Facts About A Medical Assistant Salary

If you are asking questions about a Medical Assistant salary, you are obviously thinking about joining the swelling ranks of medical professionals in America. A Medical Assistant is a non-licensed healthcare professional who works in the medical health field under direct supervision of a physician and is, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the fastest growing career path, at a rate of 34% in the decade ranging from 2008 – 2018.

The medical assistant is a vital link between the physician and patients and physicians are relying on them more and more to shoulder some of the tasks. Medical assistants work very closely with the physician and other healthcare professionals to ensure the smooth running of the office, practise or clinic. This frees up the physician, allowing him/her to concentrate on providing the best medical care to the patient.

There are many institutions offering accredited courses for those who wish to become a medical assistant. The training for a medical assistant is generic, as they perform a combination of administrative and basic medical or clinical tasks. There are two main medical assistant training programs available; a one year certificate or diploma course and a two-year associated degree program. Approximately 62% of medical assistants hold a diploma or certificate in medical assisting and around 43% have an associate degree in medical assisting.

Medical Assistant Training

Medical assistants perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks, and as such need to cover quite s few different subjects during their studies to ensure that they are well-trained and can perform optimally on the job.

The typical Medical Assistant Program will cover:

  • Electrocardiography and Cardiopulmonary
  • Ethics, Medical Law and Psychology
  • First Aid, Digestive System, and Nutrition,
  • Hands-on Training
  • Internship
  • Laboratory Procedures
  • Patient Care and Communication
  • Pharmacology
  • Reproduction and Endocrinology

Attributes Of A Good Medical Assistant

As a medical assistant you will need to not only have good training but also many personal character attributes in order to discharge your duties to the best of your ability.

These Attributes Include:

Medical Assistant Salary

  • Being an active listener
  • Being an excellent communicator and able to speak distinctly, as patients will have to be able to understand any information and/or instructions that you give them regarding treatment.
  • You will need excellent writing skills on top of good reading comprehension.
  • Logical reasoning and critical thinking are vital to this career.
  • The ability to be empathetic to patients without allowing yourself to be emotionally affected by their plight.
  • Flexibility and the ability to switch from administrative tasks to clinical tasks without a pause.
  • Having a healthy regard and respect for the confidential nature of the work.
  • Good administrative skills.
  • A certain amount of visual acuity and physical dexterity.

The Certified Medical Assistant salary in the US in 2011 is showing a sharp upward curve and is currently around $29,000 to 32,000 per annum. This is a generalized figure, as the salary for medical assistant posts differs from state to state and from institution to institution. How much you earn also depends on how many years experience you have as a medical assistant, and which specialties you have.

Medical Assistant Salary

The American Association of Medical Assistants conducted a salary survey in which in excess of 3,800 medical assistants were interviewed about their salaries. This included the clinical medical assistant salary, the medical assistant hourly salary, and the Certified Medical Assistant salary in various states and across different sectors of the healthcare sphere.

A random sampling of more than 20,000 medical assistants was asked to complete the survey questionnaire and 3,898 responses were received. The large number of respondents assures statistical reliability and a very small margin of error. The upshot of this survey is that becoming a medical assistant is an excellent choice as the salary for medical assistant is quite good for the amount of training that is done, and it is growing more year on year as more medical assistants are needed in various healthcare facilities.

Average Medical Assistant Hourly Salary

The survey shows that more than 95% of all full-time medical assistants earn an hourly salary. The average hourly salary differs according to years of experience.

Years of Experience Hourly Pay Number of Responses
0-2 years $12.88 1060
3-5 years $14.31 590
6-9 years $15.21 420
10-15 years $16.23 349
16 years + $17.58 473
Overall $14.67 2921


Average Annual Medical Assistant salary

The annual salary for full-time assistants also differs according to how many years experience the medical assistant has under the belt.

Years of Experience Hourly Pay Number of Responses
0-2 years $24,882 804
3-5 years $27,913 517
6-9 years $30,123 378
10-15 years $32,539 311
16 years + $35,882 421
Overall $29,201 2449


Apart from the number of years that one has worked as a Medical Assistant, the salary also depends on whether one has an American Association of Medical Assistants Certification or not. Although Registration or Certification is not required by law, many employers are definitely giving preference to employing those who have passed the AAMA CMA examination and have the right to call themselves Certified Medical Assistants.

The Certified medical assistant salary for full-time medical assistants is also higher on average than the medical assistant salary for those who are not certified. AAMA Certification is discussed a bit further down.

Average Hourly Certified Medical Assistant Salary

Hourly Pay Number of Responses Salary Number of Responses
AAMA Certified Medical Assistants $14,94 2106 $29,460 2114
Non-AAMA Certified Medical Assistants $13,43 289 $26,568 285


The demand for medical assistants to get certified has a lot to do with the fact that there are many online colleges whose curriculum and short medical assistant programs do not fulfill the needs of the physician. Although there is no set legal curriculum for medical assistant training, it is better to do your course through an accredited institution.

How To Become A Certified Medical Assistant

  • Attending a medical assistant school which is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools will enable you to sit for the AAMA Certification Exam.
  • You can also apply to sit for the AAMA Certification Exam if you have been working as a medical assistant for longer than five years.
  • This certification, unlike registration, can be done as soon as you graduate and it is recommended that you do so in order to improve your chances of employment and the improved Certified Medical Assistant salary.

Another possible reason for the increased demand for certification from the physician’s side is the pressure of a potential malpractice suit and certification mandates placed on employers in the healthcare field by managed care organisations. The AAMA Certification assures the employer that you did complete a course which was accredited and therefore did do all the necessary basics required for you to be an excellent medical assistant.

Average Annual And Hourly Medical Assistant Salary Per Geographic Region

Another factor which has a huge impact on a medical assistant salary, whether it is an hourly or annual salary, is the geographical area in which you work. Salaries differ greatly from state to state, as was made very clear from the results of the AAMA Survey.

The Pacific region leads the charge at fairly high average earnings of $16.85 hourly and $32,240 annually. The West North Central region pays the second-best hourly rate at an average of $15.53 per hour. The Middle Atlantic region comes in second for annual medical assistant salary at an average of $30,256.

The following table shows the medical assistant hourly salary and annual salary, including number of years of service, for various geographical regions:

Region Overall 0-2 years 3-5 years 6-9 years 10-15 years 16 years +
New England $15.49 $30,106 $13.86 $26,373 $14.99 $29,090 $16.43 $32,542 $16.96 $33,741 $19.22 $38,000
Middle Atlantic $14.86 $30,256 $13.35 $25,867 $13.83 $27,852 $15.82 $31,556 $17.69 $37,300 $17.89 $39,250
East North Central $14.25 $28,189 $12.42 $24,085 $13.85 $27,208 $14.41 $28,222 $16.13 $31,773 $17.04 $34,464
West North Central $15.53 $30,211 $13.57 $25,607 $14.78 $28,351 $15.52 $31,019 $16.82 $32,730 $17.94 $35,534
South Atlantic $14.03 $28,265 $12.17 $23,661 $13.75 $27,127 $14.51 $29,294 $15.57 $30,837 $17.04 $35,909
East South Central $13.29 $27,065 $11.39 $22,480 $13.06 $25,786 $13.43 $25,833 $15.50 $31,571 $15.71 $33,700
West South Central $14.29 $28,886 $12.33 $22,909 $14.45 $28,875 $14.62 $31,394 $14.80 $34,259 $16.48 $37,071
Mountain $14.33 $28,386 $12.33 $23,392 $13.68 $26,262 $14.32 $28,450 $15.83 $34,300 $18.13 $35,250
Pacific $16.85 $32,240 $14.98 $28,265 $16.43 $30,946 $18.03 $34,375 $18.61 $36,431 $19.51 $38,488


Medical Assistant Workplaces

Medical assistants are an integral part of any healthcare team and work in various institutions. Some medical assistants focus on administrative duties and others do more on the clinical side.

Some of the places where Medical Assistants are employed:

  • Clinics
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Hospice
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance Providers
  • Medical offices
  • Medical Supply Businesses
  • Nursing Homes
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Urgent Care Centres

Medical Assistant Salary – Specialty Practice

Medical assistants work in various fields, some in small practises, some in nursing homes and others in public or privates hospitals, amongst others. According to the survey more than 52% of medical assistants work in a specialty practice which has an average of nineteen employees and around 44% of medical assistants are employed in a multi-specialty office which has an average of forty-seven employees.

The biggest employer of medical assistants is physicians, accounting for employment of more than 87% of the respondents to the AAMA survey. The amount of Medical Assistants working in emergency services, outpatient hospital departments and other healthcare facilities such as inpatient hospital care, home and hospice care, ambulatory surgery, nursing homes, and residential care is unknown at this stage.

Average Annual And Hourly Medical Assistant Salary Per Work Setting

Speciality Overall 0-2 years 3-5 years 6-9 years 10-15 years 16 years +
Physicians Office $14,74 $29,036 $12,93 $24,739 $14,22 $27,733 $15,12 $29,639 $16,20 $31,952 $17,55 $35,555
Emergency & Outpatient Hospital Department $15,18 $30,718 $13,12 $26,024 $15,14 $29,575 $15,65 $36,136 $16,09 $36,431 $18,55 $37,900
Other $14,92 $29,872 $12,97 $24,509 $14,48 $27,944 $15,63 $31,658 $17,85 $38,409 $19.39 $43,192


The Clinical Medical Assistant salary also depends a lot on which specialties are practised by the medical assistant. According to the AAMA survey, approximately 59% of the Medical Assistants surveyed work in a Primary Care Practice or Office, 25% in practices which have surgical or medical specialties and 16% which fall under the “other” category

Average Annual And Hourly Medical Assistant Salary Per Practice Specialty

Speciality Overall 0-2 years 3-5 years 6-9 years 10-15 years 16 years +
Primary Care $14,53 $28,382 $12,79 $24,465 $14,13 $27,424 $14,82 $29,362 $16,20 $31,380 $17,31 $34,392
Medical & Surgical Specialities $15,14 $31,020 $13,36 $26,021 $14,64 $28,732 $15,61 $31,182 $16,61 $33,972 $18,18 $37,569
Other $14,79 $29,380 $12,93 $24,885 $14,50 $28,569 $16,45 $31,683 $16,57 $33,915 $17,89 $38,291


According to a report filed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, geographical location is a huge variable in the salary for Medical Assistant positions, as is the industry in which a medical assistant works. According the BLS report the annual mean Medical Assistant salary by industry is as follows:

  • Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance Related Activities: $34,180
  • Insurance Carriers: $34,080
  • Offices of Dentists: $36,880
  • Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals : $39,220
  • Scientific Research and Development Services: $35,550

Medical Assistant Salary – Employment Benefits

One cannot look at the salary for Medical Assistant posts without bearing in mind that the actual hard-cash is only part of the whole package. Apart from the basic medical assistant hourly salary or annual salary there are also many bonuses which form part of the package that is the Certified Medical Assistant salary package. These bonuses can come in the guise of overtime worked, hospital high surplus, achievements in the job, and year-end bonuses.

There are also many added benefits that medical assistants can enjoy as an add-on to the Medical Assistant salary, such a pension, Major medical health insurance, dental cover, vision cover, disability cover, discount prescription cover, basic hospitalization cover, accidental death cover, and professional liability cover. Most full-time medical assistants receive at least some of these benefits from their employers.

Most employers also pay the various an American Association of Medical Assistants expenses for their medical assistants, either in full or partially. This includes AAMA membership fees, AAMA Annual Conference fees and sometimes the employers also pay for travel and lodging expenses for the an American Association of Medical Assistants Annual Conference

Continuous Learning

Most medical assistants thoroughly enjoy their work and find the fact that they are helping both the medical professional and the patient very rewarding. Whether you are looking for part-time work of full-time employment, if you are someone who enjoys working with people, is flexible and enjoys a challenge, this may be the career for you. If you work in a smaller practise or clinic your duties will be more varied and could include administrative tasks such as running the front office, taking down patient histories, and scheduling appointments. You would also have to do some basic medical tasks such as taking vital signs, administering medication, or taking x-rays. In a larger setting you would normally be specializing in just one or two tasks.

One of the great advantages of working as a medical assistant is the opportunity to learn new things and grow as a valuable member of a healthcare team in a professional setting. One of the best ways to learn is to work alongside a professional and be mentored by them; it is exciting and challenging at the same time. This also allows you to experience and learn talents which you may never have thought of until you were put into the situation where they are needed.

Medical techniques, technologies and methods are changing in really innovative ways virtually daily, and by working as a medical assistant you are at the forefront of this all and will continuously be learning new things. Most medical assistants will also normally take part in medical seminars, workshops and meetings which will expand your knowledge even further. You will also learn how to perform new procedures using the latest technological innovations.

Taking all of the above into consideration, you will see that although it is obviously important that we earn sufficient to live comfortably, the medical assistant salary that is offered is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to choosing a career as a medical assistant. All of the benefits that make up the salary for medical assistant positions, the great working environment, the fact that you will be making a difference in people’s lives and the enjoyment of a challenging and never-boring career also carry a great deal of weight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *