Arizona Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Programs

Medical assistants are a vital part of the healthcare team. They perform diverse duties pertaining to the day-to-day operations of a medical practice to maintain a smooth and efficient operation. One of their key benefits to medical practices is that they are cross trained to manage administrative duties, such as answering phones and scheduling appointments, as well as clinical tasks such as drawing blood and collecting samples. A medical assistant’s specific duties depend on the type of institution and the training received.

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Medical assistants are in high demand. The growth of new technologies and treatments improves access and delivery of care in small and large communities. The physicians who deliver life-saving care to families and communities rely on the services of medical assistants to keep the practice running so they can focus on the patients they serve. Other factors that drive demand for medical assistants include the rise in the aging population with health complications, greater access to insurance coverage, rise in cases of chronic diseases, and the cost-effectiveness of hiring a professional to manage both administrative and clinical duties within the practice.

Benefits of Becoming a Medical Assistant

Every student pursues formal training with the expectation of securing a job after graduation. If you’re passionate about patient care, attentive to detail, organized, and excited about a career in healthcare, medical assisting may be a good choice. It is one of the few industries that records an above average employment rate – so getting a job after graduation is almost guaranteed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16 percent increase in the employment rate of medical assistants between the years 2021 through 2031. According to the report, approximately 117,800 new jobs will be added within that period. It is always necessary to consider the job outlook when choosing a career. Your choice should be one that is in demand and potential for growth. It is also necessary to choose a career that matches your interest. If it is in your heart to serve others, medical assisting will match your interest and at the same time offer potential for growth.

Salary expectations are another key factor to take into consideration. Your take home salary should be one that supports your lifestyle and financial goals. Medical assisting offers a modest salary that you can build on with time and experience. The BLS recorded a median annual salary of $37,190 in 2021 for medical assistants. They are not the highest paid health care professionals but medical assistants can live comfortably and continue to pursue their life goals based on the annual rate.

Medical assistants are multi-talented. They serve in supportive roles to perform administrative and clinical tasks under the guidance of a physician and other professional staff. According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, MAs may perform duties that include but are not limited to taking medical histories, preparing patients for examinations, performing basic lab tests, preparing and administering medications, assisting the physician during examinations, drawing blood, wound care, and taking ECGs. Administrative duties include answering telephones, welcoming patients, scheduling appointments, handling correspondence, and updating patient records. Medical assistants not only have relief from monotony in practice but have the option to work in diverse areas of the healthcare industry such as primary care, gynecology, optometry, or podiatry.

Medical assistant training is short-term and provides a great way to enter the healthcare industry without the 2 or 4-year degree needed for most health careers. Medical assistant programs take 9 to 12 months to complete and you can be on your way to a rewarding career in health. The short-term training also eliminates the student debt associated with longer programs.

Medical assistants can work part-time or full-time, evenings, mornings, or on weekends. Whatever your need, there’s an option to meet. Healthcare takes place round the clock, so it becomes easy to choose a place of work that aligns with your schedule. Private practices may offer a full-time scheduling option with traditional daytime hours. A clinic or hospital may hire several medical assistants with shifts for everyone while a nursing home may offer more flexible weekend or evening schedules if you so desire.

Medical assisting is a great career to work alongside varied health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, pediatricians, and much more. It provides a vantage point for you to make an informed decision on your healthcare career goals before investing a lot of time and money. Take advantage of the ease of entry and the opportunity to develop skills that you can use in another area of healthcare. As you rub shoulders with experienced healthcare practitioners, you can not only learn directly from them but also solidify your decision to pursue a specific career path.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

Medical assisting certification is a means of demonstrating your competency in the profession and earning credibility among other healthcare professionals. One of the most recognized certifications is that offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) which leads to the CMA credential. AAMA certified MAs must complete a certification exam that covers areas such as lab procedures, administrative procedures, clinical procedures, and medication administration.

Many states, like Arizona, do not stipulate formal training requirements for medical assistants. The lack of governance at the state and federal level leaves employers to do their due diligence to ensure medical assistants are properly trained to manage the tasks assigned. Certification helps employers identify MAs who are suitably qualified to provide competent and safe care. Apart from the employers themselves requiring certification, insurance agencies that cover the practice may also require medical assistants to be certified to reduce liability.

It is possible to work as a medical assistant without certification in Arizona. An employer who hires an uncertified medical assistant may specify a timeframe for completing certification to improve the reputation of the program and for proper coverage through an insurance agency.

Certified medical assistants have better overall job opportunities since the majority of employers use certification when screening potential employees. CMAs earn more than 25 percent more than uncertified MAs according to the AAMA. Certification will also improve your opportunities for advancement in the profession.

Certification provides a motivation to keep learning since CMAs must complete a certain number of CEUs each year to maintain their certification. CEUs are helpful in expanding your knowledge and skills within the profession.

See the list of certifying organizations below to determine what is the best option for you.

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 Arizona

Complete accredited training

Formal, accredited training says a lot to healthcare employers who may not have the time to train MAs on the job. There are a few degree options for accredited medical assistant training – the medical assistant certificate program, the medical assistant diploma program, and the medical assistant associate degree. All options qualify you to apply for national certification and begin working as a medical assistant.

Medical assistant programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are the general training accepted by the AAMA for certification. These programs cover at least 600 clock hours of instruction and includes hands-on practice in a simulated lab or at health care facilities.

A high school diploma or GED is required to enroll in an accredited medical assistant program. Some programs may also stipulate a minimum GPA and prerequisite science courses.

The duration of the program depends on the credential you’ll earn. Certificate and diploma programs take one year and the AAS degree program takes 24 months. Transferring credits will shorten the time for associate degree programs.

Course topics include taking vital signs, wound care, administering injections, urinalysis, microbiology, phlebotomy, pharmacology, hematology, electronic healthcare records, communication, teamwork, customer service, billing, and more.

An accredited program will cover all or most of the points on the checklist below.

Duration of the medical assistant program: The program completion time depends on the schedule and the credential you’ll earn. Shorter programs get you on the way to working in the shortest possible time. They also reduce your overall financial investment.

Employer-centered curriculum: The program should take any state mandates into consideration – omitting extensive studies in the duties that are prohibited at the state level and emphasizing those areas where you can practice.

Experienced instructors: Faculty should be familiar with any state guidelines and industry specific needs that are specific to Arizona and surrounding areas. Apart from knowledge of the industry, the instructor should be supportive and eager for your success in the field.

Flexible formats: There are several program options to meet the needs of full-time students and work professionals. Chose the one that meets your scheduling requirements. Apart from the schedule, there are hybrid programs that will facilitate online learning for part of the program. Make sure to choose one that includes in-person sessions for the development of hands-on skills.

Hands-on experience: The hands-on practice in the administrative and clinical procedures that medical assistants perform is not only designed for your benefit, but also a requirement in accredited curriculums in preparation for certification and entry-level practice.

Financially viable: Choose an accredited program if you need financial aid to assist with the cost of training. Flexible payment plans, grants, and scholarships also help alleviate the final cost and reduce student debt.

Fringe benefits: Other benefits to look for include networking opportunities, remedial help, transferability of credits earned, and preparation for the certification exam.

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 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.

Arizona Medical Assistants FAQs

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

Medical assistants are not required to be licensed or certified by the State of Arizona. However, the medical assistant’s employer and/or supervising physician’s malpractice insurance carrier may require that the medical assistant be certified by a national or private association.

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

Medical assistants in Arizona can:

  • Draw blood
  • Administer injections
  • Administer injections of scheduled drugs with appropriate training
  • Take vital signs
  • Remove stitches
  • Perform nasal smears
  • Perform finger sticks
  • Swab a patient’s throat to preserve the specimen in a throat culture (with appropriate training)
  • Inject narcotics into a patient by intradermal, intramuscular, or subcutaneous methods
  • Record health history reports
  • Assist physicians with medical procedures
  • Collect lab samples
  • Perform spirometric pulmonary function
  • Perform hearing tests under supervision
  • Administer flu shots and other vaccines after receiving training
  • Hand patients prescription medications that are properly labeled and prepackaged

Medical assistants in Arizona are not permitted to:

  • Start or disconnect IVs or administer injection or medication into an IV
  • Chart pupillary responses
  • Insert urine catheters
  • Inject collagen
  • Use lasers to remove hair, wrinkles, scars, moles or other blemishes
  • Apply orthopedic splints

CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assisting Programs Arizona

Coolidge, AZ Medical Assistant programs:
Central Arizona College
8470 N. Overfield Road
Coolidge, AZ 85128

Mesa, AZ Medical Assistant programs:
PIMA Medical Institute
2160 S. Power Road
Mesa, AZ 85209

PIMA Medical Institute
957 South Dobson Road
Mesa, AZ 85202

Sumner College
205 E. Southern Avenue
Mesa, AZ 85210

Phoenix, AZ Medical Assistant programs:
Arizona College of Nursing/Arizona College
2510 W Dunlap Ave, Suite 300
Phoenix, AZ 85021
(855) 706-8382

Phoenix College
1202 W Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013

Brookline College
2445 W Dunlap Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85021

PIMA Medical Institute
13610 North Black Canyon Highway, Suite 102
Phoenix, AZ 85029
(602) 265-7462

Tucson, AZ Medical Assistant programs:
PIMA Medical Institute
2121 North Craycroft Road
Tucson, AZ 85712
(520) 326-1600

Yuma, AZ Medical Assistant programs:
Arizona Western College
2020 S Ave 8 E,
Yuma, AZ 85365
(928) 317-6000