Maryland Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Programs

There are projections for tremendous growth for medical assistants over the next decade. There is no slowing down in the need for medical services, and medical assistants are on the frontlines of care in physicians’ offices and clinics. Apart from the availability of jobs, medical assisting is becoming a go-to career due to the relatively short educational preparation required. In spite of the short training, medical assistants earn a decent salary for their dual role in healthcare.

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Medical assistants work on the clinical and administrative sides of patient care. Medical assistant programs train students to perform both administrative and clinical duties to enable them to support the work of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals. The knowledge and practical skills gained are essential, but to succeed as a medical assistant you must possess important qualities such as analytical skills, detail-oriented, interpersonal skills, and technical skills to stay on top of trends. Medical assisting is unique as it will give you the opportunity to work with patients on both sides. You will also have the option to work full-time or part-time, during the day or in the evenings and weekends. As you perform routine tasks, you’ll have the opportunity to hone skills in specific areas and even specialize in a preferred area of healthcare.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

Medical assistants earned a median annual wage of $37,190 in 2021 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical assistants in states such as California earned 12 percent more than the median wage. Your experience, certification status, geographic location, and type of facility will determine the wage you earn. Medical assistants who work in private clinics and under the care of specialized physicians are likely to earn more. Aside from wages, there are some intangible rewards to be gained. Medical assistants perform a wide range of duties that put them in contact with patients at a time when they’re most vulnerable and in need of sympathy and support. Here are just some of the duties that a medical assistant performs.

Greeting Patients

A medical assistant greets patients and puts them at ease to establish trust. A patient that receives a warm response is more likely to share his/her concerns and fears with a trusted professional. This ultimately will improve patient outcomes and patient satisfaction with the service provided.

Measure Vital Signs

The hands-on work begins after the greeting. The medical assistant will take the patients’ vital signs and prep for tests ordered by the physician. In out-patient clinics, the MA will perform triage to classify patients according to the need for medical attention. Some of the vitals that the MA will check include blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration rate, body temperature, weight, and blood glucose level. The instruments must be accurate and the patient kept calm to improve the accuracy of the results.

Update Patient Records  

A medical assistant must be astute to catch those things that the patients reveal but especially the things that are not said. This type of insight comes with experience. New MAs must ask questions and record information that will assist the physician in making a diagnosis and establishing a treatment plan. Once the information is collected, the medical assistant may update electronic records for easy access by all medical professionals involved in the case. Where a manual filing system is in place, the medical assistant will need to adhere to the correct protocols in filing and pulling the medical record before the patient arrives at the facility.

Prep Patients for Examinations

Medical assistants take patients to the exam room and guide them through basic steps in preparation for the physician. They might disinfect the equipment and ensure that there’s an adequate stock of supplies for use during the exam. The MA will make sure the room is well lit, clean, ventilated, and an appropriate temperature. This part of an MA’s work is not to be taken lightly. The efficient management of this task will ensure that physician gets the most out of their time with the patient, permitting them to focus on the patients’ concerns.

Assisting with Medical Procedures

A medical assistant cannot diagnose patients, prescribe medications, and perform surgeries, but they are able to perform procedures to assist the physician or nurse. The medical assistant program will cover some of the procedures you’ll be asked to do, but some of them you’lll earn on the job. Some common procedures you might be involved in include pediatric exams, wound care, newborn screening, gynecologic exams, electrocardiograms, phlebotomy, incison and drainage. Your role may also include patient education, but never should you interpret results or prescribe treatment.

Prepare and Administer Medications

A medical assistant may administer medication under the supervision of a physician or nurse practitioner. In some states, the medical assistant may administer the medication through injections or vaccines. Administering injections require proper training and certification.

Perform Administrative Duties

A vital part of a medical assistant’s duties is the administrative tasks he or she perform to ensure the efficient operation of the practice. Sometimes the administrative tasks are connected to clinical tasks, others are distinct and separate, but all are necessary for a successful practice. Some of the administrative duties include ordering supplies, making follow-up phone calls, scheduling appointments, collecting payments, maintain records, and coordinating services with other health care providers.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

In any profession, certification demonstrates a standard of excellence. Certification is awarded by a reputable, third-party organization to professions who meet the established qualities and standards of excellence. There are several types of certifications available for medical assistants, and all of them indicate your ability to do your job well. There are many benefits of acquiring medical assistant certification. It requires that you complete an accredited medical assistant program and pass a nationally recognized certification exam. Some certifying organizations will accept experience (a stipulated number of hours) in lieu of accredited training.

According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, the largest certifying organization in terms of membership, employers will pay more the certified medical assistants. Certification of MAs sets their practice apart from others and reduces the likelihood of malpractice suits.

CMAs perform much of the same duties as MAs who are not certified. However, since a physician will assign duties in line with the MA’s abilities, CMAs are more likely to perform tasks that are not assigned to their non-certified counterparts. They have the advantage of upward mobility, higher pay, and opportunities to expand their role beyond that of medical assisting. Certification shows your employment your commitment to excellence, especially in states where certification is not mandatory. CMAs are more likely to be chosen for specialty positions in gynecology, pediatrics, and podiatry.

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 Maryland

Complete accredited training

Becoming a medical assistant starts with proper education. Professional certification requires completion of a forma, postsecondary program. Certification from the AAMA requires completion of a program accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. One of the benefits of medical assistant training is that it is not as extensive and lengthy as the preparation required to become a nurse and some other health care professions. Formal training is not mandatory by the State of Maryland but employers mandate it from prospective employees to remove the need to train new staff.

Medical assistant programs comprise of theory and hands-on practice on-site. Students will also complete an externship in a medical facility to apply their skills in a professional setting. Some of the content may be delivered online, but students must also attend classes in person to develop clinical and administrative skills. Medical assistant certificate and diploma programs last at least 12 months. They will cover topics such as pharmacology, measuring vital signs, medical coding, billing and insurance, lab procedures, medical terminology, pharmacology, and administration of medication.

Eligibility for enrollment will include a high school diploma or equivalent, the minimum age requirement of 18 years, up-to-date immunization, and a background check to participate in the clinical externship. Prerequisite course completion, admission testing, and test scores are typically not required for entry.

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

Duration of the medical assistant program: Medical assistant programs are short-term, covering just the skills required to perform the administrative and clinical duties needed for entry-level employment. An accredited certificate or diploma program can take 12 months or less to complete. The associate degree program includes general education requirements which will extend the length to 24 months.

Employer-centered curriculum: Like other trade jobs, medical assistants gain specialized skills through a career-focused curriculum. The program remains all the extra coursework that are not needed for success in the field. The curriculum will include instruction in both administrative and clinical skills.

Experienced instructors: The caliber and commitment of the instructor could influence your success as a medical assistant. An instructor who not only understands the role of the medical assistant on the health care team but also inspires you to give your best will forever influence your practice and commitment to healthcare.

Flexible formats: Online delivery of content has become the norm for educational programs of the day. It provides convenience and flexibility and does not take away from the classroom experience if you can communicate freely with faculty and other students. Keep in mind that a medical assistant program should never be fully online as you need the practical experience to transition to the workplace.

Hands-on experience: The hands-on, practical experience is what solidifies the program’s content. It provides the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained and transition to the workplace.

Financially viable: Medical assistant programs are affordable because the courses are limited to just those areas you need to practice successfully. There are no extra courses to pay for and accompanying books to purchase. You may even be eligible for financial aid if you enroll in an accredited program.

Fringe benefits: What are some things you might list on the medical assistant program wish-list? Is it flexible scheduling, interest-free financing, experienced professors, recognized clinical affiliates, or employment services? Whatever you desire, ask questions to see what’s available.

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.

Maryland Medical Assistants FAQs

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

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

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

Medical assistants may perform the following tasks without onsite supervision:

(a) Patient preparation for physician examination;

(b) Patient history interview;

(c) Collecting and processing specimens, such as performing phlebotomy and inoculating culture media;

(d) Preparation of specimens for selected tests including:

(i) Pregnancy tests,

(ii) Dipstick and microscopic urinalysis, and

(iii) Microbiology (rapid streptococcal testing and throat cultures);

(e) Laboratory tests that the physician is satisfied the assistant is qualified to perform under State and CLIA regulations;

(f) Clinical tests such as:

(i) Application of tuberculin skin tests,

(ii) Electrocardiography,

(iii) Administering basic pulmonary function

(g) Transmitting prescriptions to a pharmacy;

(h) Providing sample packets of medication, selected by a physician who is physically present at the time of selection, to patients as directed by the delegating physician and in conformance with Health Occupations Article, Section 12-102

(i) Preparing and administering oral drugs; tests, and

(ii) Electrocardiography,

(iii) Administering basic pulmonary function tests, and

(iv) Visual field tests;

Medical assistants may perform the following tasks with onsite supervision:

(a) Preparing and administering injections limited to intradermal, subcutaneous, and intramuscular (deltoid, gluteal, vastus lateralis) to include small amounts of local anesthetics;

(b) Establishing a peripheral intravenous line; and

(c) Injecting fluorescein-like dyes for retinal angiography.

Medical assistants may perform the following tasks without direct supervision:

(a) Injecting intravenous drugs or contrast materials.

A physician may not delegate to an assistant the following tasks:

  • Conducting physical examinations;
  • Administering any form of anesthetic agent or agent of conscious sedation other than topical anesthetics or small amounts of local anesthetics;
  • Initiating independently any form of treatment, exclusive of cardiopulmonary resuscitation;
  • Dispensing medications;
  • Giving medical advice without the consult of a physician; and
  • Providing physical therapy.

An assistant acting beyond the scope of practice outlined in the chapter is considered to be engaged in the unlicensed practice of medicine; and will be subject to all applicable penalties and fines.

The delegating physician, through either act or omission, facilitation, or otherwise enabling or forcing an assistant to practice beyond the scope of practice, may be subject to discipline for practicing medicine with an unauthorized person or aiding an unauthorized person in the practice of medicine.

Contact the Maryland Society of Medical Assistants


CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assisting Programs Maryland

Arnold, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Anne Arundel Community College
101 College Parkway
Arnold, MD 21012-1895
410-777-AACC (2222)

Baltimore, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
All-State Career – Baltimore Campus
2200 Broening Highway
Baltimore, MD 21224

Community College of Baltimore County
800 South Rolling Road
Baltimore, MD 21228

Stein Academy
3610 Milford Mill Road, 3rd Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21244

Bel Air, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Harford Community College
401 Thomas Run Road
Bel Air, MD 21015-1627

Columbia, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044

Cumberland, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Allegany College of Maryland
12401 Willowbrook Rd,
Cumberland, MD

Frederick, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Frederick Community College
7932 Opossumtown Pike
Frederick, MD 21702

Hagerstown, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Hagerstown Community College
11400 Robinwood Drive,
Hagerstown, MD 21742

La Plata, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
College of Southern Maryland
8730 Mitchell Rd, PO Box 910,
La Plata, MD 20646

McHenry, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Garrett College
687 Mosser Road
McHenry, MD 21541
(301) 387-3000

Towson, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Fortis Institute – Towson
700 York Road
Towson, MD 21204
(410) 337-5155

Towson University
8000 York Road
Towson, MD 21252

Westminster, MD Medical Assistant Programs:
Carrol Community College
1601 Washington Road
Westminster, MD 21157