North Carolina Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Programs

The health care industry is a place of constant change due to technological advancements, advent of complex diseases, the aging population, and the expanding role of health care professionals. In the midst of all the changes, health care providers still need to maintain and improve the quality of services they deliver to the public. Physicians who are bogged down with administrative responsibilities, can look to medical assistants for support, and focus their attention on providing value-based care. Medical assisting is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the sector. According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, medical assistants are “allied health professionals who work predominately under licensed provider authority in outpatient settings—including outpatient departments of primarily inpatient institutions.” They may perform specific administrative, patient-communication, and clinical duties as delegated by licensed providers such as physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.”

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Medical assistants are considered unlicensed professionals in North Carolina. There is no state-recognized scope of practice or requirements for formal training or certification. It is left to employers to outline the training and tasks delegated to MAs. The AAMA records a comprehensive list of duties the certified medical assistants may perform. Yet, there is so much more MAs can do with the right training. Medical assistants may be specially trained to perform advanced tasks such as health coaching, administrative management, team coordination, and more to give physicians the freedom to work at the top of their license. With some guidance, medical assistants can improve the facility’s workflow and productivity, relieve the burden placed on licensed staff, and increase patient satisfaction. Such is the value of medical assistants.

Benefits of Becoming a Medical Assistant

A medical assistant forms a vital part of the medical team, completing tasks that impact everyone from the patient to physician. If you’re looking to enter the healthcare industry, medical assisting could be a great choice as it offers a combination of administrative and clinical responsibilities and opportunities for future growth.

The healthcare industry needs capable medical assistants. Physicians especially need them to improve the productivity and workflow of their practice. The employment growth is reflected in the Occupational Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The projected 16 percent employment growth rate by the year 2031 translates to 117,800 new jobs added within that period. The growth rate is faster than other health care professions and certainly much faster than most other occupations. The takeaway is that jobs will be available once you complete training and certification.

Medical assisting is a profession that does not require extensive training to assume an entry-level. You don’t need to have a degree or even prior experience in the healthcare industry. If you do not have the finances or a lot of time to prep for the new career, medical assisting is right up your alley. Training can be completed in a matter of months – not years. Compared to the training required for nurses or physicians, medical assistant certificate programs are relatively short. Some accredited programs cover a period of 9 months, or you can earn a diploma and complete national certification in 12 months. In North Carolina, you don’t need to complete a formal education to practice. However, employers prefer trained and certified medical assistants who can hit the ground running from their first day.

Another benefit of medical assisting is the flexibility of the training programs. The opportunity to complete some of the coursework online should remove any barriers to moving forward. If you’re hesitating because you cannot envision how you’ll balance school with all your other commitments, just compare the available training options in your area and see what’s available in terms of hybrid training. You’ll discover that you can do a whole lot of the coursework online and schedule time for hands-on training on campus and at approved health care facilities.

Medical assistants manage both the administrative and basic clinical responsibilities in some medical settings. The variation of tasks will challenge you from day to day. You won’t have the time to get stuck in a rut with the mundane duties of some professions. One day may be filled with patient follow-ups and others will see you administering injections and taking vital signs.

Another way to relieve the monotony in this profession is to switch jobs when you need a change of scenery or just want to experience another side of healthcare. Medical assistants can work in a variety of settings. The icing on the cake is that you’ll learn something new as you move from one area to another. For instance, the tasks you perform for a physician in general practice will be widely different from those in a surgical center. The opportunities are endless if you’re willing to learn. Some specialties include pediatrics, OB-GYN, psychiatry, geriatrics, and chiropractic.

Medical assisting provides a safe and affordable introduction to healthcare. The training is affordable, yet it will give you the opportunity to work alongside physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. As you form relationships and gain exposure to various sectors of the industry, you will be better prepared to shape your long-term goals if you plan to transition to another profession in the field.

Medical assistants earn a lot of professionals who have not earned a college degree. Such is the nature of a profession where there is a great demand. MAs earned a median annual salary of $37,190 in 2021. Those who work at the top of the profession and are also educators can earn upwards of $43,515 annually.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

Certification is a voluntary step that 77 percent of medical assistants embrace to improve their chances of employment and confirm their commitment to excellence in practice. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) is one of the most recognized certifying organizations. It defines three categories of eligibility to obtain the CMA credential, the principle being through accredited training. Other certifying organizations include a category for MAs who have clocked several years of experience. Whatever certifying organization you choose, the benefits are similar. The goal should be to take the final step, after completing a formal program, to improve your chances of success in the field.

Certification demonstrates to a prospective employer that you have the knowledge and skills to perform the duties of a medical assistant. The AAMA’s rigorous exam assesses MAs for their clinical and administrative competencies. Also, the association’s requirements for completion of an accredited training, say to employers that you received the right training to succeed on the job.

Certification impacts your pocket. Certified medical assistants earn more than those who are not certified. If you invested in your education and want the best return on your investment, certification is the way to go.

Certification may be required in some states. Some states such as Washington and New Jersey require medical assistants to complete formal training. It will be just a matter of time that certification will be added to the list of requirements.

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 North Carolina

Complete accredited training

In times past, medical offices had the time and resources to train health care employees on the job. In today’s fast-paced world, where physicians and nurses work extended hours to meet the demand for health care services, there is no time for training. In fact, employers expect their new employees to perform efficiently in the role from the very first day. An accredited medical assistant program takes into account all the duties that medical assistants must perform in a variety of settings. The additional hours of training, including more than 160 hours of practice in a live setting, are designed to give you the abilities and confidence you need to contribute to the health care team. Apart from thorough training, accredited programs fulfill another vital role. That is to prepare you for national certification. A prerequisite for certification through organizations like the American Association of Medical Assistants is to complete an accredited medical assistant program. In North Carolina, accredited programs are available primarily at community colleges. These programs typically lead to a diploma in medical assisting with the option to complete the general education requirement to acquire the associate degree. The general education and some of the core credits may be transferrable to a baccalaureate degree program if you decide to pursue additional studies.

Another vital reason you might want to consider an accredited program is to stand out from the competitive. Employers place their stamp of approval on candidates who take the time to complete an accredited program and obtain national certification. Medical assistant programs are accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Apart from accreditation from a recognized agency, your program of choice should meet the following standards.

Duration of the medical assistant program: Medical assistant training should cover a broad range of skills in a short period of time. The short-term nature of the program ensures affordability and quick entry to healthcare. Medical assistant certificate programs can be completed in 9 months or less.

Employer-centered curriculum: The curriculum must cover the skills you will use on the job. Whether clinical or administrative, you should learn through theory in the classroom (or online) and hands-on activities in a simulation lab and real-world settings.

Experienced instructors: The best curriculum and program objectives will fail without the help of supportive and committed instructors. One way to determine if you’ll get the support your need is to reach out to the instructor before you sign up for the program. If he/she is encouraging and accessible beforehand, there’s a good chance of getting similar support throughout the program.

Flexible formats: An accredited program will include in-person sessions for students to develop practical skills under the guidance of an experienced instructor. However, it is quite acceptable to choose a program that delivers part of the program online. This will give you the opportunity to complete your educational goals without compromising your other commitments.

Hands-on experience: Hands-on activities give life to the theoretical concepts covered in the classroom. A part of the training might take place in on-campus labs and the final practice may be conducted at clinical partners where you will perform the duties of a medical assistant in a real-world setting.

Financially viable: Longer programs, such as the associate degree, will cost more. Stick to the shorter certificate program if your budget is tight.

Fringe benefits: Get the best value for your dollars by enrolling in a program that offers job placement assistance and career services. Discounted tuition, supplement support, and exam prep are some other added benefits.

Obtain Medical Assistant Certification

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

The AAMA will award the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential after you pass the CMA (AAMA) examination. Employers worldwide recognize the CMA credential and hold it as the gold standard in practice.

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.

North Carolina Medical Assistants FAQs

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

Medical assistants are not required to be licensed or certified by the State of Georgia. Those who are nationally certified are not regulated or licensed under occupational laws and rules in North Carolina and do not have a designated scope of practice.

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

North Carolina law states that a medical assistant can perform any task that has been delegated to them by a licensed provider, but the provider will be held responsible for the delegated task. The delegating professional must be on site for the medical assistant to perform some duties.

A physician may delegate to a medical assistant the following medical tasks:

  • Obtaining vital signs
  • Administering flu vaccines
  • Taking an initial or preliminary patient history
  • Taking x-rays – requires formal training
  • Treatments; or removing sutures and changing dressings.

Contact the North Carolina Society of Medical Assistants



CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assisting Programs North Carolina

Albemarle, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Stanly Community College
141 College Dr,
Albemarle, NC 28001

Asheboro, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Randolph Community College
629 Industrial Park Ave,
Asheboro, NC 27205

Asheville, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
South College – Asheville Learning Site
140 Sweeten Creek Rd,
Asheville, NC 28803

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
340 Victoria Rd,
Asheville, NC 28801

Bolivia, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Brunswick Community College
50 College Rd NE,
Bolivia, NC 28422

Charlotte, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Central Piedmont Community College
1201 Elizabeth Ave,
Charlotte, NC 28204

Southeastern College
207 Regency Executive Park Dr
Charlotte, NC 28217
(704) 527-4979

Clinton, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Sampson Community College
1801 Sunset Ave,
Clinton, NC 28328

Clyde, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Haywood Community College
185 Freedlander Dr,
Clyde, NC 28721

Concord, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences
401 Medical Park Dr NE,
Concord, NC 28025

Dallas, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Gaston College
201 US-321,
Dallas, NC 28034

Durham, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Durham Technical Community College
1637 E Lawson St,
Durham, NC 27703

Elizabeth City, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
College of the Albemarle
1208 N Road St,
Elizabeth City, NC 27909

Goldsboro, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Wayne Community College – Goldsboro
3000 Wayne Memorial Dr,
Goldsboro, NC 27534

Graham, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Alamance Community College
1247 Jimmie Kerr Rd,
Graham, NC 27253

Grantsboro, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Pamlico Community College
5049 NC-306,
Grantsboro, NC 28529,

Hamlet, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Richmond Community College
1042 W Hamlet Ave,
Hamlet, NC 28345

Henderson, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Vance- Granville Community College
200 Community College Rd,
Henderson, NC 27536

Hudson, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute
2855 Hickory Blvd,
Hudson, NC 28638

Jamestown, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Guilford Technical Community College
601 E Main St,
Jamestown, NC 27282

Kinston, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Lenoir Community College
231 North Carolina Hwy 58,
Kinston, NC 28504

Morehead City, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Carteret Community College
3505 Arendell St,
Morehead City, NC 28557

Morganton, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Western Piedmont Community College
1001 Burkemont Ave,
Morganton, NC 28655

New Bern, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Craven Community College
800 College Ct,
New Bern, NC 28562

Pinehurst, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Sandhills Community College
3395 Airport Rd,
Pinehurst, NC 28374

Pittsboro, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Central Carolina Community College-Pittsboro
764 West St,
Pittsboro, NC 27312

Polkton, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
South Piedmont Community College
680 US-74,
Polkton, NC 28135

Raleigh, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Wake Technical Community College
9101 Fayetteville Rd,
Raleigh, NC 27603

Rocky Mount, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Edgecombe Community College
225 Tarboro St,
Rocky Mount, NC 27801

Nash Community College
522 N Old Carriage Rd,
Rocky Mount, NC 27804

Roxboro, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Piedmont Community College
1715 College Dr,
Roxboro, NC 27573

Shelby, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Cleveland Community College
137 S Post Rd,
Shelby, NC 28152

Smithfield, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Johnston Community College
245 College Rd,
Smithfield, NC 27577

Spruce Pine, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Mayland Community College
200 Mayland Dr,
Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Statesville, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Mitchell Community College
500 W Broad St,
Statesville, NC 28677

Sylva, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Southwestern Community College-Sylva
447 College Dr.
Sylva, NC 28779
828-586-4091 ext. 269

Thomasville, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Davidson-Davie Community College
297 Davidson Community College Rd,
Thomasville, NC 27360

Troy, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Montgomery Community College
1011 Page St,
Troy, NC 27371

Williamston, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Martin Community College
1161 Kehukee Park Rd,
Williamston, NC 27892

Wilkesboro, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Wilkes Community College
1328 S Collegiate Dr,
Wilkesboro, NC 28697

Wilmington, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Cape Fear Community College
411 N Front St,
Wilmington, NC 28401

Winston-Salem, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Forsyth Technical Community College
2100 Silas Creek Pkwy,
Winston-Salem, NC 27103

Winterville, NC Medical Assistant Programs:
Pitt Community College
1986 Pitt Tech Rd,
Winterville, NC 28590