Career Choice: Medical Assistants

Career Choice: Medical Assistants
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    Visit any doctor’s office and you may be met by a team of medical professionals before you see your physician.


The person at the front desk, the lady checking your weight and the young man taking your blood pressure are medical assistants. These individuals have been trained to provide basic administrative and medical services in a bid to help a physician do his or her job.


Medical assistants perform a variety of administrative and medical tasks. These individuals record patients’ medical history, including taking height, weight and blood pressure measurements. They’ll also escort patients to an examination room to await a doctor’s visit. These rooms are maintained by the assistants, to ensure that they’re clean, stocked and in order.

Medical assistants perform a variety of tasks to include: collecting blood and other laboratory specimens, record patent temperatures, authorize prescriptions and refills, clean and sterilize equipment and perform routine tests. These individuals also use a variety of medical equipment including blood pressure units, needles, stethoscopes and nebulizers.


Although some medical offices may only require a high school diploma, most medical assistants have a certificate or an associate degree from a two-year college. Students take courses in anatomy, biology and chemistry, and should be familiar with common medical terminology.

Medical assistants should possess a number of skills to do their jobs. They must work well with other medical professionals and enjoy working with patients. They should be detail-oriented, analytical and possess technical skills to handle medical equipment.

Certification is not required by the state for medical assistants, However, many medical practices require certification as a condition of employment. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies, as part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, provides accreditation in five areas. Students should seek accreditation when they complete their studies and before they apply for work.


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary or median pay for medical assistants came in at $29,610 as of 2013. Salaries typically ranged from $21,300 (low) to $41,900 (high). Experienced workers can expect to earn somewhere near the middle of that range.

Across the country, salaries varied greatly for medical assistants. For example, in California the average salary came in at $32,700. In New York, the median salary was $32,100 while in Massachusetts they averaged $35,700 per year. In Mississippi, the average salary was $25,200 as of 2013. In West Virginia they earned $24,500 per year on average. As with most jobs, salaries came in higher in major metropolitan areas.

Job Outlook

With a growing and aging population, the United States is seeing strong demand for medical professionals across all fields. For medical assistants, that is no exception.

The BLS has forecast a 29 percent increase in jobs from 2012 through 2022, or twice the growth rate for all jobs. Professionals should find employment at doctor offices where assistants will be used to take on administrative and clinical duties in a bid to help doctors see more patients.


Summary Report for: 31-9092.00 – Medical Assistants

US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Medical Assistants

See AlsoCareer Choice: Medical Secretaries


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Categories: Career Planning