Medical Assistants: How Much Do They Earn on Average?

Medical assistants are allied health professionals who provide vital support to doctors and other medical staff. They perform a variety of tasks, from administrative duties to clinical tasks, and play a vital role in ensuring that medical facilities run smoothly.

How much do Medical assistants earn on average? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Medical Assistants was $33,610 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more

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Job Description

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Most medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate; however, some states allow them to enter the occupation with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Medical assistants held about 634,400 jobs in 2016. The vast majority worked in the offices of physicians; about 17 percent worked in hospitals; and others worked in outpatient care centers, academic medical centers, or in federal, state, or local government agencies.


Medical assistants are trained to perform both clinical and administrative tasks in a healthcare setting. Most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, or outpatient clinics.

When working in a clinical setting, medical assistants may take patient medical histories and vital signs, prepare patients for examination, assist the physician during the exam, collect and process laboratory specimens, perform basic laboratory tests, explain treatment procedures to patients, schedule appointments, prepare insurance forms, and instruct patients about medications.

When working in an administrative setting, medical assistants greet patients and answer phones. They also may perform clerical duties such as updating and filing patient medical records filling out insurance forms, coding insurance forms, bookkeeping duties such as billing and collections, handling correspondence and scheduling appointments.

In some states medical assistants may give injections under the direct supervision of a licensed healthcare provider.

Education and Training

Medical assistants typically have postsecondary education such as a certificate or an associate’s degree. Programs typically last from 1 to 2 years and include courses such as Medical Terminology transcription, and office procedures.

Some states have certification programs for medical assistants. Certification can demonstrate professional competence and may be required for certain positions. The Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants offers the Certified medical assistant (CMA) credential. To earn the CMA, candidates must graduate from an accredited medical assisting program and pass a written exam.

Most medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate or an associate’s degree. Programs typically last from 1 to 2 years and include courses such as medical terminology, transcription, and office procedures.


As of May 2017, certified medical assistants earned a median annual salary of $32,480, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The lowest 10 percent could expect to earn less than $23,230 annually, while the top 10 percent could bring in more than $46,080 per year. Your earnings as a medical assistant are largely dependent on your employer and your geographic location.


The average salary for medical assistants in the United States is $33,610 per year. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession. With more online and part-time programs available, medical assistant salaries are expected to rise in the coming years.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for medical assistants is very good. The median annual wage for medical assistants was $33,610 in May 2019, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $39,810. Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boom population ages and people remain active later in life, there will be an increase in the number of physicians and other health practitioners who will need support staff, such as medical assistants. In addition, advances in medical technology have led to an increase in preventive care and the need for more support staff in physician offices and other healthcare settings.

Pros and Cons

While medical assistants earn a comfortable wage, there are some cons that should be considered before pursing this profession. One con is that working as a medical assistant can be stressful. They often have to work long hours, including nights and weekends. They also may have to deal with difficult patients. Another con is that medical assistants may have to do tasks that they find unpleasant, such as cleaning up body fluids.

Working Conditions

Most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They usually work full time, and some may have evening or weekend shifts. Many medical assistants have to take continuing education courses to keep up with new technology.

Medical assistants should be detail oriented and able to follow instructions. They also need to be able to work well under pressure and handle a variety of tasks at the same time. Those who work in small offices may have many varied duties, including patient care, administrative tasks, and billing and insurance processing. Those who work in larger practices or hospitals are more likely to be assigned specific tasks. The working conditions for medical assistants vary depending on the size of the facility and the type of practice.

What to Expect

In order to become a medical assistant, one must complete an accredited program and pass a certified medical assistant exam. Medical assistants earn, on average, $33,610 per year. The median wage for medical assistants was $32,480 per year in May 2017. On average, medical assistants work full time and some may work evenings or weekends.

Advancement Opportunities

In addition to working in a medical office or clinic, medical assistants may find advancement opportunities in the following areas:

-Insurance companies
-Nursing homes
-Teaching positions
-Medical transcription

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