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Medical Assistants Description
Medical Assistants


Medical assistants is a non-licensed allied health occupation who perform administrative and/or clinical tasks to support the work of physicians and other health professionals. They perform routine tasks and procedures such as measuring patients' vital signs, administering medications and injections, recording information in medical records-keeping systems, preparing and handling medical instruments and supplies, and collecting and preparing specimens of bodily fluids and tissues for laboratory testing.

The term "medical assistant" may have legal status in all nations where they can be certified or registered, whereas elsewhere they may be a loosely defined group (covering related occupational titles such as 'medical office assistant', 'clinical assistant', 'assistant medical officer', or 'ophthalmic assistant'). The occupation should not be confused with physician assistants, who are licensed Physician Extenders trained to practice medicine and surgical procedures under the supervision of a physician.

Medical Assistants - SUMMARY

Quick Facts: Medical Assistants
2012 Median Pay $29,370 per year
$14.12 per hour
Entry-Level Education Postsecondary non-degree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 560,800
Job Outlook, 2012-22 29% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 162,900
Medical assistants usually complete many different kinds of tasks such as measuring a patient’s blood pressure or taking a patient’s temperature
Medical assistants usually complete many different kinds of tasks such as measuring a patient's blood pressure or taking a patient's temperature.

What Medical Assistants Do

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Work Environment

Medical assistants held about 560,800 jobs in 2012. Most of these assistants work in physicians' offices and other healthcare facilities.

How to Become a Medical Assistant

Most medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate. Others enter the occupation with a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training.


The median annual wage for medical assistants was $29,370 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. The growth of the aging baby-boom population will continue to spur 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.

Last Modification: 01-26-2014