Difference Between CMA and RMA

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    medicien-health-stethescope-pdCMA vs RMA

    Although by law it’s not a requirement for medical assistants to be certified, a large percentage of them opt to get certification. This is largely due to the fact that most employers require some form of medical assistant certification, and to add to this, carrying out specific duties in some states like drawing blood and x-rays, you need to have certification. Eligibility for medical assistant certification requires one to graduate from a medical assistant training program, which is accredited either by the ABHES or the CAAHEP.

    CMA stands for Certified Medical Assistant, and is awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The certification must be renewed every five years to keep at par with new knowledge/discoveries.
    The RMA, on the other hand, stands for Registered Medical Assistant, and this credential is awarded by the AMT (American Medical Technologists), accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

    There is a general tendency for some states and training schools to regard the CMA as the gold standard for the medical assistantship profession, and in rare cases, particular medical institutions in selected states will only recognize the CMA, notably, in Southern California. However, in real practice, this is not the case, as both CMAs and RMAs will mostly carry out similar duties.

    The majority of employers across the US recognize both CMA and RMA credentials. Generally, the key difference is that one program registers you while the other certifies you for medical assistantship. Both RMAs and CMAs will do identical work, which is largely to assist medical doctors in their offices. In some states, to become a CMA, requires one to be a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). However, Medical Assistant certifications do not make one a full nurse.

    Qualifying for RMA
    To qualify for the RMA through the AMT, one is required to be of good morals and have recently graduated from a medical assistant program with accreditation from either ABHES or CAAHEP. An applicant is also required to have been employed as a medical assistant for not less than five years. You will then have to pass a certification exam to be issued with a certificate.

    Qualifying for CMA
    It’s similar to RMA. You need to be a completing student or recent graduate of a medical assistant program accredited by ABHES or CAAHEP. You will also need to pass an exam before being issued with the certificate.


    CMA refers to Certified Medical Assistant, while RMA is Registered Medical Assistant.
    CMA is awarded by the AAMA, while RMA is awarded by the AMT.
    Certain medical institutions in particular states only recognize the CMA, and tend to disregard the RMA, for instance, in Southern California.
    Although both CMAs and RMAs do similar work, CMA certifies you for medical assistantship, while RMA simply registers you for the same.

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