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Medical Assistant

What they do:

Medical assistants are likely the first and last faces you'll see during any medical appointment, either in your doctor's office or at a larger medical organization. The job is a mix of traditional office work, including manning the front desk, answering phones and filing insurance forms, as well as hands-on tasks, such as drawing blood and preparing it for lab tests, administering injections and making sure medical histories are accurately recorded. More specialized roles include assisting ophthalmologists or optometrists with basic vision tests and helping patients learn to insert, remove and care for contact lenses.


No formal training is required to become a medical assistant, and workers can enter the field and learn on the job with just a high school diploma. There are a variety of one-year certification programs or two-year associate degrees offered that teach students laboratory techniques, clinical procedures, medical terminology, record keeping and some specializations, such as podiatry or optometry.

What they make:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for medical assistants was $30,590 in May 2015.

Where they work:

  • Physicians’ offices

  • Hospitals

  • Scientific research and development services

  • Personal care services


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The growth of the aging baby-boom population will continue to increase demand for preventive medical services, which are often provided by physicians. As their practices expand, physicians will hire more assistants to perform routine administrative and clinical duties, allowing the physicians to see more patients.



Updated February 2017