How to Become a Medical Assistant in California

California is the 3rd highest paying state for medical assistants, AND becoming one in California requires less formal education than most other roles in the industry.

Education and Training

To get started, you should take an online certification course like the ones below.

Search Medical Assistant Programs

Get information on Medical Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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What Are The Benefits of Course?

Certification preparation is one of the main benefits. Whether it’s CMAA, CMA, RMA or another, the instructors will help you decide on what the right certification path is for you.

Exam fees are usually included in the price.

What Do You Study?

Medical assistant programs in California often feature classes on:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology
  • Laboratory procedures
  • Office and administrative skills
  • Clinical applications

How Much Does It Cost?

The programs above are approximately $1,900 and financing is available, if desired.

How Long is the Program?

160 course hours which can be completed in 6 months or less.

Other Local Trade Schools

    American Career College
    9 month medical assisting diploma program with externship. 2 days per week in class and online.

    • Anaheim, Ontario, Los Angeles

    Arizona College of Nursing
    7 month Medical Assistant program with Phlebotomy hybrid training program. Includes 6-week clinical externship.

    • Ontario

    Blake Austin College
    The Clinical Medical Assistant with Phlebotomy program at Blake Austin College prepares students for various patient care duties under the guidance of experienced instructors. The program covers essential knowledge of body systems and medical laboratory tests, along with training in Venipuncture, pharmacology, and cardiology assistance techniques. Graduates will complete an externship, fulfill California's licensure requirements, and be ready to work in diverse healthcare settings such as hospitals, medical offices, and laboratories.

    • Sacramento

    Carrington College

    • Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton

    Central Coast College

    • Salinas

    Charter College

    • Canyon Country, Lancaster, Oxnard

    Concorde Career College

    • Garden Grove, North Hollywood, San Bernardino, San Diego

    Institute of Technology

    • Clovis, Modesto, Redding

    InterCoast Colleges

    • Anaheim, Fairfield, Rancho Cordova, Riverside, West Covina

    Milan Institute
    36 week program with clinical externship.

    • Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Palm Desert, Visalia, Fairfield, La Quinta

    National Career College

    • Panorama City

    Pima Medical Institute
    9 months. Online / in class certification course.

    • San Diego, San Marcos

    Platt College

    • Alhambra, Anaheim, Ontario, Riverside

    San Joaquin Valley College
    SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting program equips graduates for roles in medical offices and clinics through hands-on training. Students can earn a Certificate of Completion in as few as 9 months or an Associate of Science Degree, with courses available online or at 14 campuses in California. The program covers essential skills such as drawing blood, maintaining patient records, preparing patients for exams, and lab work protocols. Accredited and offering affordable tuition, SJVC prepares students for real-world medical assisting careers.

    • Atascadero, Bakersfield, Delano, Fresno, Hanford, Hesperia, Lancaster, Madera, Salida, Ontario, Porterville, Rancho Cordova, Temecula, Visalia

    Southern California Health Institute

    • Reseda

    Summit College
    Administrative & clinical Medical Asst training.

    • Colton, San Diego, Anaheim

    UEI College
    10 month diploma program includes online and in class sessions. Preps students for the Nationally Certified Medical Assistant, Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exams.

    • Anaheim, Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Encino, Fresno, Gardena, Huntington Park, Ontario, Riverside, Sacramento, San Marcos, Stockton, West Covina

    Unitek College
    Unitek College’s Medical Assisting program offers a comprehensive curriculum that prepares students for entry-level roles in the healthcare field in as little as 9 months. The hybrid program combines online instruction with hands-on lab exercises and a 160-hour externship, covering essential administrative and clinical skills such as medical office procedures, anatomy, pharmacology, and diagnostic imaging. Graduates will earn 28 semester credits and be equipped with the knowledge and practical experience needed for immediate employment in various healthcare settings.

    • Bakersfield, Concord, Fremont, Hayward, Sacramento, San Jose, South San Francisco

Salary Range

Below are some average salaries and hourly wages for areas of the state, according to BLS data.

Area Hourly Annual
Bakersfield $20.87 $43,410.00
Chico $21.82 $45,390.00
Eastern Sierra-Mother Lode $22.39 $46,570.00
El Centro $20.71 $43,070.00
Fresno $22.33 $46,440.00
Hanford-Corcoran $21.17 $44,040.00
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim $22.35 $46,480.00
Madera $21.36 $44,420.00
Merced $19.20 $39,930.00
Modesto $24.59 $51,140.00
Napa $27.22 $56,610.00
North Coast Region $22.66 $47,120.00
North Valley-Northern Mountains $22.47 $46,730.00
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura $24.01 $49,930.00
Redding $20.84 $43,350.00
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario $21.43 $44,580.00
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade $28.70 $59,690.00
Salinas $22.20 $46,170.00
San Diego-Carlsbad $23.37 $48,610.00
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward $29.89 $62,160.00
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara $28.93 $60,180.00
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande $23.28 $48,420.00
Santa Cruz-Watsonville $24.61 $51,190.00
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara $23.86 $49,630.00
Santa Rosa $28.23 $58,720.00
Stockton-Lodi $24.05 $50,030.00
Vallejo-Fairfield $32.02 $66,590.00
Visalia-Porterville $21.36 $44,420.00
Yuba City $22.38 $46,560.00

Occupation: Occupation:Medical Assistants (SOC Code319092)

CA Medical Assistant Requirements

medical board of california logoBoth certified and non-certified medical assistants must meet the specific requirements of the Medical Practice Act and the Medical Board of California.

According to these rules, aspiring medical assistants can take one of the following two paths:

  1. Train under the supervision of a licensed medical professional, such as a physician, who can determine your competence as a medical assistant OR
  2. Complete a medical assistant training program at an accredited postsecondary school, technical institution, or community college.

Before applying for a CMA job, there are a few medical assistant requirements in California that you’ll need to meet.


Most trade schools and certifying agencies require you to have a high school diploma or GED before applying to a technical or community college for their medical assistant program.

Those looking to earn their associate degree may have to achieve a certain GPA to qualify.

California Certified Medical Assistant

 California Certifying Board for Medical AssistantsOnce you graduate from an accredited institution, consider becoming certified in the state of California.

A California Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA) meets the qualifications of the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants (CCBMA), which proctors official examinations to certify medical assistants in CA.


To become a CMA in California, you must pass an objective exam through an official Medical Board of California organization, such as the CCBMA or the American Association of Medical Assistants.

The CCBMA proctors three types of tests:

  • basic
  • administrative
  • clinical exams

Medical assistants must take at least two of them.

To take the medical assistant certification exam in California, applicants must:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Possess a current CPR certification
  • Have a U.S. government-issued ID that matches your name on the application
  • Graduate a medical assistant program or be currently employed as a medical assistant

It costs $145 to take the basic test along with the administrative or clinical exam through the CCBMA. Those who wish to take all three exam options must pay a fee of $185.

Other organizations have varying requirements and fees and typically sell or supply additional study materials.

Do Medical Assistants Have to Be Certified in CA?

The state of California does allow non-certified medical assistants to work in medical facilities. However, there are benefits to earning your certification.

First, some individual employers may require state or national certifications before considering you for hire. Plus, being certified gives you a competitive edge, proving to employers that you are more competent.

Job Description

Medical assistants support licensed physicians, nurses, and other medical staff by performing administrative and clinical tasks in doctor’s offices and hospitals.

Medical assistants work in various healthcare facilities, including doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and medical research centers.

Most medical assistant jobs start as entry-level employment under the direct supervision of a licensed medical professional, such as a physician or surgeon.

During the job, you can learn the fundamentals of the field and uncover different specialties you might want to pursue, which may require further education in the future.

Job Duties

What Does A Non-Certified Medical Assistant Do?

Non-certified medical assistants are only qualified to perform non-invasive support services.

This includes administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, completing insurance forms, and setting up laboratory equipment. They help keep the work environment tidy and assist with some health-related duties while maintaining medical records for patients in the facility

Certified Medical Assistants in CA

CMAs, or qualifying medical assistants, work more closely with patients and medical personnel. Along with administrative work, certified medical assistants perform tasks like preparing and dispensing medications, assisting in wound care, and preparing lab samples.

Depending on the scope of their training, CMAs may have access to more job opportunities than non-certified workers.

Personality Traits for the Job

Since working in medical facilities involves moving quickly while performing several simultaneous duties, medical assistants must be able to function well under pressure. Organization and attention to detail are essential traits for performing administrative tasks, and having empathy, good communication, and active listening skills can help medical assistants connect with patients.

Work Environment

Each day on the job may look a little different for a medical assistant. Typically, they prepare and maintain patient medical records, schedule appointments, and stock offices and exam rooms with the necessary supplies.

Depending on their certification, they might also assist with patient examinations, laboratory procedures, and surgical prep.

Search Medical Assistant Programs

Get information on Medical Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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