ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Medical Assisting: Should You Get Certified?

Updated on February 16, 2015
Medical assistants have a multitude of duties.
Medical assistants have a multitude of duties. | Source

About the Author

Daughter of Maat is an ophthalmic technician (a type of medical assistant) and has been examining patients on a daily basis for over 19 years.

She has had rigorous training under the supervision of an ophthalmologist and specialized in the cornea, cataracts, and retina as well as how systemic disease affects the eye. She has been certified by JCAHPO as a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant.

Medical assisting is one of the fastest growing fields in the nation, and it is projected to have 31 percent job growth over the next ten years.

If you are planning on making medical assisting a career, getting certified can help you stand out in this growing crowd. To a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), it’s not just a job; it’s a career, and certification shows ambition and dedication.

Certification is not required (legally or otherwise) to be a medical assistant, especially if most of your training has been on-the-job.

However, for potential employers, it represents a certain level of knowledge and expertise. Everyone who passes the test has the same qualifications because the test is standardized.

Reasons for Certification

Guaranteed Skills

A medical assistant who is certified has highly specialized skills that allow them to perform tasks like giving patients medication by injection, which allows the physician to focus on diagnosing and seeing more patients increasing their productivity. This benefits the entire practice.


As a Certified Medical Assistant, you will be more confident when working with patients. Knowing an assistant is certified also eases a patient’s fears. They know they are in good hands and are not being treated by someone who is not well trained. It is easier to treat a patient when they are not nervous or apprehensive.


Certification also increases your odds of advancement. Because of the guaranteed skill set, certified medical assistants with experience will be the first choice for management opportunities, which will also affect your salary.



Although salary varies widely by location and experience, a medical assistant who is certified will make considerably more than one who is not.

The difference between the two can be $4,000 to $6,000 a year. Typically, a Certified Medical Assistant with less than one year experience can make anywhere from $19,330 to $40,123, whereas an uncertified assistant with the same experience would make from $18,548 to $36,654.

Reasons Against Certification


One of the most common reasons assistants choose not to certify is the cost of the exam. If you have not taken a course accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or if you are not a member of American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), the exam will cost $250.00.

Otherwise the test will cost $125.00. This can be a burden if your employer does not pay for the exam for you, or at least reimburse the cost after you pass.

Certification May Not Be Enough

If you are interested in advancement into management positions such as a medical office manager or medical assistant instructor, certification may not be enough. You may need further education, which is costly and is not for everyone. This is dependent on experience and specialty.

For example, someone, like myself, who is certified as an ophthalmic assistant with 20 years’ experience would most likely not need further education due to the highly specialized nature of the field and the amount of experience they have. The same would apply to podiatry or any other specialty. It is important to remember that certification does not replace experience.

Medical assistants are trained to perform highly specialized procedures using a wide variety of medical instruments.
Medical assistants are trained to perform highly specialized procedures using a wide variety of medical instruments. | Source

Certification Must Be Renewed

One of the major drawbacks of certification is that it has to be renewed. Medical assistants usually need to recertify every 5 years (60 months), but this will vary depending on specialty. For example, ophthalmic assistants must recertify every three years (36 months).

To renew your certification, you will need to earn continuing education (CE) credits, which can be earned through seminars, workshops, classes and sometimes self-study. Certified medical assistants typically need 60 CE credits per recertification period, but this, again, can vary by specialty.

To apply for recertification, a fee must be submitted with your CE credits and an application. If you are a member of AAMA or have completed a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited program, your cost for recertification would be $65.00. Otherwise you will pay $130.00, and all fees are nonrefundable.

CPR Certification Requirement

To keep your certification as a medical assistant, you will need to be certified in CPR (except for ophthalmic assistants for whom this is no longer a requirement).

This can be another drawback to certification because CPR courses for medical personnel are quite different from a course for an individual in both price and content. Most employers will provide CPR training for their employees.

However, some do not, and CPR courses can be expensive.

Should YOU Get Certified?

Becoming certified isn’t for everyone. Some people never get certified. Others (like myself) have years of experience and only become certified toward the end of their career.

Many assistants who are not certified know their job better than those who are certified. The most important thing to remember is that employers are looking for someone who can do the work and knows their job well.

© Copyright 2012 - 2015 by Melissa Flagg (aka Daughter of Maat) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)