Medical assistants perform administrative tasks in healthcare facilities, like hospitals and doctor’s offices.
Their exact duties change depending on where they work, but their job always centers around helping clinicians with office duties.
Medical assistants aren’t nurses, so they don’t provide direct patient care. Instead, they may greet them, check them into appointments, and collect their insurance and billing information.
Are you considering becoming a medical assistant? If so, this salary guide will help you learn how much medical assistants make in the states, including where they earn the most and how much you could make per hour.
Medical assistant salaries in the US
Salaries vary by state, workplace, and education level.
Zippia’s average reflects the most common data point in the set. To get a more accurate depiction of how much medical assistants make in the US, we gathered each state's annual salary and hourly wage data, then found the median of that figure.
The median represents the midpoint of any data set; 50% of medical assistants earn more than the median, and 50% earn less.
But the median makes a good baseline for medical assistants and aspiring medical assistants to use during job searches.
In the next two sections, we’ll look at how much medical assistants make per year and per hour according to our research.
How much do medical assistants make a year?
Using Zippia’s income data for each state, we found that the median annual salary for medical assistants is $34,437.
Annual salaries for medical assistants range from $46,918 in Alaska to $27,203 in Alabama.
How much does a medical assistant make an hour?
Most medical assistants make around $16.56 an hour. You could earn more or slightly less than this, depending on where you live and where you work.
Hourly wages for medical assistants in the United States range from $13.08 in Alabama to $22.56 in Alaska.
Medical assistants’ salaries by state
If you’re curious about how much medical assistants make where you live, take a look at our table below.
You can also compare the average medical assistant pay in your state to other locations and the national average.
Hourly median wage
Annual median wage
Compared To National Average
District of Columbia
Starting salary for a medical assistant
When you first start working as a medical assistant, you should earn between $27,000 to $34,000 a year.
Medical assistants generally need at least a post-secondary certificate to qualify for jobs. You're more likely to receive a higher starting salary if you have certification, a bachelor’s degree, or prior experience as a medical assistant.
Factors that affect how much a medical assistant makes
If you want to maximize your earning potential as a medical assistant, here are some factors to consider.
Salary varies widely throughout the states based on these factors.
Location includes the state and city you live in and the facility you work at. Medical assistants in a busy hospital may make more than one in a small, private practice, even if they live and work close to one another.
Medical assistants can make the most in hospitals and physician’s offices. Other common locations they work in are outpatient care centers and chiropractor’s offices (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Most employers look for candidates who have some type of college education. You may have certification as a medical assistant or complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
For medical assistants who want to make more money, earning a college degree is one of the most beneficial things you can do. There are many online medical assistant degree programs you can complete to build a strong foundation for your career.
A certified medical assistant can earn more than one without certification. When applying for jobs, having direct experience providing administrative support in a healthcare setting can qualify you for higher pay.
The longer they work, medical assistants tend to get small raises over the years.
Data from PayScale shows how a medical assistant’s earnings can change career throughout their career:
Entry-level (under 1-year experience): $14.45 an hour
1 to 4 years of experience: $15.31 an hour
5 to 9 years of experience: $16.75 an hour
10 to 19 years of experience: $17.73 an hour
20+ years of experience: $18,72 an hour
This data is drawn from 17,955 salary profiles on PayScale as of November 2022.
Medical assistants tend to work 9-to-5 jobs, but many also work on weekends, evenings, and holidays. Depending on where you work and your schedule, you could earn more for working outside of typical business hours.
How quickly can you become a medical assistant and start earning?
Technically, medical assistants aren’t required to hold any prerequisites. You could apply for medical assistant jobs without prior experience or a healthcare background. However, you’re more likely to find hospitals, physician’s offices, and other facilities that prefer certified candidates or have several years of experience in medical assistance.
You can become a certified medical assistant through a 16-week program. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer medical assistant programs that you can complete in person or online.
Medical assistant salary vs. other nursing salaries
Being a medical assistant can be enjoyable if you like administrative work and healthcare However, you are not a nurse, so becoming a medical assistant doesn’t give you access to the pay scale RNs have.
If you want to work directly with patients, helping them heal according to a physician’s orders, then becoming a nurse is the way to do so.
Medical assistants who want to make more money can also consider becoming an LPN/LVN (licensed practical nurse/licensed vocational nurse), a CNA (certified nursing assistant), a GNA (geriatric nursing assistant), or an HHA (home health aide).
Let’s look at how a medical assistant’s pay differs from these four positions:
Medical assistant median annual salary: $34,437
Median annual salaries for
Registered nurses: $76,944.90
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs): $32,500.98
Licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs): $51,097.65
Home health aides (HHAs): $28,314.90
Geriatric nurse aides (GNAs): $32,554.78
Medical assistant nursing salaries FAQs
Am I being paid fairly as a medical assistant?
Medical assistants earn different amounts depending on many factors; where you work, your educational background, experience, and even your schedule will affect how much money you earn.
If you are curious whether your pay is on par with other medical assistants in the US, you can check our guide and look for the average annual salary for a medical assistant.
It’s even more helpful to look at the median annual income in your state. How much does it fall below or above the national average? And how much does your own pay measure up?
It’s also good to note that the federal minimum wage is $7.25, though most states have their own minimum wage laws. Make sure you respect any of the employment laws where you work.
Are medical assistants paid mostly hourly or annually?
The majority of medical assistants are paid per hour. Some experienced assistants who take on greater administrative roles may be offered an annual salary instead as part of their compensation package.
However, expect most medical assistant jobs to advertise an hourly wage instead of a set salary.
Do medical assistants get paid overtime?
Any medical assistant who works over 40 hours in a standard workweek should receive overtime under federal regulations. Your overtime pay is legally mandated to be no less than your regular hourly pay plus a half.
The only exception to this case is the learned professional exemption — if someone earns at least $913, or $47,476, and their job requires them to undergo specialized instruction to acquire deep knowledge of a scientific field, they don’t have to be paid for longer hours.
Since medical assistants aren’t learning professionals, and their average salary tends to far below the exception’s rates, they are legally entitled to overtime.
Do medical assistants get paid more privately or in hospitals?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that medical assistants earn the most in outpatient care centers, with an annual salary of $38,270.
Here’s how other work environments stack up:
Hospitals (state, local, and private): $37,800
Offices of physicians: $37,150
Offices of chiropractors: $30,100
What state pays medical assistants the most per hour?
Medical assistants get paid the most in Alaska, where the median hourly pay is $22.56, and the median annual salary is $46,918. Because of its many remote locations, Alaska has a harder time filling open positions for certified medical assistants. As a result, they tend to pay much higher than the national average.
Alaska’s cost of living is also higher than the US average, so it boosts salaries to compensate for the heightened expense of living there.
Can you live off a medical assistant’s salary in the US?
According to US census data, the average household income in 2021 was $70,784. Since most medical assistants earn $30,000 or less than this per year, they could face financial hardship in paying for living essentials, like housing and transportation.
However, the cost of living fluctuates greatly throughout the United States. Factors like your state, work, housing costs, and lifestyle will influence how comfortably you can live off a medical assistant’s salary.
A note about our data. We use the median of the data gathered from The BLS at data.bls.gov and other salary data sources such as Salary.com, Indeed.com, and Zippia.com. We believe this is the best average to follow rather than the mean or mode. The mean will find the average of all salaries in each state; the mode will favor the most frequently reported salaries. However, the median will find the middle. All data in this report will favor the middle salary from all ranges, which means 50% will fall below and 50% will be above the salary data reported below. On another note, we have removed data from Puerto Rico, Guam, and The Virgin Islands from the data we have sourced as we have focused on the 50 US States plus The District Of Colombia.