Medical Assistant Salaries and Job Outlook

Find out what you’ll earn in a career as a medical assistant.

Medical Assistant Salary

ma-iconAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for medical assistants is

$29,960.

Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. Administrative medical assistants’ duties will differ from clinical medical assistants, for instance, though there may also be some overlap of responsibilities.

A full-time medical assistant may be offered a benefits package including health care, vacation and holiday pay and sick leave and a 401(k) plan.

Medical assistants have many possibilities to boost their earning potential. For some, this job is a stepping stone to a higher-paying job in the health care field. Others will find that certain work settings may pay more than others.

According to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), certified medical assistants (CMAs) earn slightly varied salaries.

Take a look at the variance between annual salaries for CMAs in different health care settings.

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According to the BLS, the top 10 percent of medical assistants earn more than $40,190 annually.

Your first thought around where medical assistants work is probably, “Oh, simple. Doctor’s office.” But you might be surprised how diverse the work environments are for these important healthcare team members. Here are the percentages based upon work place, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

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How Do Medical Assistant Salaries Compare?

Medical assistants are one specialty within a large team of medical workers who strive daily to keep us healthy. Because of the difference in specialized skill sets and education level these specialists and technicians require, it’s only logical that salaries vary as well. Here are some median annual salaries for four in-demand healthcare careers:

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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Dental Assistants; Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants; Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides; Phlebotomists.

 

Medical Assistant Job Outlook

Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow by 23 percent through 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The growth of the aging baby-boom population will continue to create demand for preventive medical services.

Additional demand also is expected as a result of new and changing tasks for medical assistants as part of the medical team. As more and more physicians’ practices switch to electronic health records (EHRs), medical assistants’ job responsibilities will continue to change. Assistants will need to become familiar with EHR computer software, including maintaining EHR security and analyzing electronic data, to improve healthcare information.

 

Best and Worst States to be a Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are an integral part of any healthcare organization. From interacting with patients to helping a doctor with an examination, medical assistants provide countless services. While the job duties are generally the same no matter what state you live in, there are certain area of the countries that offer higher salaries and more opportunity.

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We’ve taken a look at the top states for pay for the medical assisting profession. But what about the worst states to work in as far as your salary is concerned? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these ten states are on the lower end of the pay spectrum:

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Just as salary is critical for any potential employee, location is also a big consideration for those wishing to enter the medical assisting field. Much of the demand for these critical care-givers is determined by a state’s demographic data, and how many facilities they have for baby boomers and the elderly, who usually drive these statistics. Take a look at which states the BLS has determined to be high employers of medical assistants:

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Many states are dependent upon state budgets and funding to keep healthcare facilities working at their best, and if a state’s budget doesn’t allot enough funds for maximum efficiency, there may be fewer jobs available for medical assistants and other healthcare staff members. Some states may simply have fewer facilities due to size, population and need. The BLS says the following states employ the fewest number of medical assistants:

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Best Paying Cities for Medical Assistants

We’ve winnowed down the state list and discovered major metropolitan areas where medical assistants earn the most. Several California cities come out on top along with a few locations that may surprise you.

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Which Cities Have the Most Medical Assistant Jobs?

The number of medical assistant jobs is higher in the southeastern section of the country. Here’s a look at the top five metropolitan areas boasting the highest number of medical assistant careers.

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How Can I Earn More as a Medical Assistant?

Aside from moving to a new city or state, one of the best ways to increase your chances of earning a higher salary is with professional certification.

According to the 2015 Medical Assisting Compensation and Benefits Report issued by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), full-time medical assistants holding Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification earn an average annual salary of $30,186, which is slightly higher than the national average.

Working full-time in more than one specialty can make a small difference; the report states medical assistants in multiple specialties earned $30,374.

 

Gain Experience

As is the case in most professions, racking up years of experience can help boost your salary. The AAMA report compiled the annual salaries of primary care medical assistants based on experience level. Here’s what they discovered:

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Similar salary growth occurred in all other medical and surgical specialties.

Consider a Teaching Career

Once you’ve clocked some time working as a medical assistant, you might consider educating others about the field. According to the AAMA report, medical assisting educators who work full time earn an annual average gross salary of $51,409. More than 19 percent reported earning at least $65,000 and more than 9 percent reported a $75,000 or higher annual salary.

Medical assisting offers plenty of opportunity to move into other areas of healthcare as well. For instance, you could go back to school to become a nurse or a physician’s assistant. Your extensive knowledge and experience working with patients will give you an advantage over students who are just starting out. Want to stay in a medical assisting role? You can work toward a management position where you supervise other medical assistants in a healthcare facility. Job advancement typically adds up to a higher salary.

As you search for a medical assistant role with an appropriate salary, don’t forget about employment benefits such as insurance, paid vacation time and sick leave. According to AAMA, approximately 94 percent of full-time medical assistants receive benefits from their employer.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Medical Assistant.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

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