Medical Assistants: Salary Overview
Medical assistants usually work in hospitals, offices of physicians, and other healthcare facilities where they complete administrative and clinical tasks.
Their exact job description varies depending on the specialty and the size of the practice.
They typically are responsible for recording patient history and personal information, measuring vital signs, helping physicians with patient examination, giving patients injections, scheduling appointments, preparing blood samples, and entering patient information into medical records.
In smaller practices, they usually complete all the above tasks while in larger practices or hospitals they may specialize in performing only some types of tasks.
For example, administrative medical assistants fill out insurance forms or code the patient’s medical information while clinical medical assistants perform tasks such as basic laboratory tests and sterilize medical instruments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for medical assistants was $34,800 in May 2019 which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries usually vary between less than $25,820 and more than $48,720 depending on a variety of factors, such as experience level, education, skills, the size of the practice, and the region of employment.
Medical Assistant Salary by Industry of Employment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants held approximately 686,600 jobs in 2018 in the United States, most of them working for offices of physicians.
The average annual wage reported by medical assistants who were employed in physician’s offices was $35,490 in May 2019, according to the report published by BLS.
Medical assistants who were employed by general medical and surgical hospitals reportedly earned $37,190 a year on average while those who worked for offices of other health practitioners reportedly earned $37,190 per year on average.
The average annual wage reported by medical assistants who worked in outpatient care centers was $39,190.
Medical assistants who worked in continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly reportedly earned $29,690 a year, on average.
According to the BLS report, the top-paying industry for this profession was the field of computer systems design and related services.
This sector hires only a few medical assistants who were paid, on average, with $43,870 a year.
Job opportunities for medical assistants may also appear in medical and diagnostic laboratories, a field where the average annual wage reported by workers in this profession was $40,960.
Medical Assistant Salary by Experience and Education Level
Although there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant in most states, graduating from a post-secondary education program will improve your employment and earning prospects.
Becoming certified by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies is another factor that can help you earn a higher-than-average salary.
These credentialing institutions offer five certifications, including Certified Medical Assistant, Registered Medical Assistant, National Certified Medical Assistant, Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant.
Salaries for medical assistants also vary depending on the number of years of experience and the region of employment.
For example, according to the 2019 CMA (AAMA) Compensation and Benefits Report published by the American Association of Medical Assistants, medical assistants in New England who had less than 2 years of experience earned $30,660 a year on average while those with more than 16 years of experience earned $39,632 a year on average.
Medical assistants in this region who had between 6-9 years of experience reported a mean annual wage of $36,700 per year.
Entry-level medical assistants in the East North Central region reportedly earned $28,521 per year on average while the most experienced workers made $36,819 on average.
Medical assistants who had between 6-9 years of experience reportedly earned $31,588 a year, on average.
Higher average annual salaries were reported by medical assistants in the Pacific region.
Here the average annual wage was $33,265 for workers with less than 2 years of experience and $46,685 for those with more than 16 years of experience.
Therefore both the region of employment and the level of experience play an important role in determining a medical assistant’s salary.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Medical Assistants. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.