What are the Different Types of Medical Assistant Certifications

If you have made your mind to pursue a career as a medical assistant, you must know that there are various types of medical assistants who perform clinical, administrative, and other duties, based on their areas of specialization. You can choose the specialty that interests you the most.

For different levels of medical assistants, the standard training duration is 1-2 years, which typically costs between $1,200 and $5,000, depending on the program (certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree) you choose. The salary of most types of medical assistants varies from $31,000 to $58,000 per annum.

Read on to learn about the job responsibilities of different types of medical assistants.

Job Duties of Medical Assistants 

Medical assistants work under the supervision of medical practitioners, doctors, or nurses and render administrative, clerical, and clinical services. Their scope of practice depends on the size of the medical facility or hospital.

In general, they perform the following duties:

  • Counsel patients
  • Take and record vital signs
  • Gather medical history of patients
  • Maintain inventory of medical supplies
  • Assist doctors with office procedures
  • Schedule surgeries
  • Maintain a healthy and safe work environment

Types of Medical Assistant Certifications

Based on certifying bodies, here are the nationally approved certifications for medical assistants:

Certified Medical Assistant

Certified medical assistant (CMA) certification is approved and granted by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

Clinical Medical Assistant

Certified Clinical medical assistant (CCMA) is a credential accredited by the National Healthcare Association (NHA).

Registered Medical Assistant

Registered medical assistant (RMA) certification is granted by the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant

Nationally registered certified medical assistant (NRCMA) is a NAHP (the National Association for Health Professionals) accredited certification.

National Certified Medical Assistant

The national certified medical assistant (NCMA) is a certification accredited by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant

The certified administrative medical assistant (CMAA) credential is approved by NHA. These medical assistants are also called medical office assistants.

1. Clinical Medical Assistant

Clinical medical assistants are skilled in performing clinical tasks and delivering quality patient care.

What do they do? 

The duties and responsibilities of these professionals include:

  • Preparing patients for medical procedures and examinations
  • Collecting specimen for test
  • Providing instructions to the patient about the medical procedure and treatment
  • Measuring and documenting vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, and weight
  • Gathering medical history of the patient
  • Administering injections and performing minor treatments
  • Dressing wounds and removing sutures
  • Providing assistance to the physician during patient examination
  • Sterilizing and maintaining the medical equipment

Training Requirements 

To become a clinical medical assistant, you are required to have a high school diploma. You must also complete training from an accredited medical assistant program. Then, pass the CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant) exam administered by the National Healthcareer Association. Take continuing education every 2 years to keep your CCMA certification activated.

Salary and Benefits

The below table showcases average hourly and annual salaries of clinical medical assistants according to payscale and indeed.

Resource Hourly Salary Annual Salary Date Updated
PayScale $14.57 $31,451 February 29, 2020
Indeed.com $16.85 $35,048 February 29, 2020

The other benefits include dental and health insurance, tuition reimbursement, pension, etc.

2. Administrative Medical Assistant

Administrative medical assistants are the professionals who are trained in providing administrative assistance to the medical staff and customer service to patients.

What do they do?

These professionals perform the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Interviewing patients to know their medical history prior to appointments
  • Responding to the queries of patients
  • Maintaining the reception area and front desk
  • Operating office equipment and computer software
  • Maintaining office supplies
  • Answering phone calls
  • Providing assistance to patients to complete initial paperwork
  • Maintaining and documenting the health records of patients
  • Performing general billing and accounting
  • Filing insurance claims in compliance with established laws
  • Ensuring high quality customer service

Training Requirements

You first need to earn a high school diploma or equivalent to become an administrative medical assistant.

Then, enroll in an accredited medical assistant training program. Upon completion of training, take and pass the CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) exam conducted by the American Association of Medical Assistants. Get recertified every 5 years either by participating in a continuing education program or passing the recertification examination.

Salary and Benefits

Depending on the employer, administrative medical assistants may get vision and dental insurance, professional development assistance, sick leaves, relocation leaves, etc. in addition to salary.

Resource Hourly Salary Annual Salary Date Updated
Payscale.com $12.91 $32,000 January 08, 2020
Salary.com $20 $41,000 February 26, 2020
Indeed.com $15.29 $33,171 March 06, 2020

The above table showcases the salary of these professionals, according to payscale.com, salary.com, and indeed.com.

3. Certified Medical Assistant

Certified medical assistants are trained to perform all types of tasks – clinical, administrative, and clerical. They may also perform specialized tasks.

What do they do?

The job responsibilities of certified medical assistants include:

  • Making arrangements for admissions of patients to hospitals
  • Explaining treatment plans to patients
  • Performing basic lab tests
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of patients’ information
  • Participating in educational programs to keep their job knowledge updated
  • Adhering to the established healthcare standards, procedures, and policies
  • Educating patients about their medications and diet
  • Assisting doctors and physicians during patient examination
  • Ensuring a secure and safe work environment
  • Managing inventory and placing orders

Training Requirements

Obtain a high school diploma and complete training from an accredited medical assistant program to become a certified medical assistant. Then, clear the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) examination administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants. Get recertified every 5 years either by participating in a continuing education program or passing the recertification examination.

Salary and Benefits

The below table depicts the salary of certified medical assistants according to various sources.

Resource Hourly Salary Annual Salary Date Updated
Salary.com $17 $35,800 February 26, 2020
PayScale.com $15.22 $32,942 February 29, 2020
Indeed.com $15.17 $35,088 March 06, 2020

Paid time off, professional development opportunities, and tuition reimbursement are some perks that certified medical assistants get besides salary.

4. Registered Medical Assistant

Registered medical assistants perform the same duties as the certified medical assistants, and there is no qualitative difference between these two credentials. Which credential (Registered or Certified) you get depends on the credentialing organization. In the USA, the American Registry of Medical Assistants (ARMA) and American Medical Technologists (AMT) offer the credentials of the registered medical assistant.

What do they do?

Like certified medical assistants, registered medical assistants perform clerical, clinical, and administrative tasks.

  • Answering phone calls and handling patient correspondence
  • Scheduling appointments and making arrangements for patients admissions
  • Filing insurance claims
  • Billing and bookkeeping
  • Cleaning and sanitizing medical equipment and rooms
  • Preparing patients for medical tests
  • Performing basic lab tests
  • Recording vital signs and collecting blood samples
  • Providing assistance to doctors during patient visits
  • Updating patient information in electronic health records

Training Requirements

Both the ARMA and AMT have their requirements that aspirants need to fulfill to become a registered medical assistant. You can visit their websites to learn more about requirements. However, some basic requirements are:

Salary and Benefits

According to payscale.com, as of March 01, 2020, the average hourly salary of registered medical assistants was $14.99, while their average annual salary was $31,620. In addition to a lucrative salary, these professionals earn various other perks such as overtime, flexible work hours, paid time off, health insurance, retirement plans, etc.

5. Dental Assistant

Dental assistants are the professionals who assist dentists in delivering quality oral care to patients.

What do they do?

Dental assistants perform varied duties in the dental clinics.

  • Interviewing the patients about their medical history
  • Taking dental x-rays of patients
  • Taking impressions of patients’ teeth
  • Making patients feel comfortable before, during, and after the treatment
  • Providing instructions to patients about oral care after dental procedure or surgery
  • Educating patients about oral hygiene, oral health, and plaque control
  • Disinfecting equipment and instruments
  • Maintaining an inventory of dental equipment and ordering dental supplies
  • Maintaining treatment records

Training Requirements

After completing formal education (high school), aspirants must take training from a dental assisting program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). If you want to become a certified dental assistant, you must pass the certification exam conducted by the Dental Assisting National Board.

Salary and Benefits

Take a look at the below table to know how much do dental assistants make per hour and per annum.

Resource Hourly Salary Annual Salary Date Updated
BLS $19.12 $39,770 March 29, 2019
Salary.com $18 $37,913 February 26, 2020
PayScale $16.10 $34,052 February 29, 2020
Indeed.com $17.68 $58,268 March 09, 2020
Glassdoor $18.13 $37,727 March 08, 2020

6. Medical Biller and Coder

Medical billers and coders are the connecting links between patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies.

What do they do?

These professionals perform the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Analyzing patients’ information and translating it into the right medical codes
  • Ensuring the accuracy of the data by interacting with the physicians
  • Input patients’ health and treatment information in electronic records
  • Managing the coded information and ensuring its security
  • Reviewing bills and providing accurate information to the insurance companies
  • Processing payments from insurance companies
  • Taking follow-ups on unpaid claims
  • Investigating the rejected claims

Training Requirements

Both online and on-premise training options are available for aspirants. Many programs in medical billing and coding can be completed in less than one year. You can also go for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, which lasts for 2 and 4 years, respectively. The top 2 organizations that grant the medical coding and billing certification are the American Health Information Management Association and the American Association of Professional Coders.

Salary and Benefits
How much salary does medical billers and coders make? Go through the below table to get your query resolved.

Resource Hourly Salary Annual Salary Date Updated
Salary.com $18 $38,169 February 26, 2020
Glassdoor $16.21 $33,716 February 28, 2020
PayScale $15.90 $39,576 March 01, 2020
Indeed.com Biller – $27.53
Coder – $16.23
Biller – $57,262
Coder – $33,758
March 06, 2020

Other monetary (such as bonus, overtime, tuition reimbursement) and non-monetary benefits (such as health insurance, flexible working hours, retirement plan) depend on your employer.