Certified Medical Assistant vs. Registered Medical Assistant

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Certified medical assistants (CMAs) and registered medical assistants (RMAs) are entry-level positions within the medical field. On a day-to-day basis, medical assistants are responsible for handling classified patient information and performing “front desk” duties, such as answering phones and coordinating appointments.


Both certified and registered medical assistants are responsible for clinical and administrative duties in a physician’s office, such as recording vital stats and completing insurance forms.


According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 720,900 medical assistants were employed in 2021. This number is expected to increase by 18 percent to 853,500 by 2030.


In order to become a CMA or RMA, you must graduate from a medical assisting program that has been accredited by the CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) or the ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools). Programs offer certificates, a diploma or an associate’s degree and vary in length.


Certified and registered medical assistants are equally ranked, have undergone the same education and are eligible to become either certified or registered. The only difference between the two is that they’ve taken different exams to further their medical credentials.


According to 2020 data from the BLS, the median annual salary of a certified medical assistant with one to four years of experience is $35,850 ($17.24/hour).

Medical Assistants salary

  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $50,580 ($24.32/hour)
  • Median Annual Salary: $35,850 ($17.24/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $26,930 ($12.95/hour)