If you're interested in starting a career in healthcare, becoming a medical assistant is one option to consider.
To start working as a medical assistant in California, you only have to have a high school diploma or GED, and training programs are relatively inexpensive. There are many reasons to become a medical assistant, including the ability to help others and having an engaging job.
So what is the average medical assistant salary in California?
The average salary for medical assistants in California is $44,780 per year or $21.53 per hour.
Compared to the national average of $37,190, medical assistants in California make much more, though the cost of living there is the third-highest in the U.S.
The rest of this guide goes over the average medical assistant salary in California, as a whole, as well as in specific CA cities. Plus, learn how medical assistant salaries in CA compare to other states and other occupations in CA.
Medical Assistant Salary in California
Across the United States, medical assistant salaries average $37,190 per year or $17.88 per hour. California medical assistants earn much more than that, with an average pay of $44,780 per year or $21.53 per hour.
Job outlook for medical assistants is great, with the number of jobs expected to increase by 16% by 2031, much faster than the national average of 5%.
Medical Assistant Salary in California vs Other States
- Alabama – $29,920 ($14.38)
- Alaska – $47,400 ($22.79)
- Arizona – $37,390 ($17.98)
- Arkansas – $29,970 ($14.41)
- California – $44,780 ($21.53). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in CA here.
- Colorado – $38,040 ($18.29)
- Connecticut – $41,010 ($19.71). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in CT here.
- Delaware – $36,450 ($17.52) – Learn more about medical assistant salaries in DE here.
- District of Columbia – $46,690 ($22.45) – Learn more about medical assistant salaries in Washington D.C. here.
- Florida – $35,480 ($17.06). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in FL here.
- Georgia – $36,190 ($17.40)
- Hawaii – $38,860 ($18.69)
- Idaho – $37,120 ($17.85)
- Illinois – $38,330 ($18.43)Learn more about medical assistant salaries in IL here.
- Indiana – $36,960 ($17.77)
- Iowa – $37,660 ($18.11)
- Kansas – $35,340 ($16.99)
- Kentucky – $33,410 ($16.06)
- Louisiana – $29,470 ($14.17)
- Maine – $37,860 ($18.20)
- Maryland – $39,280 ($18.89). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in MD here.
- Massachusetts – $44,220 ($21.25). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in MA here.
- Michigan – $37,120 ($17.85)
- Minnesota – $46,920 ($22.56)
- Mississippi – $29,760 ($14.31)
- Missouri – $35,280 ($16.96)
- Montana – $37,660 ($18.11)
- Nebraska – $36,990 ($17.78)
- Nevada – $36,960 ($17.77)
- New Hampshire – $38,220 ($18.37)
- New Jersey – $39,600 ($19.04). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in NJ here.
- New Mexico – $30,750 ($14.79)
- New York – $42,100 ($20.24). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in NY & NYC here.
- North Carolina – $36,790 ($17.69)
- North Dakota – $37,310 ($17.94)
- Ohio – $36,800 ($17.69)
- Oklahoma – $30,030 ($14.44)
- Oregon – $45,710 ($21.97)
- Pennsylvania – $36,750 ($17.67). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in PA here.
- Rhode Island – $37,860 ($18.20)
- South Carolina – $34,710 ($16.69)
- South Dakota – $30,540 ($14.68)
- Tennessee – $36,280 ($17.44)
- Texas – $34,660 ($16.66). Learn about medical assistant salaries in TX here.
- Utah – $37,120 ($17.85)
- Vermont – $37,190 ($17.88)
- Virginia – $38,330 ($18.43). Learn about medical assistant salaries in VA here.
- Washington – $47,460 ($22.82)
- West Virginia – $31,230 ($15.01). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in WV here.
- Wisconsin – $38,050 ($18.30)
- Wyoming – $37,410 ($17.99)
Medical Assistant Salary in California Cities
- Chico, CA – $38,070 ($18.30)
- El Centro, CA – $35,350 ($17.00)
- Fresno, CA – $40,800 ($19.62)
- Hanford-Corcoran, CA – $34,670 ($16.67)
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA – $41,390 ($19.90). Learn more about medical assistant salaries in Los Angeles here.
- Madera, CA – $35,760 ($17.19)
- Merced, CA – $34,550 ($16.61)
- Modesto, CA – $43,630 ($20.98)
- Napa, CA – $50,480 ($24.27)
- Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA – $41,880 ($20.13)
- Redding, CA – $41,230 ($19.82)
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA – $39,120 ($18.81)
- Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA – $51,530 ($24.78)
- Salinas, CA – $42,120 ($20.25)
- San Diego-Carlsbad, CA – $41,960 ($20.17)
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA – $54,930 ($26.41)
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA – $53,870 ($25.90)
- San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA – $42,170 ($20.28)
- Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA – $45,520 ($21.88)
- Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA – $42,540 ($20.45)
- Santa Rosa, CA – $53,530 ($25.74)
- Stockton-Lodi, CA – $43,410 ($20.87)
- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA – $58,670 ($28.21)
- Visalia-Porterville, CA – $37,530 ($18.05)
- Yuba City, CA – $40,260 ($19.36)
Medical Assistant vs Certified Medical Assistant Salary in California
While California does not require medical assistants to be certified, it is important to remember that most employers prefer to hire someone who has demonstrated commitment and competency by passing their certification exam.
Certified medical assistants earn about 10% more than non-certified medical assistants. Being certified also gives you more opportunities for advancement or promotions, allowing you to make even more.
You can become a certified medical assistant in as little as six weeks to four months through an online program. You can also earn your medical assistant certification or degree through a community college or university program. After completion of an accredited program, you can take your certification exam to become a CMA, RMA, or CCMA, depending on which exam you take.
Make sure you choose an accredited program with high passing rates for the certification exam. Many programs also help with job placement after you graduate.
Stepful has a 4-month online medical assistant program that includes an externship and a 100% job placement guarantee.
Job Outlook for Medical Assistants in California
Medical assistants are in high demand now, and the available jobs for medical assistants are expected to continue increasing over the next several years. Between 2021 and 2031, medical assisting jobs are expected to increase by 16%.
Medical Assistant Salary in California vs. Other Occupations
Medical assistants make a decent salary when compared to other occupations with other education requirements. While there are higher-paying jobs out there, they usually require much more education or experience.
Here are job salaries with similar education requirements:
- Medical Assistant: $44,780
- Certified Nursing Assistant: $39,760 (Medical Assistant vs Certified Nursing Assistant Guide)
- Emergency Medical Technician: $42,420 (Medical Assistant vs EMT Guide)
- Phlebotomist: $48,070 (Medical Assistant vs Phlebotomist Guide)
- Dental Assistant: $46,060 (Medical Assistant vs Dental Assistant Guide)
- Bank Teller: $39,820
- Cashier: $32,650
- Child Care Worker: $35,390
Here are some jobs that require more training compared to medical assistants:
- Dental Hygienist: $108,200
- Registered Nurse: $124,000 (Medical Assistant vs Nurse Guide)
- Physician Assistant: $136,920 (Medical Assistant vs Physician Assistant)
- Family Medicine Physician: $261,260
- Psychiatrists: $305,290
- Surgeons: $351,580
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Better Medical Assistant Salary in California
Medical assistants make a decent salary for starting out. Like most other professions, there are extra things you can do or skills you can master that will help you become more valuable to your employer and be able to negotiate a better salary.
Having extra skills and certifications not only gets you a better salary, but it may allow you to have more freedom in choosing the type of office you prefer or the hours you would like to work.
Skills to improve your salary include:
- Get your medical assisting certification. Getting your medical assisting certification shows that you have the knowledge required to safely care for patients.
- Complete a phlebotomy course. Most medical assistants will have to perform blood draws. Completing a phlebotomy course will prepare you to perform your duties well.
- Complete an EKG course. An EKG course will teach you how to take a reading of your patient's heart rhythm to help the physician diagnose an underlying problem.
- Stay current on new technologies and procedures. Healthcare is always changing. Staying up to date on best practices helps you take good care of the patients in your office
- Attend continuing education courses. Completing continuing education courses shows that you are willing to do extra work to learn more about how to do your best as a medical assistant.
- Take a medical billing or coding class. Since medical assisting includes administrative tasks, understanding medical billing is an important part of the job.
- Learn a second language. California is a place where people of all backgrounds live. Knowing a second language can be very valuable for a medical assistant working with a variety of different patients.