Medical Assistant Salary Guide

Discover How Certifications, Demand, Geography & Specializations Affect Medical Assistant Salaries

The demand for quality medical care in the United States is driving swift job growth among over a dozen careers in the healthcare sector. This is great news for most allied healthcare jobs, including medical assisting. Current and future medical assistants can be prepared to meet the demand by pursuing the right training and certifications, but it’s important to know what medical assistants can expect to earn not only as they embark on their careers, but what they’ll earn mid-career and as they continue to gain valuable experience in their field. This guide offers a comprehensive, in-depth look at medical assistant salaries depending on geography, position, years in the field and more. Take a look at everything you need to know about medical assistant salaries.

Healthcare in the U.S. Shapes Medical Assistant Salaries and Employment Outlook

To understand medical assistant salaries now and in the future, it’s important to understand just how much job growth is expected to explode over the next decade. The projected growth between 2014 and 2024 for medical assistants is projected to be a whopping 23 percent. To put this in perspective, the average growth rate for all jobs during that same time period is a respectable 7 percent. There are some crucial reasons why demand is expected to be so high.

An Aging Population:

The Baby Boomers are getting older and requiring additional medical care.

Preventative Care:

The Affordable Care Act has made preventative care affordable for those who may not have been able to afford it in the past, and more individuals are becoming educated about the importance of preventative care. This means more physician’s offices will see patients making routine appointments for general, preventative care.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA):

Those previously unable to receive medical care are taking advantage of the changes to the U.S. medical health care system made possible by the ACA.

Longer Lives:

We are living an average of 75 years, which is twice as long as we did only 200 years ago. These longer lifespans are a result in advances and improvements in medical care. With longer lifespans comes the need for enhanced medical care.

Medical Assistant Salaries in Depth

There’s more to a medical assistant salary than what the simple national median or average numbers reveal. Those numbers offer a good idea of what aspiring medical assistants may expect to earn in general terms, but it is by no means a complete picture. In order to have a deeper understanding of medical assistant earnings, other factors that can affect salary, such as work setting, geographical location, experience, specialty and certification must be examined.

Medical Assistant Salaries in the US

The follow graphic provides a broad overview of what medical assistants around the country have earned in the recent past and can expect to earn in the near future. Additionally, a range of medical assistant salaries are shown to give an idea of what the middle 50 percent of medical assistants actually make, in both hourly and annual salaries.

Top 5 State Salaries for Medical Assistants

State Number Employed Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Washington, D.C. 1,180 $19.16 $39,860
Alaska 1,440 $19.08 $39,680
Massachusetts 16,100 $18.09 $37,640
Washington State 12,850 $17.24 $35,850
Connecticut 6,920 $17.00 $35,360

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014

Top-Paying Industries for Medical Assistants

Industry Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Scientific Research and Development Services $17.63 $36,670
Personal Care Services $17.32 $36,030
Insurance Carriers $16.87 $35,090
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools $16.69 $34,720
Offices of Dentists $16.62 $34,570

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014

Medical Assistant Salary Boosters

There are many factors that can affect what an individual medical assistant will earn as a salary. It can be as unique as the medical assistant’s salary negotiating ability, as obvious as how many hours are worked in a week, or as ordinary as the cost of living in a given geographical location. Other major factors that can affect what a medical assistant receives as compensation include:

  • Amount of applicable experience
  • The specific industry or setting where the medical assistant works
  • Certifications earned by the medical assistant
  • Specialty care that the medical assistant can offer
  • Demand for medical assistants in geographical area

Medical Assistant Salary by Specialty with CMA Certification

One of the most notable ways medical assistants can increase their salaries is by specializing in a particular area; they can also investigate which specialties might boost their income. The first chart shows the salary differences among medical assisting specialties. The second chart shows that specializing in multiple areas can further enhance a medical assistant’s earnings.

Average full-time CMA ( AAMA ) pay by years of experience
Practice specialty Overall 0-2 years 3-5 years 6-9 years 10-15 years 16 years +
Primary care $15.61$29,653 $14.03 $26,393 $14.89 $28,094 $15.81 $29,990 $17.01 $32,491 $18.28 $35,072
All other medical and surgical specialties $16.25 $31,464 $14.55 $27,639 $15.57 $29,582 $16.16 $31,396 $17.34 $33,894 $18.68 $37,091
Other $15.82 $30,475 $14.14 $26,731 $15.04 $28,221 $16.02 $31,170 $17.38 $33,897 $18.47 $36,410

American Association of Medical Assistants, 2015 Medical Assisting Compensation & Benefits Reports

More Than One Specialty

Average full-time CMA ( AAMA ) pay by years of experience
Number of specialties Overall 0-2 years 3-5 years 6-9 years 10-15 years 16 years +
Single specialty $15.65$30,015 $13.88$26,028 $14.85 $28,007 $15.73 $30,158 $16.90 $32,816 $18.40 $36,084
Multiple specialties $15.92 $30,374 $14.41 $27,268 $15.30 $29,013 $16.15 $30,825 $17.17 $32,864 $18.50 $35,811
Other $15.69 $30,573 $13.28 $26,338 $15.30 $27,532 $15.49 $30,900 $17.49 $34,211 $18.00 $35,879

Source: American Association of Medical Assistants, 2015 Medical Assisting Compensation & Benefits Reports

Medical Assistant Salary by Experience

In addition to specializing in one or more medical assisting fields, gaining experience is another way to boost salary. The following charts show the differences among medical assistant pay rates based on the specific stage of their career.

Stage of Career 25% (hourly wage) Median (hourly wage) 75% (hourly wage)
Early Career $11.00 $12.00 $14.00
Mid-Career $13.00 $14.00 $16.00
Late Career $14.00 $15.00 $18.00

Source: Payscale–Medical Assistant

Other Healthcare Support Salaries: How Does Medical Assisting Compare?

Dental Assistant

Minimum Education : Graduation from an accredited postsecondary program, depending on the state
Salary : $35,980
Job Growth : 18%

Facilitates and assists other dental professionals in providing dental care to the patient. Tasks vary among states, but often include sterilizing instruments, processing X-rays and administrative duties.

Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)

Minimum Education : Completion of a postsecondary program.
Salary : $42,490
Job Growth : 16%

LPN/LVN are licensed nurses who provide basic nursing care, such as checking a patients’ vital signs, assisting patients with daily activities (such as getting dressed or eating) and carrying out basic medical instructions from a supervising registered nurse or doctor.

Nursing Assistant

Minimum Education : State approved nursing assistant training program
Salary : $25,100
Job Growth : 18%

Nursing assistants work directly with patients to help them with their medical and daily needs while they receive medical care. Tasks often include assistance when using the bathroom and taking vital signs.

Pharmacy Technician

Minimum Education : Usually a high school diploma, but a postsecondary certificate may be required
Salary : $29,810
Job Growth : 9%

Working under the supervision of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians help fill patient prescriptions and handle administrative tasks, such as billing and taking patient information.

Physical Therapist Assistant

Minimum Education : Associate’s degree
Salary : $54,410
Job Growth : 41%

Physical therapist assistants help patients recover from physical injuries. They perform several helpful tasks, such as setting up treatment, moving patients and administrative duties.

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Minimum Education : Associate’s degree
Salary : $56,950
Job Growth : 43%

Occupational therapy assistants work with patients to help them recover from injuries and improve daily physical skills and complete administrative tasks for occupational therapists

Medical Record and Health Information Technician

Minimum Education : Postsecondary certificate or associate’s degree
Salary : $35,900
Job Growth : 15%

Medical record and health information technicians work with health and medical information. They ensure data is accurate, easily available to those who need it and organize it for ease of use and accessibility.

Orderly

Minimum Education : Usually a high school diploma plus on-the-job training
Salary : $24,650
Job Growth : 11%

Orderlies provide physical assistance to patients within a medical facility. They may also provide janitorial and logistical support by cleaning rooms and equipment, or maintaining the medical supply inventory.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Benefits Beyond Salary for Medical Assistants

In addition to salary, 94 percent of all medical assistants also receive benefits. There are many types of benefits, but the more common include health insurance, professional liability insurance, paid vacation days, retirement plans and paid sick days. Benefits are extremely valuable as they can often supplement a seemingly low salary. For example, employee-provided health insurance is often much cheaper than buying it through a health insurance exchange. This benefit alone can equate to several thousand dollars a year in savings. Luckily for medical assistants, benefits such as those that are listed in the below chart are usually part of a medical assistant’s compensation package.

Benefits Received by Full-Time Medical Assistants

Source: American Association of Medical Assistants, 2015 Medical Assisting Compensation & Benefits Reports

Medical Assistant Hiring Trends

According to O*Net OnLine, a U.S. Department of Labor website, the future job outlook for medical assistants is “bright.” This means the medical assistant profession is expected to grow very quickly in the near future, creating a large number of jobs available overall. However, not every area of the country will have the same high demand for medical assistants. The next few sections will explain where a larger number of these jobs will be available.

Medical Assistant Skills in Demand

The more skills a medical assistant has, and the more unique those skills are, the more in-demand the medical assistant will be. This in turn, translates to an increased chance of getting hired, and at potentially higher pay. On the flipside, if the skills are relatively common, they’re not likely to help increase a medical assistant’s salary. The below chart will list some of the skills employers most want their medical assistants to have and what they are most willing to pay a higher salary for.

Procedures

Works primarily in settings where medical procedures are conducted.

Percentage Change in Earnings: +1%

Internal medicine

Doctors who tend to specialize in a particular area of medicine; these are usually not general practitioners.

Percentage Change in Earnings: +1%

Obstetrics/gynecology

Deal primarily with women’s health issues, such as reproduction, menopause and pregnancy.

Percentage Change in Earnings: +1%

Triage

Figuring out which patients are highest priority and therefore must receive the most immediate medical treatment.

Percentage Change in Earnings: -1%

Family Practice

Working in a medical office that focuses mostly on providing generalized care for all members of a family.

Percentage Change in Earnings: -1%

Medical Records

Organizing, processing and inputting patient data into hardcopy and electronic medical records.

Percentage Change in Earnings: -1%

Billing

Handles administrative tasks relating to getting medical bills paid, such as sending out invoices and processing payments.

Percentage Change in Earnings: -2%

Where the Medical Assistant Jobs Are & Salaries Earned

The demand for medical assistants is mostly nationwide, but the demand is higher in some areas than others. The following chart lists some of the states with the highest concentration of medical assistants relative to the state’s working population. Salary and anticipated job growth is also provided.

Arizona
  • Total Employment, 2014

  • 16,380

  • Employment per 1,000 Jobs

  • 6.48

  • 2014 Annual Mean Wage

  • $31,800

  • 2012-2022 Projected Job Growth

  • 36.7%
  • Projected to be Hired, 2012-2022

  • 4,990

Utah
  • Total Employment, 2014

  • 7,410

  • Employment per 1,000 Jobs

  • 5.78

  • 2014 Annual Mean Wage

  • $29,230

  • 2012-2022 Projected Job Growth

  • 39.7%
  • Projected to be Hired, 2012-2022

  • 2,730

New Mexico
  • Total Employment, 2014

  • 4,510

  • Employment per 1,000 Jobs

  • 5.72

  • 2014 Annual Mean Wage

  • $28,320

  • 2012-2022 Projected Job Growth

  • 18.8%
  • Projected to be Hired, 2012-2022

  • 1,000

Rhode Island
  • Total Employment, 2014

  • 2,620

  • Employment per 1,000 Jobs

  • 5.65

  • 2014 Annual Mean Wage

  • $33,000

  • 2012-2022 Projected Job Growth

  • 12.5%
  • Projected to be Hired, 2012-2022

  • 230

Michigan
  • Total Employment, 2014

  • 22,730

  • Employment per 1,000 Jobs

  • 5.58

  • 2014 Annual Mean Wage

  • $29,350

  • 2012-2022 Projected Job Growth

  • 15.0%
  • Projected to be Hired, 2012-2022

  • 3,290

Oregon
  • Total Employment, 2014

  • 9,380

  • Employment per 1,000 Jobs

  • 5.57

  • 2014 Annual Mean Wage

  • $34,310

  • 2012-2022 Projected Job Growth

  • 26.7%
  • Projected to be Hired, 2012-2022

  • 2,050

Maine
  • Total Employment, 2014

  • 3,180

  • Employment per 1,000 Jobs

  • 5.42

  • 2014 Annual Mean Wage

  • $31,400

  • 2012-2022 Projected Job Growth

  • 11.9%
  • Projected to be Hired, 2012-2022

  • 340

California
  • Total Employment, 2014

  • 81,240

  • Employment per 1,000 Jobs

  • 5.37

  • 2014 Annual Mean Wage

  • $34,790

  • 2012-2022 Projected Job Growth

  • 23.2%
  • Projected to be Hired, 2012-2022

  • 18,900

Medical Assistant Job & Salary Resources

American Association of Medical Assistants – 2015 Medical Assisting Compensation and Benefits Report

An in-depth report on the compensation of medical assistants based on certification, specialty, work setting and geographical location.

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Employment and Wages – Medical Assistants

Detailed compensation data for the medical assisting profession, with breakdowns based on industry and geography.

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook – Medical Assistants

An overview of the medical assisting profession, including job outlook and salary information.

Glassdoor

National average salary information medical assistants, as well as what specific companies are paying medical assistants.

Indeed.com

Allows users to search for geographic-specific salary information, as well as providing a National Salary Trend graph.

PayScale

Provider of detailed medical assistant salary information with breakdowns based on level of experience, employer and city of employment.

Salary.com

Describes the salary, bonus and benefits received by medical assistants across the United States based on factors such as location, level of education and years of experience.

US News and World Report – Medical Assistant Salary

Discussion of recommended healthcare careers, including medical assisting. Provides background information, including what medical assistants can expect to make.