Minnesota Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Program

Working alongside physicians in medical offices and clinics, medical assistants are specially trained to perform administrative and clinical duties. These in high demand professionals are excellent communicators, understand body structure and function, and play an essential role on the health care team.

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Formal education available through an accredited medical assistant program will provide the body of knowledge and skills needed to practice. The program will provide theory and practical skills in the administrative and clinical duties that a medical assistant will perform. You will learn how to take medical histories, prep patients for medical exams, measure vitals, administer medications, perform lab tests, schedule appointments, collect lab samples, and coordinate patient care activities with other health care providers.

The technical skills confirm your ability to perform your duties as a medical assistant. Having the right qualities determines your success and satisfaction with the job. Those character traits may be nurtured on the job – if you have them to begin with. A fast-paced health care setting can easily put your best intentions to the test. This is why you should have specific traits, such as good communication, compassion, empathy, flexibility, critical thinking, time management, and organizational skills to stay grounded when the going gets tough.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

Physicians are always pressed for time. They cannot treat and diagnose patients and manage the administrative tasks that arise daily. That’s why they depend on medical assistants to make their jobs easier. Medical assistant associations, medical assistant programs, and even a medical assistant employer may have a list of duties that you will perform as an administrative and clinical medical assistant. That job description gives some clarity, so you’ll know what to expect and expected of you. One task rarely mentioned, but definitely worth having as a medical assistant is the ability to anticipate what your supervising physician needs. Of course, every physician is different, but with time and close observation, you’ll learn how to work closely with the physician as a highly functioning team. Preparing equipment for a medical procedure, putting out a patient file, and even preparing a cup of coffee to relieve stress – without being asked- are some of the things that will make you an invaluable addition to the health care team. Check out the list of standard duties medical assistants perform.

Greet Patients

Medical assistants work on the front lines of medical offices and clinics, providing an invaluable service to physicians and patients. As a medical assistant, you are the first face a patient sees upon entry to a physician’s office. It is upon you to create a positive and soothing environment for patients in the midst of a busy practice, displaying empathy and compassion to relieve the patient’s anxiety and stress. The same level of professionalism is necessary over the phone to address patients’ questions and concerns in an efficient and timely manner.

Record Vital Signs

Temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, height, weight, blood sugar and other vitals are important indicators of general health. A doctor can review the vitals you measure and compare with the record of previous years to identify risk factors for chronic diseases. A sudden spike in the numbers can provide a clue that something is amiss. Your role as a medical assistant is to ensure that the results are as accurate as possible.

Patient Education

Medical assistants form a critical link between the physician and the patient. In your role as a medical assistant, you will have the task of communicating the physician’s orders to the patient. The scope of duties for medical assistants disallows the dispensing of advice to patients, but you can communicate the doctor’s recommendation to the patient in a language they can understand. You can call patients before an appointment and let them know what to expect to relieve anxiety before they visit.


The medical assistant program includes the training necessary to draw venous blood samples. In a smaller practice, you may perform phlebotomy unsupervised if you are trained and certified. Drawing blood samples may be a small part of what you do. However, in larger facilities, you might spend most of your day collecting blood samples for testing. Drawing blood is not always as easy as it appears. It requires good communication to put patients at ease, steady hands, and clinical judgment to know when to back off.

Assisting with Medical Procedures

Technology is a vital contributor to the availability of a wide range of medical services offered in physicians’ offices. Today, it is not uncommon to get an ultrasound, x-ray, diagnostic test, and minor surgical procedures performed in a private practice. While some procedures are beyond the scope of training for medical assistants, you might be able to participate in many of them, serving as an extra pair of hands to set up equipment, prep patients, pass instruments, and monitor patients. This work helps the physician to focus on the patient and perform the procedure quickly and efficiently.

Infection Control

Maintaining a clean and sterile environment ensure the health of the general public. The medical assistant program will cover the principles of infection control that you will use to prevent the spread of contagious disease. From disinfecting treatment rooms, counters, and chairs to sterilizing equipment, your role in preventing the spread of infections is critical in a medical office.

Perform Administrative Duties

Your training in office procedures will also add value to the practice. Some administrative tasks include scheduling appointments, restocking shelves, maintaining patient records, billing and coding, filing paperwork, answering the phone, and general management of the medical office.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants earned a median pay of $37,190 in 2021. The projected employment growth from 2021 to 2031 is 16% – almost four times the average for all occupations. As a medical assistant, you can advance your career and improve your salary and employment opportunities by acquiring medical assistant certification.

Certified medical assistants are eligible for the greater part of new jobs posted. Employment ads typically list certification as a requirement for candidacy. Certified MAs have the advanced skills and commitment to the field that employers want in the employees. If you want to qualify for a job right out of medical assistant school, invest the extra time and money to obtain national certification.

A second reason to pursue certification is to increase your pay. Certified MAs earn almost 35 percent more than the median salary recording by the BLS. The AAMA also records higher salaries for their certified members. A higher salary means more money in your pocket. It can help you to manage the rising cost of living, save for your retirement, and have a better quality of life.

Renewal of your certification requires that you take professional development classes. The continuing education units will help you to stay current with trends and best practices. They provide opportunities to network with other medical assistants and health care professionals. These will all help you lift your standard of practice.

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 Minnesota

Complete accredited training

There’s a great future forecasted for medical assistants. If you’ve made up your mind to enter the healthcare industry as a medical assistant, you’ll want to complete formal training through an accredited medical assistant program. Both diploma and associate degree options are available; your career goals will determine the one you choose. Generally, graduates of both programs vie for the same jobs. So, what’s the difference, and should you invest more to obtain the associate degree in medical assisting?

Medical assistant programs that lead to a diploma or certificate are the most popular due to their short completion time. This option gets you trained and into the workplace faster than the degree option. Classified as a trade skill, medical assisting requires special skills that you’ll acquire through theory and hands-on instruction in a short-term program. As long as the curriculum covers the key skills required, you’ll have more than adequate preparation to begin entry-level employment in the field. The associate degree program will cover the same core requirements with additional coursework in general courses, management, and communication.

Programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accredited Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) meet all the requirements for the profession with career-focused training. They give you to opportunity to gain a thorough education without the time-consuming prerequisites of a degree program. Furthermore, an accredited program (not a degree), is the primary factor that determines eligibility for certification as a medical assistant through organizations like the American Association of Medical Associations.

The degree is not necessary for success as a medical assistant, but it will give a foundation to pursue further education and apply for positions that call for a degree.

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

Duration of the medical assistant program: An accelerated program covers the skills you need in the shortest time possible. You can prepare for a new career and start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in 8 to 12 months. Programs are also available to meet the needs of students who prefer a slower pace.

Employer-centered curriculum: Medical assistant programs should cover only the content needed to assume your role as a medical assistant – with no additional and time-consuming prerequisites. Some of the clinical and administrative skills covered include wound care, checking vitals, observation and reporting, updating medical histories, phlebotomy, medical office administration, billing and coding, and medical terminology.

Experienced instructors: One of the first things you should look for in a medical assistant program is experienced instructors. Instructors with real-world experience bring a range of background and experience to the classroom, sharing examples from their own lives.

Flexible formats: Technological makes it possible to pursue your educational goals without a major interruption in your normal schedule. Through online study, evening and weekend schedules, and self-paced study, you can complete formal medical assistant training on a schedule that works for you.

Hands-on experience: Hands-on training reinforces the program theory. Smaller classes and hands-on activities that begin early in the program provide the best environment for acquiring and developing medical assistant skills.

Financially viable: The shorter the training the more cost-effective the program. There’s no need to enroll in an associate degree program to meet the requirements for employment and certification as a medical assistant. The prerequisite courses extend the program and increase the final cost of your education.

Fringe benefits: The opportunity to obtain certification during the program is priceless. The program should prepare you for medical assistant certification. Other certification such as EKG, phlebotomy, first aid, and others will give you a head start in your job search.

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.

Minnesota Medical Assistants FAQs

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

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

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

According to Minnesota State, a Certified Medical Assistant may perform the following tasks:

  • Update and file medical records
  • Schedule appointments
  • Arrange for hospital admissions
  • Take medical histories
  • Take vitals – temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure readings and record
  • Prepare for examination
  • Assist licensed health care professionals during the examination
  • Record results of medical examinations and treatments
  • Draw blood
  • Collect and prepare specimens and perform basic laboratory tests
  • Dispense of contaminated supplies
  • Sterilize medical instruments
  • Provide instruction for medication and special diets
  • Prepare, administer, and record medications/immunizations as directed
  • Authorize drug refills as directed
  • Telephone prescriptions to a pharmacy
  • Prepare patients for x-ray, take basic x-rays of chest and extremities
  • Take electrocardiograms
  • Remove sutures and change dressings
  • Perform related work as required

Work must be performed according to established rules and procedures with day-to-day supervision provided by an RN or other licensed medical professional on duty.

Contact the Minnesota Society of Medical Assistants


CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assistant Programs Minnesota

Anoka, MN Medical Assistant programs:
Anoka Technical College
1355 West Highway 10
Anoka, MN 55303

Brooklyn, MN Medical Assistant programs:
Hennepin Technical College
9000 Brooklyn Boulevard
Brooklyn Park, MN 55445

Brooklyn Park, MN Medical Assistant programs:
Rasmussen College
5555 96th Avenue N
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443

Canby, MN Medical Assistant programs:
Minnesota West Community & Technical College
1011 First Street West
Canby, MN 56220

Duluth, MN Medical Assistant programs:
Lake Superior College
2101 Trinity Road
Duluth, MN 55811

Faribault, MN Medical Assistant programs:
South Central College
1225 Third Street SW
Faribault, MN 55021

Hutchinson, MN Medical Assistant programs:
Ridgewater College
2 Century Avenue SE
Hutchinson, MN 55350

Red Wing, MN Medical Assistant programs:
Minnesota State College Southeast
308 Pioneer Road
Red Wing, MN 55066

White Bear Lake, MN Medical Assistant programs:
Century College
3300 Century Ave N
White Bear Lake, MN 55110