Massachusetts Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Programs

The healthcare industry is expected to grow by 13% from 2021 to 2031 resulting in 2 million new jobs added over the decade. The projected growth is faster than the average for all occupations, and indeed one of the fastest-growing sectors in the nation. A career in healthcare is a great way to make a living while helping others. There are so many health career options that it might be difficult to choose one, but if you have the organizational and customer-oriented skills to make a visit to the doctor a most pleasant experience for both the patient and doctor, you should consider a career in medical assisting.

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Medical assisting is becoming a popular choice since it doesn’t require years of education and experience to get started. Furthermore, there are very few states with requirements for licensing at the state level. Entry requires a certificate indicating formal training and national certification from a certifying organization. Even if you’re considering a career as a nurse or physician, you can learn a lot by starting off as a medical assistant. The administrative and clinical experience gained provide extra points in the selective admissions process for nursing and medical programs. Plus, the insights gained throughout your practice will either confirm or negate your health career goals.

Benefits of Becoming a Medical Assistant

A medical assistant is the first point of contact at a physician’s office. Before the doctor steps in, the medical assistant would have greeted the patient, filled out paperwork, measured and recorded vital signs, collected any pertinent information, and set up the patient into the treatment room. But the work doesn’t end there. A medical assistant may perform required tests, collect samples for the lab, assist the physician with any treatment, update the patient’s record, give instructions to the patient, schedule a follow-up appointment, and clean up the treatment room. The medical assistant’s role in healthcare offices gives physicians the freedom to provide the best possible care.

As part of the growing health care industry, medical assisting has seen tremendous growth, partly due to the efforts to highlight their value to physicians and other health care providers. Medical assistant jobs are projected to increase by 16 percent through 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is four times faster than the national average of 4 percent. The health care needs of the Baby Boomer population call for more physicians to provide direct care. More physicians are relying on their medical assistants to lend a hand with the daily operations of the practice.

Medical assisting is one of few healthcare careers with few barriers to entry. It does not require years of training to earn a degree or a list of requirements to obtain a license to practice. With just a medical assistant diploma that you complete in 6 to 12 months, you can begin working at any number of medical practices across Massachusetts. Moreover, there is no need for a license in the state. Certification is not required but recommended. Certified medical assistants can earn up to 35 percent more than those who are not certified. Getting your certification is simple after you complete a formal medical assistant program.

Certification increases your marketability as a medical assistant due to the creditability of the certification process. The CMA credential is one of the most recognized in the profession due to the standards set by the American Association of Medical Assistants. Candidates must pass an exam that covers the full spectrum of medical assistant duties including administrative and clinical. Sitting for another exam after completing rigorous MA training may not sound ideal, but the credential will increase your career prospects in Massachusetts and is valid in all other states and US territories.

Wherever there are physicians, there are medical assistants to help them. If you need diversity to combat boredom, medical assisting will provide plenty of opportunities to move around. Medical assistants work in hospitals, ambulatory care settings, and private practices. Although more than 50 percent of MAs work in physicians’ office, jobs are available in clinics, hospitals and outpatient centers. There are options to diversify even in physicians’ offices. Apart from general practice, you can work in obstetrics, dermatology, OBGYN, and others.

Healthcare professionals are noted for their long and irregular hours. Medical assistants typically work a traditional 9 to 5 schedule, which is perfect if you need a job that won’t interfere with your commitment to your family life. Medical clinics and private practices operate on standard business hours removing the possibility of you being on call late at night or over the weekend. On the flip side, if evening or weekend work appeals to you, working at a hospital or 24-hour clinic can afford this option.

Medical assisting is a stable profession. Their work and efforts to support physicians and care for patients cannot be replaced by robots or technology. Financial instability, trends, and technology have affected other professions and created uncertainty, but there will always be a need for the personal and intuitive service that medical assistants bring to patient care.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

Certification as a medical assistant is optional, so do you really need it? There are many reasons why the answer to this question is yes. Medical assistants manage diverse healthcare needs both in an administrative and clinical capacity. They add value to healthcare practices simply by the volume of work they perform to support physicians and nurses. Internally, certification is beneficial to the practice in several ways. One of the most important benefits is the reduction in training and orientation in key areas of the job. A busy practice may not have the time or resources to train a new MA. Training takes away the vital contributions of at least one member of staff who must commit to teaching the new employee. Certification reduces the need for training as the certifying exam will assess the MA’s understanding of the skills needed to do their job well. The preparation for the exam begins with the medical assistant program where students will learn through practical and theoretical activities and apply those skills on the job.

Certification may expand your scope of practice. The responsibility rests on the supervising physician to assign only those duties that the medical assistant is capable of performing. Certified medical assistants can easily manage more invasive procedures and correctly use medical equipment and tools. CMAs have the training to perform venipunctures and administer injections when needed. The more you can do as a MA, the more value you’ll add to the practice.

Medical assistant certification can help you to advance in your career. As previously mentioned, you will be trusted to do more based on your MA certification. On top of that, your supervising physician may provide additional training to expand your range of duties. These valuable skills you can take anywhere, especially if you plan to move on to other careers in health.

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 Massachusetts

Complete accredited training

The mission of an accredited medical assistant program is to provide an environment for you to acquire the academic, practical, ethical, and social skills to qualify for entry-level employment as a medical assistant. Medical assistants are multifaceted professionals trained to provide administrative and clinical services in health care facilities.

Only graduates from a program accredited by the CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are eligible to take the AAMA certifying exam. These programs meet stringent educational requirements required by the industry. Employers prefer graduates of accredited programs because of the quality of their education and certification.

The curriculum will cover at least 600 hours of theory (delivered on-campus or online) and hands-on training including rotations at community health care facilities. Students will learn how to manage front-office procedures, bill patients, update medical records, schedule appointments, manage emergencies, collect lab samples, monitor patients, measure vital signs, assist with treatments, use medical equipment, and much more. Graduates will have the confidence to perform both administrative and clinical duties, reflect a caring attitude to patients, pursue professional education and continuing education, and demonstrate cultural sensitivity in practice.

Admission to a medical assistant program requires a high school diploma or equivalent, proficiency in math and English, a commitment to care, current immunization, a clear background check, and CPR certification.

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

Duration of the medical assistant program: Some health care professions do not necessitate years of educational preparation for entry. Medical assisting is one of them. Although MAs do a lot to support nurses and physicians, much of their training is rolled into a comprehensive 6-to-12-month program. Some schools may offer a 2-year associate degree, but you don’t need one to succeed as a medical assistant.

Employer-centered curriculum: Beyond all the general education, science, and liberal arts coursework covered in other programs is a need for a career-centered curriculum that will help you develop the skills to contribute to the practice. Understand well the duties of a medical assistant and assess the curriculum to evaluate whether it will cover those skills you need most.

Experienced instructors: Ideally, faculty should be versed in the role of the medical assistant and have years of experience under their belt. The quality of their training and commitment to your success will in turn determine your potential for greatness.

Flexible formats: Are you a full-time employee and want to begin part-time training for a new career? Do you want a full-time, accelerated schedule to start earning in a few months? There is a medical assistant program to meet every need. Flexible online delivery is desirable, but keep in mind that you’ll need to commit time for the hands-on sessions on campus and clinical rotations are health care facilities in your community. Clinical rotations may be scheduled in the evenings or weekends depending on the goal of the program.

Hands-on experience: Practical training is necessary for the application of the concepts learned throughout the program. You will perform the duties of a medical under the watchful eye of your instructor or a health care professional. This valuable experience is key to your success as a first-time employee.

Financially viable: Financial aid will be an option to help fund your education if you choose an accredited medical assistant program. As you compare the cost of several program, see what’s included in the fee to get value for money.

Fringe benefits: What would you enjoy most from a medical assistant program? Is it flexibility, convenience, affordability, multiple payment options, proximity, accreditation, support, or ease of entry? The value of the program is determined by how it is designed to meet your needs.

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.

Massachusetts Medical Assistants FAQs

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

Medical assistants are not required to be licensed or certified by the State of Massachusetts. Medical assistants certified by an approved certifying organization, such as a the AAMA, may administer immunizations as delegated by a physician or nurse practitioner.

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

A primary care physician may delegate the administration of immunizations to a medical assistant who:

  • has graduated from a post-secondary medical assisting education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools;
  • is employed in the clinical practice of a licensed primary care provider; and
  • performs basic administrative, clerical, and clinical duties upon the specific authorization and under the direct supervision of a licensed primary care provider.

Certified medical assistants may perform the tasks permitted by the AAMA as directed by the primary care physician.

Contact the Massachusetts State Society of Medical Assistants

Phone: 508-754-3485

CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assisting Programs Massachusetts

Braintree, MA Medical Assistant program:
Health Training Center
340 Wood Road
Braintree, MA 02184
(781) 348-1808

Brockton, MA Medical Assistant program:
Massasoit Community College
1 Massasoit Blvd.
Brockton, MA 02302

Porter and Chester Institute
609 Belmont Street
Brockton, MA 02301
(774) 360-8300

Brookline, MA Medical Assistant program:
Boston Career Institute
320 Washington St.
Brookline, MA, 02445

Danvers, MA Medical Assistant program:
North Shore Community College
1 Ferncroft Road,
Danvers, MA 01923

Fall River, MA Medical Assistant program:
Health and Home Care Training of New England
657 Quarry Street,
Fall River, MA 02723

Framingham, MA Medical Assistant program:
MetroWest Healthcare Academy
100 Concord Street, Suite 2A
Framingham, Massachusetts 01702

Gardner, MA Medical Assistant program:
Mount Wachusett Community College
444 Green Street,
Gardner, MA 01440

Greenfield, MA Medical Assistant program:
Greenfield Community College
One College Drive
Greenfield, MA 01301
(413) 775-1000

Holyoke, MA Medical Assistant program:
Holyoke community college
303 Homestead Ave.,
Holyoke, MA 01040

Springfield, MA Medical Assistant program:
Springfield Technical Community College
One Armory Square,
Springfield, MA 01105
(413) 781-7822

Worcester, MA Medical Assistant program:
Quinsigamond Community College
670 West Boylston Street,
Worcester, MA 01606