Pros and Cons of a Medical Assistant Career

Are you thinking about becoming a medical assistant? It’s hands-on work assisting doctors and patients.[1] Helping people can be one of the benefits of being a medical assistant. Medical assisting is also one of the fastest growing fields.[2] Plus, U.S. News & World Report ranked it the 18th Best Health Care Support Job.[3]

But is medial assisting right for you? Weighing the pros and cons can help with this important decision.

What is a Medical Assistant?

medical assistant is an allied health professional that plays a supportive role to the physicians and front office staff in medical practices.[4]

Is Being a Medical Assistant a Good Job?

One person’s idea of the perfect job might not seem so great to someone else. Choosing a career can be a matter of personal preference. But, people usually consider important factors like job duties, work schedules, pay, and career advancement opportunities when deciding on whether or not to pursue a particular career.[5]

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Medical Assistant Job Duties Pros and Cons

  • Active Work: Researchers have linked sedentary working environments to chronic illnesses, including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Sitting all day is a big part of the problem.[8] Fortunately for many medical assistants their work usually has them on their feet for most of the day.[9]
  • Stimulating Work: With their busy schedules and variety of responsibilities, medical assistants are unlikely to have many boring days at work.
  • Helping People: Having a hand in helping patients recover from illnesses can be rewarding for medical assistants.
  • Stressful Schedule: U.S. News and World Report ranked the stress level of a medical assistant job as average. Some people could find the fast-paced schedule and multi-tasking fun and challenging but others might be overwhelmed.[10]
  • Limited job responsibilities: Compared to other medical occupations, like nurses or physicians, medical assistants have somewhat limited job responsibilities. Patient treatment, clinical procedures, and health assessment are mostly restricted to physicians, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners. If you want a career where you perform any of these duties, you may consider obtaining further training, for example, as a nurse or physician assistant.

Medical Assistant Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the job prospects for medical assistants in the coming years to be strong. The agency predicts employment will grow by 29 percent through 2026. This is much faster than the national average of 7 percent for all occupations.

But, keep in mind that job opportunities may be better for those with medical assistant certification and an understanding of electronic health records (EHRs).[11] Also, employers tend to hire people with medical assistant training and certification over applicants who have only a high school diploma or GED.[12]

Medical Assistant Salary

The median annual wage for medical assistants was $32,480 in May 2017, according to BLS.[13] Experience, training, certification, job duties, location, and industry are all factors that can affect a medical assistants’ salary.[14]

It’s possible to make more as a medical assistant with training and certification. Moving to a top paying city, state, or industry is also an option.[15]

Medical Assistant Training

Allied health training doesn’t typically take as long as medical training. For example, a medical assistant program can be completed in anywhere from nine months to two years.[16] However, it can take two to four years of study to become a registered nurse and up to 15 to become a doctor.[17][18]

If you’re interested in medical assisting training that takes less than a year, a vocational school like MTI could be a great option for you. MTI even offers medical assistant classes during the daytime and evening.[19]


  • Faster Training: If you don’t want to spend years in college, medical assistant training can offer quick entry into a growing field.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Helpful for working students or parents.
  • Practical Training: Some people are better hands-on learners.


  • Undecided on a Career: If you’re unsure what you want to do, you might want to explore your career options first before starting a post-secondary education program.

Why Become a Medical Assistant?

If you enjoy helping people and would like to work in a growing field with room for career advancement, then medical assisting may be right for you. Nine-months of medical assistant training can be a starting point to a career in this allied health profession.


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