Do Medical Assistants Need to be Certified to Work in California?

by SJVC on December 20, 2016 · 3:00 pm

Medical assistant certificationThe short answer is “no,” medical assistants do not need to be certified to work in California.¹ For some people, that’s one of the most appealing aspects about the position, considering how easy it is to become a medical assistant compared to other similar entry-level health care jobs. But just because medical assistants don’t need to be certified doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be. Here we’ll look at some of the benefits of becoming certified and why it might be worth it for you to earn certification even though you don’t need it to work as a medical assistant in California.

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant

Certification demonstrates a high level of professional competency and says to employers that you’re serious about medical assisting as a career. Here are three of the most commonly cited benefits of earning certification before (or even after) you start working as a medical assistant.

  1. Better Job Prospects – Having a certification on your resume can boost your job prospects after school and help you stand out among your peers who are going for the same medical assistant jobs. Certification shows a level of seriousness about your chosen profession and quickly communicates to employers that you possess the skills and knowledge required for successful performance. Employers want to hire the best and most qualified individual who can positively contribute as a medical assistant. In other words, getting certified will make you just the kind of medical assistant employers are looking for. It’s no surprise that Quintessential Careers named health support as one of the “hot” fields where certification can boost your career.²
  2. Career Advancement Opportunities – Speaking of a career boost, getting certified now can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life in the future. Studies have shown that individuals who are certified in their field often have better promotion opportunities in the long run and have higher salaries overall, and the same can be said about medical assistants. To the first point, although medical assistants are not required to be certified to work, they are required to be certified by an approved certifying organization to train other medical assistants. This means certification can lead medical assistants to supervisory or teaching positions later on. And according to the American Association of Medical Assistants, certified medical assistants earn more than their non-certified peers and are also in higher demand.³
  3. Help More Patients – Certification not only allows you to do more for yourself, but also to do more for others. For example, according to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs, only medical assistants who are credentialed may enter medication, laboratory and radiology/diagnostic imaging orders into computerized order entry systems.4 This may not seem like much, but it’s one of the highest priority administrative duties on the support side of health care and can be instrumental in helping patients receive the care they need. Certification can also give licensed health care providers more confidence in your abilities as a medical assistant so they spend more time seeing patients and less time supervising you.

These are just some of the benefits of becoming certified. When you stack them up against the time and effort it takes to complete the certification requirements for medical assistants, the return on investment is obvious. So, what do you need to do to elevate your standing as a medical assistant?

How to Get Certified

In order to be eligible to sit for one of the nationally recognized medical assistant certification exams, you must first complete a medical assistant training program through an accredited school. Graduates of medical assistant certificate programs are eligible to sit for a certification exam. Once certified, plan on getting re-certified every 3 to 5 years. Not only is re-certification necessary to maintain your credential and position as a professional medical assistant, but it also helps you stay up-to-date so you can bring the most to the job.

You can train to become a certified medical assistant online through San Joaquin Valley College. Traditional training programs are also available at SJVC campuses located throughout California. Request more information about SJVC’s Medical Assistant program or call toll-free 866-544-7898.

¹http://www.mbc.ca.gov/Licensees/Physicians_and_Surgeons/Medical_Assistants/Medical_Assistants_FAQ.aspx

²https://www.livecareer.com/quintessential/certifications/career-certifications

³https://discover.alpenacc.edu/cb_survey_2015.pdf

4https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/index.html?redirect=/ehrincentiveprograms/


Medical assisting is an exciting and rewarding entry-level healthcare career. To help you decide if this is the right path for you, SJVC created a free guide outlining the roles and responsibilities of a medical assistant. Download your guide to learn what medical assistants do, why they are in demand, and how you can become one.

Get Your Guide: What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

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