Virginia Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Programs

Medical assistants add versatility and value wherever they work. They are cross-trained to offer administrative and clinical services to private practices, clinics, and hospitals facilitating the smooth management and care of patients. Medical assistants work at the frontlines, and are usually the first to meet and greet visitors thereby setting the tone for the entire patient experience. Like nurses and physicians, medical assistants must be compassionate and caring, to offer comfort to patients and their families. A medical assistant’s role extends beyond the front office duties. Depending on the practice, the medical assistant may assist the physician with patient treatment in the back office. The ability of a medical assistant to wear multiple hats improves the overall efficiency of the practice. Physicians are empowered to perform at the height of their practice with a medical assistant at the reigns to oversee the smaller yet important details related to the operation of the practice.

Search Medical Assistant Programs

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

Sponsored Listings

Communication is a huge contributor to patient satisfaction in the health care delivery system. Often, patients can get lost in the medical jargon used by medical professionals. A medical assistant functions as a liaison between the patient and physician by translating complex data into simple terms. In their role as liaison, medical assistants may also take an active role in follow-up care, checking on patients’ response to treatment, reminding them of upcoming appointments, and relaying any critical information to the physician or referring the patient to a specialist for further care.

In their day-to-day activities, skilled medical assistants are perfectly positioned to detect potential problems and provide solutions with the guidance of the physician and other healthcare professionals. The value of a medical assistant in healthcare cannot be overstated. If you’re passionate about patient care, have good organizational and problem-solving skills, and want to carve your place in the healthcare industry, then medical assisting may be just for you.

Benefits of Becoming a Medical Assistant

Medical Assisting is one of the hottest, in-demand jobs in Virginia as many private practices, clinics, and hospitals are actively seeking out professionals to fill vacant positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data reflects this need, projecting a 16 percent rise in employment over the next decade. This demand makes it an ideal time to explore medical assistant programs near you. An accredited program will provide you will all the skills and knowledge needed to take up the duties competently.

Medical Assistants play a versatile role in a doctor’s office. Managing the clinical and administrative function, they offer valuable support and represent a substantial savings on manhours. On the administrative end, they schedule appointments, collect patient data, update patient histories, answer and return calls, schedule lab tests, and collect co-pays. Their clinical duties are also critical to the operation and might include measuring vital signs, monitoring patients, drawing blood, performing ECG, collecting samples for the lab, and assisting physicians with medical procedures. The management of these key roles benefits the medical assistant as much as the physician. The experience in both sides of healthcare (administrative and clinical) positions the medical assistant for employment in the future. A medical assistant can decide to specialize in one area to strengthen his or her skills and increase future earnings. Medical assistants with strong administrative skills may go on to positions such as medical biller or office manager.

Medical assisting provides the opportunity to earn an excellent starting salary with minimal training. The BLS recorded a median annual salary of $37,190 in 2021. Medical assistants who complete the requirements for national certification can earn up to 25 percent more than the median annual salary. Apart from the salary, medical assisting offers job stability. The high demand protects existing MAs from layoffs when during serious economic times.

The duration of medical assistant program is another attractive feature of the profession. From start to finish, you can commence employment as a certified medical assistant in as little as 10 months to 12 months. The training will include time assigned for an internship, so you can be more than prepared to take up your role in a medical office by the time you graduate.

If you’ve made up your mind to enter the healthcare industry but want a position that offers a regular schedule, medical assisting is the perfect choice. While some medical assistants employed in large healthcare facilities may be on call or work non-traditional hours like doctors and nurses, the majority of MAs work in medical practices with regular 9 to 5 schedules.

Healthcare is a unique industry that offers several points of entry with opportunities for growth or expansion. The medical assistant route requires short-term training that leads to access and interaction with multiple health care professionals and opportunities to work in diverse facilities to determine if healthcare is the right choice. It is a chance to get your feet wet without investing vast sums of money and time only to determine that it is not for you.

You can make a lifelong career of medical assisting or use it as a stepping stone to something else in the industry. Medical assistants may move on to nursing, physician’s assistant, health administration, medical coding, or other professions.

Medical assistants who complete and pass the Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) exam administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants are recognized as professionals in the field across the nation. You will be recognized by physicians in Virginia as well as those from other states. This means you can take your profession with you wherever you go without having to meet special requirements at the state level.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

Even though Virginia doesn’t require you to be certified to work as a medical assistant, you do not want to discard the idea of actively pursuing it. For one, certified medical assistants (CMAs) have a more competitive advantage over their uncertified peers when applying for jobs. Employers prefer nationally certified medical assistants because certification demonstrates a MA’s commitment to the profession. Physicians seeking out the services of a medical assistant want the assurance that the professional can perform his/her duties without a huge investment of time for training on the job. Your certification says you’re prepared to hit the ground running from your first day of employment.

There are very few states that mandate certification for medical assistants, but that could change in the future. If your state is exploring legislation for stricter requirements for practice or if your employer suddenly decides that certification is necessary for continued hire, you will be ahead of the game if you acquire and maintain your national certification. Certification then becomes a wise investment against future trends in the industry.

There are many factors that affect medical assistant wages. Your place of work, geographical location, and experience are some of the factors, but according to the AAMA, employers are apt to set higher salaries for CMAs. Certification has a positive impact on your base salary, benefits, position, job stability, and opportunities for advancement or diversification in the industry.

Certification says a lot about your educational preparation for the industry. Certifying organizations require candidates to complete an accredited medical assistant program or demonstrate a suitable number of hours of practice in the industry. Accredited programs must adhere to professional standards based on the role of the medical assistant. It requires training in theory and practice to ensure graduates have a thorough understanding of the administrative and clinical role of the medical assistant. Hands-on practice facilitates the development of skills as the student trains in simulated labs and at diverse health care facilities.

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 Virginia

Complete accredited training

One of the first steps to becoming a medical assistant is to complete a medical assistant program. There are many programs to compare in Virginia and a few of them have undergone the process of accreditation. Choosing an accredited program should be a priority for many reasons – the first being that it is a guarantee that the program meets the professional standards. Another secondary reason to choose an accredited program comes from the fact that employers are increasingly hiring only graduates from an accredited medical assistant program.

Your pursuit of medical assistant training requires an investment of time and money. Enrolling in one that is accredited ensures your investment is financially sound and that you can trust the education you will receive. On the flip side, non-accredited programs may be more affordable but you will not be eligible for certification and financial aid upon completion. The courses completed will not count toward further education if you decide to continue your studies.

So, accreditation can make a huge difference in your career. The two widely recognized accrediting agencies for medical assistant and other allied health programs are CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) and ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools). Both agencies are credible and one is not better than the other. A medical assistant program accredited by any one of these agencies will have a well-designed curriculum, experienced faculty, established labs, and arrangements for the development of practical skills.

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

Duration of the medical assistant program: Whether you’re in the market for accelerated training or a program that proceeds at a slower pace, the medical assistant program should not exceed 6 months to 12 months.

Employer-centered curriculum: The program must offer cross training the administrative and clinical functions of the medical assistant in one program. Apart from the technical, the curriculum should focus on the soft skills required for success, including strong interpersonal communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.

Experienced instructors: Instructors should be experienced with a practical knowledge of the health care industry to provide students with real-world examples from their own experiences. Learning from professionals who have had years of experience provides a comprehensive learning experience.

Flexible formats: The program schedule should match your goals for academic advancement and balance with your other commitments. If the program is delivered online, instructors should be experienced in the delivery of content online.

Hands-on experience: Medical assisting is extremely hands-on. Students must develop technical skills and become familiar with the use of the tools required on the job, including blood pressure cuffs, nebulizers, and hypodermic needles. The practical part of the program should cover the use of important tools and equipment used in the industry.

Financially viable: By enrolling in an accredited medical assistant program, you may be eligible for financial aid to help reduce the cost of training. The duration of the program, delivery format, credential awarded, and type of institution are some factors that impact the final cost.

Fringe benefits: A low student-to-faculty ratio enables personalized attention and your eventual success. Modern labs and preparation for national medical assistant certification and related certification – such as phlebotomy – are some benefits that will give you a head start after you graduate.

Obtain Medical Assistant Certification

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

You become eligible for certification through the American Association of Medical Assistants after you’ve completed an accredited medical assistant program and pass the certifying exam.

The exam is multiple-choice exam comprising 200 questions that assess your comprehension of pharmacology, safety and infection control, legal and ethical issues, communication, and much more.

The principal categories and percentage allocation are as follows:

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

There are a few routes to gain eligibility to take the exam:

  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. This option is available if you previously passed the CMA Certification Exam and want to recertify the CMA credential.

Application Steps

  1. Confirm your eligibility to take the exam
  2. Make sure you understand the exam policies and information
  3. Review your documents to confirm your eligibility to take the exam
  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. Verify your name, email, and postal address
  7. Schedule your exam appointment after your application and payment are processed
  8. Complete the exam and wait for the pass/fail notification
  9. Get your official score reports – within three weeks after your exam
  10. Your certificate or digital badge will arrive 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. This is another credential that is widely recognized by healthcare employers in all states.

You can fulfil the requirements for RMA certification in several ways:

Through formal education-

  • Must have completed an accredited MA program within the past four years
  • 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 cost of the RMA exam is $135. You can schedule your exam online after securing approval from the RMA.

You’ll receive official certification within 7 to 14 days after successful completion of 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.

Virginia Medical Assistants FAQs

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

Medical assistants are not required to be licensed or certified by the State of Virginia. Certification does not grant any special privileges to medical assistants at the state level. However, employers, at their discretion, may elect to assign greater privileges to CMAs based on the technical abilities.

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

Virginia law does not prohibit any practitioner licensed or certified by the Board from delegating to personnel supervised by him from performing nondiscretionary tasks that do not require the exercise of professional judgment for their performance. The practitioner assumes responsibility for the tasks delegated.

The practitioner may also authorize the administration of controlled substances by personnel who have been properly trained to assist a doctor of medicine or osteopathic medicine, provided the method does not include intravenous, intrathecal, or epidural administration and the prescriber remains responsible for such administration.

According to the AAMA, medical assistants in Virginia may:

  • Perform venipuncture
  • Administer intramuscular, intradermal and subcutaneous injections
  • Measure vital signs
  • Remove stitches
  • Record health history reports
  • Assist physicians with medical procedures
  • Collect lab samples

Contact the Virginia Society of Medical Assistants


CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assisting Programs Virginia

Charlotteville, VA Medical Assistant Programs:
Piedmont Virginia Community College
501 College Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Chesapeake, VA Medical Assistant Programs:
Sentara College of Health Sciences
1441 Crossway Boulevard, Suite 105
Chesapeake, VA 23320
(757) 388-2900

Fredericksburg, VA Medical Assistant Programs:
Eastern Virginia Career College
10304 Spotsylvania Ave, Suite 400
Fredericksburg, VA 22408

Lynchburg, VA Medical Assistant Programs:
Central Virginia Community College
3506 Wards Road
Lynchburg, VA 24502
(434) 832-7600

Virginia Beach, VA Medical Assistant Programs:
Bryant & Stratton College-Virginia Beach
301 Centre Pointe Dr,
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Centura College
4455 South Blvd.,
Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Weyers Cave, VA Medical Assistant Programs:
Blue Ridge Community College
Box 80, One College Lane
Weyers Cave, Virginia 24486
(540) 234-9261