South Carolina Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Program

Medical assisting is one of the most versatile positions in healthcare. As frontline workers, medical assistants are cross-trained to perform administrative and clinical tasks under the direct supervision of a physician. They are quick to meet the needs of the patients they serve. If you’re a compassionate and caring individual and looking to launch a career where you can offer meaningful service to others, consider enrolling in an accredited medical assistant program to acquire in-demand skills and knowledge in health care.

Search Medical Assistant Programs

Get information on Medical Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

The expanding field of medical assisting offers numerous opportunities for those with the right skill set. The medical assistant program combines theory with hands-on training you need to meet real-world challenges on the job. Your duties as a medical assistant will depend on the type of service provided by the medical office. Although your training will cover both administrative and clinical tasks, your duties might be limited to administrative work which includes answering the telephone, scheduling appointments, greeting patients, updating medical records, managing correspondence, and completing insurance claims. Some employers may have a receptionist/office manager in place and might hire a medical assistant for clinical duties only. In such an office, your duties will include but not limited to patient education, prepping patients for examinations, taking vital signs, collecting laboratory samples, blood draws, and simple laboratory tests. In less than one year, you can prepare for an entry-level position as a medical assistant, start earning a decent wage, and continue your plans for future growth in the health care sector.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

Like any other career path, it is vital that you gain a more complete understanding of the medical assistant profession before you commit. You should already know the job outlook, the potential salary, the requirements to work in the field, and opportunities for career growth. Choosing a career in a major life decision, and it requires some research to gather information that will guide your path.

There are specific skills you need for success in health care – and these are not necessarily the skills you develop in the medical assistant program. Healthcare is a challenging field that requires patience, compassion, and empathy. You’ll increase your risk for disillusionment, burnout, and dissatisfaction if you’re called to demonstrate these qualities from day-to-day and they do not align with your strengths.

Another key factor to consider is what the expectations are for medical assistants. What does the work of a medical assistant entail? One of the best ways to learn what’s required is to speak with professionals within the field. Reach out to other medical assistants and ask them to share their experiences to gain a first-hand impression of what’s required. Another option is to visit a work site directly. You can visit a doctor’s office and ask questions or ask about opportunities for an internship. The list of tasks outlined below should also serve as a guide to what’s expected from medical assistants.

Greet Patients

First impressions last and are often the key to a successful visit at a medical office. As a medical assistant, your goal is to create a positive initial rapport with the patient to establish trust and put the patient at ease. Greeting is more than saying hello or mentioning the patient’s name. In a medical office, it includes paying close attention to hand-hygiene to avoid the spread of infections, maintaining a clean and safe environment for all patients, and maintaining the patient’s right to privacy at all times. You must also be cognizant of non-verbal cues and respond accordingly to counteract hostility of anxiety.

Record Vital Signs

Vital measurements are needed at every appointment. The physician requires accurate measurements to assess the patient’s general physical health and pick up clues of a possible disease. The vitals, when compared to previous recordings, may also indicate progress toward recovery. In general practices, you will be responsible for recording and charting vitals as a regular part of your workflow. Some of the vitals include temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar. This record is useful for immediate treatment and even in the long-term to determine how the body is adjusting to treatment. In some specialty practices, vital signs may not be recorded.

Patient Education

Medical assistants are also educators in that they’re responsible for teaching patients how to best use the treatment outlined by the physician. They relay the information in layman terms without the medical jargon, so that the patient understands the how, when, and why. This empowers the patient to improve their status and get involved in their own care. Good communication is essential – and it’s not always what you say. You must assess the patient and determine the best way to say the information. Always keep in mind your role is to relay information and not make any medical decisions for the patient.


The sole work of a phlebotomist is to draw blood and prepare samples testing at a lab. Certification as a phlebotomist will bolster your qualifications for employment. Some medical assistant programs include the educational requirements for phlebotomy to give students the option to apply for certification. The additional training will give you a competitive advantage in your job search and will add value to the services you can provide to your employer.

Assisting with Medical Procedures

As general practitioners expand their arsenal of services to take on more complex care, medical assistants who work alongside physicians also perform a broader role in line with their training. A lot of treatments once reserved for hospital specialists are conducted in primary care settings. Some of the tasks that a medical assistant may engage in include the treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, assist with routine exams, screening for common health issues, check for developmental milestones, and educating patients on disease prevention.

Infection Control

Infection control measures are the actions taken to prevent or stop the spread of infections within a health care setting. These measures ensure the healthcare environment is kept safe for patients and staff. Medical assistants must understand how infections can be spread, how they can be stopped, and recommendations for known pathogens. Some common practices include frequent handwashing, wearing of gloves and other personal protective equipment, sterilizing equipment used in patient, cleaning waiting areas and rest rooms, proper disposal of waste.

Perform Administrative Duties

Administrative medical assistants do most of their work at t desk and rarely perform clinical tasks. You might prefer a health care position that calls your clerical skills into play. Some of the daily duties that an administrative medical assistant might handle include scheduling appointments, answering phones, ordering office supplies, processing insurance payments, contacting patients before an appointment, and updating medical records.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

Medical assistant certification provides clear proof of your competency to practice in various health care environments. One of the main factors that distinguishes a certification medical assistant from one that is non-certified is the passage of an exam issued by a recognized certifying organization such as the American Association of Medical Assistants. While there is no specific regulations at the federal or state level that require medical assistants to be certified, a majority of employers do require it and will not employ medical assistants who are not certified.

Employers prefer medical assistants to be certified as it demonstrates that they have the essential knowledge and skills to perform their duties. Certified medical assistants are less likely to have medical errors and the resultant lawsuits associated with them. Another reason employers are determined to hire CMAs is the lack of resources to train incoming employers. Certifying bodies vouch for the abilities of their members. CMAs are capable of managing their tasks without requiring extensive training.

From the standpoint of the newly graduated medical assistant, you should make the investment in yourself to pursue medical assistant certification. Some of the main benefits include, but are not limited to, higher earning potential, better employment options, and future career advancement.

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 South Carolina

Complete accredited training

One of the first steps to becoming a certified medical assistant is to find an accredited and affordable medical assistant training program. The program should align with your career goals and offer a schedule that fits with your lifestyle. The two primary accreditation organizations for medical assistants are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

The CAAHEP and ABHES accredit both associate degree and certificate programs. The associate degree programs require the completion of 42 to 48 credit hours – covering a period of two years. Certificate programs are an option if you prefer a career-focused program that you can complete in a matter of months and enter the workforce quickly. The extended courses required by a degree program may or may not lead to better job opportunities.

If you’re considering medical assistant certification, as well you should, a degree or lack of it will not affect your ability to apply for certification. Certifying bodies require that you complete an accredited program and pass their exam comprising of theory and practical assessments. Keep in mind that you may be required to perform and pass a background check as a prerequisite to certification. Persons convicted of serious crimes are not eligible for certification.

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

Duration of the medical assistant program: Allied health programs like medical assisting are designed to be completed in under 12 months. A certificate program will deliver the training you need to prepare for quick entry into healthcare.

Employer-centered curriculum: As a trade program, medical assisting emphasizes the clinical and administrative skills that medical assistants use on the job. There are no prerequisite courses that cost additional time and money. Theory and practical activities prepare you with the skills to work as an entry-level medical assistant. This removes the need for employers to train new workers.

Experienced instructors: An experienced instructor brings a lot of value to the classroom, including shared experiences, understanding of state and federal laws, and some insight of tasks that medical assistants may or may not assume within the guidelines of general practice.

Flexible formats: Today’s classrooms are not confined to a traditional day schedule. With so many professionals going back to school to prepare for a new career, medical assistant and other programs are delivered in various formats to accommodate the needs of working professionals.

Hands-on experience: Practical training may take many forms. Some programs use video and interactive sessions followed by hands-on training a lab before the student assumes an internship at a local health care facility. The mode of training should be one that matches your learning style.

Financially viable: Shorter programs typically cost less than extended programs. If your finances are limited, you should enroll in a certificate program that will provide all the training you need to qualify for certification and employment as a medical assistant. Online delivery and day-time schedules may also cost less than on-campus and evening schedules.

Fringe benefits: What do you need most from a medical assistant program? Is it the opportunity to continue working while you study? The option for additional certification? Extra support throughout the program? The convenience of online study? Whatever you need, there’s a program for you.

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.

South Carolina Medical Assistants FAQs

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

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

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

A physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse may delegate specified tasks to a CMA pursuant to the following requirements:

  1. the task must be delegated directly to the CMA by the physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse, and not through another licensed practitioner;
  2. the task must be performed when the physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse delegating the task is in such close proximity as to be immediately available to the CMA if needed;
  3. the physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse delegating the task must determine that the task is within the training and competency of the CMA and will not pose a significant risk to the patient if improperly performed;
  4. the task must not involve the verbal transmission of an order or prescription to a licensed person if the licensed person requires the order or prescription to be in writing; and
  5. the CMA must wear an appropriate badge identifying the CMA’s status, which must be clearly visible to the patient at all times.

(1)  A physician or physician assistant, pursuant to the physician assistant’s scope of practice guidelines, may delegate nursing tasks to UAP under the supervision of the physician or physician assistant. Such nursing tasks include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a)    meeting patients’ needs for personal hygiene;

(b)    meeting patients’ needs relating to nutrition;

(c)    meeting patients’ needs relating to ambulation;

(d)    meeting patients’ needs relating to elimination;

(e)    taking vital signs;

(f)    maintaining asepsis; and

(g)    observing, recording, or reporting any of the nursing tasks enumerated in this subsection.

A physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice nurse may not delegate the following tasks to a medical assistant:

  • administering controlled medications, intravenous medications, contrast agents, or chemotherapy agents;
  • injecting neurotoxin products, neuro modulatory agents, or tissue fillers;
  • using lasers or instruments that results in tissue destruction;
  • placing sutures;
  • taking radiographs or using any ionizing radiation unless the CMA is also a certified limited practice radiographer;
  • analyzing, interpreting, or diagnosing symptoms or tests;
  • triaging patients; and
  • performing a clinical decision-making task by means of telemedicine.

Contact the South Carolina Society of Medical Assistants

CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assistant Programs South Carolina 

Beaufort, SC Medical Assistant programs:
Technical College of the Lowcountry
921 Ribaut Road,
Beaufort, SC, 29902
(843) 525-8207

Charleston, SC Medical Assistant programs:
Trident Technical College
PO Box 118067
Charleston, SC 29423

Columbia, SC Medical Assistant programs:
Fortis College in Columbia
246 Stoneridge Drive, Suite 101
Columbia, SC 29210
(803) 678-4800

Midlands Technical College
P.O. Box 2408
Columbia, SC 29202

South University
9 Science Court
Columbia, SC 29203
(866) 396-6045

Conway, SC Medical Assistant programs:
Miller-Motte College
2451 Highway 501
Conway, SC 29528
(800) 705-9182

Graniteville, SC Medical Assistant programs:
Aiken Technical College
2276 Jefferson Davis Hwy
Graniteville, SC 29829

Greenville, SC Medical Assistant programs:
Greenville Technical College
P.O. Box 5616
Greenville, SC 29606
(864) 250-8000

Greenwood, SC Medical Assistant programs:
Piedmont Technical College
620 N. Emerald Rd.
Greenwood, SC 29648

Pendleton, SC Medical Assistant programs:
Tri-County Technical College
Post Office Box 587
Pendleton, SC 29670

Sumter, SC Medical Assistant programs:
AllHeart Allied Health Education Center
188 S. Pike East,
Sumter, SC 29150