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How to Become a Medical Assistant in California – CA

  1. Prepare early for a career in this profession. As a high school student you can build a great educational foundation with coursework focused in health and biological science. General computer skills classes including keyboarding will also prove useful. In high school you may also consider vocational training to become well versed in the intricacies of the medical field.
  2. Volunteer your free time in a variety of medical settings so that you can determine where you will best fit in once you have completed your training. The time you spend as a volunteer can prove useful on another level as you will make invaluable connections with those decision makers already working in the field.

  3. Make a decision on what level of education and which one of California’s medical assistant programs will help you meet your career goals. You will have the ability to gain designation as a certified medical assistant (CMA) or as a registered medical assistant (RMA). A shorter course of study and experiential training will allow you to gain the CMA credential; however, you may opt to pursue a two-year degree by completing more extensive clinical training to qualify for a registered medical assistant (RMA) designation. Keep in mind that as a resident of California, you can gain state-issued certification as a California Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA), and although the designation is not nationally recognized it is recognized within the state. If you choose not to gain the state specific certification your scope of practice in California will be limited.
  4. After you have completed high school, find an accredited medical assistant program within California where you can complete a formal training pathway to becoming certified. Be careful to find a program that is accredited so that you will then be prepared to gain national certification.
  5. Hands-on training units are typically part of a formal educational program. Training requirements of the American Associations of Medical Assistants (AAMA), an organization that oversees the certification requirements for certified medical assistants, insist that the applicant in the course of the formal “hands on” training process complete 160 hours of clinical training. California state laws specifically define the additional hours necessary for a certified medical assistant to practice in the function of technical supportive services. The requirements of the Medical Board of California require no fewer than 10 hours of training.

    Trainees must then exhibit satisfactory ability in each of the following areas:

    • 10 intramuscular, 10 subcutaneous and 10 intra dermal injections
    • 10 skin tests
    • 10 venipuncture for the purpose of drawing blood
    • 10 skin punctures
    • In each clinical case above the student must also show thorough knowledge of the important physical and anatomical areas, an ability to choose and use equipment correctly, 
demonstration of sterile techniques, understanding of hazards and complications that can occur, demonstration of proper patient care following such treatment or tests and procedures to follow in the case of an emergency.
    • Trainees must also be able to demonstrate a full knowledge and understanding of all pertinent laws and regulations in California specific these duties.
    • Finally, California law specifically states that medical assistants are not allowed to perform X-Rays within the scope of their practice. This is an important point to note since some states do allow this of certified medical assistants.


  6. Once you have completed the comprehensive educational and clinical training program you may then be eligible to sit for the certifying examination in preparation for becoming a certified medical assistant. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants (CCBMA) can both administer the certification examination. The AAMA is a national exam where as the CCBMA administers a state specific examination.
  • You must take the certifying exam within one year of completing the educational training and coursework.
  • There are 3 components to the certifying examination: Basic, Administrative and Clinical
  • The basic exam has 175 questions and you are allowed only two consecutive hours to complete this section; the administrative examination includes 100 questions and the time allotment is one hour; the clinical exam again with a one hour time limit has 125 questions.
  • You are required to take at least the basic examination. Then, you have the choice of either one or both specialties: administrative and clinical. Both are not necessary but at least one area of specialty is required.
  • Pay the associated fees to take the examination(s) of your choosing.
  • Take the examinations you have applied for. If you should pass only one exam but fail the other one (or two) you will gain credit for the exams you have passed and will be allowed up to two retakes of the other exam(s).
  • It is important to note that the California Certifying Board for Medical assistants test will, if passed, grant the student a California Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA) designation. In order to be nationally recognized as a Certified Medical Assistant it is important also to take the national exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants Certifying Board as well.

The state of California also requires certified medical assistants to have a current CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) card. You can be trained and renew this training by contacting a local branch of the American Heart Association in California.


After having received notification that you have passed the certifying examinations and met all other standards for medical assisting in California, you are then prepared to search for a job in the field. Having completed a thorough education and gaining the designation of a certified medical assistant will help you stand out among your peers and make you a highly sought candidate for employment.

Medical Assistant Schools