Medical Assistants
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Overview
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Perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of a physician. Administrative duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes. Clinical duties may include taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by physician.
Titles for this career often contain these words
AssistantMedicalTechnicianSpecialistAideCertifiedOfficeCoderHealthOptometricCodingClientCoordinatorServicesClinicClinicalInformationCareBillingMorgueOphthalmicOrthopedicPodiatricAutopsyCMAPhlebotomyProfessionalCPCChiropracticChiropractorServiceDoctorDoctor'sEyeUnitClerkHemodialysisPatientHospitalMAInsuranceWorkerSupportTechAttendantOcularOptometristOptometryCastPhysician'sPodiatristRegisteredRMARespiratoryTherapistSleepSterileProcessingSurgerySchedulerVeinAccessVisualTraining
Education
Only 12% of medical assistants have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by medical assistants
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer medical assistants have bachelor's degrees than 70% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Medical assistants, with 686,600 workers, form a larger workforce than 94% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for medical assistants are expected to grow by 23%, and should have about 99,700 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Medical assistants are less likely to be automated than 66% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for medical assistants compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most medical assistants earn.
$35K$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Gender
Women account for 90% of medical assistants -- that's a larger percentage than 97% of other jobs.
Gender of medical assistants
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For medical assistants, the median men's salary was 6% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 25% of medical assistants are minority, and 15% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of medical assistants
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (15%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Medical Assistants per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Context: workers are union members
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of medical assistants who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections (84%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (75%)
  • Consequence of Error (72%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (70%)
  • Time Pressure (64%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (48%)
  • Degree of Automation (41%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (37%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do medical assistants earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for medical assistants (BLS Salary Data)
$35K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$35K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for medical assistants (ACS Salary Data)
$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Medical assistants and other healthcare support occupations: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $32KAll jobs' median $45K$31K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$20K$40K$60K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire medical assistants.
Employers of Medical Assistants (ACS)
Private for-profit (80.0%)
Private not-for-profit (12.4%)
Local government (2.3%)
State government (1.9%)
Federal government (3.0%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.2%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.2%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of medical assistants by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$31K$31K$30K$33K$33K$33K$33K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000Self-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of medical assistants by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$35K$0$10,000$20,000$30,000$40,000$50,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for medical assistants

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$23K$33K$37K$31K$28K$35K$35K$32K$34K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
020K40K60K80K100K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Medical assistants and gender

With 90% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 97% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
90%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Medical assistants
Men (10%)
Women (90%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for medical assistants, with the median salary for men 6% higher than the median salary for women.

$31K$32K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Medical assistants have one of the smaller inequity calculations, with the increase for men's median salary over women's median salary in this job lower than that for 81% of other jobs.

6%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of medical assistants

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a higher percentage of minority medical assistants than for 69% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of medical assistants
White (67% )
Black (15% )
Other (9% )
Asian (4% )
Multiracial (3% )
Hispanic (2% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
25%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
15%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for medical assistants by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$29K$30K$30K$30K$31K$31K$31K$34K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAmerican IndianHispanicOtherWhiteMultiracialPacific IslanderBlackAsian
Distribution: Salaries for medical assistants by nativity
$31K$32K$0$20K$40K$60KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Medical assistants and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 17% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 61% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
17%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time medical assistants is shown following.

$17K$31K$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by medical assistants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistants typically hold a postsecondary nondegree award.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as medical assistants as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for medical assistants

Medical assistants typically graduate from postsecondary education programs. Although there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant in most states, employers may prefer to hire assistants who have completed these programs.

Programs for medical assisting are available from community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools, and universities and take about 1 year to complete. These programs usually lead to a certificate or diploma. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs that lead to an associate’s degree. All programs have classroom and laboratory portions that include lessons in anatomy and medical terminology.

Some medical assistants have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn their duties on the job. High school students interested in a career as a medical assistant should take courses in biology, chemistry, and anatomy, and possibly business and computers.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for medical assistants

Medical assistants are not required to be certified in most states. However, employers may prefer to hire certified assistants.

Several organizations offer certification. An applicant must pass an exam and have taken one of several routes to be eligible for each certification. These routes include graduation from an accredited program and work experience, among others. In most cases, an applicant must be at least 18 years old before applying for certification.

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies, part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, accredits five certifications for medical assistants:

Some states may require assistants to graduate from an accredited program, pass an exam, or both, in order to practice. Contact the state board of medicine for more information.

Education attained by medical assistants
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for medical assistants? Below we see the distribution of medical assistants salaries based on the education attained.

$29K$30K$31K$31K$33K$42K$35K$33K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KNone (2%)High School (21%)Some College (42%)Associate's/Cert. (24%)Bachelor's Degree (10%)Master's Degree (1%)Professional Degree (1%)Doctorate (0%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click a program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.

Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Associate's degree or certificate
Bachelor's
Graduate
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Switching Careers
The most common next careers for medical assistants

What jobs will most medical assistants hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of medical assistants reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Medical assistants and other healthcare support occupationsHealth Technologists and TechniciansNursing, psychiatric, and home health aidesRegistered nursesReceptionists and Information ClerksMedical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and TechniciansPhysician AssistantsSecretaries and administrative assistantsCooksLicensed Practical and Licensed Vocational NursesGeneral Office Clerks
Lateral job transitions for medical assistants

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 8 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as medical assistants as well as 1% of respondents after working as medical assistants. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Prior and next careers for medical assistants: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as medical assistants? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of medical assistants surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most medical assistants? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as medical assistants. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Medical Assistants per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.02.04.06.08.010.0
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where medical assistants earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for medical assistants compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for medical assistants.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Medical Assistants (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which medical assistants earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
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$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?