Medical Assistant Salary: How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?

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As with any occupation, especially in the health care field, the compensation of a Medical Assistant (MA) changes depending on the area, employer, industry, and level of experience.

According to the data, the best paid MAs are likely to live in California or another Pacific state, work at a dentist’s office, and have more than 5 years of job experience. On the other hand, those who live in the North Central region, are employed by a chiropractor, and have less than 2 years of experience tend to have lower wages.

Medical assistant salary

There are five percentiles that define the pay scale of medical assistants.

Percentiles 10% 25% 50%
(Median)
75% 90%
Hourly Wage $10.04 $11.86 $13.99 $16.87 $19.62
Annual Wage $20,880 $24,670 $29,100 $35,080 $40,810

The table above defines the income distribution among the five groups. According to the data, the 10th percentile represents the low end income group, whereas the 90th percentile represents the top ten percent of wage earners. Simply put, out of all medical assistants, there are ten percent that earn $10.04 or less per hour and there are another ten percent who earn an hourly rate of $19.62 or more.

Those in the 50th percentile are in the median range. This means that 50 percent of MAs earn up to $13.99 per hour. Please note that a median is different from an average. An average wage would simply add the salaries of all MAs and divides that amount by the number of MAs.

Certification does have an impact

While it isn’t necessary to be certified in order to work as a medical assistant, it is now being required by many hospitals and medical offices. To become eligible for certification, there is a one-year training program you must complete. This medical assistant training often allows you to take on more specialized responsibilities (X-rays, injections), thereby increasing your marketability and earning potential.

According to American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), individuals holding a certification (CMA, RMA, and others) earn more on average than non-certified medical assistants.

  • Certified MAs make about $14.94/hour or $29,460/year.
  • Non-certified MAs make about $13.43/hour or $26,568/year.

Starting salary

An individual just beginning a career as a medical assistant can expect to earn a starting salary of between $10.00 and $14.00 per hour. This hourly wage translates into a yearly salary of between $18,750 and $29,850. These numbers reflect a range of employees and skill levels, including those with no formal training. Those without training will have increasingly limited job opportunities and will usually earn no more than $22,000 per year. This skews the salary data in a downward direction. Individuals with training can expect starting salaries between $22,000 and $30,000 per year.

While these entry level salary averages may seem somewhat low, it should be noted that the vast majority of medical assistants earn more than is indicated at the low end of this spectrum. In fact, about half those employed in this profession earn from $26,000 to $31,000 annually.

Long term salary potential

Because a career is a long term commitment, potential wage earners should be smart about what profession they choose. First and foremost, it is wise to consider the long-term earning potential of various occupations before reaching any conclusions. In most fields, more experience usually equals more pay. With hourly wage potential as high as $20.00 per hour, becoming a medical assistant is a steady and lucrative profession to explore. 

The following table illustrates the pay scale that MAs can anticipate as they gain more experience:

*)Years of Experience Average Hourly Pay Average Annual Income
0-2 years $12.88 $24,882
3-5 years $14.31 $27,913
6-9 years $15.21 $30,123
10-15 years $16.23 $32,539
15 years + $17.58 $35,882

Some skilled individuals with ample training and job experience can even earn over $40,000 per year. This number suggests that there is some room for advancement, especially since numerous positions also include full time benefits and other potential perks such as:

  • 67% Dental coverage
  • 53% Vision coverage
  • 50% Disability insurance
  • 44% Discount prescriptions
  • 41% Accidental death benefits
  • 39% Basic hospitalization
  • 20% Professional liability

Some employers even pay some or all of the expenses incurred while keeping current with certifications and testing. Others will help you pay dues to the AAMA and other registration fees.

Find out the average wage in your area

Medical Assistants in the Pacific region, including Alaska and Hawaii, typically make more money than MAs anywhere else in the country. Another high earning area is the West North Central region. MAs in the Southern states and the East North Central region typically make lower salaries than in other parts of the United States.

Regional factors that influence salary iniclude population, competitiveness of the job market, and the simple concept of supply and demand.

Below you will see an interactive table. By clicking on your state in the map you can select and display individual metropolitan areas.

Regional pay depending on experience

*) Region Average 0-2 years 3-5 years 6-9 years 10-15 years 15 years +
New England $15.49
$30,106
$13.86
$26,373
$14.99
$29,090
$16.43
$32,542
$16.96
$33,741
$19.22
$38,000
Middle Atlantic $14.86
$30,256
$13.35
$25,867
$13.83
$27,852
$15.82
$31,556
$17.69
$37,300
$17.89
$39,250
East North Central $14.25
$28,189
$12.42
$24,085
$13.85
$27,208
$14.41
$28,222
$16.13
$31,773
$17.04
$34,464
West North Central $15.53
$30,211
$13.57
$25,607
$14.78
$28,351
$15.52
$31,019
$16.82
$32,730
$17.94
$35,534
South Atlantic $14.03
$28,265
$12.17
$23,661
$13.75
$27,127
$14.51
$29,294
$15.57
$30,837
$17.04
$35,909
East South Atlantic $13.29
$27,065
$11.39
$22,480
$13.06
$25,786
$13.43
$25,833
$15.50
$31,571
$15.71
$33,700
West South Atlantic $14.29
$28,886
$12.20
$22,909
$14.45
$28,875
Insufficient data Insufficient data $16.48
$37,071
Mountain $14.33
$28,386
$12.33
$23,392
$13.68
$26,262
$14.32
$28,450
$15.83
$34,300
$18.13
$35,250
Pacific $16.85
$32,240
$14.98
$28,265
$16.43
$30,946
$18.03
$34,375
$18.61
$36,431
$19.51
$38,488

Top paying industries

The location and nature of the medical assistant position can greatly impact your potential salary. Jobs can be found at a range of medical facilities including hospitals, clinics and private offices. Although over 60% of MAs are employed at private facilities, if you find employment at a hospital, you can expect to be paid more. Employers in the private sector pay, on average, about $2,000 less per year.

Industry Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Income
Offices of Dentists $17.18 $35,730
Other Specialty Hospitals $16.91 $35,180
Outpatient Care Centers $15.24 $31,710
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals $15.09 $31,390
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories $14.92 $31,040
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $14.91 $31,010
Offices of Physicians $14.63 $30,420
Offices of Other Health Practitioners
(e.g. chiropractors, optometrists etc.)
$12.97 $26,970

Tables marked with an asterisk (*) are the results of a survey conducted by the AAMA. The AAMA states that nearly 4,000 MAs completed the survey; most, but not all, were CMAs. According to AAMA the results have a high degree of statistical reliability. Nevertheless, the data should be taken lightly, as it might not be 100 percent accurate.