Medical Assistant Salary – What to Expect
Medical Assistants (MAs) are front-line healthcare workers that perform both administrative and clinical patient-care tasks. Medical assisting is considered an entry-level career, yet it provides a foundation for those who wish to enroll in nursing school or other healthcare-related fields later down the line. Medical assistants are essential to medical practices as they perform many duties to support physicians, physician assistants (PAs), and advanced-practice RNs such as nurse practitioners.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a great resource when researching career pay, job, outlook, and growth. According to 2018 data from the BLS, medical assistants make a mean salary of $33,610 annually. However, it's important to realize the BLS reports mean salaries - there are many factors that come in to play when it comes to pay, as described below.
Type of Employer
Individual employers determine medical assistant salaries, and it can vary between organizations. For example, larger, more prominent healthcare organizations may pay higher than private ones. State or government-run healthcare agencies can also pay more. According to the latest available data (2018) from the BLS, the top industries in the field include:
- Outpatient care centers - $35,600
- Hospitals - $34,980
- Physician offices - $33,650
- Chiropractic offices - $29,960
Location can also affect medical assistant salaries. Some states, cities, and other locations offer higher pay due to the cost of living as well as the competitiveness of the field. Additionally, while one may think big cities are the place to find the highest pay rates, some rural areas actually offer competitive compensation to try and bring skilled workers to more remote areas. The BLS breaks down geographic median pay averages/top paying states as follows:
- Alaska - $45,490
- District of Columbia - $42,010
- Washington - $41,340
- Minnesota - $40,320
- Massachusetts - $40,270
Many employers look favorably on experienced medical assistants, especially if the MA has experience in different care areas. To an employer, experience means less time needed to get acclimated to the job. Even a new-grad MA can highlight relevant experience by including hospital volunteer work (such as "candy striping") or other caregiving skills to demonstrate familiarity in the field.
Medical Assistant Salary Table
|Location||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|District of Columbia||1,970||$41,500|
Table data taken from 2018 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319092.htm)
Many medical assistant positions are paid hourly, as opposed to salaried workers. The BLS also lists the average hourly salary of MAs as $16.16 per hour. Again, this can vary depending on the employer, geographic location, and years of experience.
- Physician offices
- General Med/Surg hospitals
- Offices of other health practitioners
- Outpatient care centers
- Retirement communities and assisted living facilities
Additionally, the states with the highest level of employment include:
- New York