With "excellent" job growth predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and no certification required, becoming a medical office assistant may seem like an appealing job. Medical assistants are typically paid an hourly wage that varies depending on factors such as the type of clinic or hospital they work in and the local area.
The responsibilities of a medical assistant depend on the type of office he works in. Some have both administrative and clinical duties, while others focus more on one or the other. The average annual salary of all types of medical office assistants in the United States is $29,450, or an hourly average wage of $14.16, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2009 data.
Medical assistants can be found in the offices of physicians, dentists, podiatrists, pediatricians and a variety of types of private practices and clinics. Those in physicians' offices earn an average income of $29,810, while dentists' offices pay higher at $35,920. The offices of other types of health practitioners pay medical assistants an average of $26,490. Hospitals pay medical assistants an average of $30,830 a year, while outpatient care centers pay $29,830. Medical assistants can also be found at colleges and universities or working for the local government, with the former offering an annual mean wage of $30,850 and the latter offering $31,900, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The five states with the highest concentration of medical assistants are California, Michigan, Arizona, Florida and Hawaii, all of which pay similar average salaries that range from $28,460 to $32,180. The District of Columbia and Alaska are the two highest-paying states for medical assistants, offering average annual wages of $37,790 and $36,400 respectively. Three of the top five highest-paying metropolitan areas in the United States for these workers are located in California; Vallejo-Fairfield is the highest overall at $43,010, followed by Salinas and the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City area at $40,970 and $38,580 respectively.
Medical office assistants handle a variety of tasks and duties. Clerical responsibilities involve keeping track of patients' medical records, dealing with insurance forms and handling billing statements and bookkeeping records. More medical duties may involve sterilizing medical equipment and performing the more basic lab tests. Medical assistants may also specialize in specific areas, such as ophthalmology, optometry or podiatry.