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Certified Medical Assistant vs Certified Clinical Medical Assistant

starintn starintn (Member)

There are numerous job postings and school advertisements for Certified Medical Assistants. Education ads list training time as full associates degrees (2 yrs). I've also seen programs listed for Certified CLINICAL Medical Assistants-their training time is about 6 months.

I've tried searching for both job titles; typically if I enter Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, I get listings for Certified Medical Assistants.

What's the difference? There has to be some major difference based on the education-an associates vs 6 months?

Thanks for any input-just trying to get my head wrapped around titles/abilities.

There is no difference. The education for a CMA varies from months to years.....how much are you willing to pay? There's the only difference. When it comes to getting jobs, I have yet to see a "certified" or "registered" MA earn more money than someone who was trained in-house for the job, and I've seen a wide range of skills and abilities--from barely able to get an accurate BP to perfect phlebotomy draws. In case you're curious, the one who couldn't get a blood pressure correct twice in a row was a graduate of a CMA program; the one who did beautiful blood draws was trained by the office staff (she used to be the receptionist before making the change to scrubs).

FWIW,an Associates degree in something that will result in a job making ten or twelve bucks an hour kinda seems like overkill to me. JMHO.


Has 8 years experience.

There is no difference. But in our state, due to Medicare/Medicaid guidelines, all Medical Assistants who have access to a patient's chart, will need to be credentialed. (CMA, NCMA, RMA) We all make the same amount of money, the only reason pay would be different would be the experience that the individual has. But going to get your Associate's Degree & going to college for 2 years is a waste of time & money, in my honest opinion. I went to an accredited technical school for Medical Assisting, started in April & graduated after completing my externship in December 8 years ago & I am a CMA through the AAMA.

Some hospitals are requiring CMA certifications as opposed to CCMA. They seem to want folks to have an associate degree rather than primary focus on the nursing tech skills that the CCMA programs provide. I already have a masters degree in information systems and have no intent on going back to get an associates degree to do unnecessary busy work. Unfortunately, there are a few hospitals that are requiring a CMA. Their loss.


Specializes in Geriatrics and Rehab. Has 1 years experience.

The main difference between CMA and CCMA is the different certifying organizations. CCMA is offered by the National Healthcare Association(NHA). The CMA is offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants(AAMA).

Another difference is the CMA has more strict requirements than the CCMA. The medical assisting program must be accrediated by the CAAHEP or ABHES, both are accrediating bodies of allied health education. The NHA does not require this. As long as the school is accrediated and approved by the NHA, you can get the CCMA.

Also, you are not eligible for the CMA if you have a felony.

The job duties are the same, just different certifications.

As far as the associates vs diploma, it depends on your educational goals. If you don't plan to further your education or you just want short-term training, get the diploma. If you plan to go back to school and want to transfer your general classes to a bachelors degree, then get the associates degree.

Getting your associates degree doesn't make your pay higher than someone with a diploma in medical assisting. You are paid according to ypur experience, not your length of education. This is why some people think it is a waste of time to pursue your associates.

However, if you want to save money and time on taking general classes towards your bachelors, get the associates. If you plan on going this route, make sure the college is regionally accrediated so you can transfer credits. This is the path Im going because I plan on getting my Bachelors in Biology for Physician Assistant, since I recently discovered that nursing is not for me (despite what my username says! Lol!)

Sorry for the long post!:) I hope this helps...

Edited by marie4nursing

I'm not sure about other schools, but the school I attended required that you not only pass the CCMA test, but you also graduated with an Associates in Applied Science, and our courses ran concurrent with general education classes as well. That allowed us to have a good portion of pre-reqs we needed for nursing school, if we chose to transfer, as well as the almighty (but pretty much over-looked) Associates degree. General Education associates degree was obtained after two more quarters, which was not required. Total time in school for A.A.S. and CCMA certification: 18 months. It has been my experience during interviews and talking with health professionals (my bro-in-law included, who is a physician), that they don't really see any difference between the two. What DOES make a difference is adding on phlebotomy certification and if you're bi-lingual, that helps even more.

I am a CCMA with my Associate's degree in Allied health and a Minor in billing and coding plus I'm a Certified Phlebotomist and EKG tech.

I can tell you that the CCMA exam is the hardest exam out of CMA, RMA, and CCMA.

CMA and RMA are much more difficult than CCMA...just to clarify

I would like your advice if you have a minute. I teach healthcare classes to juniors and seniors in high school. We currently offer a CNA certification and are wanting to add either the CCMA or the CMAA through NHA. Which do you think most medical offices prefer? It seems like the CCMA has an Office Administration component so they are more cross-trained for front/back office, whereas the CMAA is strictly front office. Any advice is greatly appreciated.