4 Salary Factors To Consider If You Want To Become A Medical Assistant

Becoming a medical assistant is a way to make a living wage in the healthcare field without becoming a nurse or needing a minimum of a bachelor's degree. These workers are in demand, which means good employment prospects and job security. 

Average Pay Rate

Medical assistants were earning about $15 per hour on average in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you work full-time at that rate, you'll earn more than $31,000 per year.

With experience, you can work your way up to a higher salary. The top 25 percent of medical assistants were making at least $17.34 per hour in 2014. That adds nearly $5,000 to your annual salary, putting you at earnings of more than $36,000 per year. 

Places of Employment

There isn't a great deal of variation for medical assistant pay rates at different places of employment, except in those organizations where the jobs are few and far between -- such as in scientific research laboratories. In a research lab, medical assistants can expect to have earnings in the top 25 percent for this occupation, with the average at $17.63 per hour. Many well-paid medical assistants work in physicians' offices, clinics and hospitals.

A large number of these workers also are employed by other healthcare practitioners, such as podiatrists and chiropractors. However, the pay rates tend to be a bit lower at these facilities, at around $28,000 annually on average. 

Clinical vs. Administrative Positions

In small clinics and doctors' offices, medical assistants are likely to handle both clinical and clerical tasks. For instance, they may draw blood and measure vital signs such as blood pressure and respiratory rate -- both of which are clinical duties. They also may update patient records on the computer and set up reminder calls for appointments. Those are examples of administrative responsibilities.

In larger facilities, medical assistants typically specialize in either clinical or administrative tasks. The clinical medical assistants can expect to earn more, as their duties are more technical. 


One way to increase your chances of getting a higher-paying position is to pass a certification exam from an organization such as the National Healthcareer Association or the American Association of Medical Assistants. Some employers look for applicants with this type of credential as certification verifies a certain level of knowledge and expertise. 

Registering for these exams usually requires having completed education to become a medical assistant or having work experience in the occupation. Start looking into medical assistant schools as your first step toward a rewarding career in healthcare.