According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants are in high demand, and that demand is expected to keep growing (source). These talented professionals are the backbone of medical facilities across the country. They work hard to ensure both the administrative and clinical sides of medical practices, doctor’s offices, hospitals and assisted living facilities run smoothly, and that patients receive the best possible care.
There are many reasons to enter this great profession including a relatively short training period, great working hours, a professional work environment, and a respectable salary. Those looking for a good career that will provide a decent living may find medical assisting to be the perfect job.
How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?
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Medical assistant salaries are impressive when you consider the low barrier to entry and relatively short period of education and training involved in preparing for the job. After earning only a certificate from a medical assisting program, graduates earn an average of $33,610 a year. In addition, medical assistants can expect to receive benefits that add considerably to their overall compensation package.
According to the 2019 CMA (AAMA – American Association of Medical Assistants) Compensation and Benefits Report, some 96% of medial assistants receive benefits beyond their base pay: 84% get paid vacation, 82% have dental benefits, 75% have medical insurance, more than 76% have vision coverage, 62% are eligible for disability coverage as needed, 61% get sick leave, and 51% have life insurance. Additionally, about 16% of medical assistants reported that their employers covered the cost of membership to the AAMA, with most having registration fees, travel and lodging covered when they attend annual AAMA conferences. This brings the total value of the typical compensation package well above the base pay rate; working out to quite a nice income for so little time spent in training.
To make the field even more attractive, there is a growing demand for well-trained medical assistants across the country, giving you the ability to be selective about the job you take. This demand is also creating an upward trend in wages and benefits, according to the 2019 AAMA Compensation and Benefits Survey.
The survey found that around 2% percent of medical assistants receive a salary, while the rest are paid on an hourly basis, bringing in a national average of nearly $18 an hour. Even with the vast majority being paid using an hourly model, more than 90% still get a full 40 hours a week and are considered to be full-time employees.
The hourly wage is largely determined by level of experience and certification. Generally, the hourly wage for those with 0-2 years of experience working in a doctor’s office (the most common employment setting where nearly 95% work) is close to $15.70 per hour, but increases to more than $20.00 an hour for those with 16 years of experience or more.
Not surprisingly, Certified Medical Assistants, those who have received certification through the AAMA, receive a premium pay rate. Employers overwhelmingly prefer to hire CMAs since the credential comes with the assurance that the credential holder has had comprehensive training and has been thoroughly vetted through background checks and competency exams. Improperly trained assistants are more likely to make mistakes that result in malpractice suits and other issues, something that employers go to great lengths to avoid. Certification ensures that candidates have met rigorous training standards, demonstrated knowledge through testing, and are capable of providing high quality services.
Medical Assistant Job Growth Outlook
The career outlook for medical assistants is very promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists medical assisting as one of the occupations expected to see the fastest growth over the next decade. Employment opportunities in this field are expected to grow by at least 23% through 2028. As the field of healthcare advances and an aging population creates an increased need for healthcare services, this growth is expected to continue for many years to come. The outlook is even brighter for Certified Medical Assistants, with job prospects that are considered “excellent.”
As the demand for medical assistants increases, so do the salaries they earn, as can be seen in the fact that they’ve grown steadily and consistently over the years. Between 2002 and 2004, medical assistants earned an average of $25,000 a year. But with increased regulations in the healthcare field in the years that followed, the need for skilled assistants increased, and so did the salary. In 2008, the average salary jumped to $29,000, then again to $30,000 in 2010. By 2013, the average salary of the top-earning medical assistants was $35,500, plus benefits, and by the time the BLS published their latest salary data in May of 2018 the average had jumped to $34,540, with the top earners in the field (top 10%) making an average of $47,250.
Considering that the demand for medical assistants and the salaries they earn are expected to keep growing at this rate, there has never been a better time to get the training you need to enter the field.
For those ready to start a career that offers it all, including a lucrative medical assistant salary, now is the time to find an accredited medical assisting program and to get the education necessary to join this remarkable field. Those with jobs and other responsibilities can even get their training through an online program. Online programs allow students to study from home on their own schedule without giving up the things that matter most in their lives.
What Do Medical Assistants Actually Do?
Medical assistants strive to ensure that the healthcare facilities they work in run like a well-oiled machine. They work in administration at the front desk, as well as perform clinical tasks related to providing direct care to patients.
Clinical medical assistants gather information on patients’ medical histories and health issues, and provide patients with information and instructions regarding treatment. They prepare rooms, patients, and instruments for the physician, as well as offer basic support during procedures. On the administrative side, they work to keep records current and organized, schedule appointments, file insurance claims, answer phones, schedule appointments, and more.
In short, medical assistants perform any task necessary to ensure that physicians are in the best position to provide quality treatment to their patients.