How Much Does it Cost to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in 2020?

Chances are, you’re reading this article because you need to find a career with competitive entry-level pay, room for advancement, and the kind of streamlined training that will get you out into the workforce fast, right?

You may not have four years – or even two years – to get your career on track, but if you’re looking to get into the medical assisting field, you don’t need it. That’s because becoming a medical assistant checks all of those boxes, and gives you a set of skills and the kind of job that you can be proud of at the same time, and it’s entirely possible to get there in just a couple of years, or even less. A quality medical assistant program offers you a path towards certification and a career with all kinds of opportunities, lightning-fast job growth and a respectable salary starting your first day in the field—all without getting buried in a mountain of student debt.

But we’re giving you a lot more than just an expense ledger here. We’ll be filling in those major steps with all the important details and breaking the whole process down for you step-by-step, from the education and field experience you need to do the work, to the certification you need to get your resume out there and land a job. We’ll tally up all the costs for you line-by-line so it’s crystal clear exactly what you’ll be paying each step of the way, and what your total investment will be to prepare for the career you’ve always wanted.


There is More Than One Kind of Medical Assistant – and More Than One Type of MA Program

Why Medical Assistant Certification is Worth the Cost

Cost Isn’t Everything: Making Informed Decisions About Schools and Certification

The Cost of Tuition for Medical Assistant Schooling

The Cost of Earning Nationally Recognized Medical Assistant Certification


We’ll lay out exactly what you can expect to pay at every point in that process, so there are no unexpected bills showing up along the way.

There Is More Than One Kind Of Medical Assistant – and More Than One Type of MA Program

Although there are a certain set of standard skills expected of just about every medical assistant, that doesn’t mean MA training is one-size-fits-all. Fact is, there is more than one type of primary role you can fill, different types of training programs to prepare for those roles, and even different kinds of specialty certification you can hold.

Whether it’s hands-on work with patients in a fast-paced urgent care clinic, low-key administrative work at the front desk or back office of a one-person physician or nurse practitioner-led practice, or more technically skilled clinical work in a specialty oncology clinic, your career options are as diverse as the medical service industry itself.

In the most general sense, though, there are two primary categories of work that any medical assistant should be prepared to do. Both of these categories are included in the job descriptions most employers post, but you can definitely specialize in one or the other based on the specific needs of particular employers:

  • Administrative – This includes both the front desk and back office work involved in scheduling appointments and greeting patients upon arrival, updating and filing patient records, coding and filling out insurance forms, arranging for hospital admissions and lab services, and handling all the correspondence, billing and bookkeeping involved in keeping a medical practice running.
  • Clinical – This role will typically have you receiving patients in the lobby and working primarily in the exam room to prepare patients for examination by taking their weight and blood pressure, confirming their reason for coming into the office, recording medical histories, supporting the physician during exams, collecting specimens for lab work and performing basic labs, explaining treatment procedures, giving instructions about dietary restrictions and other recommendations. With the right certification, this role could also involve blood-draws and administering injections.

Most medical assistant programs are structured as generalist programs that give equal attention to training you to handle both sides of the profession, but you’ll also find programs at every level that focus on either one or the other. This gives you a chance to set yourself up for exactly the kind of career and job duties you want, whether that’s behind a desk or behind the doors of the exam room.

Are You Ready To Start Comparing Medical Assistant Schools?

Things to consider as you’re trying to figure out your own best path to becoming a medical assistant:

  • Do you want a full two-year associates degree or a shorter course into the profession with a certificate/diploma program, which can get you there in about a year?
  • Does the program include an internship or other fieldwork to ensure you have some supervised pre-professional experience under your belt?
  • Does the program offer a curriculum accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES that will streamline your initial certification, and be accepted by other schools if you decide to continue your training or add additional certification in areas like phlebotomy?
  • Will it prepare you for your certification exam with exam prep courses built in?

No matter what your long term goals might be, it’s wise to speak with school advisors so you can start getting answers to these questions.

We have partnerships with schools across the United States that offer medical assistant training both online and through traditional on-campus classes. They help students like you turn your dreams of a medical assisting career into reality.

With advances in online learning, you’ll find remote options to be every bit the equal of campus-based programs. Both come with the same level of respect and recognition from employers, and both open up the same opportunities for jobs the field.

Why Medical Assistant Certification is Worth the Cost

Earning professional certification is a critical step that just about every medical assistant takes these days, often immediately after completing training and before getting hired. Just as often, your new employer might sponsor the process as soon as you step into the position if you landed the job by transitioning from an internship or field work rotation during your training program.

If you’re new to the concept of professional certification, it’s worth clarifying a few points. Certification is an exam-based process that you go through after you’ve completed your formal training. In fact, just to be eligible to take a certification exam you’ll need to have your training completed, or enough experience in the field already to have the skills equivalent to what you’d develop in a formal training program.

Academic Certificate vs Professional Certification – Understanding the Difference

Some confusion sometimes arises from the fact that some schools offer training programs that they refer to as certificate programs. But an academic certificate of this sort from a community college or vocational school is different from exam-based professional certification that you get from a certifying agency after demonstrating you have the skills and knowledge for the job.

Think of professional certification as the final test you take to prove that you learned the key things your training program set out to teach you. And once you pass that test, you get a cool credential the entire healthcare industry recognizes that you can put behind your name – like CMA, for Certified Medical Assistant.

Professional Certification Keeps Professional Practice Standards High and Patients Safe

Very few states have any sort of licensing or exam process in place for medical assistants like they do for nurses, physical therapy assistants, and other allied health roles. This means that employers have come to rely on a couple national certification agencies to handle that vetting process through examination. Employers simply verify that the person applying for the position holds one of these certifications so they can be confident the candidate has the skills and ethical grounding to take care of patients and the business side of the medical practice, while always keeping an eye toward patient safety and the integrity of the practice. It serves much the same purpose as a state license would, but it’s handled at the national level through a private industry organization.

Simply put, certification proves to employers that you have the skills to help deliver the highest quality patient care and medical office support services.

When working with patients, certain aspects of thier safety will be in your hands, and so will their medical records and other personal information. Proper training helps ensure that you understand the laws, standards for ethics, and how to perform basic clinical procedures and administrative tasks, and certification is a way to demonstrate that you’ve assimilated that training into professional knowledge.

Professional Certification Gives Employers Confidence that You Can Handle the Job

With a job that involves juggling multiple tasks like making sure appointments get scheduled, patients and physicians get key information when they need it, taking medical histories, and performing record-keeping tasks, you can understand why employers would want professionally certified medical assistants on staff.

Physicians need to know you have what it takes to step in and be self-motivated, familiar with what the job entails, and ready to hit the ground running on day one. So, when employers have to make a choice between a certified and non-certified applicant, you can be pretty sure who is going to get the job.

Certification is a pretty standard requirement these days, one that most healthcare facilities include on their job listings. But, as you’ll see, becoming certified doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive process.

Cost Isn’t Everything: Making Informed Decisions About Schools and Certification

Ok – we’re getting to the bottom line dollars and cents you came here for, but there’s a few more things that are worth taking the time to explain for a full understanding of your training and certification options, and how all that lines up with the career path you choose.

Your Options for Certification Can Influence Which Medical Assistant Training Program You Choose

There are three main types of certification that you should consider when charting your path to becoming a medical assistant, and that relates directly back to the type of training you get. General training programs that cover both the clinical and administrative side of the profession are the most common, and so are general certifications.

But if you want a career that’s more front desk and office-oriented, you can go with a training program that’s more oriented to that focus, and follow it up with an administrative certification exam; if you see yourself working face to face with patients, then a clinically focused training program and certification is what you’re after.

Specialty Certification is Available Too

Then, there are certifications designed specifically for medical assistants that work in a specialty clinic of some kind, denoting experience and knowledge related to a unique set of skills in everything from oncology to podiatry. As you would expect, these kinds of certifications are far less common. Formal medical assistant training programs in specialty areas like this don’t exist, so most of those skills are developed through experience on the job. That simply means that these kinds of certifications are usually based on having some experience working in a specialty clinic, as well as some self-study on your own time to prepare for the exam. Employers often cover the costs of earning specialty certification.

Making a decision about which professional certification to go with based on your career goals can help you narrow down your choices and find a training program that lines up perfectly with how you want to spend your workday. Keep in mind that in a lot of cases you could find yourself transitioning directly from the internship or field work assignment in your training program to a fulltime position with the clinic you interned with. In those cases, your employer will help you decide what certification makes the most sense for you, and they’ll help you cover the cost.

The three most popular and widely recognized certifications on the market offer a good example of what you can expect from the process no matter which certification you go with:

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)

The most widely-recognized medical assistant certification, the CMA offered through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), is a generalist certification that covers both the administrative and clinical tasks expected of most medical assistants. It’s not the only general certification available, but it’s the best-recognized, making it a good example of the requirements and steps you can expect to take when becoming certified. The CMA also has some of the most straightforward requirements:

  • Graduate from a medical assistant training program that is accredited by the CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) or ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools); OR a program that may not have this specialty accreditation but that is evaluated by AAMA and determined to be every bit the equivalent
  • Pass the CMA Exam developed in partnership with the National Board of Medical Examiners

Earning this type of certification will help you qualify for roles that include both administrative and clinical duties. The AAMA works with policy makers and industry leaders to make sure curriculum is up to standard for high quality patient care. It’s the only medical assisting certification that uses exams developed in collaboration with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the same organization that lends its expertise to developing the national Medical Licensing Examination for physicians.

AAMA-approved training programs (those accredited by CAAHEP, ABHES, or equivalent programs) will prepare you for the exam by training you in topics like:

  • 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 record keeping

On top of that, to give you the kind of critical, hands-on patient care and medical office exposure you need, your medical assistant training will require you to complete a practicum experience in a health care setting. Working directly with active doctors and nurses with live patients, you’ll gain the comfort level and critical experience you need to hit the ground running in your career.

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) Through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

Schools for medical assistants can include programs that focus more on administrative skills, preparing you for the tasks involved in front desk and back-office work in a medical practice, and giving you what you need to prepare for the CMAA exam in the process.

Unlike clinical medical assistants, who spend more time prepping exam rooms and working with patients, 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… all of it with a key medical edge that comes from your training and experience.

These kinds of positions are a great fit for candidates with strong people skills, but who would rather perform office tasks than help with clinical procedures, and the CMAA is the best way to hone your skills for that branch of the profession.

The CMAA is offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and requires only that you have a high school diploma or GED before going on to graduate from a program that includes medical administrative assistant training within the past five years.

Those two very basic qualifications establish your eligibility to take the CMAA exam. The test concentrates on knowledge in areas like:

  • Patient scheduling, no-show and missed appointment protocols
  • Patient intake and insurance verification and forms
  • Daily charts and office logistics
  • Financial procedures
  • Regulatory compliance and OSHA guidelines
  • Patient education
  • Medical terminology

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

If you want to work on the clinical side of medical assisting, the NHA also offers you a certification option that focuses on that specialty: the CCMA.

This is an alternative to the CMA that also has less stringent eligibility requirements, mirroring those of the CMAA: hold a GED or high school diploma and graduate from a medical assistant program in the past five years, and you’re qualified.

The CCMA Detailed Test Plan lays out the ideal educational preparation for this test:

  • Basic science and terminology
  • Health care systems and settings
  • Pharmacology, diet, and nutrition
  • Anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology
  • Hygiene and sanitation
  • Phlebotomy
  • Patient care and education
  • Administrative work and charting
  • Communication and customer service

Find the Right Training for the Job and Certification You Want

There are thousands of medical assisting training programs available at the associate degree level, and as shorter-course diploma/certificate programs that provide much the same training as an associate’s but without all the general education courses in math, English and the humanities.

Both the two-year associate’s and the shorter options will meet the requirements for certification; both will give you a chance to practice what you’ve learned in the classroom under supervision in a real-world setting through fieldwork or internships. And in the end, both will give you the fundamentals employers expect you to have.

So why earn a two-year degree when you can accomplish basically the same thing in half the time? It all comes down to giving yourself the chance to develop the skills you need, and setting yourself up for the education and career path you plan to pursue later. This is where you need to do some real thinking and decision-making on your own.

Even if you have all the knowledge and skills expected of a medical assistant, you might still need to brush up on the basics to improve your communication skills, and all the other things that will help you to be a more well-rounded professional. It’s not a bad idea in a public facing job that also involves frequently interacting with some very smart people with impressive credentials –  namely, the physician you work for.  This is where the extra courses found in an associate’s degree come in, making them well worth the extra time and expense.

Secondly, if you plan to position yourself for advancement, or to be able to pivot from your medical assisting role into a career in anything from nursing to health information management or healthcare administration, then getting started with an associate’s degree is a wise idea. That’s because the credits you earn in a traditional medical assistant Associate of Science are transferrable, and can be applied to a bachelor’s in many other fields later on. The same can’t usually be said of a certificate or diploma.

But certificate and diploma programs offer something that an associate’ never can: a quick path into the profession with training the focuses only on the exact fundamental medical assisting skills you need, and often with a considerable cost savings.

Both the two-year associate’s and much shorter certificate/diploma programs have their place and are right for different students at different stages. One isn’t better than the other, they’re just geared to different types of students.

This is a big decision that comes with a serious financial responsibility.

The Cost of Tuition for Medical Assistant Schooling

A good education won’t be cheap. Instead, what you are looking for is value: the best quality and most complete education you can get at the lowest price possible.

Diploma and certificate programs are among the fastest and least expensive options for medical assistant training, and can cost as little as $5,000 at a community college. With no official definition or distinction between certificate and diploma programs in terms of the exact number of credits or structure, they’re widely considered to be the same type of shorter alternative to an associate degree, with the primary difference being in name alone. Both generally run anywhere from 9 – 18 months in length depending on scheduling and structure.

Associate degrees take longer to complete, around two years, and offer a broader and more well-rounded education, but it also costs more… from $8,000 for a public school program to $30,000 in some locations for programs offered through private schools.

We took the time to do a full tuition analysis of CAAHEP and ABHES accredited medical assistant programs across the country. To let you really drill down to the specifics of what you can expect to pay, we even went so far as to find the average for public and private school programs separately in each state since the price spread was so significant between these types of institutions. Tuition differences in different parts of the country are also significant enough that we wanted to give you the state-by-state run down.

As we were collecting the tuition information we found prices within each state were very similar from one school to the next within the same category (public or private), so there really isn’t a wide range of tuition rates within these different categories. That means that the average for your state is very much representative of what you can expect to pay. The obvious pattern you’ll find emerging here is that public school programs are a lot more affordable at every level.

If a certain type of program (certificate/diploma/associate or public/private) isn’t listed for your state, that simply means no programs that fit that definition have campus locations there. Looking at options in neighboring states can give you an idea of what you would expect to pay for an online program. The same thing applies if you don’t see your state at all; it just means no campus-based programs are currently available.

With more and more programs offering remote options, including many on-campus programs making the switch in response to the COVID-19 situation, we didn’t bother listing a separate price to account for the programs that have historically offered online classes. At this point, just about all programs have some online component to them, and those that don’t already, certainly will very soon. It’s worth noting, though, that the tuition rates for remote programs have always been comparable to the cost of campus-based programs.

 

Alabama

Certificate at Public Schools – $3,406

Diploma at Private Schools – $15,919

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $9,593

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $39,020

 

Alaska

Certificate at Public Schools – $8,400

Certificate at Private Schools – $23,100

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $13,380

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $20,250

 

Arkansas

Certificate at Private Schools – $9,960

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $7,740

 

Arizona

Certificate at Public Schools – $5,096

Diploma at Private Schools – $15,521

Certificate at Private Schools – $14,789

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $5,160

 

California

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,874

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,501

Certificate at Private Schools – $13,528

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $4,090

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $25,618

 

Connecticut

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,980

Diploma at Private Schools – $17,425

Certificate at Private Schools – $29,982

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $9,960

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $39,976

 

Delaware

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $9,455

 

Florida

Certificate at Public Schools – $3,470

Diploma at Private Schools – $15,204

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $31,923

 

Georgia

Diploma at Public Schools – $5,458

Diploma at Private Schools – $15,565

Certificate at Private Schools – $14,300

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $6,343

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $35,887

 

Hawaii

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,978

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $9,432

 

Idaho

Certificate at Public Schools – $6,207

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,825

Certificate at Private Schools – $14,028

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $11,766

 

Illinois

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,899

Diploma at Private Schools – $17,330

Certificate at Private Schools – $16,010

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $7,461

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $31,660

 

Indiana

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,935

Diploma at Private Schools – $15,853

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $8,973

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $27,010

 

Iowa

Diploma at Public Schools – $6,907

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,825

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $11,633

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $36,300

 

Kansas

Certificate at Public Schools – $6,983

Diploma at Private Schools – $13,260

Certificate at Private Schools – $14,500

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $10,913

 

Kentucky

Diploma at Public Schools – $9,048

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,225

Certificate at Private Schools – $20,976

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $10,614

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $28,694

 

Louisiana

Diploma at Public Schools – $6,253

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,958

Certificate at Private Schools – $9,960

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $8,338

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $34,800

 

Maine

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,509

Diploma at Private Schools – $16,500

Certificate at Private Schools – $14,150

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $7,200

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $23,500

 

Maryland

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,922

Diploma at Private Schools – $15,495

Certificate at Private Schools – $14,958

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $7,438

 

Massachusetts

Diploma at Public Schools – $6,000

Certificate at Public Schools – $6,223

Diploma at Private Schools – $16,680

Certificate at Private Schools – $16,425

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $12,744

 

Michigan

Diploma at Private Schools – $13,720

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $7,240

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $31,912

 

Minnesota

Diploma at Public Schools – $7,552

Diploma at Private Schools – $13,260

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $10,343

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $24,960

 

Mississippi

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,303

Certificate at Private Schools – $10,900

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $6,124

 

Missouri

Certificate at Public Schools – $3,723

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,771

Certificate at Private Schools – $12,598

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $6,171

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $21,661

 

Montana

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,929

Certificate at Private Schools – $23,100

 

Nebraska

Diploma at Public Schools – $3,570

Certificate at Public Schools – $5,728

Certificate at Private Schools – $13,018

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $5,400

 

Nevada

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,213

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,565

Certificate at Private Schools – $14,789

 

New Hampshire

Certificate at Public Schools – $10,213

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $14,405

 

New Jersey

Certificate at Public Schools – $5,891

Certificate at Private Schools – $15,901

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $10,726

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $50,600

 

New Mexico

Certificate at Public Schools – $1,950

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,750

Certificate at Private Schools – $17,967

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $3,396

 

New York

Diploma at Private Schools – $15,674

Certificate at Private Schools – $21,696

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $9,603

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $31,323

 

North Carolina

Diploma at Public Schools – $3,152

Diploma at Private Schools – $20,801

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $5,060

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $33,448

 

Ohio

Diploma at Public Schools $8,800

Certificate at Public Schools – $6,616

Diploma at Private Schools – $16,485

 

Oklahoma

Diploma at Public Schools $2,625

Certificate at Public Schools – $2,788

Diploma at Private Schools – $10,440

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $9,779

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $27,534

 

Oregon

Certificate at Public Schools – $5,437

Diploma at Private Schools – $13,893

Certificate at Private Schools – $14,742

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $10,665

 

Pennsylvania

Diploma at Public Schools $10,434

Certificate at Public Schools – $4,971

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,798

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $7,813

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $30,351

 

South Carolina

Certificate at Public Schools – $7,313

Diploma at Public Schools $9,489

Certificate at Private Schools – $18,592

Diploma at Private Schools – $17,919

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $11,635

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $37,837

 

South Dakota

Diploma at Public Schools $8,928

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $15,080

 

Tennessee

Diploma at Public Schools $3,705

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,924

Certificate at Private Schools – $18,738

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $8,589

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $37,476

 

Texas

Certificate at Public Schools – $3,423

Diploma at Private Schools – $14,958

Certificate at Private Schools – $15,986

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $5,516

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $30,593

 

Utah

Certificate at Public Schools – $3,197

Diploma at Private Schools – $16,420

Certificate at Private Schools – $8,352

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $8,168

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $38,926

 

Virginia

Diploma at Private Schools – $19,979

Certificate at Private Schools – $20,976

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $38,184

 

Washington

Certificate at Public Schools – $6,852

Certificate at Private Schools – $18,282

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $9,025

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $20,250

 

West Virginia

Diploma at Private Schools – $16,580

Associate’s Degree at Public Schools – $7,533

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $18,000

 

Wisconsin

Diploma at Public Schools $4,552

Diploma at Private Schools – $15,346

Certificate at Private Schools – $13,356

Associate’s Degree at Private Schools – $35,730

 

The next step, once you complete your medical assistant training requirements, is applying to take your certification 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 of Earning Nationally Recognized Medical Assistant Certification

Each of the three main certifications has a slightly different cost structure for testing, depending on whether or not you are a dues-paying member of the organization.

Once you obtain your certification and find a position as a medical assistant, you’re not completely finished shelling out money. You will need to keep up with your certification renewals, but in a lot of cases your employer will cover those fees.

Certification renewals are about a lot more than a revenue stream for the certification agency. It’s about demonstrating to yourself and your employer that you are current on the latest knowledge, regulations, and best practices in administrative and clinical procedures. In most cases, this involves completing some continuing education or simply requalifying through examination.

American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) – Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

The fee structure for the CMA exam differs based on which category applies to you:

  • If you are a recent graduate of a CAAHEP or ABHES medical assistant program, you pay $125 to take the exam, whether you’re a member or not.
  • If you are a non-recent graduate of a CAAHEP or ABHES program, you must submit your transcripts and a $125 fee (for members) or a $250 fee (for nonmembers).
  • Under a new pilot program that allows graduates of qualifying non-accredited programs to earn eligibility to take the exam by having their transcripts reviewed to make sure they are equivalent to an accredited program (or otherwise submit an attestation letter if they aren’t), the fee would be $125 for members or $250 for nonmembers.

Recertification – You’ll need to recertify through the AAMA every 60 months. You have two options for meeting the recertification requirements:

  • Recertify by Exam – $125/members or $250/non-members – This simply involves re-taking the current version of the CMA exam, just as if you were applying for your certification for the first time. It is faster than the continuing education method and allows you to study on your own time and at your own pace.
  • Recertify by Continuing Education – $65/members or $130/non-members – This would involve participating in post-professional training through courses in areas of administrative, clinical and general medical assisting. Your continuing education itself may add additional costs for courses taken, although your employer may either cover or compensate you for this fee.

If you allow your certification to lapse, you may have to pay a $50 reinstatement fee.

National Health Association (NHA) Certifications

Both of the relevant NHA certifications have considerably less to think about when you apply and a much more straightforward fee schedule:

Recertification – 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.

The NHA allows you to hold both of these medical assistant certifications at the same time, as well as other relevant NHA certs. The NHA also offers certification in phlebotomy, EKG, electronic health record specialist, billing and coding, patient care tech, and others. Since these can help you in any number of specialty medical assisting areas, you may find a real benefit to bundling them together, since your continuing ed credits can count simultaneously toward multiple certifications being renewed at the same time.

You’ll also find a pricing advantage to doing so, since the cost is based on the number of certifications being renewed and runs on a scale:

  • $169 for one certificate
  • $219 for two certificates
  • $269 for three certificates
  • $319 for four certificates
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