Medical Assistant Career Information

The following information is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants. Please visit the website for a more comprehensive breakdown of the data.


Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.

Job Duties

  • Record patient history and personal information
  • Measure vital signs (body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure)
  • Help physicians with patient examinations
  • Give patients injections or medications (as permitted by state law and directed by physicians)
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Prepare blood samples for laboratory tests
  • Record patient information into medical records


National Average Annual Pay (2019): $35,720

Top 5 States

1. Alaska


2. Washington


3. Massachusetts


4. Minnesota


5. Connecticut


Bottom 5 States

50. West Virginia


49. Alabama


48. Louisiana


47. Mississippi


46. Arkansas



The requirements to become a medical assistant vary state by state. Some states do not have any formal education requirements to become a medical assistant. However, many employers prefer to hire medical assistants who have completed a medical assisting program and obtained certification.

There are five certifications that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies for medical assistants. Your medical assisting program will likely recommend which examination to take. The five certifications are:

  • 1. Enter a Medical Assisting Program

    The program typically takes 1-2 years. Depending on the program, you may receive a type of certification of achievement or an associate’s degree.

  • 2. Take an Exam to be Certified

    Many employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants.

  • 3. Get Hired as a Medical Assistant


Analytical Skills

Medical assistants must be able to understand and follow medical charts and diagnoses. They may be required to code a patient’s medical records for billing purposes.

Technical Skills

Medical assistants should be able to use basic clinical instruments so they can take patients’ vital signs.

Interpersonal Skills

Medical assistants need to be able to discuss patient information with other medical personnel, such as physicians. They often interact with patients who may be in pain or in distress, so they need to be able to act in a calm and professional manner.

Detail Oriented

Medical assistants need to be precise when taking vital signs or recording patient information. Physicians and insurance companies rely on accurate records.

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