For people interested in a career as a medical assistant, the job outlook is very bright. Medical assistants already work at a majority of medical facilities around the country and help doctors and nurses with a variety of tasks. They often schedule appointments, handle records, and perform billing procedures as well as clinical jobs such as patient preparation, obtaining vitals, and delivering medication. Medical assistants with associate degrees have many employment options and corresponding salaries.
Average Nationwide Salary Range
In May 2010, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released a salary survey and reported that medical assistants made an average of $29,760 a year. The lowest-paid assistants earning in the bottom 10th percentile made less than $20,810 while those at the top of their field made it into the top 10th percentile and earned more than $40,190 a year. Most medical assistants fell into the middle 50th percentile and brought home between $24,370 and $34,450 a year. As of 2010, 523,260 medical assistants were working in the country, but the number of positions is expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate.
Different Areas and Different Wages
Due to cost of living, demand for medical assistants, and overall economic conditions, salaries varied from place to place. In the bureau report, Ohio and Texas reported mean wages lower than the national average at $27,610 and $27,860 a year, respectively. However, several states boasted excellent wages, such as Hawaii, Connecticut and Massachusetts, averaging between $34,070 and $35,010. The highest-paying state in the U.S. for medical assistants in 2010 was Alaska with an annual mean wage of $37,750.
Type of Facility or Employer
Most medical assistants, over 322,000 of them, worked for doctors' offices in 2010 and made $30,110 a year on average. Those working for general hospitals made an average of $30,770 a year while assistants in outpatient centers earned $30,490. The lowest-paying positions were found in general merchandise stores with an annual mean wage of $22,810. Dentists’ offices paid exceptionally well at $36,880 a year on average. However, the highest-paying jobs were with psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals. In 2010, only an estimated 660 medical assistants were working here, but the average wage was $39,220 a year.
It is possible to work as a medical assistant with only a high school education and on-the-job training, but the most common path to the career is by pursuing a two-year associate degree. During school, students focus on physiology, anatomy and medical terminology as well as administrative skills like transcription, accounting, record keeping and insurance billing procedures. Not only do students learn in the classroom, but in clinical settings as well. Certification is not typically required, but medical assistants with associate degrees and certification will likely earn higher wages. The American Association of Medical Assistants commonly grants these credentials.