How Long Does It Take to Get Medical Assistant Certification?

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Are you considering a career as a medical assistant? One crucial step towards establishing yourself in this field is obtaining the necessary certification. Medical assistant certification not only validates your skills and knowledge but also opens up numerous career opportunities. In this article, we will explore the process of obtaining medical assistant certification and provide insights into the time it takes to complete this important milestone.

What is Medical Assistant Certification?

Medical assistant certification is a formal recognition of an individual’s competence in the field of medical assisting. It serves as a testament to their proficiency in both administrative and clinical tasks. Various certifying bodies offer different types of certifications, such as the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification offered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Requirements for Medical Assistant Certification

Before pursuing medical assistant certification, it is essential to understand the prerequisites and qualifications involved. Typically, the requirements include educational attainment, clinical experience, and specialized training.

To become eligible for certification, you will need to complete a medical assisting program at an accredited institution. These programs often include coursework in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical billing and coding, and clinical procedures. Additionally, most certifying bodies mandate a minimum number of hours of hands-on clinical experience in a healthcare setting. This experience ensures that aspiring medical assistants are well-prepared to handle the responsibilities of the profession.

Process of Obtaining Medical Assistant Certification

Now that we have a clear understanding of the requirements, let’s delve into the step-by-step process of obtaining medical assistant certification.

  1. Research and Choose a Certifying Body: Start by researching different certifying bodies and their respective certifications. Consider factors such as recognition, reputation, and industry preference. Select the certifying body that aligns with your career goals and aspirations.

  2. Complete the Educational Requirements: Enroll in a medical assisting program that meets the criteria set by the certifying body of your choice. Ensure that the program is accredited and covers all the necessary subjects required for certification.

  3. Gain Clinical Experience: Seek opportunities to gain hands-on experience in a medical setting. Many medical assisting programs include internships or externships to provide students with practical experience. Alternatively, you can explore volunteering or entry-level positions in healthcare facilities to accumulate the required clinical hours.

  4. Prepare for the Certification Exam: Familiarize yourself with the format and content of the certification exam. Utilize study materials, practice tests, and review courses to enhance your knowledge and test-taking skills. Dedicate ample time to studying and create a study plan to stay organized and focused.

  5. Apply for Certification: Once you feel adequately prepared, submit your application for medical assistant certification to the certifying body. Ensure that you meet all the application requirements and provide any necessary supporting documents.

  6. Take the Certification Exam: Schedule and sit for the certification exam within the designated timeframe. The exam typically assesses your understanding of medical assisting concepts, clinical procedures, and administrative tasks. Be confident, manage your time effectively, and answer the questions to the best of your ability.

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FAQ: How Long Does It Take to Get Medical Assistant Certification?

How long does it take to complete a medical assisting program?

The duration of medical assisting programs can vary depending on the level of education pursued. Certificate programs typically range from 9 to 12 months, while associate degree programs generally take 18 to 24 months to complete.

How long is the clinical experience requirement for medical assistant certification?

Most certifying bodies require a minimum of 160 to 200 hours of hands-on clinical experience. This requirement ensures that aspiring medical assistants gain practical knowledge and skills in a healthcare setting.

How long does it take to prepare for the certification exam?

The time required for exam preparation varies from individual to individual. On average, it is recommended to dedicate a few months to study and review the exam content thoroughly. Factors such as prior knowledge, study habits, and personal commitments can influence the preparation timeline.

How soon can I apply for medical assistant certification after completing the program?

You can typically apply for medical assistant certification immediately after completing your educational requirements. It is advisable to apply as soon as possible to maintain the momentum and ensure a timely certification process.


Medical assistant certification is a crucial step towards establishing a successful career in the healthcare industry. By completing the necessary requirements and successfully passing the certification exam, you demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and excellence as a medical assistant. The time it takes to obtain medical assistant certification varies depending on factors such as program duration, clinical experience, and exam preparation. By dedicating yourself to the process and staying focused, you can achieve your goal of becoming a certified medical assistant and unlock a world of opportunities in this rewarding field.

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