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Can You Work as a Medical Assistant in the US without Certification

In the US, a medical assistant (MA) is not required by law to have formal training or national certification, unlike a registered nurse (RN). Though it is recommended that you obtain national certification, it is not mandatory for you to have one before practicing. Many medical assistants have procured certification while working in clinical and ambulatory settings.

Qualified medical assistants are essential, but so are experienced medical assistants with relevant exposure. Having a certification allows you to enjoy a cutting edge over other contemporaries and allows you the chance to get better job opportunities and average annual salaries.

Do Employers Ask for a Medical Assistant Certification?

It is widely believed that employers, in most cases, ask for an MA certification, but how true is that statement? Most MA aspirants believe an MA national certification gives them an edge when it comes to the employer’s choice. The truth here is the only thing that gives MA aspirants an edge over other candidates in front of their employer is relevant experience.

A medical assistant certification is not mandatory, and there are no acceptable standards outlined for practice. Hence, relevant experience in the field and real-world clinical exposure makes a real difference. However, it is always better if you have a national certification, as that increases your chances of career advancement significantly.

Is it Beneficial to get a Certification?

Having national certification for medical assistants has many advantages. Here are the top 4 benefits:

  1. Certification is an assurance of your qualification and trainingTo procure national certification, you must obtain formal training from an accredited school that adheres to professional standards that would be required for the job.
  2. Certification increases your employabilityHaving certification makes you eligible for the best jobs as they work as proof of your skills as a medical assistant at nationally accepted standards. American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) states they receive more than 100 employer requests for certification for new and current medical assistant employees.
  3. Certification ensures lifelong training and learningLearning is an ongoing process. After obtaining your national certification, you would be required to renew it every 3 or 5 years, which would require you to be closely associated with the field to be eligible for recertification. You would have to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies, treatment procedures, and the like.
  4. Certification would allow you to earn more than the mean average salaryQualified and experienced medical assistants with certification earn more annual salaries than their non-certified counterparts.

Can you Take Medical Assistant Exam without Attending School?

Attending a medical assistant school is mandatory for taking the MA exam held by the AAMA. However, for taking the certification examinations held by NHA, NCCT, and AMT, one must fulfill eligibility criteria other than attending an MA school.

What Happens if you are not a Certified Medical Assistant?

If you’re not a certified medical assistant, you need to possess a stellar resume that reflects a complete work experience in technical and specialized domains. Your shadowing and volunteering experience must also be added.

Take a look at some handcrafted medical assistant resume templates, for help.

You must also be an MA aspirant who is a fast learner and willing to learn, as employers prefer individuals who exhibit these skills. You can take up other entry-level positions in allied healthcare and then work your way up through experience if you do not have certification. Go for other clinical and ambulatory settings than traditional and well-established ones, like hospitals, for employment. A private office or a clinic might be an excellent place to start.

However, we recommend that you get certification via an online, hybrid medical assistant program or one that’s a diploma, as more and more employers are demanding it and laying off MAs without certification.

How to Land a Job as a Medical Assistant without Certification?

Landing a job without certification is difficult but not impossible. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Opt for jobs in non-traditional clinical and ambulatory settings. Instead of a hospital, go for clinics, private practice outpatient clinics, and private offices.
  • Join related entry-level positions, get on-job training and work your way up if you’re a non-certified medical assistant.
  • Have specialization and relevant experience in your specialization so that you’re an MA that’s indispensable to an organization
  • Be a fast learner and exhibit interest in your interview

Written by : Casey Gardner

Casey Gardner is both a healthcare support professional and an accomplished content creator.  She has been working as a certified health care professional with marketable skills as a physician assistant,  and a qualified medical assistant for last two decades. She has dedicated her nursing career to produce over hundreds of content pieces since 2001, and her work has been published both online as well as offline.

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