According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for medical assistants is $35,850. The top 10% of medical assistants earn more than $50,580 annually.
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Actual salaries for medical assistants can vary based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience, level of education, and a variety of other factors. Administrative medical assistants’ duties will differ from clinical medical assistants, for instance, though there may be some overlap of responsibilities.
A full-time medical assistant may be offered a benefits package that could include healthcare, vacation, holiday pay, sick leave, and a 401(k) plan. According to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), approximately 97% of all full-time medical assistants receive benefits from their employer.
Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow by 19% through 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Medical assistants have many opportunities to boost their earning potential. For some, this position is a steppingstone to a higher paying role in the healthcare field. Others will find that certain work settings may pay more than others.
Take a look at how salaries can vary in different healthcare settings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook.
|Workplace||Median Annual Salary|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$42,330|
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, it’s only logical that salaries vary as well. Here are some median annual salaries from the BLS for four in-demand healthcare careers:
|Assisting Specialty||Median Annual Salary|
|Physical Therapy Assistant||$49,970|
Job Outlook for Medical Assistants
Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow by 19% through 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS. The growth of the aging baby boom population will continue to create demand for medical services.
New and changing tasks for medical assistants also are pushing up demand for this role. For example, as more and more physicians’ practices switch to electronic health records (EHRs), the need for tech savvy medical assistants will increase.
Though medical assistants work mostly in primary care—a steadily growing sector of the healthcare industry—an increasing number of group practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities also will need medical assistants and other support workers.
Best Pay and Number of Jobs by State
Medical assistants are an integral part of healthcare organizations. 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, certain parts of the country offer higher salaries and more opportunity for medical assistants. There are also states where jobs are more plentiful.
Much of the demand for medical assistants is determined by a state’s demographics and how many facilities it has for baby boomers and the elderly, who partly drive these statistics.
Take a look at BLS numbers on medical assistant salaries and jobs by state.
Median Salary: $35,850
Top 10%: $50,580
Projected job growth: 19.2%
|State||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$45,300||$33,380||$58,190|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 median salary; projected job growth through 2029. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
Many states are dependent upon state budgets and other funding to keep healthcare facilities operating at their best, and if a state doesn’t allot enough money for maximum efficiency, there may be fewer jobs available for medical assistants and other healthcare staff. In other cases, some states may simply have fewer facilities due to size, population, and need.
Best Paying Cities for Medical Assistants
The BLS also ranks metropolitan areas by salary, and California dominates the top 10 list for medical assistants, along with a few other locations that may surprise you.
|Metro Area||Annual Median Wage|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California||$53,960|
|Santa Rosa, California||$52,520|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California||$49,020|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California||$44,980|
Which Cities Have the Most Medical Assistant Jobs?
If you’re looking for a city that has a high number of medical assistants—and possibly demand and jobs—here are the top 10 metropolitan areas with the most medical assistant jobs.
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, New Jersey-Pennsylvania||32,000|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California||30,120|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas||22,500|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas||17,070|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida||16,720|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia||15,850|
|Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware-Maryland||14,090|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California||12,620|
How Can I Earn More as a Medical Assistant?
As is the case in most professions, racking up years of experience can help boost your salary. Though the median annual salary for a medical assistant is $35,850, the top 10% of medical assistants earn $50,580.
Another way to increase your chances of higher pay is by earning a professional certification.
Another way to increase your chances of higher pay is by earning a professional certification. Many medical assistants pursue certification right after they complete their education. If you need incentive, consider this: The National Healthcareer Association’s 2020 industry outlook found that 63% of institutions increase pay when an employee earns professional certification.
The top two certifications for medical assistants are:
There are other certifications you can potentially pursue as well, including specialty certifications for medical assistants who work in specific fields of medicine. Some examples include:
Consider a New Career
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. 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 in which you supervise other medical assistants in a healthcare facility. Job advancement typically adds up to a higher salary.