How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?

Young brazilian doctor and nurse checking patient information on a tablet device.
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The medical assistant career is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing in the United States. Medical assistants primarily work with physicians in medical offices, clinics, outpatient facilities or ambulatory care units. Medical assistants perform various clinical and administrative duties, such as administrating laboratory tests, assisting physicians with patient examinations and administering prescription medications and refills.

Here’s a look at what medical assistants do and how much they can expect to earn.

Medical Assistant Occupation at a Glance

Here are some quick facts about medical assistants’ requirements, pay and job outlook as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2021.

  • Median pay: $37,190 annually — $17.88 per hour
  • Entry-level education requirement: post-secondary nondegree certificate
  • Prior required related work experience or training: None
  • Number of positions available nationwide: 743,500
  • Job outlook: 16% growth with a 117,800 projected jobs increase

How Much Do Medical Assistants Make Annually?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2021, the median annual salary for medical assistants was $37,190. In the same period, the lowest 10% of medical assistants earned less than $29,070, and the highest 10% made over $48,170.

Medical assistants earn a little less than most other occupations. Earning a median annual wage of $37,190, medical assistants trailed others in different healthcare support occupations who earned $37,370. All other occupations averaged $45,760 annually.

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Which Industry Areas Pay Medical Assistants the Most?

In May of last year, medical assistants earned the most in these top U.S. medical industry areas:

Industry Area Annual Salary Percent of Medical Assistant Workers
Physicians’ offices $37,150 58%
State, local and private hospitals $37,800 15%
Outpatient care centers $38,270 9%
Chiropractors’ offices $30,100 4%

What Is the Hourly Salary for a Medical Assistant?

As of Sept. 26, 2022, data from Salary.com displayed the average hourly pay for medical assistants in the U.S. as $18. Across the country, hourly salaries range from $16 — 10th percentile — and $21 — 90th percentile. Factors that play into how much medical assistants make per hour include:

  • How many years a medical assistant has been in the profession
  • Relevant education
  • Certifications held
  • Additional relevant skills

Where Are Medical Assistant Hourly Salaries the Highest?

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the top five states or federal districts with the highest-paying hourly salaries on average for medical assistants:

  • Washington: $22.75
  • District of Columbia: $22.45
  • Alaska: $22.30
  • California: $21.53
  • Massachusetts: $21.25

However, it’s worth noting that the top five metropolitan areas with the highest-paying hourly salaries are all in California:

  • Vallejo-Fairfield: $28.21
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward: $26.41
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: $25.90
  • Santa Rosa: $25.74
  • Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade: $24.78

Other Medical Assistant Benefits

In addition to being paid a nice salary or hourly wage, medical assistants can expect these typical benefits from their healthcare industry employer as full-time employees:

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What Do Medical Assistants Do?

Medical assistant duties vary depending on the specialty, size and location of their medical facility and the state laws that govern them. 

Medical Assistant Clinical Duties Administrative Duties
Taking patient vital signs Scheduling patient medical appointments
Administering vaccinations and other medication injections Handling patient billing, email and mail correspondence
Collecting laboratory specimens Updating and entering patient medical records into an electronic system
Taking patient medical histories Completing and coding insurance claim forms

Medical assistant schedules vary. Most work full-time, including days, evenings and holidays. Shiftwork is common at around-the-clock facilities such as hospitals.

What Education and Training Are Needed To Become a Medical Assistant?

A person can become a medical assistant with a high school diploma, through on-the-job training or with a post-secondary certificate. Medical assistant programs are available at four-year colleges and universities, community colleges and vocational and technical schools and usually take one to two years to complete.

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What Other Skills Are Good for Medical Assistants To Have?

In addition to education, on-the-job training and certifications, medical assistants will need to possess abilities such as:

  • Using technical equipment like blood pressure monitors
  • Intelligently discussing medical information with patients and colleagues, especially physicians
  • Accurately recording and communicating detailed vital patient information to physicians and insurance companies
  • Reading and understanding medical charts and diagnoses and coding medical records for accurate billing

What Does the Future Look Like for Medical Assistants?

Many currently working as medical assistants are projected to leave the occupation by 2031. Because of this shift, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the medical assistant profession is expected to increase by 16% over the next 19 years. This projection is faster than average across all other occupations.

Final Take

Medical assistants are primarily responsible for assisting physicians with their jobs and helping patients feel comfortable during visits with their physicians. Medical assistant salaries vary based on state requirements, years of experience, education and the type of healthcare facility. A certificate can increase a person’s chances of earning higher pay as a medical assistant.

FAQ

  • What is the highest hourly pay for a medical assistant?
    • According to Salary.com, medical assistants can make as much as $21 dollars an hour, but most fall closer to $18 an hour, and some make as little as $16 an hour.
  • Where do they pay medical assistants the most?
    • Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that medical assistants are paid the most in the Vallejo-Fairfield area of California. The state with the highest average pay for medical assistants is Washington.

Information is accurate as of Oct. 14, 2022.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Kathy Evans is a personal finance freelance writer and entrepreneur with a technical writing and instructional systems design background. She holds an MS in technical writing and informational design and is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University. Through work experience in the federal government as well as commercial and nonprofit industries, she has focused her freelance writing on finance, investing and economic content with a specialization in budget coaching.  
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