Salaries for Medical Assistants
Medical assisting is a rewarding healthcare career that doesn’t require four years of education. You can quickly get into this career and work directly with patients with just one or two years of post-secondary training. But before you make the move, be sure you understand current expectations for medical assistant salaries.
How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?
The salary for a medical assistant varies depending on several factors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average salary was $33,610 per year, or $16.16 per hour, as of May 2018. Average salary refers to the salary at which half of medical assistants make more and half make less. The BLS also reports that the top ten percent of earners in this career make more than $47,250 per year and the lowest ten percent earn less than $24,790, or $11.92 per hour. Data for 2019 will be available soon.
An MA can earn more if: they are certified by a recognized agency; hold a post-secondary certificate or diploma; have more years of work experience; live in certain states (for example, Alaska!) or cities (for example, New York); work for specific employers; or have areas of specialty training, experience or certification.
Entry-Level Salaries for Medical Assistants
An assistant who is new to the job title will likely have salaries in the lowest 10% of BLS data, which averages pay of $24,790 per year. Most will have pay that increases with added years of experience.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) reports that medical assistants with zero to two years of experience earn between $25,864 and $33,265. How much a medical assistant can earn depends on location, area of specialty and work setting.
States with the Highest Medical Assistant Salaries
The same AAMA report indicates that the area of the U.S. with the highest medical assistants salaries with any amount of experience includes Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii. The overall average medical assistant salary for this area is $40,085 annually.
The top five states (and D.C.) for pay, as reported by the BLS, are Alaska, the District of Columbia, Washington, Minnesota and Massachusetts. The average salaries are $45,490, $42,010, $41,340, $40,320 and $40,270, respectively.
Salary Variations by Career vs Medical Assistant
Other related job titles that may interest anyone pursuing a career in health care have annual pay that ranges widely. The median pay (BLS) for these careers are:
- $28,530 for nursing assistants
- $38,660 for dental assistants
- $46,240 for licensed practical and vocational nurses
- $47,300 for surgical technologists
- $71,730 for registered nurses
Medical Assistant Salary by Setting
Most employment in the United States is in physician offices, but the highest compensation, according to the BLS, is for medical assistants who hold jobs in outpatient care centers, followed by hospitals, physician offices and chiropractor offices.
The AAMA agrees. It found that professionals in ambulatory surgery centers, also known as outpatient care centers, earn $35,336 per year. Those in hospitals make a national average of $35,072, and medical assistants in physician offices make $33,510 per year.
Certified Medical Assistants vs. Non-Certified
Not all states require that you become certified. However, more and more employers are requiring it. The increase is due to demand from managed care companies and the legal issues that can arise from having non-certified personnel. For this reason, and the fact the job title of Certified Medical Assistant tends to make more, it is wise to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate and then seek certification through a group like the AAMA before entering this career.
For information on United States pay by state, see these pages: