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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsgeduDiK_w.
Quick Facts: Medical Assistants
2023 Median Pay $42,000 per year
$20.19 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 764,400
Job Outlook, 2022-32 14% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 105,900

What Medical Assistants Do

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks, such as scheduling appointments and taking patients’ vital signs.

Work Environment

Most medical assistants work full time. They are employed in physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities.

How to Become a Medical Assistant

Medical assistants typically need postsecondary education, such as a certificate. Some enter the occupation with a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for medical assistants was $42,000 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 14 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 114,600 openings for medical assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for medical assistants.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical assistants with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about medical assistants by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Medical Assistants Do About this section

Medical assistants
Medical assistants take patients' vital signs, such as their blood pressure.

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks, such as scheduling appointments and taking patients’ vital signs. Their duties vary by location, specialty, and employer.

Duties

Medical assistants typically do the following:

  • Interview patients and record their medical history
  • Measure patients' vital signs, such as their blood pressure and weight
  • Help physicians with patient examinations
  • Give patients injections or medications as directed by physicians and as permitted by state law
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Collect and prepare samples of blood and other specimens for laboratory tests
  • Enter patient information, such as their vital signs and test results, into medical records
  • Maintain inventory of medical and office supplies

Medical assistants often focus on either clinical or administrative tasks, although some do both. Their primary clinical tasks involve taking and recording patients’ personal information and medical history. Other tasks that assistants are allowed to do vary by state and may include performing basic laboratory tests, disposing of contaminated supplies, and sterilizing medical instruments. Some assistants have additional responsibilities, such as instructing patients about medications or drawing blood.

Medical assistants may have a range of administrative tasks. They help patients understand and receive their insurance coverage, such as by completing forms, coding information, and contacting companies about billing. They also inventory, order, and restock medical and office supplies; answer telephones; and schedule appointments.

Some medical assistants specialize according to the type of medical practice in which they work. For example, medical assistants who help ophthalmologists and optometrists show patients how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses.

Medical assistants must adhere to confidentiality standards when working with patients and patient information.

Medical assistants should not be confused with other healthcare occupations that may have similar titles or duties. For example, both medical assistants and physician assistants work under the direction of physicians; however, physician assistants practice medicine and can prescribe medication under a physician’s supervision.

Work Environment About this section

Medical assistants
Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of health practitioners running smoothly.

Medical assistants held about 764,400 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of medical assistants were as follows:

Offices of physicians 56%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 15
Outpatient care centers 9
Offices of other health practitioners 8

Some medical assistants spend a lot of time standing or walking as they visit patients. Others sit at a computer for much of the day to work on administrative tasks.

Work Schedules

Most medical assistants work full time. Some work evening, weekend, or holiday shifts in medical facilities that are open around the clock.

How to Become a Medical Assistant About this section

Medical assistants
Medical assistant programs typically include supervised experience, such as a practicum.

Medical assistants typically need postsecondary education, such as a certificate. Some workers enter the occupation with a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training.

Education

High school students interested in a career as a medical assistant should take science classes, including biology and chemistry. Although employers often prefer to hire candidates with more education, some medical assistants have a high school diploma and learn their duties on the job.

Medical assistants typically complete a postsecondary program, such as for a medical assistant certificate or an associate’s degree. Programs are available in community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools, and universities and take about 1 or 2 years to complete. Medical assistant programs include courses such as medical terminology, anatomy, and pharmacology. They also typically include supervised experience, such as a practicum or an internship.

Training

Medical assistants who do not have postsecondary education may learn their skills through on-the-job training or an apprenticeship. Physicians or other medical assistants may teach a new assistant tasks such as how to take vital signs and how to interact with patients It may take several months for an assistant to complete training, depending on the facility.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require that medical assistants graduate from an accredited program, be licensed or certified, or meet other prerequisites in order to practice. Contact your state licensing agency for more information.

Although most states do not require it, employers may prefer or require that medical assistants be certified. Certification is available from a number of organizations, including the American Association of Medical Assistants, the American Medical Certification AssociationNational Center for Competency Testing, and the National Healthcareer Association.

Some employers may require medical assistants to meet other qualifications, such as Basic Life Support (BLS) certification.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Medical assistants must be able to understand medical charts and diagnoses.

Communication skills. Medical assistants need to convey important information to patients, such as when scheduling appointments or explaining medical information.

Compassion. Medical assistants interact with patients who are sick or injured and who may be in extreme pain or distress. They must be empathetic toward patients and their families.

Detail oriented. Medical assistants must be precise when taking vital signs or recording patient information. Physicians, patients, and insurance companies rely on accurate records.

Interpersonal skills. Medical assistants work with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, and need to be able to discuss patient information with them. They also interact with patients and must be courteous.

Pay About this section

Medical Assistants

Median annual wages, May 2023

Total, all occupations

$48,060

Other healthcare support occupations

$43,330

Medical assistants

$42,000

 

The median annual wage for medical assistants was $42,000 in May 2023. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,500, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,480.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for medical assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Outpatient care centers $46,090
Hospitals; state, local, and private 44,350
Offices of physicians 40,670
Offices of other health practitioners 36,480

Most medical assistants work full time. Some work evening, weekend, or holiday shifts in medical facilities that are open around the clock.

Job Outlook About this section

Medical Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Medical assistants

14%

Other healthcare support occupations

11%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 14 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 114,600 openings for medical assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

The large baby-boom population continues to enter older age groups, which typically have more healthcare concerns than younger age groups and will continue to increase demand for medical services. As a result, more medical assistants will be needed to perform routine administrative and clinical duties in physicians’ offices and other primary care settings.

Employment projections data for medical assistants, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Medical assistants

31-9092 764,400 870,200 14 105,900 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of medical assistants.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Dental assistants Dental Assistants

Dental assistants provide patient care, take x rays, keep records, and schedule appointments.

Postsecondary nondegree award $46,540
Dental hygienists Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists examine patients for signs of oral diseases, such as gingivitis, and provide preventive care, including oral hygiene.

Associate's degree $87,530
Health information technologists and medical registrars Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars

Health information technologists and medical registrars advise organizations on computerized healthcare systems and analyze clinical data.

Associate's degree $62,990
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care.

Postsecondary nondegree award $59,730
Medical records and health information technicians Medical Records Specialists

Medical records specialists compile, process, and maintain patient files.

Postsecondary nondegree award $48,780
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help patients with activities of daily living. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

See How to Become One $38,130
Occupational therapy assistants and aides Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.

See How to Become One $65,450
Pharmacy technicians Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,300
phlebotomists image Phlebotomists

Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations.

Postsecondary nondegree award $41,810
Physical therapist assistants and aides Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Physical therapist assistants and aides are supervised by physical therapists to help patients regain movement and manage pain after injuries and illnesses.

See How to Become One $58,740
Psychiatric technicians and aides Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental conditions or developmental disabilities.

See How to Become One $39,610
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm (visited May 14, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.