How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?

by sciencestudent

Being a medical assistant is a fulfilling career. It is also a rather easy medical field to get in to. But does it pay enough?

Recently, I had a family member ask me about becoming a medical assistant. Having been a nurse assistant for several years, I have worked with a lot of MA's and knew a little bit about the field.

The amount of money that a medical assistant can make is going to vary based on a number of factors such as years of experience and the type of practice, as well as the regional location.

Here's a quick look at the field of medical assisting and the typical salary. Plus some tips on getting the most out of your career as a MA!

Medical Assistants Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2010, the median income of a medical assistant is $13.87 per hour, which works out to just under $29,000 per year.

The median rate, by the way, is the salary that most of those employed in this field, on average, are making.  Using the median figure doesn't take into calculation the extremes of low entry-level wages or high-paid, tenured employees.

Other websites, such as,  also puts the nationwide median salary figure right around 28,500, so you can see that the sample set seems to be rather uniform. puts their estimate of the salary for the field of medical assisting a little higher -- closer to $43,000, actually. However they also include other similar fields such as a "medical records technician" in their calculations.  Many of these related fields can be excellent areas for the skilled assistant to easily transition into. 

However, their estimate for a "certified medical assistant" is still pegged right at $27,00 for a nationwide average.

In researching several forums, it appears that a lot of Hospitals and Doctor's office that are tied to large networks try to start off new Medical Assistants right around $10 per hour.

Medical Assistants Often Help With Billing and Records

Medical Assistant
Medical Assistant

How Much Do Medical Assistants Make Hourly?

In my research I found several forums where medical assistants were discussing their work.  All of them said that taking the extra testing to become a certified medical assistant helped them find jobs faster, and a few of them turned down jobs at or below the $10/ hour mark to find positions that started at or above $11 per hour. 

However, those who had been employed in the field for a couple of years were reporting higher wages in the $12-$14 range, and a couple had broken the $15 barrier by learning additional skills -- such as phlebotomy -- that my be typically seen as outside of the "traditional role" of a medical assistant.

Certified Medical Assistants May Make More

One of the major things you can do to immediately increase your pay -- even as an entry-level  assistant -- is to get certified. 

Taking the required tests to get certified will ensure that you start above $10 per hour.  Also, having your certification will make you more employable and more likely to land that job -- especially if you are competing with other applicants.


Certified Medical Assistant Exam Guides

Medical Assistant Exam: Preparation for the CMA and RMA Exams

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It also may bring you raises faster.

Being confident in your duties such as taking blood pressures and maintaining accurate medical records will help with those pay raises. 


Learning is key to your progression. And, in the medical field there is always a new skill to master.

Being willing to learn how to draw blood, for example, can expand your career into new areas as a phlebotomist and result in salary increases.

Versatility is key in this field.  The more versatile you can become, the more desirable an employee you are. 

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?


Ok, so maybe not, but at times it may seem like it.  You see, the field of medical assisting is not extremely well-regulated.  So, as long as you can do the job and your employer trusts your abilities (and it is not breaking any laws, of course) you can do it. 

Customer Service

A lot of medical assistants are employed at the front desk.  They are the smiling faces that greet you and hand you those complicated insurances and health history forms to complete.  Their knowledge of medical terminology empowers them to help the customer understand exactly what is going on. 

Medical Records

Doctors can never get enough help with their medical records and billing.  Granted, unless you are trained in medical coding, you may never do a lot on the insurance side.  However, there is always a lot of paperwork to be filed and a medical assistant is the perfect employee to help with that.


Here's where the stethoscope comes in.  The medical assistant is typically the person to settle you into the patient room.  They will measure your weight, check your blood pressure and ask a couple clarifying questions about why you have come to the doctor. 

Bandages and Medications

As with all of the other duties performed by a medical assistant, this one will very based on the state statutes where you live. Most states require the doctor to be present in the building in order to provide "proper supervision" of these more medically related tasks.

Whenever you get hired by your new employer, make sure they explain to you clearly what you are and are not allowed to do in order to abide by the regulations of you local ordinances.


Versatility is Key!

Medical assistants have the training and the experience to be well-rounded.  They take a lot of pressure off of the nursing and medical staff by helping with the lower-level medical services as well as the time-intensive paperwork.  If you are feeling versatile, medical assisting may be for you. 


Too Much College Debt Can Kill Any Career

Medical Assistant Schooling With Too Much Debt
Medical Assistant Schooling With Too ...

Medical Assisting Is a Rewarding Field

Just Don't Pay Too Much For Your Training!

Too many colleges charge too much for the medical assistant training they provide.  Be careful, and don't get saddled by a bunch of student loans!!

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Updated: 08/01/2012, sciencestudent
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