Become a Registered Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are allied health care professionals who perform a wide range of duties in the medical office. If you’re currently enrolled in a medical assisting program or are thinking about making medical assisting a career, consider becoming a registered medical assistant. Medical assisting is a professional career which demands a high amount of skill and attention to detail. Registry as a medical assistant helps prove competency in your field and is a highly desirable credential in the profession. Most physicians now require registry, or another form of credentialing, for medical assistants in their office.

Registry vs. Certification

Medical assistants may choose to obtain either the registered medical assistant credential, RMA, or the certified medical assistant credential, CMA. Different organizations offer either the RMA or CMA designation and each has their own standard for testing and proving competency in the medical assisting field. It is not necessarily better to have one credential over the other as both must be earned by proving knowledge and skills.

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The medical assisting school you graduated from may have a preference for helping you obtain either the registered medical assistant credential or the CMA credential. If not, take the time to investigate both credentials to see which one resonates better with you. Employers are not often picky over whether you’re registered or certified. They simply want proof that you are competent in your field.

Routes to Registry

There are two organizations which offer the registered medical assistant credential:

  • American Medical Technologists (AMT)
  • The American Registry of Medical Assistants (ARMA)

Both organizations offer national registry, meaning that your registered medical assistant credential is recognized in all fifty states. Both the AMT and ARMA work to enhance and improve the medical assisting profession and have their own standards for earning the registered medical assistant title.


American Medical Technologists offer a written examination to earn the registered medical assistant credential. To be eligible you must have:

  • Graduated from a medical assisting program accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), or
  • Received formal training while active in the United States military, or
  • Had five or more years of hands-on, documented work experience as a medical assistant

The AMT may have other eligibility requirements for sitting for the registered medical assistant exam; checking their website or calling for more information may be helpful in determining if you are eligible.

The American Registry of Medical Assistants requires proof of high school graduation, a letter of recommendation from a physician employer or documented proof of employment as a medical assistant, proof of graduation from a school of medical assisting or equivalent military training. ARMA may have other eligibility requirements, as well. A pre-qualification worksheet is available on their website to help you determine if you are eligible for the ARMA registered medical assistant credential.

Earning Registration

You will be required to take a written examination to earn registry through AMT. The AMT registry exam consists of multiple-choice questions in the areas of general medical assisting, clinical medical assisting and administrative medical assisting. You must fill out an application and pay a fee to register for the examination. If you are a medical assisting student, your school may proctor AMT testing, or the exam may be held at an approved testing site in your area. Once you’ve been notified by AMT that your application to take the exam has been approved, you will be notified of a date, time and location in which to take the test.

You may take the AMT exam on a computer program or a standard paper booklet exam, depending on the testing location. You are allowed three hours to complete the examination and must achieve a passing score to earn the registered medical assistant credential from AMT. A study guide and resource materials for preparing for the AMT registry exam may be found on the AMT website.

The American Registry of Medical Assistants doesn’t require a written examination. Rather, they approve or deny applications for registry based on demonstrated education and work experience. Letters of recommendation for registered medical assistant credentials may also be required. The ARMA website offers information on applying for the registered medical assistant credential.

Staying Current

Both organizations offering registered medical assistant credentials require you obtain continuing education credits each year in order to remain registered. Continuing education credits may be obtained by attending conferences or lectures, by taking college classes in your field or reading professional publications. These activities help promote continued learning and competency as a medical assistant and are valuable assets to your professional growth. Each organization has individual requirements for obtaining continuing education credits.

American Medical Technologists

The American Registry of Medical Assistants

Next, read our article called: 10 Reasons to Get Certified In Medical Assisting

Search Medical Assistant Programs

Get information on Medical Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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Article Written by Elizabeth Otto

Elizabeth Otto is a freelance writer specializing in medical and health articles. Otto has worked as a certified medical assistant in specialty practice since 1994 and is also a nationally registered emergency medical technician.

7 Responses to “Become a Registered Medical Assistant”
  1. Martha Resendes says:

    I graduated from Salter School in Tewksbury on Dec. 5, 2011 and wnat to take the RMA and/or CMA as soon as poosible . The school had to cancel the test scheduled on Jan. 21, 2012 due to noone else signed up to take. Please give me a website, phone number to call to schedule my own test.
    I live in Lowell, MA

  2. Rahnauta Lopez says:

    I’ve been a Medical Assistant for 14yrs but never took the test, I finished school in 2000. I would like to take the test. I’ve lost a lot of paper work in between that time, so I want to know what do I need to take the test.

  3. Felicia Mello says:

    I finished school as a medial assistant from the Sawyer School in Pawtucket. I have my transcript, but how do I become certified or registered as a medical assistant? I received a certificate of completion. Does this qualify me as certified?

    Thank you,
    Felicia Mello

  4. Andrew clarke says:

    I am a medical assistant being a medical assistant for 17 years working I need to get recertified I need a testing site to take an exam please give me some information on which school I can attend exam siteI don’t need to be going to school I need to take the test for being recertified please help me

  5. Theresa Carey says:

    I’ve been medical assistant for 18 plus years want to get certified what are my steps?

  6. Concerned MA says:

    If there is a person in my office with no experience as a MA and she had a doctor write a letter saying she had the experience so she could take the RMA through AAMP can she still practice as MA

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