An applicant must pass an exam from a recognized certification body to obtain a medical assistant certification. He may need to graduate from a medical assisting program, undertake on-the-job training or show proof of work experience as a medical assistant before a certification body allows him to take the exam.
As of 2015, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies recognizes medical assistant certifications from four bodies: the American Association of Medical Assistants, American Medical Technologists, National Center for Competency Testing and National Healthcareer Association. They provide applicants with varying options to become eligible to take certification examinations. The cost to take exams ranges from $90 to $149.
To prepare for the exam, the applicant must study medical terminologies, specifically in anatomy, physiology, medical law and ethics. He must become familiar with clerical and clinical duties of being a medical assistant. Certification bodies typically provide study guides, textbooks, exam content outlines and other preparation materials for a nominal fee.
A certified medical assistant enjoys several work-related benefits, including better opportunities, discounts on further education, insurance and higher pay rates. He may need to retake the exam or undergo continuing education in order to preserve his certification. Some certifications require renewal after two years.