By Diane Turner
There are currently around 527600 medical assistants working in the United States, with an expected 162,000 positions to become available by 2020. These positions will vary greatly, offering opportunities to work with chiropractors, physicians, podiatrists, and more. This variety willhave a serious impact on the average medical assistant salary in the field. However, thanks to a variety of certification and training programs now available in many states, medical assistants see a salary that is fairly consistent across state lines and wit different employers, making their job search easier.
Duties the medical practitioner will be expected to accomplish will vary by location. In general, the salary of a medical assistant will be based on the completion of basic administration tasks. Assistants will be asked to prepare patients for laboratory or blood tests, measure any necessary vital signs and make note of the patient’s medical history and give any necessary injections ordered by the physician. Medical assistants may also be asked to schedule patient appointments or manage correspondence of the office as necessary.
The average salary for a medical assistant will also vary based on the level of training the professional has. In most cases you can begin working as a medical assistant with a high school diploma since most states do not have a professional training program for this profession. However, there are programs available at many technical or vocational schools and community colleges that can give you a competitive edge in the business. These programs will allow those who complete them to become certified, and while this is not a requirement, many physicians prefer to work with certified medical assistants.
Most of the training for medical assistants will take place on the job. Other assistants may be asked to train newcomers to the office, teaching them the names of different tools, tasks they will be expected to complete and how to maintain a professional bedside manner. Those that would like to earn more than the average salary of a medical assistantmay want to take courses that will allow them to manage health records electronically and by hand because this will allow them to take on more responsibilities around the office, allowing them to rise in seniority.
Medical Assistant Average Salary
The currentmedical assistant average salaryis $28,860 annually. There are a number of factors that will influence the salary a medical assistant will make including the type of office where they work, the location where the assistant has been hired and the type of training they have acquired before seeking employment.
Medical Assistant Salary Factors and Influences
There are a few factors that will need to be considered in order to understand the average salary of a medical assistant. Much of this field holds stead, offering employees a similar wage regardless of location and the type of work that is done. To illustrate this point, we can look at the top paying cities that employ medical assistants:
Charleston South Carolina: Average Salary: $30,330
Tucson, Arizona: Average Salary: $30,250
Yuba City, California: Average Salary: $29,730
Kalamazoo, Michigan: Average Salary: $28,730
Palm Bay, Florida: Average Salary: $28,030
Rome, Georgia: Average Salary: $27,100
Ocala Florida: Average Salary: $27,040
Albany, Georgia: Average Salary: $24,450
Jackson, Tennessee: Average Salary: $23,500
McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas: Average Salary: $21,160
As you can see, there is less a less than $10k difference between the top cities on the list and those farther down on the list. The average salary for a medical assistant for each of these locations varies by less than $5 per hour, with the top city (Charleston) offering $14.58 per hour and McAllen at the bottom offering $10.17. Those that are hoping for consistent employment do not have to be concerned with needing to move to a specific part of the country in order to get a more competitive wage.
The key to getting a more competitive salary in this industry is finding an office that pays a better wage while seeking employment. Anyone working as an assistant in any sort of medical office will allow you to enter into this field and take advantage of any benefits associated with these positions. The top employers of medical assistants include:
Colleges, Professional Schools and Universities: Average Salary: $33,330
Outpatient Care Centers: Average Salary: $31,710
General Medical or Surgical Hospitals: Average Salary: $31,010
Physician’s Offices: Average Salary: $30,420
Offices for Other Medical Practitioners: Average Salary: $26,970
In general, larger facilities will employ more medical assistants, making these salaries more competitive. The salary for a medical assistant will vary based on the payment levels of others working in this particular facility. Those working underneath a highly rated doctor or as part of an esteemed research program will be more likely to pay a more competitive wage than employers that can cycle through medical assistants with ease. This will provide medical assistants with a steadier work environment that is more conducive to long-term employment.
Working with a specialty medical organization also helps ensure that medical assistants will be able to earn more competitive pay. The top paying employers of medical assistants include:
Scientific Development and Research Facilities: Average Salary: $37,040
Brokerages and Insurance Related Offices: Average Salary: $37,010
Dentist Offices: Average Salary: $35,730
Insurance Carriers: Average Salary: $35,660
Specialty Hospitals: Average Salary: $35,050
In general, thesalary of a medical assistantwill increase if they work in an office that requires them to have a more extensive medical knowledge or a wider range of skills to complete daily tasks. Those with computer skills, electronic filing experience or brief amounts of medical training will be able to take on more responsibility while on the job, making them more valuable to their employers. Many certification programs will teach medical assistants the skills they need to work in these competitive industries. This is why many offices and hospitals refuse to hire medical assistants that have not gone through this type of training in spite of the fact that this is not a requirement to work in the field.
Those that have a higher amount of training or on the job experience will also be able to take on more tasks throughout the day, eliminating the need to hire a larger staff to get things done. Those that manage to take on more responsibilities without assistance in the workplace will be compensated accordingly. Making note of these types of facilities in your area will make it easier to note facilities likely to offer a higher wage.
Medical Assistant Salary Compared To Related Fields
There are several similar positions throughout the medical field that have similar responsibilities to those of a medical assistant. These require a similar amount of education and training to earn the position.
Average Medical Assistant Salary: $28,860
Average Dental Assistant Salary: $33,470
Average Nursing Aid, Orderly or Attendant Salary: $24,010
Average Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary: $47,490
Average Physical Therapist Assistant Salary: $37,710
The average medical assistant salary typically falls on the higher end of these salary spectrums, offering people a competitive edge if they choose to enter into this profession rather than a less popular medical field. In general, there are also more opportunities available for medical assistants because they can work in a variety of types of office while these other positions must seek employment in a specific sector.
Medical Assistant Salary by State
Below is a list of medical assistant salary by state outlining the average salary in the top five states hiring professionals in this field.
Medical Assistant Salary in California: $32,300
Medical Assistant Salary in Pennsylvania: $30,060
Medical Assistant Salary in Florida: $28,710
Medical Assistant Salary in Texas: $27,830
Medical Assistant Salary in Ohio: $27,600
Included below is the salary of a medical assistant working in each of the five states with the highest concentration of medical assistants.
Medical Assistant Salary in Hawaii: $34,530
Medical Assistant Salary in California: $32,300
Medical Assistant Salary in Florida: $28,710
Medical Assistant Salary in Michigan: $27,950
Medical Assistant Salary in New Mexico: $27,740
The records show that the medical assistant salary by state does not vary much between states that have a high concentration of employees in this field and those that are willing to pay a high amount to employ people in this field. This means that people looking to work as a medical assistant can guarantee a fairly steady living regardless of where they are hoping to find employment. Instead of worrying about location, they can focus on finding a specific type of office they would like to work in.
Types of Medical Assistant Salaries
Medical Director: Average Salary: $224,347
This is a highsalary for a medical assistant compared to many other opportunities available given the management role the employee will be expected to take. These professionals will be responsible for organizing clinical relationships with physicians, organizing the development of any marketing materials and correspondence for the office. You may be asked to write research publications or provide information to those overseeing the office to guarantee that the physician’s methods are in compliance with medical codes.
Physician’s Assistant: Average Salary: $91,151
Physician’s assistants are responsible for assessing, providing and planning patient care under the direct supervision of a physician. They may be asked to perform physical exams, compile patient data, examine the patient or organize the health history or examination results into a comprehensive file. Each state will have its own requirements regarding how a physician’s assistant must be licensed.
Medical Secretary: Average Salary: $33,050
Secretaries in the medical field will be expected to check the patient’s certifications to determine which medical procedures will be covered by their insurance. They can then inform the patient regarding any costs that will be associated with their appointment. If necessary, the secretary will create correspondence for the doctor, which can include taking calls and relaying messages. They may also be asked to provide patients with sources where they can learn more about their treatment.
Medical Technologist: Average Salary: $60,470
The salary of a medical assistantwill vary based on the practices they are asked to perform. These professionals will be asked to perform diagnostic tests on patients or monitor the state of the patient. They may need to analyze test results to determine if they are accurate and provide a report to the physician about what these test results mean in terms of the patient’s overall health.
History of Medical Assistants
The first programs to train professional medical assistants were founded in 1934. These programs were designed to create a staff that could work alongside doctors who had a larger demand for work than they could safely take on. The demand for this program was so great that in 1955 a majority of doctors were working with these programs to develop assistants for their offices. By 1978 a consistent, accredited program was created for the field, allowing people to get a degree in their medical assistantship, allowing these people to earn a more competitive salary.
Medical Assistant Salary Outlook – Conclusion
The medical assistant field is expected to see a 31 percent raise in employment over the next 10 years. This is significantly higher than usual, with all occupations seeing an average 14 percent growth in the same time period. Other healthcare support positions are expected to see a 25 percent employment increase in the same time period. The salary for a medical assistant will change throughout this time period based on how many people are available to address this growing demand.
Theaverage medical assistant salary will likely increase in offices that specifically cater to elderly patients. These types of offices are expected to see a significant increase in their patient base as the baby-boomer population continues to grow and require more care. Clinics that provide support to families and low-income assistance will also see a higher demand for medical assistants in the coming years as these facilities are starting to replace nurses and secretaries with general medical assistants to save money. However, the medical assistant average salaryat these facilities will generally be lower than other positions because they tend to work on lower budgets than other facilities that perform similar services.
Overall, people entering the medical assistant field are doing so because of the consistency, and this is not projected to change. To date, there is less than a $10 difference in hourly wage between the lowest 10 percentile of medical assistants and those in the 90th percentile. This gap is expected to widen as medical offices grow to rely on their assistants to manage technological applications. Taking the time to get training in these applications before entering the field will give medical assistants an easy way to increase their salary as the industry grows.