Alabama Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Program

Healthcare jobs provide opportunities for fast entry, growth, and stability, yet only a few offers the versatility of medical assisting. The projected job growth for this career is explosive – 16 percent through 2031 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compare this with the average growth rate of 5 percent for all professions and you’ll recognize the potential! Most of the new job opportunities arise from a need to replace retirees and those transitioning to other careers in healthcare. But the majority of new jobs stem from an expanding number of physicians who are embracing the services of medical assistants to help them meet growing health care demands. Medical assistant duties encompass both clinical and administrative duties – and physicians seeking to cut costs can engage their services to manage both operations instead of hiring an employee for each. Medical assistants are no longer confined to general practice clinics – although the greater percentage now work there. Other physicians, such as pediatricians, dermatologists, cardiologists, orthopedic doctors, and opticians understand the value of medical assistants and use their services. If your desire is to enter this rapidly growing field, you must first compare medical assistant programs in Alabama to find one that meets your career goals. You should also prepare for medical assistant certification for the best opportunities and salary in this rewarding field.

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What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

The broad skill sets of medical assistants add value to any medical practice. From greeting patients and ordering supplies to assisting physicians with treatments and collecting samples for lab tests, medical assistants provide services that improve the efficiency of health care delivery. Despite their versatility, some larger practices may employ medical assistants to perform a specific task or for a specialized role – and the medical assistant title is determined by the role. Some of these roles include:

Administrative medical assistant – a medical assistant whose duties are restricted to the management of administrative tasks such as answering the phone, greeting patients, following up with patients or prospective patients, social medical management, customer service, and insurance payments.

Clinical medical assistants – performs clinical duties only. This type of medical assistant is especially needed in a busy practice that offers multiple services with a continuous stream of requests. Clinical medical assistants treat wounds, collect samples, perform basic lab tests, sterilize medical equipment, operate medical equipment, prepare patients for examinations, and follow up with the lab and other health care providers.

Medical billers and coders – a busy health care facility needs someone dedicated to the collection of payment. A medical assistant may be allocated to perform this specific duty if there’s a large volume of invoices to be generated and tracked daily. A billing and coding specialist functions as a liaison between the medical office and insurance companies to prepare and send invoices or claims for payment, correct rejected claims, track payments, code services treatments, and diagnosis, and follow up with patients and insurance companies to collect outstanding payments.

Phlebotomists – medical assistant programs prepare MAs for certification as a phlebotomist. A medical assistant/phlebotomist may be assigned specifically to a lab to draw blood and collect samples for testing, transfusions, or research.

As medical practices and hospitals recognize the value of medical assistants to their operations, there will be an increase in job openings for these healthcare professionals. Medical assistants have a broad view of the health care operation (encompassing both the clinical and administrative functions) that they can improve communication between patients, physicians, other health care providers, and insurance companies to ensure an overall satisfactory outcome for all involved. They may be better positioned to add clarity to a physician’s instruction or describe what services falls under an insurance cover. Their work here will improve the patient’s satisfaction with the health care provider.

Medical assistants work alongside physicians in the treatment room prepping patients for a treatment, explaining the procedure beforehand, relaying vital information and instructions after the treatment, anticipating the physician’s needs, setting up machinery, and keeping the room sanitized. They order supplies, follow up with patients, share information with other health care providers, liaise with the insurance company, and ensure the general smooth operation of the facility. The delegation of these and other tasks to medical assistants give physicians the freedom to devote time to the delivery of compassionate, patient-centered care.

Medical assistants may be the first person the patient sees at the physician’s office, clinic, or hospital. They greet the patient and confirm their appointment or fit them in to an existing schedule. They collect valuable information from the patient before they are passed on to the health care provider. They measure vitals such as temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate. Medical assistants may also provide patients with the necessary forms, confirm their insurance coverage and verify that the requested service is covered, and update electronic medical records. They answer the phones and pass on vital information to the physician, nurses, and other members of the health care team. A medical assistant’s work in the front office can influence patients’ satisfaction with the facility and the services offered. A customer-oriented and compassionate attitude can inspire patients to prioritize their health and wellness and improve patient outcomes.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

General certification from a renowned organization such as the American Association of Medical Assistants has numerous positive outcomes. Certified medical assistants get the best jobs, have higher salaries and compensation packages, have greater responsibilities, and earn the respect of health care professionals. The profession is not regulated in Alabama, and certification is not required to perform the duties of a medical assistant. However, a growing sect of health care employers give preference to certified medical assistants in the process of hiring.

CMAs are known to have the knowledge, skills and competencies to perform their duties primarily because of the stringent requirements for certification. The AAMA, for instance, requires potential candidates to complete an accredited medical assistant program as a first step to certification. Graduates must then pass a rigorous exam that assesses their clinical and administrative abilities through a written and practical examination. CMAs get on the job and immediately know what to do, anticipating employers’ needs in the smooth operation of the practice and providing patient-centered service to every patient.

The AAMA is not the only certification option. There is a certification for every given role. Earning one or more will give you a leg up in the hiring process. It may not be possible to apply for some positions without certification in that specific role – even if you’ve earned certification through AAMA. There may also be certification available in some areas of specialization, such as ophthalmology and podiatry.

Some of the other standard certifications are listed below.

Nationally Approved Certifying Organizations

American Association of Medical Assistants
20 N. Wacker Drive, #1575
Chicago, IL 60606-2963
(312) 424-3100

American Medical Certification Association
310 Passaic Avenue, Suite 204B
Fairfield, NJ 07004
(888) 960-2622

American Medical Technologists
10700 W. Higgins Road, Suite 150
Rosemont, IL 60018
(847) 823-5169

Multiskilled Medical Certification Institute, Inc.
P.O. Box 17
7007 College Boulevard
Overland Park, KS 66211
(888) 625-8408 or (913) 754-3287 

How to Become a Medical Assistant in Alabama

Complete accredited training

Accredited medical assistant training is mandatory, especially if you plan to pursue certification. There are several programs accredited by the two primary accreditation organizations for medical assistants in Alabama – the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Always verify that the program is accredited by one of these two bodies. Look for the logo on the school’s medical assistant webpage and check the status of their accreditation by searching on CAAHEP or ABHES website.

If you don’t have the financial means and time to complete an extended medical assistant program, you may enroll in a certificate program and complete in just 8 to 12 months. The certificate program will cover all you need to apply for certification and obtain entry-level employment in the field. They are career-focused, omitting any unnecessary courses that extend the duration and cost of the program. If you prefer a medical assistant degree, there are a few associate degree options in Alabama. These programs cover the course medical assistant courses covered in the certificate program – some of them go into greater depth- with the addition of general education and elective courses that are transferable if you plan to further your studies later on. A degree program may require an investment of 24 months and will cost more than a certificate program. You will be eligible to apply for medical assistant certification (and other certifications depending on the course of study) after you graduate.

Following are some things to look for in an accredited program.

Duration of the medical assistant program: Medical assistant programs run for 10 months to 24 months depending on your needs. Most certificate programs are short-term and designed to cover all the topics required for success in the shortest time possible.

Employer-centered curriculum: Look for a program developed and taught be experienced instructors who have the expertise to help you succeed. For hybrid program, the instructor should have dedicated hours to respond to your questions and needs in and out of the classroom.

Experienced instructors: An experienced instructor brings a lot of value to the classroom, including shared experiences, understanding of state and federal laws, and some insight of tasks that medical assistants may or may not assume within the guidelines of general practice.

Flexible formats: Hybrid programs offer greater flexibility if you plan to work while you study, yet there’s no loss of the personal touch associated with a traditional on-campus program. The hybrid medical assistant program will deliver the theory online and the hands-on practice on-campus. You will also need to schedule time for the clinical experience at a local health care facility.

Hands-on experience: The program should provide you with real-world experience to ensure your success in your career after graduation. Practical training at an off-site facility smooths the transition from the classroom to the workplace and gives you the opportunity to work with physicians, nurses, and other health care providers.

Financially viable: Not everyone who wants to work in healthcare can pay for a college degree. Although some medical assistant programs lead to an associate’s degree, you also have the option to enroll in a certificate program which is more than half the cost of a degree but just as beneficial. Vocational programs are designed to be completed in a short time which translates to lower costs.

Fringe benefits: Medical assistant program offerings and varied to adapt to specific needs of students. Some programs prepare for general practice and certification while others prepare medical assistants for specialized practice and certification. In addition to certification as a medical assistant, you may also want a program that includes additional certification such as phlebotomy, EKG, first aid, and more.

Obtain Medical Assistant Certification

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is a product of the American Association of Medical Assistants awarded to candidates who complete accredited training, pass the certification exam, and meet all other requirements for certification.

The CMA certification exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that will test your knowledge of pharmacology, safety and infection control, legal and ethical issues, communication, and much more.

The exam assesses three principal categories:

Clinical Competency (59%)

  • Clinical Workflow: Patient Intake and Discharge
  • Safety and Infection Control
  • Procedures/Examinations
  • Pharmacology

General (21%)

  • Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Communication

Administrative (20%)

  • Billing, Coding, and Insurance
  • Schedule Appointments and Health Information Management

Eligibility Requirements

You can sit for the exam if you meet one of the criteria outlined below:

  1. Must be completing or a recent graduate of a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assistant program. If you’re enrolled in a medical assistant program, you can take the exam no more than 30 days prior to completing the program and practicum. If you’ve graduated from a program, you must take the exam within 12 months of your graduation date.
  2. Must be a nonrecent graduate of a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assistant program. You’re considered a nonrecent graduate, if you apply for the exam more than 12 months after graduation.
  3. Must be a CMA (AAMA) recertificant. Use this option if you previously passed the CMA Certification Exam and want to recertify the CMA credential.

Application Steps

  1. Verify that you are eligible to take the exam
  2. Review the exam policies and information
  3. Gather your documentation for your eligibility category
  4. Determine the start date for 90-day testing period – this will determine when you apply for the exam.
  5. Submit your application, pay the application fee of $125 for AAMA members or $250 nonmembers
  6. Make name, email, and postal address corrections in a timely basis
  7. Schedule your exam appointment after your application and payment are processed
  8. Complete the exam and receive a pass/fail notification
  9. Watch for your official score reports – within three weeks after your exam
  10. Watch for your certificate or digital badge via email

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

The American Medical Technologists (AMT) awards the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential to persons who meet the eligibility criteria and pass the RMA exam. The RMA credential is also accepted by healthcare employers across the nation. RMAs have the abilities, knowledge, and commitment to quality care.

Following are some other requirements for RMA certification:

Through formal education-

  • Must have graduated, within the past 4 years, or scheduled to graduate from an accredited MA program or program that is housed within an accredited institution.
  • Must have completed 720 hours of instruction that includes at least 160 hours of externship

Other training –

  • Must have completed a medical assisting work-study/training program within the last 4 years such as:
    • An apprenticeship program registered with the US Department of Labor (DOL)
    • A federally recognized State Apprenticeship Agency (SAA)
    • Workforce Development/Employer program

Work Experience

  • Must be employed as a medical assistant for a minimum of 3 years within the past 7 years – 3 years of full-time employment at 36 hours per week is the equivalent of 5,616 hours. Provide documents of both administrative and clinical duties on the employment letter
  • Experience must include both clinical and administrative duties
  • Must have a valid CPR card (copy of front and back). CPR training must include both theoretical and in-person demonstration of CPR proficiency.


  • Must be a recent graduate, or scheduled to graduate from a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces – Must have graduated within the last 4 years.


  • Must have worked as a medical assistant educator for a minimum of five years, and have previously completed a course in a healthcare related discipline.

The application fee for the RMA exam is $135. You must schedule your exam online after you receive approval from the RMA.

The official certification will be supplied within 7 to 14 days after you pass the exam.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is another nationally recognized certifying organization for medical assistants. Candidates who successfully meet all the requirements will receive the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential. Candidates for certification may fulfill the requirements for certification via work experience or practical training.

To take the CCMA credentialing exam, you must:

  • Possess a high school diploma/GED equivalent AND
  • Have completed a medical assistant training program (within the last 5 years) OR
  • Have one year of supervised medical assisting experience, in the last 3 years

The exam is administered either at your school, a PSI testing center near you, or through live remote proctoring at the location of your choice.

For online CCMA exams, NHA will officially post your certification results to your account page within two days of scoring your test.

Alabama Medical Assistants FAQs

Are medical assistants required to be licensed or certified by the State of Alabama?

Medical assistants are not required to be licensed or certified in Alabama.

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

The medical assistant in Alabama may perform specific duties as delegated by a physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse. These duties include:

  • Take medical histories
  • Prepare patients for exams
  • Perform basic lab tests
  • Prepare and administer medications, including by intramuscular, intradermal, and subcutaneous injections
  • College and prepare laboratory specimens
  • Phlebotomy
  • Take electrocardiograms
  • Wound care and change dressings
  • Assist the physician during examinations

A medical assistant may perform the following tasks:

  • Administer controlled medications, intravenous medications, contrast agents, or chemotherapy agents;
  • Use lasers or instruments that results in tissue destruction;
  • place sutures;
  • Take radiographs or using any ionizing radiation unless the CMA is also a certified limited practice radiographer;
  • Analyze, interpret, or diagnose symptoms or tests;
  • Triage patients
  • Perform a clinical decision-making task by means of telemedicine.

Contact the Alabama Society of Medical Assistants

CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assistant Programs in Alabama

Alexander City, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Central Alabama Community College
1675 Cherokee Rd
Alexander City, AL 35010
(256) 234-6346

Birmingham, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Fortis Institute in Birmingham
100 London Parkway, Suite 150
Birmingham, AL 35211
(205) 940-7800

Jefferson State Community College
2601 Carson Road,
Birmingham, AL 3521

Centre, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Gadsden State Community College
801 Cedar Bluff Road
Centre, AL 35960

Dothan, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Wallace Community College
1141 Wallace Drive,
Dothan, AL 36303

Enterprise, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Enterprise State Community College
600 Plaza Drive / P.O. Box 1300
Enterprise, AL 36331

Jasper, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Bevill State Community College
1411 Indiana Ave,
Jasper, AL 35501

Hanceville, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Wallace State
801 Main Street NW | P.O. Box 2000
Hanceville AL, 35077-2000
(866) 350-9722

Huntsville, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Calhoun Community College
102 Wynn Dr NW
Huntsville, AL, 35805
(256) 890-4700

Drake State Community and Technical College
3421 Meridian Street North
Huntsville, AL 35811

Montgomery, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Trenholm State Community College
1225 Air base Blvd,
Montgomery, AL 36108

Muscle Shoals, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Northwest Shoals Community College
800 George Wallace Blvd.
Muscle Shoals, AL 35661

Rainsville, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Northeast Alabama Community College
138 AL Hwy 35,
Rainsville, Alabama 35986

Wadley, AL Medical Assistant Programs:
Southern Union State Community College
750 Roberts Street
Wadley, AL 36276