Medical Assistant Review

Medical assistants perform a wide range of critical jobs that keep the hospital running smoothly, making this field a good one to choose for those who value working behind the scenes while helping others. However, this isn't the right job for anyone looking for a large salary.

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The Good

Perform a variety of essential tasks

As a medical assistant, you have a number of important jobs, including scheduling patient appointments, conducting lab tests, and helping to provide patient care. Generally, those who work in a smaller office perform a wider range of tasks while those in a larger office might specialize in one particular area. Either way, medical assistants are vital to the success and efficiency of a hospital or doctor’s office, so their work is not to be underestimated.

No need to be on call

Unlike most medical professionals, medical assistants aren’t required to come into work during their time off should an emergency arise. Instead of having to stay close to the office when you’re not working, you already know what your schedule’s going to look like for the week. For those who value a more traditional work week with set hours, this may make a career as a medical assistant more appealing than some of the other jobs available in this field. For others, it may not be a make-or-break feature, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Little schooling required

Most medical assistants receive their training through a one-year certificate program where you learn about medical terminology and the skills you need to succeed as an assistant. Other medical assistants choose not to go to school and learn their skills on the job from doctors or trained assistants, though this is less common. The minimal formal education requirements for entering this field make it a good choice for individuals who don’t have the time or money to go back to school for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. However, even if you aren’t required to get certified, it’s still something worth looking into. Employers generally prefer individuals who are certified because it demonstrates competency in the skills medical assistants use every day.

The Bad

Below-average salary

Most medical assistants earn around $29,000 per year, which is slightly under the national average of $34,750. If a job with a high salary is at the top of your priority list, a career as a medical assistant probably isn’t in your future. Fortunately, if you’re still interested in working in the medical field, you have plenty of options. A career as a respiratory therapist or a registered nurse both offer higher salaries, though they also require more initial training in order to qualify for entry-level positions.

Little room for advancement

Compared to most other vocational careers, there isn’t that much potential for medical assistants to advance beyond their current position. Over time, most other jobs give you the opportunity to move into a management role or specialize in a particular area. Medical assistants don’t always have these same opportunities. The only way for them to move on to a better position is by going back to school and earning a more advanced degree in a related health field. If you plan on working in medicine for some time, this is something to take into consideration.

Work nights and weekends

Because hospitals are open 24 hours, medical staff, including medical assistants, often work night and weekend shifts. This won’t be a problem for some people, but those who prefer a traditional five-day work week may want to consider some other career options. Night and weekend shifts are going to be relatively common among any medical profession, though, so if you’re interested in this field you’ll just have to accept you’ll likely be working the occasional evening or weekend.

The Details


  • Career Growth (2012-2022): 29%
  • Median Pay: $29,370
  • Number of Jobs: 560,800
  • Number of New Jobs (2012-2022): 162,900

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