Most people agree that jobs in the medical field pay well. After all, it is a growing industry and people will always get sick and need medical care. Even during a recession there is opportunity for growth in the medical field.
So, how much does a medical assistant make? To answer that question we will consider the following 3 factors:
- Where you work
- Your level of training
- How much experience you have
Where You Work
As a rule of thumb, jobs in crowded metropolitan areas pay more than jobs in quiet rural areas. So you’re likely to earn more if you work in Los Angeles, California than if you worked in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The size of your employer is another factor to consider. For example, large medical practices tend to pay more than smaller practices for the simple fact that they are more established and can afford a healthy payroll.
You should also factor in the health benefits offered by your employer. Hospitals and large medical clinics tend to offer more competitive health insurance benefits, including dental and vision. While this doesn’t increase your actual salary it does translate into money in your pocket since you will save on personal health care costs.
Your Level of Training
You’ll be hard pressed to find an employer that doesn’t require some level of education and training. According to the AAMA, certified medical assistants earn about 4% more than uncertified medical assistants. So getting your certification will definitely help you earn a higher salary.
There are a number of ancillary certifications you can get that will help to increase your value as a medical assistant. Some MAs get their certification for x-ray technology, EKG monitoring and Phlebotomy. These are valuable skills that will make you an indespensable member of any medical team.
Your Level of Experience
This is a tricky thing since most medical assistant graduates who are just out of school don’t have much experience yet. So how can you demonstrate that you are qualified for a job? The simple answer is — get an intership. Most training programs place students in an internship, but if your school doesn’t offer that it’s up to you to find one. You can often get school credit for interning and it will give you the hand-on, real-world experience you need to get hired.
According to payscale.com certified medical assistants with 5-9 years of experience can expect to earn between $20,303 and $39,790 per year while MAs with 10-19 years of experience earn between $20,924 and $44,222.
As a new hire, don’t be discouraged by your first few paychecks. As you gain more experience and seniority in your field you will begin to qualify for higher wages.
The Bottom Line
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the middle 50% of medical assistants earned between $23,700 and $33,050 in 2008. No doubt that amount has increased since then, but these statistics give you an idea of what you can expect to get paid in this field.
To recap, the best way to maximize your marketability and increase your salary earnings is to get your medical assistant certification. The next best thing to do is to become licensed in as many special procedures as you possibly can. And finally, be patient. Time and experience will get you where you want to be.
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