How To Become a Registered Medical Assistant

Updated March 3, 2023

Registered medical assistants can help medical professionals perform their job duties and help medical offices operate smoothly with clerical work. If you're interested in pursuing a career as a registered medical professional, learning about a career path can help you make a plan to achieve this role. In this article, we provide a job description, duties, salary and job outlook for a registered medical assistant and describe how to become a registered medical assistant.

What is a registered medical assistant (RMA)?

A registered medical assistant is a medical employee who performs a mix of medical and administrative duties for doctors and nurses. They can help ensure a medical office operates smoothly by readying laboratory samples, recording patients' health histories and scheduling appointments.

What does a registered medical assistant do?

Here are the main duties for an RMA:

  • Schedule medical appointments for patients.

  • Greet patients and direct them to exam rooms.

  • Handle patients' insurance coverage verification and submit insurance claims.

  • Acquire and record patients' health information.

  • Update patients' electronic health records.

  • Organize and manage patient files.

  • Record patients' vitals.

  • Obtain and prepare lab samples for diagnostics.

  • Assist medical professionals with minor procedures and exams.

Salary for a registered medical assistant

According to Indeed Salaries, the average base salary for a medical assistant is $15.73 per hour. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field for medical assistants will grow by 19%, much faster than average, by 2030.


Registered medical assistants and certified medical assistants perform many of the same duties in a medical office. The main difference between the two job titles is their organizations and credentials, which both require an exam. You can research job listings in your area to learn which of the two credentials is more in-demand for employers. You can also earn both designations to ensure your credentials meet the qualifications for medical assistant positions, though this is not required to become a medical assistant.

Read more: How To Become a Certified Medical Assistant

How to become a registered medical assistant

If you're interested in a career as an RMA, here are steps you can take to achieve this goal:

1. Earn a high school diploma or GED

The first step to becoming an RMA is to complete your education at the high school level. If you don't have a high school diploma, you can earn a GED by passing an exam that shows you've received a high school education.

2. Complete an educational program

Next, you can research accredited medical assistant training programs and apply to learn the necessary knowledge and skills to become an RMA. The training for registered medical assistants can take nine months to two years, depending on the type of training program you enter and your career goals. Universities, community colleges, vocational schools and online schools can offer training programs for medical assistants. Here are two options for medical assistant training programs:

  • Associate degree: Earning an associate degree can take about two years to complete and give you the knowledge and abilities to work as a medical assistant.

  • Certificate or diploma: A certificate or diploma program for medical assistants can take a shorter amount of time to complete than an associate degree.

Read more: How Long Is Medical Assistant Training? Guide To Being a Medical Assistant

3. Gain experience

As a part of your education, you can gain experience working in a clinical environment. Some medical assistants can gain five years of experience in a medical environment and forgo the educational requirement for the RMA exam as an untrained applicant. Here are hard skills you can learn as you gain experience to become a medical assistant:

  • Medical skills: You can learn medical skills like drawing blood, checking vitals and medical terminology as you gain medical assistant experience.

  • Administrative skills: Gaining experience can also teach you the clerical skills necessary to work as a medical assistant, including filing, insurance coding and HIPAA requirements for patient information.

4. Obtain a RMA designation

After you gain an education or work as an untrained applicant, you can register for the RMA exam. The RMA exam is a two-hour exam with more than 200 questions on the general, administrative and medical job duties of a medical assistant. Once you pass the RMA exam, you can begin working as a registered medical assistant.

5. Create a resume

After you obtain an RMA designation, you can create a resume that emphasizes your skills in the administrative and clinical job duties for an RMA. Here are some resume tips for medical assistants:

  • Emphasize your experience: Especially when you're applying for an entry-level job, it's important to emphasize the impact of your experience in the workplace when you're describing your work experience.

  • Include certifications: You can display your certification as an RMA prominently on your resume to show employers you have the necessary designations for the job.

  • List in-demand skills: Administrative abilities, organizational skills and computer skills, for example, are in-demand skills for medical assistants. Listing these skills on your resume can show employers you're qualified for the position.

Read more: Medical Assistant Resume Samples

6. Apply to jobs

You can use your RMA resume to apply to jobs in your area. To learn about open positions for medical assistants, you can connect with classmates and instructors. You can also check for job postings online from your educational institution and job boards for medical careers.

7. Grow your career

In order to maintain your RMA qualification, you can apply for renewal every three years and continue your education to fulfill renewal requirements. You can also use your initial work experience to earn additional certifications. Earning more certifications can help you negotiate raises and earn promotions at work by showing employers you have the necessary experience to perform a medical assistant's duties. Here are examples of certifications you can earn to grow your career as an RMA:

  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant: A CCMA can perform all the duties of an RMA, along with additional clinical duties like administering injections. You can take an exam to earn this designation after working for one year as a medical assistant.

  • National Certified Medical Assistant: A NCMA performs a medical assistant's duties with more emphasis on clinical tasks. You can earn this certification after you complete a RMA training program.

  • Certified Ophthalmic Assistant: A COA can assist eye doctors with their medical duties and administrative work. Specializing in this area of medical assisting can require you to earn more specialized training and work under an ophthalmologist before you can take a certifying exam.

  • Podiatric Medical Assistant Certification: You can specialize in performing administrative and clinical tasks in a podiatry office by earning this certification. Eligibility requirements for this certification include gaining work experience in a podiatry office and relevant educational training in podiatry.

Read more: Medical Assistant Certifications To Advance Your Career

Skills for a registered medical assistant

Below are skills you can use in a career as a registered medical assistant:

  • Communication: You can use strong written and verbal communication skills to build trust with patients and maintain strong relationships with coworkers as a medical assistant.

  • Empathy: The ability to empathize with patients can help you build positive relationships and experiences for patients in a medical setting.

  • Attention to detail: Paying attention to detail at work can help you prevent errors in patient records to ensure patients get the correct treatments and medications.

  • Problem-solving: The ability to solve problems at work can help you address issues independently with efficiency.

  • Teamwork: Possessing teamwork skills can help you work with other employees of a medical office to provide a positive experience for patients.

  • Flexibility: The ability to adapt to changing circumstances can help you move between clinical and administrative tasks with ease.

Related: Medical Assistant Resume Examples and Templates

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