Are you interested in working in the healthcare industry, but prefer an administrative role? If so, becoming a certified medical administrative assistant (CMAA) could be the perfect career path for you.

This comprehensive guide will tell you what you need to know to be a CMAA, including the job duties, certification requirements, and career outlook.

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Qualifications to Become a CMAA

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is the only national association to offer the CMAA accreditation.

The are 2 educational requirements to take the CMAA exam:

  1. An examinee needs to hold a high school diploma (or a GED equivalent),
  2. Completed a formal medical administrative assistant educational program.

Regular medical assistant programs can suffice as a prerequisite as long as administrative duties were covered in the syllabus.

Alternatively, examinees who have not undergone formal education can also qualify to take the CMAA exam if they have a minimum of one year as a medical office assistant. They must also hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

Required skills to work as a CMAA

  • Typing efficient & high computer literacy
  • Proficient in MS Office programs & medical office software
  • Experience with medical coding & billing
  • Knowledge of basic medical terminology & clinical procedures
  • A highly organized approach to maintaining medical records & scheduling appointments
  • Comprehensive understanding of medical and insurance laws
  • Good interpersonal skills & natural customer service ability

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant Certification Process

Eligibility and registration

To apply for the CMAA exam, examinees should first take the eligibility quiz on the NHA website.

Once examinees determine that they are eligible, they can create an NHA account to begin the registration process. After creating an account, students should fill in the CMAA application and select an exam date.

To complete the registration process, examinees will need to go to ‘checkout’ where they must confirm their application details and pay the exam fee.

The cost of the CMAA certification exam is $117.

Examinees can choose to purchase study material from the NHA to help prepare them for the exam.

Items available:

  • An online study guide for $58
  • Practice exams for $44
  • Interactive preparation package for $78

The NHA does offer free downloadable test plans which list the topics examinees can expect to see on their exam.

Preparation for the certification exam

To prepare for the exam, examinees should take advantage of the practice tests available for purchase as they will simulate what to expect.

To help prepare for the exam, examinees should:

  • Study main concepts
  • Take multiple practice exams
  • Review wrong answers to identify areas that need improvement
  • Re-examine the topics that need improvement

A helpful study strategy to implement is:

  • First, take a practice exam in your own time with the help of a study guide
  • Then take a practice exam with no study guide help and time how long it takes
  • Lastly, take a practice test under exam conditions (i.e no study guide help and limited time)

Exam format and content

The NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant exam is a multiple-choice exam. It has 135 questions divided into seven sections. The duration of the exam is 2 hours and 15 minutes.

The 7 sections and their main topics are as follows:

1. Foundational Knowledge

2. Communication & Professionalism

  • Communication styles (verbal & non-verbal)
  • Techniques for patient interviewing
  • Conflict resolution & de-escalation techniques
  • Identifying & overcoming communication barriers
  • Electronic & written communication
  • Business correspondence
  • Team collaboration techniques

3. Medical Law, Ethics, & Compliance

  • Informed consent
  • Advanced directives
  • Power of attorney & medical proxies
  • Storage of medical records
  • Patient privacy & medical information confidentiality
  • The Hippocratic Oath

4. Scheduling

  • Scheduling appointments
  • Pre-appointment screening
  • Patient intake & interviewing
  • Office management
  • Billing & insurance
  • Telehealth & virtual care
  • Patient portals

5. Patient Encounter

  • Processing insurance
  • Fee collection
  • Intake forms & data entry
  • Specialist referrals
  • Medical code sets

6. Billing & Revenue

  • Revenue cycle phases
  • Payment models
  • Financial assistance
  • Medicare (federal care) v.s Medicaid (state care)
  • Claim processing
  • Invoicing documentation
  • Billing issues & resolution

7. Medical Practice Administrative Policies & procedures

  • Filing systems
  • Data storage
  • Payment management
  • Americans with Disabilities Act & Amendments Act (ADAAA)
  • Supply & delivery management
  • Computer literacy

Benefits of CMAA Certification

Although it is not necessary in most states for medical assistants to become certified, the National Healthcareer Association claims that a large number of medical office employers either require or strongly recommend becoming a certified medical administrative assistant.

Holding an official medical assistant certification will make finding a job a lot easier. In a case where the employer doesn’t require the qualification, it will still be advantageous to have it. This is because potential employers will need to spend fewer resources training a certified medical assistant.

Larger facilities such as hospitals require certified medical administrative assistants. This is due to the volume of patients they work with. Having a constant flow of patient intake and discharge leads to much higher levels of administrative duties that require specialized admin skills to manage.


Medical administrative assistants differ from regular medical assistants due to their expertise and ability to complete complex administrative duties.

Those interested in specializing can gain a nationally recognized CMAA certification through the National Healthcareer Association.

To qualify for the CMAA exam, examinees must attend a medical administrative assistant program or have at least one year of experience working as a medical office secretary. This is in addition to holding a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

If you’re an individual who has key analytical and organization skills, as well as are detail-oriented and a natural at interpersonal communication then you’re the perfect candidate to become a CMAA.


What is the difference between a medical administrative assistant and a certified medical administrative assistant?

A CMAA is a medical administrative assistant who is officially certified by the National Healthcare Association. A medical administrative assistant is not certified but has undergone training (either vocational or through an educational institution) to work in medical assisting.

How can I prepare for the CMAA exam?

It is best to make full use of the additional study materials available for purchase on the NHA website. They offer a wide range of study guides and practice tests.

Is there a demand for CMAAs in the healthcare industry?

Yes. Currently, there is a growing demand for medical assistants. The growth in medical assistant employment is said to be the highest of any other occupation.