Do you want to start a career in healthcare, but are unsure about which niche to choose?

Has the hefty tuition fees and years of schooling in medical school put you in a dilemma?

If you nodded yes to these questions, you can consider pursuing a career in medical assistance.

If you’re interested in becoming a medical assistant, you might have come across the term ‘Certified Medical Assistant’ and wondered what it means. Let us tell you.

A certified medical assistant (CMA) is an allied healthcare worker who provides support services to physicians and other healthcare professionals. Their duties involve both clinical and administrative tasks.

The demand for certified medical assistants has been on a constant rise lately. A career in this field is considered the best entry point into the healthcare industry, plus it is one of the fastest-growing careers out there.

Becoming a certified medical assistant is not that hard; the best thing is that you don’t even need a degree!

Yes, you read that right. The only minimum requirement to become a certified medical assistant is to complete your high school diploma or a GED and then complete a medical assistant program.

So how much does a certified medical assistant earn on average?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for certified medical assistants is $38,190, or $18.36 per hour.

The figures mentioned above depend on various factors, such as the job location, work setting, or if you have any additional certifications.

Read on to learn more about the salaries offered for certified medical assistants based on these different factors.

Also see: 12 Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant

Certified Medical Assistant Salary: Overview

According to the BLS, the average annual salary for medical assistants across the country was reported to be $38,190, around $18.36 per hour.

These figures vary significantly among other job board sites such as and This is because the salary offered to medical assistants is dependent on different factors, such as the state or city they live in, their job settings, and their certifications.

For example, the work setting is a great influencing factor in determining how much you can earn as a medical assistant.

Certified medical assistants who work in outpatient care centers earn around $38,000 annually, while those working in chiropractor’s offices earn around $30,000 annually.

The BLS also reports a positive medical assistant job outlook nationwide. The report states that medical assistant jobs are expected to grow by a margin of 16 percent by the year 2031, significantly higher than the average job growth witnessed in other professions.

Also read: How to get Medical Assistant jobs with no experience

Certified Medical Assistant Salaries Depending on Where You Work

Entering the field of medical assistance can be highly rewarding if you wish to step foot in the healthcare industry. Plus, you can also choose to work under specific types of doctors.

There are many types of medical assistants, such as medical assistants working in primary care, pediatrics, geriatrics, research, and outpatient care clinics.

Working in these types of specific healthcare settings requires medical assistants to gain additional training and certifications, and their salaries differ.

See also: Medical Assistant On-the-Job Training

The two highest-paying work settings for medical assistants are research centers and outpatient care clinics. Medical assistants can earn nearly $25 per hour at research centers and around $21 per hour at outpatient care clinics.

In comparison, the lowest-paying work settings for medical assistants are primary care centers, where they are paid around $17 per hour.

Even if you start working at one of the lower-paying settings, you have the option of earning a higher starting salary than others.


To answer shortly, by developing more relevant skills.

You can take on more certification courses like phlebotomy, EKG/ECG, and medical coding/medical billing. Learning a second language is also considered helpful, and employers highly prefer candidates with good communication skills.

Read more on: Medical Assistant vs. Medical Billing and Coding

Certified Medical Assistant Salaries by State

The average salary for medical assistants differs across each state and city. Here is a detailed list of the highest-paying states for medical assistants, as reported by the BLS.

The highest-paying states for medical assistants are:

  • Washington – $47,320 per year or $22.75 per hour
  • District of Columbia – $46,690 per year or $22.45 per hour
  • Alaska – $46,390 per year or $22.30 per hour
  • California – $44,780 per year or $21.53 per hour (Medical Assistant Salary California)
  • Massachusetts – $44,200 per year or $21.25 per hour (Medical Assistant Salary Massachusetts)
  • Minnesota- $46, 920 per year or $22.56 per hour
  • Oregon- $45,710 per year or $21.97 per hour
  • Hawaii- $38,860 per year or $18.69 per hour
  • New Hampshire- $38,220 per year or $18.37 per hour
  • Wisconsin- $38,050 per year or $18.30 per hour
  • Rhode Island- $37,860 per year or $18.20 per hour
  • Montana- $37,660 per year or $18.11 per hour

Here’s more –

Additionally, the top five highest-paying cities for medical assistants are:

  • Vallejo- Fairfield, California: $58,670 annually or $28.21 hourly
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California: $54,930 annually or $26.41 hourly
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California: $53,870 annually or $25.90 hourly
  • Santa Rosa, California: $53,530 annually or $25.74 hourly
  • Sacramento-Roseville, California: $51,530 annually or $24.78 hourly

Also see: Medical Assistant Scope of Practice by State

Certified Medical Assistant Roles and Responsibilities

Have you ever wondered what is a medical assistant? Certified medical assistants play a crucial role in the smooth functioning of the doctor’s office or clinic. They are also called the backbone of the healthcare team.

Their duties include both clinical as well as administrative tasks. Some of the main duties of a certified medical assistant are:

  • Checking and recording patient’s vital signs
  • Assisting physicians with bedside procedures and examinations
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Assisting patients with billings and insurance claims
  • Prepping and maintaining examination rooms both before and after each patient visit
  • Basic wound care
  • Performing basic laboratory tests

Here’s more about -> Medical Assistant Job Duties & Medical Assistant Skills

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How To Become a Certified Medical Assistant

If you’re still here, you might be curious about how to become a medical assistant. You would be glad to hear that starting your career as a Medical Assistant is fairly easy.

Also see: Medical Assistant Career Path

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a certified medical assistant and start your journey by entering the field of healthcare:

1. Get Your High School Diploma or GED

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need a degree to become a medical assistant; the only requirement is to complete your high school diploma or GED.

2. Enroll in a Medical Assistant Training Program

After you have earned your diploma, even though it is not necessary, many employers highly prefer medical assistants who are certified. To do that, you need to enroll in a medical assistant program that prepares you for the career and the certification exam.

There are many types of training programs available for medical assistants, both online and offline. You can also earn an associate’s degree or a diploma from a community or technical college.

Read more on: Medical Assistant Degree vs Certificate

However, this path will take you at least two years to complete your degree.

Also see: Is Medical Assistant Degree Required?

Although online training programs are recommended, these programs can be completed within as little as 4 months. They are also much more affordable than a degree or diploma, allowing you to learn at your pace and schedule, saving you a lot of money.

Read more: Medical Assistant Programs Cost

3. Sit For Your Certification Exam

After you have completed your program, you will be required to sit and clear your medical assistant certification exams. The two most popular and widely accepted certification exams are the CCMA exam, held by the NHA, and the CMA exam, held by the AAMA.

If you’re confused about which medical assistant certification is best, then we recommend going for the CCMA by NHA. It’s widely accepted, and you can fulfill both clinical and administrative duties post that.

Also see: Medical Assistant Certificate Requirements

4. Congratulations, You’re A Certified Medical Assistant

Once you have cleared your exam and earned your certification, you can start applying for jobs as a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant. (Additional Resource: Where can medical assistants work?)

Also see: Is Medical Assistant a Good Career?

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