Medical Assistant Certification and Licensing: CMA & RMA Requirements

In most states, medical assistants do not need to be licensed. However, they may need licensing for certain procedures like giving injections.

Opportunities vary by geographical location. In some states, students can do a combined program in medical assisting and limited radiography and then perform x-rays. The American Association of Medical Assistants is a resource on scope of practice and legal requirements around the nation.

Certification can help make you more employable even when it‘s not a mandate. According to AAMA’s legal council, there is a trend around the nation toward requiring both education and certification for medical assistants. Certification requires an exam and continuing education.

There are two certifying agencies that are respected around the nation. You can be certified through AAMA or through the American Medical Technologists (AMT). AAMA is devoted exclusively to the medical assisting profession. In order to be certified as a CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) through AAMA, you will need to document graduation from an accredited school. [Find Medical Assisting Schools in your state]

AMT certifies medical assistants as well as members of other health professions. They do have slightly looser requirements with regard to education; they will certify very experienced medical assistants (5+ years) as RMAs even if they haven’t graduated from an accredited program. In some areas of the nation, they are considered equivalent to AAMA and may even be preferred; in other geographic areas, AAMA remains the preferred certifying body. You can search job ads through in order to see what the preferred credentials are in your city. (It is good to do some research before completing the process.)

If you decided to pursue AMT certification, you can find a candidate guide and an application form on the AMT site. You will take an exam for initial certification. It is available in both pencil and paper and computerized formats. Recertification is required every three years. You can earn continuing education in various ways, including attending chapter (or State Society) meetings or reading online journal articles and taking tests on the content.