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What is a Medical Assistant?

Career Description Perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of a physician. Administrative duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes. Clinical duties may include taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by physician.

A Day in the Life of a Medical Assistant

  • Clean and sterilize instruments and dispose of contaminated supplies.
  • Prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations, keeping the rooms neat and clean.
  • Contact medical facilities or departments to schedule patients for tests or admission.
  • Help physicians examine and treat patients, handing them instruments or materials or performing such tasks as giving injections or removing sutures.
  • Interview patients to obtain medical information and measure their vital signs, weight, and height.
  • Authorize drug refills and provide prescription information to pharmacies.

What a Medical Assistant Should Know

These are the skills Medical Assistants say are the most useful in their careers:

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Types of Medical Assistant

  • Ophthalmic Technician
  • Ocular Care Aide
  • Ophthalmic Aide
  • Doctor Assistant
  • Health Information Coder

Job Opportunities for Medical Assistants

In the United States, there were 634,400 jobs for Medical Assistant in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 29% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 184,000 new jobs for Medical Assistant by 2026. There will be an estimated 94,900 positions for Medical Assistant per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Medical Assistants in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Medical Assistant are Utah, Arizona, and Florida. Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, Mississippi, or Illinois. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

What is the Average Salary of a Medical Assistant

Medical Assistants make between $24,790 and $47,250 a year.

Salary Ranges for Medical Assistants

Medical Assistants who work in Alaska, District of Columbia, or Washington, make the highest salaries.

How much do Medical Assistants make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $28,460
Alaska $45,490
Arizona $33,410
Arkansas $30,320
California $38,250
Colorado $36,180
Connecticut $38,350
Delaware $33,350
District of Columbia $42,010
Florida $32,870
Georgia $32,060
Hawaii $38,040
Idaho $33,540
Illinois $35,910
Indiana $32,580
Iowa $34,990
Kansas $31,400
Kentucky $31,900
Louisiana $28,740
Maine $35,160
Maryland $36,350
Massachusetts $40,270
Michigan $32,540
Minnesota $40,320
Mississippi $30,470
Missouri $32,260
Montana $34,520
Nebraska $34,670
Nevada $33,610
New Hampshire $36,730
New Jersey $35,840
New Mexico $30,750
New York $37,560
North Carolina $32,710
North Dakota $36,560
Ohio $31,900
Oklahoma $30,960
Oregon $38,260
Pennsylvania $32,770
Rhode Island $35,830
South Carolina $32,120
South Dakota $29,890
Tennessee $32,370
Texas $31,580
Utah $33,000
Vermont $37,740
Virginia $35,010
Washington $41,340
West Virginia $28,160
Wisconsin $36,410
Wyoming $33,830

What Tools do Medical Assistants Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Medical Assistants:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Word processing software
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Database software
  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • MEDITECH software
  • Medical procedure coding software
  • Epic Systems
  • Healthcare common procedure coding system HCPCS
  • Medical condition coding software
  • Electronic medical record EMR software
  • Billing software
  • GE Healthcare Centricity EMR
  • Appointment scheduling software

How do I Become a Medical Assistant?

What kind of Medical Assistant requirements are there?

Medical Assistant Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Medical Assistant Work Experience

Where Medical Assistants Work

Medical Assistant Sectors

Below are examples of industries where Medical Assistants work:

Medical Assistant Industries

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those thinking about becoming a Medical Assistant might also be interested in the following careers:

Career changers with experience as a Medical Assistant sometimes find work in one of the following fields:


Image Credit: Ryan Conroy via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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