Being certified is a way for you, a medical assistant, to demonstrate your mastery of clinical and administrative job duties. You can pursue your certification through organizations that regulate the medical assistant industry. Although certification is optional, employers are increasingly seeking medical assistants who possess certification credentials. Certification is typically the next step you will take after completion of your accredited training program. The following are three ways to pursue your certification as a medical assistant.

Student or Recent Graduate

If you are a recent graduate or a current student of an accredited medical assisting program with a minimum of 720 clock hours of training, including 160 hours of clinical externship experience, you are eligible to sit for the certification exam. The educational program must have accreditation from a regional or national accreditation agency. All graduate applicants must apply within four years of their graduation from a program. Those applicants whose graduation date is beyond four years must also furnish evidence of relevant work experience for at least three years. Additional requirements include:

  • You must be a current United States high school student, graduate, or hold equivalent credentials.
  • Candidates must be graduates or students of a one-year certificate or diploma program or a two-year associate degree program.
  • You will need to submit a copy of your medical assistant diploma, certificate of completion, or official transcript with a graduation date.
  • An applicant must submit all of these required documents within two years after the successful completion of a program for the release of certification.


The military pathway for a medical assistant certification specifies that a candidate is a graduate of or scheduled to be a graduate from a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces. The certification candidate’s graduation date must be within the past four years. Any applicant whose date of graduation is beyond four years of the time of their application must provide documented relevant work experience for at least three years.

Work Experience

Demonstration of work experience is yet another route to a medical assistant certification. You will need five years of experience, and these five years must be within a seven-year window. Your work experience must include clinical and administrative duties, and you must have training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Candidates must provide evidence of high school graduation or the equivalent. Work experience must be full-time, 40 hours per week, or a combination of part-time work settings.

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