What is the Starting Pay for a Medical Assistant?

Considering a career in medical assisting? Get the scoop on medical assistant starting pay, job duties, and outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

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Job description

Medical assistants are unlicensed personnel who perform nonclinical tasks in medical offices. Their duties include greeting patients, scheduling appointments, handling correspondence, filing medical records and insurance forms, drawing blood, preparing patients for X-rays and other exams, and handing out information about medical office procedures. Depending on their training and the state in which they work, some may also give injections, remove sutures, apply dressings to wounds or perform other tasks as delegated by a physician. Medical assistants usually work under the supervision of a licensed health care professional such as a physician or registered nurse.


The medical assistant duties vary depending on the state you are working in, the size of the facility, and the type of practice. Medical assistants may perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks. Here are some common duties:

Clinical tasks:
-Taking medical histories and recording vital signs
-Explaining treatment procedures to patients
-Assisting the physician with examinations
-Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
-Performing basic laboratory tests
-Instructing patients about medications and special diets
-Preparing patients for x-rays and other diagnostic procedures
-Arranging hospital admissions and scheduling surgeries

Administrative tasks:
-Updating and filing patient medical records
-Filling out insurance forms
-Booking appointments
-Answering phones
-Greeting patients


In order to become a medical assistant, one must have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition, medical assistants must complete an accredited medical assisting program. upon completion of the program, medical assistants must pass a certified medical assistant exam.


While there is no specific educational requirement to become a medical assistant, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a formal training program. These programs are typically offered at community colleges and technical schools, and can last anywhere from six months to two years. Some schools also offer online programs, which may be a good option for busy adults who want to complete their training while continuing to work full-time.

During their training, medical assistants learn both the clinical and administrative tasks that they will be responsible for in their day-to-day jobs. Clinical tasks include taking and recording patient histories, performing basic lab tests, and sterilizing equipment. Administrative tasks include scheduling appointments, handling billing and insurance paperwork, and maintaining Medical records


The average medical assistant salary is $15.10 per hour. The median salary is $14.90 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $9.375 per hour, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $21.05 per hour.

Job outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of medical assistants will grow much faster than the average for all occupations between 2018 and 2028, at a rate of 29 percent (www.bls.gov). This is largely due to an aging population and advances in medical technology that require assistance from trained professionals.

Pros and cons

There are many things to consider before becoming a medical assistant. One important factor is starting pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for medical assistants was $34,800 in May 2018. 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 $24,380, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $49,880.

However, experience and location can greatly affect earnings. For example, medical assistants in physicians’ offices had a median annual wage of $33,750, while those in general hospitals had a median annual wage of $36,940. Also, medical assistants in California had a median annual wage of $39,160, while those in Texas had a median annual wage of $32,580.

In addition to pay, there are other important factors to consider before becoming a medical assistant such as job duties and working conditions. Medical assistants usually work in clean, well-lit offices and clinics. They spend much of their time with patients and need to have good people skills. However, they also perform basic lab tests, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize equipment; therefore, they must follow safety procedures carefully to protect themselves and their patients from infections. Medical assistants also may be exposed to contagious diseases such as tuberculosis or hepatitis when handling contaminated tissues or body fluids; they must take precautions such as wearing gloves or masks.

Tips for success

The most important factor in any job is experience. Even if you are just starting out, there are ways to make yourself a more attractive candidate. Below are a few tips to get you started on the path to a successful career in medical assisting.

1. Get experience in the field. If you can, try to find a job or internship in a medical office or hospital. This will give you some hands-on experience and will help you decide if this is the right career for you.

2. Take some classes. While not required, taking some classes in medical assisting can give you an edge over other candidates. Many community colleges offer these courses, and they will cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, and medical office procedures.

3. Get certified. Although not required in all states, getting certified as a medical assistant can demonstrate your commitment to the profession and give you an advantage when applying for jobs. Certification is available through several organizations, including the American Association of Medical Assistants and the National Healthcare Association.

4. Be professional. When you are interviewing for a medical assistant position, remember that first impressions matter. Dress professionally and be polite and respectful to everyone you meet during the interview process—you never know who might be making the decision about whether or not to hire you!


There are a lot of different factors that can influence how much a medical assistant makes. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about medical assistant pay:

1. How much does a medical assistant make per hour?
On average, medical assistants make $15.00 per hour. However, this number can vary depending on the state you work in, your level of experience, and whether you work in a private practice or hospital setting.

2. How much do medical assistants make per year?
Medical assistants typically make between $31,200 and $34,800 per year. Again, this number can vary depending on your state, level of experience, and place of employment.

3. What is the starting pay for a medical assistant?
The starting pay for a medical assistant is typically around $10-12 per hour. However, this number can increase with experience and level of education.

4. Do medical assistants get benefits?
Many medical assistants do receive benefits such as health insurance and paid time off. However, this varies from employer to employer so it’s important to ask about benefits when you are interviewing for a position.

Further reading

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for medical assistants was $34,800 in May 2018.1 This means that half of medical assistants earned more than this amount and half earned less. The BLS also reports that the lowest 10% of medical assistants earned less than $23,560 and the highest 10% earned more than $49,620.1

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