How Can I Become a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant?

Research what it takes to become a certified medical administrative assistant. Learn about education requirements, certification, salary and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant?

A Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) is a medical secretary who has earned a voluntary professional certification from the National Healthcare Association. Although not required by the government, this certification can help job candidates demonstrate their professional skills to prospective employers. For instance, medical secretaries need to be proficient in basic office tasks like file maintenance and keyboarding. They must also be familiar with medical terminology and capable of using common healthcare-related software.

Through the table below, you can learn more about the job duties of medical administrative assistants, among other helpful career details.

Education Required High school diploma at minimum; postsecondary programs in the field are available
Key Responsibilities Schedule appointments, draft correspondence, perform basic bookkeeping, greet patients
Certification Certification is optional and offered by numerous professional organizations
Job Growth (2014-2024) 21% (for all medical secretaries)*
Median Salary (2015) $33,040 (for all medical secretaries)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant?

As a medical administrative assistant, you would work to ensure that a doctor's office or hospital department runs smoothly by updating medical records, filing the appropriate insurance forms, and arranging patient admissions and laboratory analysis. You would also perform general administrative tasks such as answering phones, sorting mail, scheduling appointments, and organizing the billing and payments. You would deal with patients quite often, so you need to have a courteous and genial manner. Because the healthcare industry increasingly uses electronic files, you need to have some computer skills, and you may need to know some medical coding for insurance purposes.

What Education Do I Need?

Some medical assistants begin work after earning their high school diploma, but there are associate's degree programs that train you as a medical administrative assistant. An Associate in Applied Science in Medical Administrative Assistant degree program may offer courses in bookkeeping, medical coding, scheduling and computer systems, as well as train you in effective communication skills and medical office procedures. There are also many medical assistant programs available, but they include classes on medical tasks that you wouldn't perform as an administrative assistant.

How Do I Become Certified?

The National Healthcare Association (NHA) offers the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) credential (www.nhanow.com). To be eligible to take the certification exam, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have completed a training program or have one year of medical administrative assistant experience. Some medical administrative assistant programs are affiliated with the NHA, and these programs may offer the exam at the end of your program, but you don't need to attend an affiliated program to become certified. The American Association of Medical Assistants offers the Certified Medical Assistant designation; this credential covers not only administrative duties but also clinical responsibilites (www.aama-ntl.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in an administrative assistant career, you could look for job in a different industry, such as law or business. Professional certifications are available for both general and legal secretaries. Alternatively, if you are interested in a different position in a medical office, you might want to think about a job as a medical assistant. These professionals divide their time between office duties and basic clinical care, although some who work in larger facilities may focus specifically on administrative work. This job usually requires a postsecondary certificate or diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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