Job Advertisement Requirements for Medical Assistants in the USA

Medical Assistant Job Advertisement Requirement Survey

The most common question for people considering a career in this field is "What do I need to get a job?".

You might have seen a lot of conflicting information about whether or not you need to be certified, a lot of people say you should, but is it really necessary?

We decided to research this question and find out just what the requirements of employers are.

To do this we performed a survey of medical assistant jobs advertised online throughout the United States, between April 9 and April 20, 2012.

What our chart shows

This chart shows what percentage of jobs advertised were available to people with different combinations of Experience and Certification.

For example, if you haven't had an MA job yet, but you have qualified as a Certified Medical Assistant, then 43% of all the jobs advertised are ones that you can apply for.

Here are the results in table form:

Your Experience/Certification Status Percentage of Jobs You Qualify to Apply For
No Experience & No Certification 33%
No Experience but with Certification 43%
Experience but no Certification 54%
Experience AND Certification 100%

Additional data

57% of all MA job advertisements require previous experience; this is why you can see from the chart that it's always better if you have already worked as an MA. The level of experience required was at least 1 year in 93% of advertisements that had an experience requirement. Of the remaining 7%, less than 0.5% required less than 1 year, with the rest requiring longer periods.

However, the results also show that if you don't have any experience as an MA, then you will be able to apply for 33% more jobs if you become a Certified Medical Assistant.

How the survey was conducted

We found a total of 314 distinct job advertisements that met the following criteria:

  • Only full time jobs - part time jobs were excluded
  • Only mainstream medicine - we excluded areas that lack scientific consensus for efficacy such as chiropractic, aromatherapy, acupuncture etc.
  • Management and Training/Teaching positions were excluded
  • Excluded positions for FMGs (foreign medical graduates)
  • Excluded positions for Nurses
  • Only included non-supervisory roles
  • Only included jobs where the requirements were advertised
  • If the advertisements said experience was only preferred, we counted it as not requiring experience.

The job advertisements we found were listed on the following websites:,,,,,


We have already shown that CMAs earn 11% more than Non-CMAs, and now with the additional evidence that someone just starting their career as a medical assistant will be able to apply for 33% more jobs if they become a Certified Medical Assistant, then we believe you should get the qualification.

The only exception would be that if you already have an offer with on the job training, then you can start the job now and get your certification later. We say this because you'll have more job opportunities once you've gained experience, and it will be easier to qualify later which will eventually lead to a higher wage.

Additional information

If you are considering becoming a Certified Medical Assistant you should check the requirements for the CMA (AAMA) Exam which you will need to pass after completing a course.

If you are looking for accredited MA courses, then you'll find them on the websites of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Just select "Medical Assistant" or "Medical Assisting" from the drop down menus on those respective websites.

See also: