CMA Salary - How Much Do Certified Medical Assistants Make?

Many within the healthcare industry would agree that a career as a certified medical assistant (CMA) can be a truly rewarding endeavor. These skilled professionals are responsible for assisting physicians and other healthcare personnel in clinical and administrative settings.

CMAs perform a number of tasks that are integral to the proper management and treatment of patients. Certified medical assistants may help prepare patients for examination rooms or administer certain medications. They may also be required to perform front-office work, including scheduling patient appointments and answering the phone.

Of course, certified medical assistants who have additional specializations will have different duties; for example, a CMA who works in the office of an obstetrician may assist with the monitoring and care of pregnant patients.

Along with significant personal reward, a career as a CMA also generally comes with significant monetary incentives, as well. Indeed, working in this capacity can be relatively lucrative, especially given the limited amount of time required to enter the workforce. And those within this field won’t likely have difficulty finding work in the future; specifically, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021), the demand for certified medical assistants is expected to grow 19 percent nationally between 2019 and 2029, for a total of 139,200 new positions nationwide.

An overview of average salaries earned by CMAs across the nation follows, broken down into various sections for employment seekers.

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Salary by Region

As with other professions, certified medical assistants who work in certain regions earn more than others; this depends on the housing supply and demand, positions available within the region, the cost of living overall, a person’s qualifications, and a number of other factors.

For example, those working in California earn, on average, a higher salary than those in Florida or Texas. Statistics provided by the BLS (May 2020) demonstrating regional differences in average salaries earned by CMAs are provided below:

  • California – $42,990 annual average or $20.67 per hour
  • Oregon – $41,700 or $20.05 per hour
  • New York – $39,850 or $19.16 per hour
  • Maine – $37,820 or $18.18 per hour
  • Arizona – $35,670 or $17.15 per hour
  • Florida – $34,800 or $16.73 per hour
  • Pennsylvania – $34,670 or $16.67 per hour
  • Texas – $33,700 or $16.20 per hour
  • New Mexico – $32,340 or $15.55 per hour

The statistics provided above show that there is a significant difference in salary depending on location nationwide.

That said, it’s impossible to say that CMAs in New York, for example, are necessarily more well-off than those in New Mexico, even if the former earn more than $7,000 per year more than the latter. Certified medical assistants in New York, especially those in an urban setting, face a much higher cost of living than those in New Mexico; this should be taken into consideration when deciding between employment opportunities in the future.

Currently, the top-paying states in this occupation with their annual mean salaries are:

  • Alaska – $46,610 annual average
  • Washington State – $45,700
  • District of Columbia – $45,340
  • Massachusetts – $43,090
  • Minnesota – $43,090

It is also important to note that the employment opportunities available to CMAs vary nationwide, as well. Below is a list of statistics provided by the BLS (May 2020) that show the number of employed CMAs within the associated states:

  • California – 95,690 medical assistants employed
  • Texas – 72,640
  • Florida – 56,010
  • Pennsylvania – 27,740
  • New York – 25,490
  • Arizona – 19,460
  • Oregon – 12,480
  • New Mexico – 7,230
  • Maine – 3,920

Finally, it is absolutely necessary to take into account regional differences, as well, and how they may account for variances in salary. For example, because the cost of living is generally higher in an urban area, it is likely that the salaries offered will be greater, although this is not an absolute rule.

Here are some average annual salaries for CMAs among large metropolitan regions in the U.S., ordered by employment level, highest to lowest:

  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Division – $40,020 annually on average, or $19.24 per hour
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metropolitan Division – $39,750 or $19.11 per hour
  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Division – $35,300 or $16.97 per hour
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX – $36,250 or $17.43 per hour
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL – $37,200 or $17.89 per hour
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI – $38,060 or $18.30 per hour
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA – $35,750 or $17.19 per hour
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ – $36,130 or $17.37 per hour
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD – $36,500 or $17.55 per hour
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA – $53,960 or $25.94 per hour

The above statistics show that it is possible to command a higher or lower salary by finding employment even a few hours away. Consider, for example, those certified medical assistants who work in Philadelphia versus those who work in Newark; on average, the latter earn over $1.50 more than the former, yet the distance between the two can be covered in less than an hour-and-a-half by car.

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Salary by Type of Office

Another factor that significantly affects the level of compensation that certified medical assistants can expect to receive involves the type of setting in which they work. CMAs have the option to work in a variety of different settings, from individual doctor’s offices to large hospitals, and each of these employment opportunities will come with a specific level of salary.

The following provides an overview of the average annual salaries earned by CMAs in settings with the highest number of CMAs employed:

  • Offices of Physicians – $36,580 annual average or $17.59 per hour
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals – $38,200 or $18.37 per hour
  • Outpatient Care Centers – $42,330 or $20.35 per hour
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners – $33,210 or $15.97 per hour
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly – $30,870 or $14.84 per hour

And there are additional industries that pay more than the rest. To help illustrate this fact, we have included additional statistics from the BLS below on the top-paying employers for CMAs:

  • Junior Colleges – $48,720 annual average or $23.42 per hour
  • Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance Related Activities – $43,910 or $21.11 per hour
  • Outpatient Care Centers – $42,330 or $20.35 per hour
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services – $41,490 or $19.95 per hour
  • Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers – $40,870 or $19.65 per hour

It is indisputable that these aforementioned industries pay, on average, well above many of the rest. However, the employment opportunities in these settings are significantly lower, meaning that the competition for available positions may be much greater in these industries, as a result.

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Salary Overall

According to information from the BLS (2021), certified medical assistants earn, on average, quite a bit less than all other occupations nationwide. The BLS claims 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

This variance in reporting is something to keep in mind when job hunting for CMA positions in the future.

In conclusion, it is important to have reasonable salary expectations when pursuing employment as a CMA, and this is meant to serve as a guide for your job search. However, a number of other factors should be taken into consideration as well, such as the desired setting, required hours, and possibility for advancement, among others. Keeping all of this information in mind can help ensure you are fully informed as you decide between available positions.

Cevia Yellin
Cevia Yellin Writer

Cevia Yellin is a freelance writer based in Eugene, Oregon. She studied English and French literature as an undergraduate. After serving two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer, she earned her master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Cevia's travels and experiences working with students of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds have contributed to her interest in the forces that shape identity. She grew up on the edge of Philadelphia, where her mom still lives in her childhood home.