Medical Assistant Salary

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Medical assistants typically do the following:

  • Take patient history and measure vital signs
  • Help the physician with patient examinations
  • Give patient injections as directed by the physician
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Prepare blood for laboratory tests

Electronic health records (EHRs) are changing medical assistants’ jobs. More and more physicians are adopting EHRs, moving all their patient information online. Assistants need to learn the EHR software that their office uses. Medical assistants take and record patients’ personal information. They must be able to keep that information confidential and discuss it only with other medical personnel who are involved in treating the patient. Medical assistants should not be confused with physician assistants, who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under a physician’s supervision. For more information, see the profile on physician assistants.In larger practices or hospitals, medical assistants may specialize in either administrative or clinical work.Administrative medical assistants often fill out insurance forms or code patients’ medical information. Some assistants buy and store supplies and equipment for the office.Clinical medical assistants have different duties, depending on the state where they work. They may do basic laboratory tests, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments. They might have additional responsibilities, such as instructing patients about medication or special diets, preparing patients for x-rays, removing stitches, drawing blood, or changing dressings.Some medical assistants specialize in a specific type of medical office.Ophthalmic medical assistants and optometrist assistants help ophthalmologists and optometrists, respectively, provide eye care. They show patients how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses. Ophthalmic medical assistants also may help an ophthalmologist in surgery. Pediatric medical assistants work closely with podiatrists (foot doctors). They may make castings of feet, expose and develop x rays, and help podiatrists in surgery. Medical assistants held about 527,600 jobs in 2010. Most of these assistants work in physicians’ offices and other healthcare facilities. In 2010, more than half of all medical assistants worked in physicians’ offices.

The median annual wage of medical assistants was $28,860 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,810, and the top 10 percent earned more than $40,190. Most medical assistants work full time. Some work evenings or weekends to cover shifts in medical facilities that are always open.Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. The growth of the aging baby-boom population will continue to spur demand for preventive medical services, which are often provided by physicians. As their practices expand, physicians will hire more assistants to perform routine administrative and clinical duties, allowing the physicians to see more patients. Assistants will likely continue to be used in place of more expensive workers, such as nurses, to reduce costs.

In addition, an increasing number of group practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities need support workers, particularly medical assistants, to do both administrative and clinical duties. Medical assistants work mostly in primary care, a steadily growing sector of the healthcare industry.

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.

The salary of a Medical Assistant will vary depending upon the type of healthcare setting one chooses to work in as well as the location in which the Medical Assistant is employed. Each employer will require a specific set of responsibilities for a Medical Assistant; the difference in duties is one particular reason for the variation in salary as well as the State in which you’re hired to work.According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2008 the Medical Assistant Salary varied from $28,300 to the highest 10% earning an average of $39,570.00. And in 2010, salaries ranged from $20,810.00 to upwards of $40,190.00.With a solid education and appropriate training, Medical Assistants can earn an excellent and secure income. If you’re interested in working in a solid career field and earning a secure living, get started with a Medical Assistant training program today.

Medical assistants across the country enthusiastically participated in the 2011 salary survey, conducted by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). More than 3,800 medical assistants completed the survey. The AAMA e-mailed a questionnaire to a random sampling of more than 20,000 medical assistants and medical assisting educators. Most of the participants were CMAs (AAMA)and members of the AAMA. The large number of participant sensures that the results have a high degree of statistical reliability.

Table 1. Average hourly pay for all medical assistants

Years of experience

Hourly pay

Number of responses

0–2 years

$12.88

1,060

3–5 years

$14.31

590

6–9 years

$15.21

420

10–15 years

$16.23

349

+16 years

$17.53

493

Overall

$14.67

2,921

Table 2. Average gross salary for full-time medical assistants

Years of experience

Hourly pay

Number of responses

0–2 years

$24,882

804

3–5 years

$27,913

517

6–9 years

$30,123

378

10–15 years

$32,539

311

+16 years

$35,882

421

Overall

$29,201

2,449

Both hourly pay rates and annual gross salaries were collected on the survey. Over 95% of full-time medical assistants are paid hourly, while roughly 5% are paid by annual salary. By contrast,84 percent of full-time medical assisting educators receive an annual salary, while approximately 16 percent are paid hourly.Average hourly wages (Table 1) and salary (Table 2) vary according to years of experience for all medical assistants surveyed.

The American Association of Medical Assistants, which awards the CMA certification, conducted a salary survey in 2011. The survey was completed by over 3,000 medical assistants, most of whom held CMA certification. Respondents with zero to two years of experience reported a salary of $12.88 per hour. Respondents with the same level of experience but who were paid an annual salary, rather than an hourly salary, reported an average of $24,882. Over 95% of medical assistants reported being paid an hourly, rather than annual salary.

The graph below is a comparison of salary data for 10 jobs in U.S. National Average, U.S. National Average. If you are a professional who requires compensation survey data for your work please consult ERI Economic Research Institute’s Salary Assessor.

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