Once you finish an accredited medical assisting program, you may be ready to take your certification exam. If you pass this exam, you will be a CMA. CMAs have proven that they have a solid background and knowledge of their field and most employers will pay a bit more per hour for this credential.
You can only take the CMA exam if you have completed an accredited medical assistant program. While there are medical assisting programs available everywhere, I hope for your sake that you have chosen and accredited program. Accredited programs will not push you through in a few months and throw you out to work. You will probably pay a bit more for an accredited program too. But after all, you get what you pay for and career training is not cheap.
Even though you may take the test as soon as you graduate, it’s really up to you when you do it. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) oversees the exam registration and will provide all the details necessary to complete the application.
You will have to pay to take the exam – that’s just how it is in the professional world. New graduates currently pay $125 and everyone else forks over $250. I recently forked over $300 for a professional exam and I was sweating every minute. The fear of throwing away hundreds of dollars pushed me on to study and work hard so that I didn’t fail.
Keep in mind that if you don’t pass the exam, the fee is NOT refundable. Also, fees can’t be transferred to any other testing organization and if you don’t show up for the exam you can’t reschedule without paying an additional fee. If for some reason you see that you will need to reschedule, most organizations will allow you to do that one time before they charge you more money.
Their may be other fees if you don’t complete the application correctly. Forgot to completely fill out the application? Fee. Forgot to send the money with the application? Fee. Don’t bring the proper documentation on test day? Fee. You get the idea.
Schedule your exam several weeks in advance to give yourself time to study. Follow the company’s directions to the letter and you will be fine. Most testing groups will send you a packet with every detail when you register. Read it thoroughly and don’t wait until the night before the test to pull the necessary information for test day. Two forms of ID (one with a picture) must be presented when you arrive on test day, along with some information from your packet.
Some items will not be allowed in the testing site. No cell phones, PDA’s, or fancy calculators. Purses must be left locked in a locker or your car. You will be video-taped during the test so just get used to being watched. Bring along a jacket or sweater to put on as needed to keep you comfortable. The room will be very quiet, but if you think you might be distracted by other test takers clicking their keyboard, ask for ear plugs.
Rachel Ballard, RNC, BSN is a registered nurse with almost a decade of clinical experience in both acute care and public health settings.