What is a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants (also know as Certified Medical Assistant, Registered Medical Assistant, Administrative Medical Assistant, Clinical Medical Assistant, Medical Office Assistant, Clinical Assistant or simply MA) are allied health professionals that assist physicians in daily administrative and clinical tasks including medical records keeping and administering injections.
MA’s duties may vary from office to office, and are largely dependent on the location and type of physicians they work for. Industry-relevenat knowledge, computer literacy and organizational skills are some of the key attributes required for a medical assistant to effectively and efficiently manage the font and back office of a health care practitioner. For more on job description, please visit our medical assistant job description page.
Medical assistants work mostly in physician’s offices, but you may also find them in office of chiropractors, podiatrists, and other health practitioners. Others work in private and public hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities, colleges, outpatient care centers, and research laboratories.
According to US Statistics, over 50% of all medical assistants work in physician offices. You will also find medical assistants in office of chiropractors, podiatrists, and other health practitioners.
Medical assistants usually work 40 hours a week. It can include evenings, weekends and holidays depending solely on office hours of clinics and health facilities they work in.
Mean Annual Medical Assistant Salary
The average annual medical assistant salary is $30,550. The average salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. The lowest 10% of medical assistant salaries are less than $21,080. The top 10% of medical assistant salaries reach more than $41,570.
Medical Assistant Salary: Quick Summary
|2012 Mean Salary||$30,550 per year
$14.69 per hour
|Top 10% Salary||$41,570 per year
$19.99 per hour
|Bottom 10% Salary||$21,080 per year
$10.14 per hour
|Number of Jobs, 2012||553,140|
Medical Assistant Job Outlook and Prospects
A career in medical assistant is very promising. Expected job growth in this field is 29%, or an increase in 162,900 jobs by 2022 in the United States alone. It is one of the fastest growing health care occupations today. The high demand is largely due to an increase in medical facilities along with advancement in medical technologies and treatments among a rising population of aging baby boomers. Medical assistants will see their roles and responsibilities continue to expand as more and more physicians find less time to spend with their patients. Other factors such as prevalence of chronic medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases also contribute to a growing demand for medical assistants.
Medical assistants with certifications, experience, or relevant training should have no problem in finding job opportunities. In fact, being a certified medical assistant, which is a two years training program resulting in an associate’s degree, allows individuals a distinctive advantage over non-certified MA’s when applying for entry-level positions.
What Affects The Medical Assistant Salary
As the demand for medical assistants increases, medical assistant salaries tend to follow the same upward trend. In 2004, medical assistants made an average of just over $25,000 per year. In 2008, the average salary rose to $29,000 per year, or almost a 15% increase. It comes as no surprise that as of the March 2013 findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 553,140 individuals employed as medical assistants earning a mean annual salary of $30,550. A growing demand for more skilled medical assistants, which is attributed to the whole healthcare industry implementing stricter regulations and control, has led to an increase in salary. Other factors influencing MA’s salaries include industry employment and a variety of geographic forces as well.
Experience and Education
Experience can essentially double the salary of medical assistants, especially because it often indicates the specialization of skills for different settings. Typically, individuals just entering this industry are expected to make around $20,000 each year, whereas medical assistants with significantly more experience earn an average of $41,570 or more annually.
Individuals possessing the minimal education for this position are more likely to complete general work in a physician’s office, whereas more experienced medical assistants tend to acquire more unique positions not necessarily in a physician’s office. Those with a higher educational background are more likely to be hired and even at a higher starting rate than those who do not possess any sort of training. In fact, becoming a certified medical assistant will boost your starting salary by as much as $10%.
Over half of all medical assistants are employed in the offices of physicians, and, not surprisingly, this industry is not in the top five highest paying market sectors for this profession. In fact, no more than 4,000 individuals are employed in each of the highest earning industries, suggesting that specialized skills are highly influential. The top paying industry is psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, followed closely by medical assistants working for insurance carriers, as well as in scientific research and development services. This suggests that a different skillset can affect annual salary in a significant way.
Medical assistants working under hospital settings generally are better paid than those that work in physician offices. Their duties are more specialized; as a result, extensive on-job training and knowledge is a must for those who wish to work there. These departments are surgery, radiology laboratory, ambulatory and postoperative. The starting pay for these individuals can range anywhere between $15 to $18 per hour.
Medical assistants are classified into two main categories, which are administrative and clinical. Administrative medical assistants generally work in the front office of a physician’s clinic. They handle day to day clerical tasks including answering the phone lines and maintaining patient charts. These individuals require less experience and on-site training which results in a lower income, or more specifically a salary of $9 to $12 per hour. On the other hand, clinical medical assistants typically earn a higher starting salary (e.g. $11 to $14 per hour) as their roles are more complicated, such as gathering a patient’s medical information, taking vital signs, or administering medications and injections. In most cases, their job duties require them to possess a level of education and training from accredited programs not necessary for administrative medical assistants.
States that represent those most sparsely populated by medical assistants are also those that are the top paying locations for these professionals. For example, Alaska is the highest paying state at a mean annual wage of $39,900, however only 1,210 of the approximately 550,000 total medical assistants in the United States are employed here. The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Washington are also among the highest paying states, none of which contain a large number of medical assistants in the population.
Smaller metropolitan areas appear to be the top paying locations for medical assistants. Additionally, metropolitan areas situated in top paying states are more likely to indicate higher annual mean wages for medical assistants, especially in Washington and Alaska.
Nonmetropolitan areas with the highest levels of pay are those that employ no more than 200 medical assistants. These nonmetropolitan areas are also associated with states that tend to pay medical assistants higher wages, suggesting that states with high demand for medical assistants but low numbers of these professionals are ideal for those seeking work as medical assistants.
Medical Assistant Salary: Top 5
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas
Top Paying States
Top Paying Industries
States with Highest Employment Levels
|Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $47,430||Alaska: $39,900||Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals: $42,250||California: (82,280 jobs) $33,750|
|Fairbanks, AK: $42,520||District of Columbia: $37,800||Insurance Carriers: $37,480||Texas: (51,890 jobs) $28,270|
|San Francisco, CA: $41,900||Massachusetts: $37,210||Scientific Research and Development Services: $35,780||Florida: (38,080 jobs) $28,600|
|Santa Rosa- Petaluma, CA: $39,830||Washington: $35,330||Offices of Dentists: $35,530||Pennsylvania: (22,460 jobs) $29,900|
|Danbury, CT: $39,430||Hawaii: $34,780||Personal Care Services: $35,250||Ohio: (22,440 jobs) $28,040|