How Much Does it Cost to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in 2017

Chances are, you are reading this article because you need to find a career with competitive entry-level pay, room for advancement, and efficient training, right?

If so, then you don't have four years – or even two years – to get your career on track. Fortunately, medical assistant schooling offers you a path towards certification and careers with many types of opportunities, faster than average job growth and salary for professionals new to the field—in a relatively short amount of time. 

In the following sections, we are going to break down the medical assistant certification process step-by-step to help you understand what you should do to achieve your goal.

You will get a glimpse of what courses you can expect to take, how to choose the right medical assistant school, online classes, financial aid options, and the certification process.

After you read this article you should check to see what schools for medical assistants are in your area. 

There is More Than One Kind of Medical Assistant


What you will also learn is that there is more than one type of medical assistant certification and type of training you can choose from. Different medical assistant colleges will offer a variety of diploma, Associates and Bachelor's level programs.

When trying to determine which is the best path for you, always consider how quickly each medical assisting program can be completed, if it will prepare you for the exam, and if it offers an accredited curriculum that will be accepted by other schools should you want to continue your education. 

Are You Ready to Start Comparing Medical Assistant Schools?

No matter what your goals in medical assisting are in the long run, the very next step is speaking with school advisors. You'll want to compare cost, time for completion, accreditation, and other medical assistant requirements that will impact your enrollment decision.

We have partnerships with schools across the United States that offer medical assistant training and online classes. They help students like you turn their daydreams of a medical assisting career into a reality. Take a quick moment to look at your local, campus-based medical assistant colleges and your online program options.

Both types of learning formats can lead you to the same place: A medical assistant career! 

The Importance of Medical Assistant Certification

Earning a certification to become a medical assistant is a critical step in your career. Certification proves to employers that you have the skills to help deliver the highest quality patient care.

People's health will literally be in your hands, and so will their most personal and private information. Proper training helps ensure that you understand the laws, standards for ethics, and how to perform basic clinical procedures and administrative tasks.

When you are juggling multiple responsibilities for making sure appointments are scheduled, ensuring that patients and physicians have the right information, taking medical histories, and performing recordkeeping tasks-- you will be glad you learned so much during your medical assistant training.

Physicians need to know you have what it takes to step in and be self-motivated, familiar with job tasks, and ready to hit the ground running from day one. They won't have the time or patience for a medical assistant who has no clue what they're doing. So, when they have a choice between applicants with medical assistant schooling and certification, and those who don't, which resumes do you think will get top consideration?

Plus, certification is a pretty standard medical assistant requirement nowadays, that most healthcare facilities include on their job listings. But as you'll see, medical assistant certification doesn't have to be a complicated process. And comparing schools for medical assistants doesn't have to be either. And with the right dedication and training, you can be rewarded for your efforts with career skills that can help ensure long-term stability and opportunity for growth. 

Important Things to Know About Medical Assistant Schools, Certification & Cost 

1.) Understand your options for certification from medical assistant colleges. There are three main types of certification that you should consider when charting your path. 

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

The most widely used medical assistant certification is the CMA offered through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). You can earn this medical assistant certification by completing your high school level education (this applies to all certifications, FYI), and a program that is accredited and approved by the AAMA.

Earning this type of certification will help you qualify for roles that include administrative and clinical duties. The AAMA, who administers all of these certifications is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and works with policy makers and industry leaders to make sure curriculum is up to standards for high quality patient care. 

In a medical assisting program curriculum that mirrors the exam topics, you should study the following information in your education and training:

  • Human anatomy & physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Computer skills
  • Coding and insurance processing
  • Pharmacology
  • Office practices
  • First aid
  • Customer service and patient relations
  • Law and ethics relating to healthcare
  • Accounting and recordkeeping 

To make sure you are truly ready to step foot in the workplace, your medical assistant training will require you to complete a practicum (unpaid, supervised) experience in a health care setting. 

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

Schools for medical assistants can include programs that focuses on administrative skills will help prepare you for the CMAA exam and careers helping healthcare offices run smoothly. Unlike clinical medical assistants, who spend more time prepping exam rooms, you will spend more time using your organizational and multitasking skills to work with scheduling, bookkeeping, phone systems, checking in patients, and other administrative tasks.

You should pursue this type of work if you have strong people skills, but would rather perform office tasks than help with clinical procedures. The nice thing about medical assistant schooling and careers is that there is room for all kinds of people with different passions and personalities. 

For this medical assistant requirement, you will be tested over the following concepts, with an emphasis on administrative skills:

  • Patient scheduling
  • Protocols for no-show, missed, or cancelled appointments
  • Arranging for diagnostic testing and procedures
  • Confirming appointments
  • Patient intake
  • Insurance verification and forms
  • Daily charts
  • Office logistics
  • Financial procedures
  • Mail deliveries
  • Compliance and OSHA guidelines
  • Patient education
  • Office policies and procedures
  • Phone etiquette
  • Medical terminology


Now, when you discuss with medical assistant schools your options for training to become an administrative medical assistant, you can use that list to be sure you will be ready for certification upon completion. 

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

If you want to work on the clinical side of medical assisting, you can pursue your regular CMA through the AAMA, as mentioned in the first example. Or, you can check out CCMA certification through National Healthcareer Association (NHA). 

When you complete a medical assistant training program that helps you work towards in clinical focused roles, you should compare the courses and learning outcomes to the test outline, as recommended for the administrative certification. Most schools for medical assistants will follow these guideline. 

When you compare medical assistant colleges, look for course topics that are part of the CCMA exam, according to their Detailed Test Plan:

  • Basic science
  • Health care systems and settings
  • Terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • General patient care
  • Patient identifiers
  • Signs of infection
  • Hygiene and sanitation
  • Precautions
  • Collecting blood specimens
  • Phlebotomy
  • Prepare patients for procedure
  • Patient care and education
  • Administrative assisting
  • Communication and customer service 

Can you see how the administrative and clinical skills and responsibilities can sometimes overlap – and why most medical assistant colleges teach both kinds of skills? 

This is another reason why you really need to plan out your medical assistant certification with an experienced advisor as your number one step. 

2.) Find the right training. Deciding on the right training program among several options for medical assistant schools is a natural extension of choosing the right path for certification. You should employ several methods to figure out the best program for you.

Request info about all the medical assisting programs in your area – campus and online; there are quality, accredited options out there in both formats. You should also try to talk with graduates of local programs and seek student testimonials online. We also recommend looking at the social media accounts, and any news articles that might have been written about the medical assistant training schools you are looking at. In other words, don't just go with the first school that is warm, friendly and sounds promising. This is a big decision that comes with a serious financial responsibility. So take the time to take this part of your medical assistant requirements. 

Here's What You Are Looking For--Cost of Tuition for Medical Assistant Schooling

This is another area that can really fluctuate at schools for medical assistants. Diploma programs can cost under a $1,000 in many cases, if you are wanting a basic program that will help you get to the point where you are confident to take the exam.

Associates degrees could cost a few thousand dollars or more, depending on the school you choose. This topic, along with which financial aid options are available to you should be high on your list of things to discuss with every medical assistant training school before you enroll. 

3.) Take the appropriate exam and pay the fee. The next step, once you complete your medical assistant school education and training requirements, is applying to take the appropriate exam and pay the fees. (Of course, you should squeeze studying in-between these two steps – but we'll assume you don't need to be lectured about that!) 

The cost for your Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam is broken down on this page that explains the steps in the application process. They break test takers down into three categories: 

Category 1 – Recent grad of a CAAHEP or ABHES medical assistant college program. You will have to verify program and practicum completion and pay a $125 nonrefundable fee to take the exam. 

Category 2 – Non-recent grad of a CAAHEP or ABHES program, must submit your transcripts and a $125 fee (for members) or a $250 fee (for nonmembers)

 Category 3 – CMA recertification. To recertify you will just need to submit your certificate number and most recent certification date. The fee is $125 for members and $250 for nonmembers. 

CCMA Application and Fees

To take your CCMA exam, the application fee is $155. 

CMAA Application and Fees

The cost to apply for your CMAA certification and take the exam is $115 

4.) License requirements and costs to renew your medical assistant certification

Once you obtain your certification and start working, that's not the end of the medical assistant requirement process. You will need to keep up with your certification to continue working, and prove to your employers that you are up-to-date with the latest knowledge, laws, regulations, as well as the latest best practices for administrative and clinical procedures.

Most medical assisting programs will go over this process as well, in case it changes by the time it is relevant to your career.

You must recertify your CMA certification through the AAMA every 60 months. This recertification includes requirements for you to continue your medical assistant training

through courses that equal points in areas of administrative, clinical and general. You must earn 30 points total from a combination of each of the categories to qualify. If you fail to meet the renewal requirements in time, you may have to pay a $50 reinstatement fee.

The cost to renew is $65 for AAMA members and $130 for nonmembers – which reveals another benefit of joining this organization.

To renew your CCMA or CMMA, you will need to follow the steps laid out on the National Healthcareer Association website. Both of these have to be renewed every two years, and require 10 credits of continuing education to qualify.

Plus, you will have to pay a fee of $159 for one certificate, $199 for two, $239 for 3 and $279 for 4 certificates. That's because the NHA also offers certification in phlebotomy, EKG, electronic health record specialist, billing and coding, patient care tech, and others. If you want to add additional skills and qualifications to your resume, you should consider these additional forms of certification, even though they are not a medical assistant requirement. Put these on your list of things to talk to schools for medical assistants about. 

Ready To Take the Next Step Towards Medical Assistant Certification?

Now that you understand your medical assistant schooling options, and the path you need to take to earn your certification, it's time to move to the first step in the process. Just use the tools and resources on this page to start comparing medical assistant colleges today.


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