If you are interested in healthcare, you may be considering a career as a medical assistant. Working as a medical assistant comes with many benefits, such as a decent salary and a bright job outlook.
So, what is the job outlook for medical assistants?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistant jobs are expected to increase by 16% over the next decade.
Compared to all other jobs, this is much better than average (5%). This means that there should be plenty of medical assistant jobs available for the foreseeable future.
Medical Assistant Job Outlook Overview
Because the U.S. population is aging, there will be a greater need for quality healthcare than ever before. As a result, medical assistants are—and will continue to be—in high demand in order to meet these needs.
According to the BLS, there will be around 123,000 new medical assistant job openings each year, until 2031.
Overall, the employment of medical assistants is forecasted to increase by 16% by 2031.
Where Medical Assistants Work
According to the BLS, there were around 743,500 medical assistants working in 2021. The top four locations where medical assistants work are as follows:
>> Read More: Types of Medical Assistants
Medical Assistant Job Outlook vs Similar Professions
The following table compares the job outlook of various healthcare careers to the job outlook of medical assistants. The data comes from BLS employment projections over the next decade.
Average Medical Assistant Salary
The average medical assistant salary in 2021 was $37,190. The top 10% of medical assistants earned $48,170 or more, while the bottom 10% of medical assistants earned $29,070 or less.
Medical assistant salaries can vary depending on the workplace. The highest paid medical assistants worked at outpatient care centers, where they earned an average salary of $38,270. In contrast, medical assistants who worked at chiropractic clinics tended to earn the least, with an average salary of $30,100.
Medical assistants working at hospitals or physician private practices tended to earn around the average salary of $37,190.
The average salary for medical assistants also vary based on location of work. In general, more densely populated metropolitan areas paid the highest salaries. The highest paying states in 2021 were Washington, Washington D.C., Alaska, California, and Massachusetts. You can compare medical assistant salaries by state here.
The BLS does not break down its salary data based on whether a medical assistant is certified or not. However, medical assistants with a certification are viewed more favorably by employers. As a result, they are more likely to get hired for higher paying openings.
>> Read More: How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant
Is Medical Assisting a Good Career?
Overall, medical assisting is a solid career choice for those who want to enter the healthcare field and play an important role in the patient experience. This section will go over the biggest pros and cons of a career as a medical assistant.
Pros of a medical assistant career include:
- Essential role in healthcare. Without medical assistants, the healthcare system would likely be inefficient and ineffective. They play an essential role in keeping everything running smoothly.
- Wide variety of duties. The scope of practice for medical assistants includes both clinical and administrative tasks. Their duties include taking patient vitals, maintaining electronic medical records, scheduling appointments, reviewing patient histories, and much more.
- Low barrier to entry. Compared with other healthcare careers, the path to becoming a medical assistant is relatively quick and simple. Although completing a medical assistant training program and getting a certification are recommended when finding a job, they are not required. The minimum requirement to work as a medical assistant is a high school diploma, or equivalent.
- Fast work pace. Healthcare facilities are often busy due to the high volume of patients seen on a daily basis. Medical assisting is a great career choice for people who enjoy a dynamic and fast-paced work environment.
- Patient interaction. Medical assistants are often the healthcare workers that patients interact with most frequently. In a sense, they serve as a messenger between the patient and the rest of the healthcare team.
Cons of a medical assistant career include:
- Can be stressful. The fast-paced nature of a medical assistant job can be stressful. Medical assistants will need to manage a variety of tasks, deal with patient concerns, and think quickly to provide the best experience for patients.
- Limited progression. Although there are options such as earning a certification, medical assistants do not have many opportunities for advancement. If they wanted to pursue a more advanced healthcare career such as an RN or PA, they would have to go through a significant amount of additional education.
- Schedule may not be flexible. Depending on where they work, medical assistants may not have much control over their work schedule. For example, they may be asked to work during weekends or holidays. In addition, they may be asked to work night shifts.
- Limited autonomy. Medical assistants typically work under close supervision by physicians and nurses. As a result, they are expected to closely follow directions.
How to Become a Medical Assistant
Here is the general process you have to follow to become a medical assistant:
- Obtain your high school diploma or GED. Before you can begin work as a medical assistant or enter a medical assistant training program, you must graduate with a high school diploma or earn your GED.
- Get the necessary training & education. While it is not required to be certified to start working as a medical assistant in most states, it does help. You can choose an online medical assistant training program and finish in as little as four months, or choose an MA degree program that will last up to two years.
- Complete an internship or externship. While this step is not required, completing a medical assistant externship will help you get a feel for different offices and see what will be a good fit for you. It also gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself to the physician and other staff, giving you a leg up when you start to apply for jobs.
- Apply for jobs. With such a high demand for medical assistants, you can start applying to clinics and hospitals right away. Some medical assisting programs will help you build your resume and find a job. Check out medical assistant job descriptions and job posts to make sure you cover as much of the requirements as possible on your resume.
- Start your career. Now you are ready to start your career as a medical assistant.