How Much Does a Medical Assistant Make an Hour?

by Rick Suttle, Demand Media Google
    The highest paid medical assistants can make over $19 per hour.

    The highest paid medical assistants can make over $19 per hour.

    You would make $19.62 per hour as a medical assistant if you are among the top 10 percent in earnings, according to May 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But you had better have some technical aptitude, and you should enjoy helping sick people. Your duties would include taking vital signs like blood pressure and pulse rate, administering shots in some states, documenting symptoms and working in labs. Several career options are available to you as a medical assistant: clinical, administrative or working with a specialist such as an allergy doctor.

    Average Wages & Benefits

    You won't exactly become the next Bill Gates working as a medical assistant. They earned average hourly wages of $14.51, according to the BLS, or $30,170 annually. Your income would likely fall in the $11.86 to $16.87 per hour range, which is what the middle half earned. Those in the lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.04 per hour. Most medical assistants can expect to receive benefits such as health insurance, paid time off and a retirement or pension plan.

    Wages by Industry

    Set your sites on working in scientific research and development if you want to make the most money as a medical assistant. These folks earned $17.81 per hour, according to the BLS. You would make $14.91 per hour working in a general and surgical hospital. And, your hourly rate would be $14.63 as an employee at a physician's office, where half the people in this field work.

    Wages by State

    You would need to move to Alaska to make the most as a medical assistant. There, they earned $18.84 per hour, according to the BLS. But you had better enjoy the thought of long, dark winters on the Alaskan frontier. Massachusetts may be more suitable for you, as these folks earned $17.36 per hour. And, you would make above-average earnings of $15.53 in sunny California. Expect to earn less in Pennsylvania and Florida -- $14.45 and $13.81 per hourly, respectively.

    Education & Training

    Don't expect to start a career as a medical assistant without a high school degree or equivalent. And, it is best if you've had some biology, chemistry or anatomy under your belt. Your next step would be completing either one or two years of training at a community college or technical school. The two-year program would earn you an associate's degree, where you'd spend time doing both classroom and lab work. Certification is not necessarily required in this field, but employers prefer it. Several agencies that can certify you, including the American Association of Medical Assistants and National Healthcareer Association. Training is mostly on the job.

    Job Outlook

    You've hit the Mother Lode with respect to growing job opportunities. The BLS reports that jobs for medical assistants are expected to increase 31 percent between 2010 and 2020. This rate of growth is more than twice as fast as the national average of 14 percent for all occupations. The growing population of elderly people, including baby boomers, will drive much of this growth. The introduction of new technology will also require doctors to hire more medical assistants.

    About the Author

    Rick Suttle has been writing professionally since 2009, covering health and business for various online and print publications. He has worked in corporate marketing research and as a copywriter. Suttle holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Miami University and a Master of Business Administration from California Coast University. He is author of the novels "Hell Year" and "Suicide Peak."

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