Tennessee Medical Assistant Guide

Career Description

Medical assistants in Tennessee compose a vital part of the state’s healthcare system.  They perform a variety of duties under the guidance of a licensed nurse or physician, so that the licensed professional can focus on using his or her training.  Physicians and nurses delegate a variety of responsibilities to medical assistants, including:

  • Welcoming patients
  • Submitting insurance forms
  • Calling prescriptions into pharmacies
  • Cleaning and stowing instruments
  • Operating some medical equipment
  • Drawing blood

Certified Medical Assistants in Tennessee

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Certification for medical assistants in Tennessee is voluntary.  Certification can help assistants secure the most desirable jobs in the field.  Medical assistants can pursue certification as a:

Although all of these certifications are accepted in Tennessee, the AAMA’s is preferable.  The process to become certified usually takes approximately two years.  It includes:

1.  Formal Training

CMAs must complete a curriculum that the CAAHEP (an accrediting organization) has approved.  These programs usually require two years of academic study and include a clinical portion, but the classroom training can be completed online.

After one semester of study, students are welcome to apply for the Maxine Williams Scholarship.  This is awarded by the AAMA to a CMA student in the U.S. and includes a $1,000 grant.

2.  Exam Application

Before registering for the exam, students must apply to take it.  There is a booklet online that details the entire exam process.  Some important facts to note are that it costs $125, and the AAMA sends an email within 20 days of an applicant being approved.  The email contains the applicant’s permit, which grants them 90 days to take the exam during.

3.  Testing Location

Most schools that offer a CAAHEP CMA class also offer the CMA test.  Students who are studying away from home, however, might find a closer testing location.  Any approved center will do.

4.  Studying

The test is a comprehensive examination that covers approximately four semesters of work.  Students should carefully review all this material and take several practice exams, which can be obtained through local AAMA chapters (check below) or schools.

5.  Pass to be certified

After passing the exam, applicants are officially CMAs.  They can put this on resumes, and employers can verify their standing with the AAMA here.

Tennessee CMAs: Occupation Forecast

United States



Job Openings 1



Medical Assistants








Job Openings 1



Medical Assistants





1Job Openings refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.


Medical assistants find themselves in high demand, as the field grows quickly.  Between 2008 and 2018, nearly 3,000 jobs will be added to Tennessee’s medical assistant field, bringing the total to +/- 13,000.  There are about 400 open positions for CMAs in Tennessee each year.

Tennessee CMAs: Salaries

Location Pay







United States Hourly












Tennessee Hourly













Across the state, CMAs earn a few cents less than CMAs in other states.  However, the wages of CMAs in Tennessee’s cities, where the cost of living is higher, are often higher than those in the rural areas.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the wages for CMAs in some of Tennessee’s cities and regions.

  • Nashville, TN: $30,650 (yr.) / $14.73 (hr.)
  • Memphis, TN: $28,270 / $13.59
  • Western Tennessee (nonmetropolitan): $22,940 / $11.03

CMA Recertifications and AAMA Transfers

The AAMA’s medical assistants are recertified in 60-month intervals.  It costs them $125 to test, and they must have continuing education units.  Specific details are listed on the AAMA’s recertification page.

Transferring CMA credentials across state lines is easy, because there are CMAs working in every state.  To begin a transfer, people should contact their AAMA chapter in Tennessee (below).

Local AAMA Chapters in Tennessee

  • Chattanooga-Hamilton
  • Cherokee
  • Knoxville-Knox
  • Memphis-Shelby County
  • Nashville-Davidson County
  • Northeast Tennessee

Tennessee’s state AAMA organization is located at http://www.tnsma.org/.