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You’ve already decided that being a medical assistant is the right job for you. You’ve seen the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections that job growth for Medical Assistants is expected to be an astounding 16 percent through 2031, much faster than the 5 percent national average projected for all jobs in the U.S. Even more significant is that the BLS projects there will be more than 117,000 job openings for medical assistants every year for the next 10 years due to retirement, career advancement, and other factors.
According to Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA, chief executive officer and legal counsel for the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), employers are more aware of the professional abilities of medical assistants these days and increasingly see them as key members of the medical team, which increases demand.
So, opportunity abounds. But is your state one of those that will benefit from these trends? Have you considered moving to another state, but aren’t sure how that might affect your career? Or your lifestyle? Alaska pays the highest median annual income, but how many jobs are available? California has great beaches, but can you afford to live there? Our analysis of the top states for medical assistants will help you answer those questions.
The 10 Best States to Work in for Medical Assistants
After sorting the data, creating the rankings, and reviewing the numbers, these are the top 10 best states for medical assistants. They represent the states with the most jobs, the highest median wages, the highest location quotients, and the lowest cost of living.
- Median salary: $33,490
- Cost of living index: 89.8
- Employment: 25,820
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.17
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 34.5%
State highlights: Thriving cities and charming towns, a temperate climate, a lower-than-expected cost-of-living, and a sixth place ranking for medical assistant employment make Georgia a winner.
- Median salary: $35,030
- Cost of living index: 91.4
- Employment: 22,750
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.14
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 8.8%
State highlights: Known for its natural beauty and commitment to health and research, Michigan strikes the right balance between earnings, employment (ranked eighth) and cost of living to snag the #2 spot.
- Median salary: $32,840
- Cost of living index: 92.6
- Employment: 72,640
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.18
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 27.3%
State highlights: Second in employment ranking, home to “Texas-sized” medical campuses, ranking 10th in location quotient, and a cost of living index lower than the national average makes Texas a worthy consideration.
- Median salary: $34,720
- Cost of living index: 91.1
- Employment: 16,790
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.13
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 21.9%
State highlights: This small, midwestern state is known for its slower pace, friendly residents, and affordable housing. Indiana ranks in the top 15 states in three categories: employment, location quotient, and cost of living.
- Median salary: $39,520
- Cost of living index: 146.9
- Employment: 95,690
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.14
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 24.5%
State highlights: Beyond its beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and fertile wine country, California ranks first in employment and seventh in salary for medical assistants. The state’s only downfall—and it’s a serious issue—is its cost of living index at 146.9, which places California 49th out of 50 for affordability.
- Median salary: $35,810
- Cost of living index: 107.0
- Employment: 19,460
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.34
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 44.4%
State highlights: A magnet for retirees and snow birds, Arizona has a healthy appreciation for the need to provide high-quality medical services. The state ranks 5th in Location Quotient and 11th in employment.
- Median salary: $34,100
- Cost of living index: 101.5
- Employment: 56,010
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.30
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 31.6%
State highlights: The Sunshine State lives up to its reputation as paradise for retirees with a supportive medical community and fun in the sun at the beach, the golf club, or Walt Disney World. Florida ranks third in employment and seventh in Location Quotient.
- Median salary: $41,390
- Cost of living index: 127.5
- Employment: 12,480
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.35
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 27.1
State highlights: Known for its incredible scenery, concern for the environment, and cycling, Oregon is an amazing place to live. On the quirky side, consumers are prohibited from pumping their own gas. The main drawback is that the state ranks 46th for affordability; but that’s offset by high wages for medical assistants (fifth in ranking) and a top location quotient (fourth) ranking.
- Median salary: $34,150
- Cost of living index: 92.9
- Employment: 26,250
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.00
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 18%
State highlights: Home of the world-renown Cleveland Clinic, Ohio has a vibrant medical community with an abundance of professional organizations for those in medical fields. Columbus and Cincinnati are beautiful small cities and the state is affordable. It ranks fifth for employment.
- Median salary: $32,930
- Cost of living index: 90.0
- Employment: 15,900
- Location quotient (density of jobs): 1.07
- Forecast for growth (2018-2028): 27.7%
State highlights: Home of prestigious Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Great Smoky Mountains, the Volunteer State has also been home to Dolly Parton, Justin Timberlake, and Davy Crockett. Tennessee has a rich history, ranks sixth in cost of living, and has a good location quotient, making it an attractive state for medical assistants.
Ranking the Rest: 11-50 Rankings for Medical Assistants
|State||Median Salary||Employment||Location Quotient (density of jobs)|
|#14 New Mexico||$31,320||7,230||1.80|
|#16 North Carolina||$34,740||20,240||0.92|
|#22 South Carolina||$32,000||11,840||1.15|
|#28 New Jersey||$37,250||17,360||0.90|
|#34 Rhode Island||$37,570||2,750||1.22|
|#35 New York||$38,660||25,490||0.57|
|#38 West Virginia||$29,370||3,280||0.99|
|#41 New Hampshire||$38,230||2,810||0.89|
|#44 North Dakota||$37,840||340||0.16|
|#50 South Dakota||$31,350||920||0.44|
About the Job
Medical assistants are an essential and critical component of the nation’s healthcare delivery system. They complete both administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, physicians’ offices, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Medical assistants usually interact directly with patients. They record patient history, measure vital signs, assist in examinations, give injections or medications, and enter patient records. Some work in administrative roles, handling the front desk and scheduling appointments.
Those who have strong interpersonal skills and who are also detail-oriented, analytical, and comfortable with technology, do well in the role. Medical assistants are in high demand and the median annual pay, while modest, can be considered fair given the minimal education required.
Medical assisting is a great first step for someone who wants to be in healthcare and a good choice for those who aspire to become RNs or physicians, but also want to work while in school. According to the BLS, medical assistants typically graduate from postsecondary education programs, although there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant in most states.
Advancing Your Career and Your Salary
Even if a state does not require medical assistants have an education beyond the high school level, many employers do. “Today’s employers seek medical assistants with higher levels of education and training than in the past,” Balasa said. “Candidates are generally expected to post-secondary education in medical assisting, which may be from one-year certificate or diploma programs or two-year associate degree programs. You can up your game further by gaining solid experience, becoming a certified medical assistant, and earning certificates in specialty fields like pediatrics or elder care.”
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