Registration vs Certification

The American Registry of Medical Assistants is one of many national certifying organizations, which certify/register medical assistants. Over the years we have received many requests for a clarification of these two terms or designations. The Medical Assistant may choose to be registered (R.M.A) or certified (CMA). These designations merely depend on the organization to which she or he belongs. There is no qualitative difference between the two credentials simply because one uses the "Registered" and the other uses the "Certified" title. National medical assisting credentialing organizations use their own designation acronym for certification or registration. All are a national credential that acknowledges the member as qualified to perform the clinical and clerical duties of a traditional medical assistant. An examination may be given by other organizations, or grant membership by reciprocity, in order to belong. Our members must be recommended by the director or designated representative of a licensed, accredited affiliate school from which they graduated in a program for medical assisting; recommended by their physician employer after one year on-the-job post-graduation experience from a licensed, accredited non-affiliate school from which they graduated in a program for medical assisting; or recommended by their physician employer after having a minimum of three years on-the-job experience performing the clinical and clerical duties of a traditional medical assistant, since it is ultimately the licensed physician that determines the competency of his/her staff. At this time neither the federal or state government require a medical assistant to have been formally trained to be employed, however, graduation from an accredited program benefits the graduate by providing proof of completion of a program that meets nationally accepted standards, recognition of their education by their professional peers and eligibility for registration or certification. We do not, at this time, require our applicants to take another exam. Exams from our accredited, licensed affiliate schools, as well as exams from an accredited, licensed non-affiliate school, have been submitted for review to their accrediting bodies. If they are accepted by the DOE of each state and by a national/state accrediting body approved by the United States Council of Post-Secondary Education, we feel, at this time, another test will add to the cost of membership. We feel that with the review of a completed application, the applicant, if accepted, has either received formal education and/or has had significant on the job experience as to be able to perform the clinical and clerical duties of a traditional medical assistant.

Does part II of the application have to be filled out?

Part II of the application is for affiliate schools only. This is reserved for the appropriate school representative to complete.

Do I have to renew my membership?

Yes, Renewal begins every October 1st and active ARMA Members receive the Renewal Request Form in the October Registry Connection.

Can I send copies of the Official Documentation requested?


How long will it take for me to hear about my application being accepted or rejected?

It may take 6-8 weeks from the a complete application has been sent for final review before you receive your acceptance package.

If your application is incomplete/rejected, you will receive your rejection notice as soon as possible. Your application will be held for at least 3 months before it is shredded and your application is officially denied.

Application fees are non-refundable.

How many years experience do I need before I am eligible to apply if I took an online medical assisting program?

3 years documented on the job experience, performing the clinical and clerical duties of a traditional medical assistant.

May I fax my application, renewal or reinstatement?

Faxing documents is discouraged regardless of the reason, you are advised to physically mail all documents together in a single package.

May I use my curriculum vitae or resume as my Official Work History?

No. We do not accept a curriculum vitae or a resume as an Official Work History. An Official Work History is usually compiled and issued by a foreign government agency and includes all employments of a person.

What are affiliate schools?

These are schools or institutes which have applied and been accepted by ARMA. If you have graduated from an affiliate school, the school representative will know to fill out part II. The applicant from an affiliate school or institute must also include valid ID and copies of diploma/certificate and transcripts.

What are CEUs?

Professionals obtain CEUs (Continuing Education Units) annually to enhance their knowledge of their chosen profession. A CEU is a measurement of education and is not the same as an "Hour" or "Credit".

We Accept:
Contact Hour
AMA Category 1 Credit
Medically related Collegiate Credits

What are considered valid forms of ID?

Two forms of identification are required. Both identifications must bear the applicants signature. ( Social Security Card, from the USA Social Security Administration, with your signature AND Photo Identification with your signature ie: unexpired driver's license, government issued identification card, military identification or passport).

If there are any discrepancies between valid identification and documents submitted for review, additional government issued identification and legal documentation must be submitted to substantiate the discrepancies.

What is a Job Description?

A job description is the official posting for the position which you were hired to fulfill. It is usually 2-3 pages and includes all of the duties and responsibilities for the position you hold. This shall accompany a letter from the Human Resource Department or an Office Manager.

What is an Official Work History?

An Official Work History is official documentation stating the employments of a person. The documentation is usually compiled and issued by a foreign government agency and includes all employments of a person. This is not a curriculum vitae or a resume; nor is it a letter of recommendation.

What is the difference between an affiliate school and an accredited school?

An affiliate school has presented required documentation to ARMA for approval of curriculum; and has been approved by ARMA Board of Directors for students to be eligible to apply upon graduation of the school medical assisting program.

An accredited school has been approved by the state in which it is located to be open for business; and by one of the national accrediting bodies approved by the United States Council of Post-Secondary Education to teach specific programs.

All ARMA affiliate schools are accredited, but not all accredited schools are ARMA affiliated.

What is the difference between an application and a prequalification form?

A pre-qualification form is required before we mail an application and confirmation notice to an applicant. ARMA reviews a pre-qualification form for a person┬┐s eligibility to apply.

Once a pre-qualification form is reviewed for eligibility to apply and the person is found eligible to apply, an original paper application and pre-qualification confirmation notice are mailed to the applicant.

What states accept my ARMA registration?

ARMA is a national certifying organization and recognized as such in all 50 states.

When must the ARMA CEUs be completed to be able to renew my membership?

You must obtain your CEUs before you submit for Renewal or Reinstatement. You will receive a Renewal form in October of each year.
To ensure you are prepared we suggest you have the ARMA Online CEUs completed by October 1st so you are ready to renew when you receive your renewal form.

When will I receive my licenses?

There are no medical assistant certifying organizations that grant licenses to their members. Medical assistants are either certified or registered. ARMA grants the designation R.M.A. for traditional medical assistants, the designation R.M.A.-A. for those who are administrative only and R.M.A.-RESTRICTED.

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