Medical assistance might be the best career for you if you want to enter the healthcare industry.
Medical assistants are healthcare workers that provide support services to nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. Their duties generally include both administrative and clinical tasks, ranging from assisting physicians with bedside procedures to scheduling appointments and answering phones.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the job outlook for medical assistants looked fairly positive, reporting an increase of nearly 16% in job growth by the year 2031.
When compared to other professions, which have an average of 5% job growth by the year 2031, medical assistants have a significantly higher job growth percentage.
Also see: What is a Medical Assistant?
Medical Assistant Job Outlook: an Overview
Since the aging population in the United States is increasing, the demand for high-quality healthcare services is also expected to rise significantly. Therefore, there is and will continue to be a strong demand for medical assistants to address these healthcare needs.
According to the BLS, approximately 123,000 new job openings for medical assistants are expected each year until 2031.
The employment outlook for medical assistants also indicates a projected growth of 16% by 2031. This is favorable for aspiring medical assistants in terms of job opportunities and job security within the field.
Also see: 12 Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant
Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
The U.S. BLS reported around 743,500 jobs for medical assistants in 2021.
The top four most common locations for medical assistants to work in are:
- Doctor’s offices – 58%
- Hospitals – 15%
- Outpatient care centers – 9%
- Chiropractic offices – 4%
Read more on: Where Can Medical Assistants Work
Medical Assistant Job Outlook Compared to Similar Professions
Let us compare the job outlooks of other similar healthcare careers to that of medical assistants, as reported by the BLS-
Medical Assistant Average Salary
The average salary for medical assistants is approximately $37,190, as reported by the BLS. The top 10% of medical assistants earned $48,170 or more, while the bottom 10% earned $29,070 or less.
The salary of medical assistants generally varies depending on the type of workplace they are employed in. Those working at outpatient care centers are usually the highest paid, with an average salary of $38,270.
Medical assistants employed at chiropractic clinics earned the least, with an average salary of $30,100. Medical assistants working at hospitals or private physician practices generally earned around the average salary of $37,190.
The job location also plays an important role in determining medical assistant salaries, with densely populated metropolitan areas typically offering higher wages. In 2021, the highest-paying states for medical assistants were Washington, Washington D.C., Alaska, California, and Massachusetts.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary breakdowns based on certification status, having a certification as a medical assistant can improve job prospects and make you a more competitive candidate in the job market. Certified medical assistants are more likely to be hired for higher-paying positions.
See more on: Certified Medical Assistant Salary
Is Medical Assistance a Good Career?
A career as a medical assistant offers many advantages for individuals seeking to enter the healthcare field and deliver optimum patient experience.
Let us take a look at some of the significant pros and cons associated with this profession:
Pros of a medical assistant career include:
1. Essential role in healthcare: Medical assistants play a crucial role in ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system. They contribute significantly to the smooth operation of medical facilities.
2. Wide variety of duties: Medical assistants have a diverse scope of practice encompassing both clinical and administrative tasks. Their responsibilities include measuring patient vital signs, managing electronic medical records, scheduling appointments, reviewing patient histories, and more.
3. Low barrier to entry: Compared to other healthcare professions, becoming a medical assistant typically requires less time and effort. While completing a medical assistant training program and obtaining certification are beneficial for job prospects, they are not mandatory. The minimum requirement for employment as a medical assistant is a high school diploma or equivalent.
4. Fast-paced work environment: Healthcare settings are often bustling with a high volume of patients. Medical assisting is an ideal career for individuals who thrive in dynamic and fast-paced workplaces.
5. Patient interaction: Medical assistants frequently serve as the primary point of contact for patients. They play a crucial role in facilitating communication between patients and the rest of the healthcare team, fostering a positive patient experience.
Cons of a medical assistant career include:
1. Stressful work environment: The fast-paced nature of a medical assistant’s job can be demanding and stressful. Juggling multiple tasks, addressing patient concerns, and making quick decisions to provide optimal patient care can contribute to stress levels.
2. Limited career progression: While there are opportunities to enhance one’s skills and knowledge through certifications, medical assistants may have limited avenues for career advancement. To pursue more advanced healthcare roles such as a registered nurse (RN) or physician assistant (PA), additional extensive education and training are usually required.
Also read: Medical Assistant Skills
3. Inflexible work schedule: Depending on the healthcare setting, medical assistants may have limited control over their work schedule. This can include working weekends, holidays, or night shifts, which may impact work-life balance and personal commitments.
4. Limited autonomy: Medical assistants typically work under the direct supervision of physicians and nurses. They are expected to closely follow instructions and protocols, limiting their autonomy and decision-making authority.
Also read: Is Medical Assistant a Good Career?
How To Become a Medical Assistant
Here is a brief step-wise guide on how to become a medical assistant:
1. Obtain a high school diploma or GED: Graduating from high school or earning a GED is the first step towards becoming a medical assistant.
2. Acquire necessary training and education: While certification is not important in most states to start working as a medical assistant, it can be advantageous. You can opt for an online medical assistant program, which can be completed in as little as four months.
3. Complete an externship: Although not necessary, participating in a medical assistant externship can provide valuable hands-on experience. It allows you to gain exposure to different medical offices and determine which setting suits you best. Additionally, it offers an opportunity to establish connections with physicians and staff members, giving you an advantage when applying for jobs.
Also see: Medical Assistant Externship
4. Apply for job positions: Given the high demand for medical assistants, you can start applying for positions at clinics and hospitals upon completing your training.
Also read: Medical Assistant On-the-Job Training
5. Commence your career: Once you have secured a job as a medical assistant, you are ready to embark on your career in the field.
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