Is a Degree Required to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?

By | February 15, 2024

Being a medical assistant can be a very rewarding job with plenty of opportunities for employment. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for medical assistants is set to grow 18 percent over the next 10 years. If you’re looking for a career where you can help people and be in high demand, becoming a medical assistant would be an ideal path. However, as healthcare staffing increases, is a degree still required in becoming one?

Medical Assistant: Overview

A medical assistant is someone who provides support for physicians and other medical professionals. They may work in clinics, care facilities, medical offices or ambulatory settings. Many MAs choose to work in a permanent setting, while others opt to become travel medical assistants and work in a variety of settings.

A certified medical assistant (CMA) may have a number of clinical and administrative duties depending on their place of employment. These could include:




  • Scheduling medical appointments
  • Greeting patients and explaining procedures
  • Updating and filing patient records
  • Completing insurance forms
  • Completing medical billing




  • Taking patients’ medical histories
  • Assisting physicians during examinations
  • Performing basic lab tests
  • Tending to wounds and changing bandages
  • Drawing blood

Employment for medical assistants is predicted to grow significantly over the next decade. This is because there is a high demand for physicians and medical facilities across the country. In addition, there is a growing population of elderly people who will need assistance. Not to mention, the salary that comes with the job.

Your medical assistant salary will vary depending on your place of employment. Typically, MAs who work in hospitals and outpatient facilities make more than those who work in private practices. Salaries could range between $27,000 and $50,000 a year.

What Skills and Education Are Needed to Become a CMA?

Some states do not require medical assistants to have special certifications or licenses. Therefore, it is possible to become an MA with only a high school degree or equivalent. A university degree with a focus on science and medicine is not necessary, but can be very beneficial.


While you may not need special training or certification to become a medical assistant in your state, it definitely helps when seeking employment. Many employers want to see that you have some training and show a commitment and dedication to the profession.

So, Is a Degree Necessary?

No, you do not need a university degree to become a medical assistant. However, you may find it easier to find employment if you have special training from a medical assistant program and certification from a recognized entity.


At the very least you will need a high school diploma or equivalency. Following that, there are a number of programs you can enroll in that will provide you with special training for the job. These include diplomas, certificates or associate degrees from community colleges, universities and vocational schools. There are accelerated online medical assistant programs that you can complete in six weeks.


A medical assistant training program can take anywhere from one to two years to complete. It will most likely include classroom learning and hands-on training. Some programs also offer internships in medical offices, hospitals and outpatient clinics.

How Do I Become a Certified Medical Assistant?

There are several organizations that offer nationally recognized certifications for medical assistants. The most well-known is the American Association of Medical Assistants. The AAMA offers medical assistant certification to graduates of accredited MA programs.


To earn the AAMA certification, you must take the CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam. The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions that you take in four parts. Each segment is 40 minutes long. If you pass the exam, you will receive a digital badge that you can add to your résumé or share on digital platforms.

Most medical assistant programs take anywhere from six months to two years to complete.


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