If you have spent any time in a doctor's office, you have seen medical assistants in action. Their primary tasks include showing you to the exam room, measuring your vital signs and taking your reasons for the appointment. There are many other things that medical assistants do which will depend upon the type of office they work for. Some of their other jobs may include giving injections, drawing blood and setting up referrals to specialists.

A certified medical assistant (CMA) may work in many places, including private practices, clinics and hospitals. They also perform a wide range of duties depending upon where they are employed. With all of these options of places to work, it is estimated that they will be growth in this industry over the next several years. Of course, having your certification will be a great advantage while applying for employment.

The hours worked will also vary depending upon the CMA's place of employment. Those who work in a private practice office will generally have normal hours from Monday through Friday, while someone working in a hospital will generally work longer hours during different shifts through the day or night.

While a medical assistant is not required to become certified, it is something that you should consider if entering into a medical assistance career. It shows that you are knowledgeable in your profession, which will lead to more job opportunities, higher pay and increased opportunities for advancement.

The first step to acquiring your certification consists of graduating from an accredited school that offers programs in medical assistance. You can either receive an associate degree or a certificate of completion in the field. At the conclusion of a medical assistance program, the student will spend time doing an externship, which consists of working in the field under the supervision of a doctor.

The length of the courses will vary from school to school, and some colleges even offer online courses. The average program will run from four to six months including the externship.

Upon completing your coursework and externship, you are eligible to take your certification exam. The primary agency responsible for administering the certification exam is the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Your school should have more information on where and when the exams are given locally.

An important thing to note is that certification will not usually be granted to someone with a felony or criminal record. You may appeal this. The certification agency will take into consideration how long it has been since the crime was committed, the severity of the crime, and the applicant's behavior in the community when making a decision about the appeal.

The certification test given by the AAMA consist of 200 multiple choice questions which are administrated on a computer. This exam lasts 160 minutes and gives you optional breaks ever 40 minutes. If the applicant is unfamiliar with computers, there is a tutorial that they may view before taking the exam which does not count towards their exam time.