Medical Assistant Salary Guide: How Much Do Medical Assistants Make

Reviewed by AIMS Education Staff  

January 19, 2020

Healthcare workers may not have chosen the medical field for purely financial reasons. However, lucrative wages and employee benefits are undoubtedly influential factors in the decision-making process.

To help you make the right choice for yourself, explore this overview of the Medical Assistant salaries across the US. Keep in mind that the figures may vary depending on location, workplace, and experience within the field. Still, it is worth exploring the opportunities and requirements beforehand to set realistic expectations for your future career.

How Much Do Medical Assistants Start Off Making?

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Entry-level Medical Assistants with less than 1 year of experience can expect to earn an annual salary of about $25,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports have shown that workers at the lower end of the pay scale received around $25,820 as of May 2019. It includes commission and overtime pay. 

MA job prospects in the US are more than promising. The BLS projects growth of 19% between now and 2029. This means more opportunities for entry-level professionals. They can seek employment in physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities. 

Medical Assistants, at the start of their career, perform simple office tasks and medical care duties like taking patients’ blood pressure and preparing them for certain procedures. In the long run, their MA’s responsibilities become quite diverse, which makes them true multitasking experts in the healthcare industry.

CMA Salary vs. MA Salary

Although there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant in most states, career prospects tend to be better for those who invest in training and certification. 

The latest research data proves that obtaining a medical assistant certificate pays off in many ways. Firstly, certified medical assistants (CMAs) have better employment opportunities compared to their non-certified colleagues. Although medical assistants are not legally required to be licensed, many employers prefer candidates who have been certified through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)

What’s more, a certified medical assistant salary is reported to be higher than the one of the other specialists in the field. According to the 2019 CMA (AAMA) Compensation and Benefits Report, CMAs receive an average annual salary of $33,570. This figure is significantly higher than the national average for non-certified MAs.

Last but not least, students who pursue training and certification graduate with more practical experience in a real work environment. They follow the continuous learning model, which helps them make their way up the career ladder faster.

So, if you are going for a medical assistant program, consider taking the relevant certification exams upon completion. It will secure you better financial rewards and opportunities for progression in the long run.

Medical Assistant Salary per Hour

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What does an MA do for a living? Medical assistants perform a variety of administrative and patient care tasks to support the work of physicians and processes within various healthcare facilities. Their training and experience are the main factors defining their hourly pay and benefits. 

The 2019 CMA (AAMA) report shows that Certified Medical Assistants earn an average of $17.74 per hour. This figure can vary based on geographic region, work setting, years of practice, and the number of specialties. For example, people with less than two years of experience based in the South Atlantic region get $14.54 per hour. In comparison, those working in the Pacific region receive an hourly wage of $18.64, which is higher than the national average across all CMAs. 

According to the same report, roughly 96% of all full-time medical assistants receive some form of a benefits package. It is one of the many great reasons to consider a medical assistant career in this promising and secure field.

Medical Assistant Median Annual Pay

According to the most recent BLS report, the 2019 median national annual salary for all medical assistants is $34,800. This figure varies across different states and places of work. For example, MAs employed in outpatient care centers earn $36,810 annually, while their colleagues in offices of chiropractors get $30,870. 

Of course, the job duties and routines in hospitals, clinics, and offices are not always comparable. That is why the salary reflects not only the candidate experience but also the unique responsibilities related to the position. So, if you are applying for a job with a lower advertised annual rate, chances are there will be fewer requirements in terms of expertise and practice. 

Medical Assistant Wages per State

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Physical location is among the main factors that affect the salary of Medical Assistants. It is due to the different search and demand in each state. 

The MA job opportunities further vary across states and regions. While some offer better-paid positions, others have more job openings and fewer unemployed specialists.

Below are the relevant figures that demonstrate the Medical Assistant job prospects by state.

Highest Paid Medical Assistants per State

The 2019 BLS report shows that Alaska is the top paying state for Medical Assistants. The reported mean annual salary is $45,630 - an impressive figure having the national average of $34,800. After Alaska come Washington DC, Washington, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, where wages do not go below $41,710.

Medical Assistant Salary in NJ

According to the most up-to-date BLS data, the annual mean wage for a certified medical assistant in New Jersey is $38,940. It adds up to 18.72 per hour, which is not far below the $40,000 mark.

Additionally, different workplaces tend to pay custom rates based on the specialist’s experience and responsibilities within the organization. 

States In High Demand for MAs

Some states have significantly more job openings and opportunities for growth compared to others. BLS ranks California as the top state by MA employment level with 96,850 relevant occupations. Texas, the second-highest, has only 65,170 fulfilled positions. 

Alaska also ranks first for the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients. The employment rate per thousand jobs is 8.65, which is significantly higher compared to other states.

Top Cities for Medical Assistants

Despite the state and national data, some particular locations offer better opportunities for MAs. By the state, salaries do not reflect precisely the wages in each city.

The New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area offers the highest employment level in this occupation. There are 35,380 Medical Assistants currently working in these cities and the number is ever-growing.

Vallejo-Fairfield, CA, on the other hand, is the top-paying metropolitan area. The mean annual wage in this region is $49,880. This figure makes the field of medical assistance much more appealing to many people considering a MA training program or a midlife career change. 

If you are working in San Francisco, number 2 on the list, you can expect to earn about $48,920, which is still quite overwhelming. 

Compare the MA salary to Other Allied Healthcare Jobs

Medical Assistants’ wages compare high to those of many other allied health occupations. Home health aides, nursing assistants, medical transcriptionists, and pharmacy technicians, are among the professionals who receive less than MAs.

Even some allied health professionals who are at the higher end of the pay scale get paid similar salaries. For example, medical records and health information technicians and phlebotomists are paid respectively $42,630 and $35,510. Both figures are relatively close to the amount that Medical Assistants receive.

The main advantage of Medical Assistant jobs is that they are one of the nation's fastest-growing careers, according to the BLS. Having the amount of time required to jump-start your career, it is overall a very rewarding and prospective field.

If salary is your main criteria for changing or pursuing a career in healthcare, dig deeper into data, and explore these 14 top-paying allied-health jobs.