To get medical assistant certification, you must attend and graduate from accredited or industry-approved medical assistant classes and pass a test. Medical assistant certification offers those in the field more opportunities for advancement, increased job security and greater credibility with patients, peers and employers. Certification can also result in better pay.
Medical assistant certification is usually not a legal requirement but most employers offering medical assistant jobs prefer to hire a certified medical assistant. In some locations, you must have a medical assistant certification to perform certain job functions, like drawing blood. Medical assistance certification is often a matter of public record, so employers can easily screen job applicants to determine if they are certified.
Classes for medical assistant certification can be found at vocational schools, online and at local colleges. In most cases, it will take eight to nine months to complete the program. Those looking to become a certified medical assistance in a specific field will need additional training. They may need to attend classes for one or two years. In addition, a certified medical assistant must often attend continuing education classes to maintain and renew certification.
Some employers will hire medical assistants and then pay for medical assistant training so that you can obtain your medical assistant certification. You will attend medical assistant classes after work hours. While you are not likely to be paid for the time to attend class, most employers will pay for the tuition, books and testing fees. Because you will be attending classes part time, it may take longer to complete your training.
The medical assistant examination is typically computer-based, consisting of multiple-choice questions. There may be approximately 200 questions on the test. You will be given a specific time from to complete the test and can often learn if you passed immediately after the examination. Certificates generally take between eight and nine weeks to be issued.
Because the medical field is constantly changing, most applicants will not be allowed to take the certification test if they have not graduated from a training course within the last three to five years. In such cases, you must take classes again in order to take the examination. In addition, many locations will not allow anyone who has been found guilty of a felony to take the examination. Special circumstances may be considered for such applicants, who must contact the certification board to request an exception.