. After working in the field for several years, some choose to move into academia, teaching at a vocational school or community college in a medical assisting program. Administrative certified medical assistants may move into supervisory roles, such as billing or coding manager, medical records manager, or healthcare administration. On the clinical side, you may complete additional training and certification to work with specialists, such as chiropractors, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, or take courses to earn a certificate in EKG technology and seek cardiology technician positions. Others enroll in a nursing program and use their clinical experience to become registered nurses.

Can You Work as a Medical Assistant Without Being Certified?

It is possible to work as a medical assistant without being certified. However, this field is a growing business, and it is becoming more and more competitive. Getting certification is a great way to set yourself apart from other job candidates. You will also find that many employers now require job candidates to have a certificate of completion from an accredited medical assistant program as well as proof of certification.

Can Medical Assistants Specialize?

Medical assistants can specialize in various skills as well as types of medicine. Some medical assistants specialize in administrative work or clinical work. Others specialize in certain kinds of practices, like pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic medicine, or gastroenterology. Pursuing continuing education and training that sets you apart from other job candidates can be very advantageous to you in this competitive job market.

Certified Medical Assistant Job Description Sample

With this Certified Medical Assistant job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Certified Medical Assistant role.

Job Summary

Our clinic is seeking a Certified Medical Assistant to join our patient care team. In this role, your primary responsibilities are to prepare patients for their exams by verifying their medical histories, recording their vital signs, performing blood draws, and conducting non-invasive screening tests. You will also prep exam rooms for patients by ensuring they are clean and properly stocked with supplies. Other tasks include updating electronic health records. Applicants must have their CMA credential as well as CPR and BLS certifications.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Prepare patients for exams or treatments
  • Take and record vital signs
  • Update electronic health records
  • Perform non-invasive screening tests
  • Assist with other medical procedures, such as injections or blood draws
  • Prepare exam rooms, ensuring proper inventory of supplies
  • Assist with administrative tasks if necessary, such as scheduling appointments

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Completion of an accredited medical assistant program
  • CMA credential
  • CPR certification
  • BLS certification
  • Medical office experience a plus
  • Attention to detail
  • Interpersonal, communication, and computer skills