Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks for physicians and other health practitioners. Some medical assistants are trained on the job, but many complete 1-year or 2-year programs. Medical assistant jobs rank as one of the fastest-growing occupations over the 2008–18 decade, so job prospects should be excellent (BLS).
A medical assistant's median salary is $29,218 and maximum medical assistant salaries top out at over $36,000**. Mid sized institutions tend to pay more than smaller practices, according to Payscale's Median Salary by Company Size Charts.
Opportunities for advancement
Medical assistants can advance by experience and certification. Medical assistants can advance by earning certification in a specialty including podiatry, optometry, and ophthalmology. Some advance to other health care or nursing specialties through additional education, certification, and licensure. Others advance to office administration or office management.
Benefits and perks
Health care, paid time off, pension, education reimbursement, sick days, insurance, bonus, and taxes increase the total compensation package by an average 33.5%**, bringing the median total medical assistant compensation to $44,969.
Salary negotiation tips
Negotiating salary can be tricky. Large institutions (hospitals, government health agencies, or private companies), typically set up a salary range (or salary band), so the organization will have a little room to move on salaries (about 5-10%). Smaller practices are less likely to have as much wiggle room on salary. Either way, don't expect an employer to give you a higher salary just because you ask. Instead, prepare a well documented justification and stay within the organization's salary range for the specific position so you'll have a good chance at getting the salary increase you're targeting.
Your greatest ability to negotiate salary is when you have options. Interview with a number of hospitals, private practices, federal/state/local government health agencies, universities, Veterans Administration, and private companies. In addition, do your homework – get salary information online with AOL Jobs Salary Center or from staffing and recruiting firms in your industry. Sometimes just having research on average salaries for your local market may provide rationale for a higher salary.
-- See detailed Medical Assistant Job Description
* According to www.payscale.com.
** According to www.salary.com