A career as a CMA commonly comes with an important monetary reward. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2021, the demand for certified medical assistants is projected to grow 19% nationwide between 2019 and 2029, for a total of 139,200 new positions in the country.
Medical assistants earn an average annual salary of $36,930 per year ($17.75 hourly). Graduates starting their first job straight out of school will need to gain experience as a medical assistant to grow beyond an entry-level wage and approach the national average.
With this, embarking on a career as a certified medical assistant (CMA) is, without a doubt, a rewarding decision.
In this article, we’ll explain in detail how much a clinical medical assistant earns, factors that affect a CMAs salary, and other things you need to know.
Who Is A Clinical Medical Assistant?
A clinical medical assistant is one whose job description is to support patient care, assist physicians in performing medical examinations, and take specimens for a laboratory diagnosis.
Medical assisting is a high in-demand health care career due to the knowledge and skills that medical assistants possess. They provide hands-on patient care, assist doctors with medical treatment and procedures and help to ensure the office runs efficiently.
There are two common types of medical assisting careers available: clinical and administrative. Administrative medical assistants often work in the office performing clerical duties and assisting with the general operations of the practice.
How Much Is A Certified Medical Assistant Salary?
A clinical medical assistant’s average salary ranges from $32,480 to $35,000 per year. Still, within the medical circles, they are not the highest-paid medical personnel.
The Clinical medical assistant salary depends on some factors. The first of such determining factors is the level of experience and qualification. That is, the more work you put in, the more experience you gather and the higher you climb the professional ladder.
Another determining factor is the state where these assistants practice. For instance, Alaska remains the only state to pay its medical assistants $46,610 while Alabama and West Virginia both pay $29,950 and $29,820 respectively.
According to a report from the BLS (2021), certified medical assistants earn, on average, quite a bit less than all other occupations nationwide. The BLS asserts that the mean annual salary for CMAs is $36,930, while the average salary of all U.S. occupations is $56,310. These CMA statistics are broken down further into percentiles, as follows:
- 10th percentile – $26,930 or $12.95 per hour
- 25th percentile – $30,360 or $14.59 per hour
- 50th percentile (median) – $35,850 or $17.23 per hour
- 75th percentile – $41,280 or $19.85 per hour
- 90th percentile – $50,580 or $24.32 per hour
Those interested in a position in this field should also note that there are variations in average salaries as reported by different sources. For example, PayScale (2021) paints a different picture of salary expectations by presenting data claiming that the median pay for certified medical assistants is $15.62 per hour, as opposed to the $17.23 stated by the BLS.
According to PayScale, CMA salaries are broken down by percentile in the following manner:
- 10th percentile – approximately $25,000 per year
- 50th percentile – approximately $35,000 per year
- 90th percentile – approximately $49,000 per year
How To Increase Your Salary As A CMA?
There are basically two ways to increase your salary as a certified medical assistant:
1. Get Certified
Though some employers will offer on-the-job training to those with a high school degree, candidates who are interested in earning a higher salary will not only pursue one of the many high-quality training programs available but will select one that offers professional certification.
Not only will certification validate your professionalism and expertise, but it will also make you a more desirable applicant for a job and is likely to result in a higher salary.
3. Higher earnings come with experience
The longer you work within the profession, the more you will be valued and the higher your salary is likely to rise.
Medical Assistants with ten or more years of experience are generally paid as much as 20% more than those who are new to the field and are also eligible for higher-paying management positions as they arise.
What Are The Duties Of A Clinical Medical Assistant?
A clinical medical assistant may be a specialist in cardiology, oncology, podiatry, ophthalmology, obstetrics/gynecology, and many more. In all these divisions of medical science, they must learn how to do the following:
- Conduct tests on the patient on the available treatment options
- Note patient medical history and biodata
- Assist with the day to day tasks of patient management
- Update patients’ medical records, sterilize medical equipment
- Schedule doctor-patient appointments, check vitals, read charts
- Liaise with insurance companies and execute other tasks incidental to patient management.
Equally, they can work in healthcare establishments and medical clinics. And these professionals receive good payments. A certified medical assistant salary is, however, determined by a host of factors.
You may want to see How Much Do Medical Assistants Get Paid An Hour?
What Is The Career Prospect Of A Clinical Medical Assistant?
Being predictable as an indispensable part of medical practice, there is a high demand for more clinical medical assistants in various health centers. As a result, it is projected that this industry will grow by 18% to 29% from 2020 to 2030, according to BLS.
These statistics are in comparison to other medical jobs and closer fields. Subsequently, the development of clinical medical assistants has come to include both administrative and clinical tasks. And this invariably demands both soft interpersonal skills and technical skills/certifications of a professional CMA.
Skills Of A Clinical Medical Assistant
No matter where CMAs work, they likely will use the following core skills. All of them are transferable, so if you decide to pursue other careers in healthcare in the future, here are the following skills you need to possess:
1. Administrative skills and interpersonal skills
Administrative skills, such as answering phones and emails, scheduling appointments, and bookkeeping, maybe a large part of your role as a medical assistant, depending on where you work.
You should be able to communicate with patients, doctors, and other healthcare providers through the phone, email, and even text messaging, and you should be able to keep track of the outcomes of each contact.
Depending on where you work, administrative skills—like answering phones and email, scheduling appointments, and bookkeeping—could be a big part of your role as a medical assistant.
You should be comfortable talking with patients, doctors, and other healthcare providers over the phone, email, and even text messages and be able to record the outcome of each conversation in an organized fashion.
2. Analytical Skills
The clinical medical assistant must be able to read charts and understand diagnoses. This is to assist them to formulate accurate medical reports and be able to document the same. It will also enable them to detect discrepancies and errors in diagnosis and laboratory reports.
3. Attention to detail
This skill helps the medical assistant to be able to pick out relevant information and make accurate deductions and entries based on data received.
4. Communication skills
As a medical assistant, you should be able to communicate verbally or in written form with specific instructions. The medical assistant should also be able to educate patients as to what their illness and treatment procedures entail. They should be able to pass across information with respect and empathy.
Your ability to create solutions in challenging situations and apply structure where necessary will make you stand out as a certified medical assistant.
See how Problem Solving Skills can help you in your career with clear Examples
6. Medical skills
Medical skills are learned in certification programs. And this set of skills aims to enable the assistant to start to function and work effectively with the physician and nurses. These skills include:
- Administering Injections and medications according to Physician instructions
- Filing Patients reports
- Applying Dressings
- Prescription Refills
- Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Patient resuscitation
- Interpretation and conveying lab results and diagnoses
- Scheduling appointments
- Coding amongst others
7. Technical Skills
The medical assistant must be trained in the use and maintenance of medical equipment and other beneficial instruments.
Can A CMA Work From Home?
As a medical assistant, you can work from home. There’s never been a better time for medical assistants to work from home. The recent Covid pandemic increased attention on the benefits of virtual medical services. Remote medical assistant employment, on the other hand, usually necessitates some office experience.
For example, many businesses need candidates to complete at least six months of supervised in-office experience as a medical assistant before they can work from home. One or more years of experience in healthcare or a similar profession is required in some circumstances, although 3 to 5 years is ideal).
Rather than meeting with doctors, nurses, patients, and insurance reimbursement departments in person, a medical assistant who works from home complete all of these activities via phone conversations, emails, and internal messaging systems.
To become a medical assistant, you need to be familiar with their interview questions in order to stand a chance. Take a look at 15 Common Interview Questions For Medical Assistant Role
What Challenges Do Clinical Medical Assistants Face?
The challenges clinical medical assistants encounter are typically work-related. This is to say, patient management is a herculean task and it requires a lot of attention, tact, empathy, and proactiveness to be useful. Since most clinical medical assistants have quality training in motivational techniques, it makes it quite easy to be able to handle tough situations and tougher patients. It is this extra time that most physicians and nurses lack.
Firstly, they have to reassure patients about the success rate of prescribed treatments, allay their fears about uncertain future outcomes, encourage them on their step to recovery and sit with them when they need a listening ear.
Medical assistants also need to do the following:
- Remind these patients about their prescriptions and doctors’ instructions
- Advise them on the proper lifestyle choices they have to make
- Suggest safe recreational activities to keep them engaged
- Help turn them around
- Prepare them for any major invasive procedure.
In addition to the above, the medical assistant must be skillful at multitasking and switching between roles. These and many more complex yet intricate abilities should a clinical medical assistant possess.
As daunting as this may sound, most assistants try to put in their best whenever the need arises. Thus, their reward comes with fulfillment. In essence, you can give them a break whenever you meet one.
Frequently Asked Questions On Certified Medical Assistant
How easy it is to become a clinical medical assistant?
The clinical medical assistant faces a daunting task every day. From fixing the patient up to handling tough patients and their families to, reading charts and taking patients’ vitals, to being upbeat in all of these, one must think that it’s all fun until you get into it. Needless to say, they are invaluable to medical practice. That is, they are involved in helping out the medical professionals in most healthcare establishments, to sort through the haze of patient management. They equally do all other sundry tasks associated with it.
What are the determinants of the clinical medical assistant salary?
Because of the high value and resourcefulness of CMAs, there has been a spike in the growth of the industry. As a result, there are more demands for skillful hands. A CMA’s salary is largely dependent on experience, certifications, and the state of practice.
Which states pay clinical medical assistants higher?
Alaska remains the highest paying state while Alabama and West Virginia respectively remain the lowest-paying states.
What are the top skills a clinical medical assistant need to perform their task?
To perform at their peak, CMAs need interpersonal, communication, and technical skills to remain efficient and effective. They also require medical skills connected to their area of expertise.
When looking for work as a CMA, it’s crucial to have realistic compensation expectations, and this article is aimed to help you with that. However, there are a number of additional aspects to consider, like the preferred location, required hours, and career opportunities, among others. Keeping all of this information in mind might help you make the best decision possible when choosing between available employment.