Number of Jobs
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Health Care Jobs||#24|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#45|
A routine visit to the doctor is really a visit with an entire team – including a growing number of medical assistants. Medical assistants are likely the first and last faces you’ll see during any medical appointment, either in your doctor’s office or at a larger medical organization. The job is a mix of traditional office work, including manning the front desk, answering phones and filing insurance forms, as well as hands-on tasks such as drawing blood and preparing it for lab tests, administering injections and making sure medical histories are accurately recorded. More specialized roles include assisting ophthalmologists or optometrists with basic vision tests or helping patients learn to insert, remove and care for contact lenses.
The aging baby boomer population will help drive demand for more medical assistants, who will be needed to support doctors and nurses as they diagnose and treat patients. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects medical assistant employment growth of 29 percent between 2012 and 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. The field is expected to gain 162,900 new jobs during that period. This sizeable employment growth puts medical assistants among the top health care jobs in our list of The Best Jobs of 2014.
The BLS reports that the median wage for a medical assistant was $29,370 in 2012, up slightly from the prior year. The best-paid 10 percent of medical assistants made $41,570, while the bottom 10 percent made approximately $21,080. Physicians’ offices or hospitals pay the highest wages. By location, the highest-paid positions are in the metropolitan areas of Vallejo, Calif., Fairbanks, Alaska and San Francisco.
No formal training is required to become a medical assistant, and workers can enter the field and learn on the job with just a high school diploma. There are a variety of one-year certification programs or two-year associate degrees offered in the field, which teach students laboratory techniques, clinical procedures, medical terminology, record keeping and some specializations such as podiatry or optometry.
The good news for aspiring medical assistants is that the industry requires relatively little formal training or education compared with other jobs in the medical field. But that also means it can be tougher to stand out among a sea of applicants. In addition to certification programs, networking with organizations in the field can make a huge difference, says Jean Lynch, director of communications and marketing at the American Association of Medical Assistants. One of the best ways to get ahead as a medical assistant is to volunteer, she says. “It doesn’t have to be your whole life. Work on a blood pressure drive. Spend a Saturday at it. That can go on a résumé,” Lynch says. She also recommends keeping abreast of changes in the health care industry and issues affecting the organizations that hire medical assistants.
|Upward Mobility||poor Below Average|
|Stress Level||poor Above Average|
Last updated by Casey Quinlan.