Who is a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are a physician’s support system. They handle basic tasks such as getting patients prepped for examination, taking vital signs, recording medical records and setting appointments. Depending on the setting they work in, they may draw blood or do administrative work. They shouldn’t be confused with physician assistants, who are medically trained and can make diagnoses and administer medicine.
Medical Assistant Salary Trend – How Much do They Earn?
In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that medical assistants earned a median income of $29,610 a year, or $14.24 an hour. This was the middle income for the nation, with half making less and half making more.
Exactly how much a medical assistant earned depended on whether or not she was certified, where she worked and how much experience she had. The top-paying states that year included Alaska, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Washington state and Connecticut, where the averages were as high as $19.04 an hour. The lowest-paying states were West Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi, where the average fell to as low as $11.95 an hour.
Medical assistants don’t have to be formally trained. In fact, according to the Bureau some employers hire inexperienced assistants and train them on the job. However, increasing numbers of employers prefer to hire assistants who have received formal training at a school, and who have gone on to earn certification.
Medical assistant programs at junior, technical and vocational schools typically take one year to complete, though there are two-year programs that result in a degree. Assistants can then press forward to earning certification which, while voluntary, is seen by employers as a standard of excellence. There are several certification boards, each with its own set of rules for earning certification, but applicants usually must have finished an accredited medical assistant course and pay a fee to sit for an examination in order to be certified.
Is the Job Outlook Solid?
The demand for medical assistants is currently on the rise. An estimated 162,900 new jobs are expected to open between now and the year 2022, says the Bureau. This growth is expected to come from the aging baby boomer population, who will need more preventative care. Certified medical assistants will have a better chance of securing work than those who aren’t.