Detailed Guide forMedical Assistants in San Diego County
May also be called: Certified Medical Assistants (CMA); Medical Office Assistants; Optometric Assistants; Clinical Assistants; Registered Medical Assistants; Certified Ophthalmic Technicians; Chiropractor Assistants; and Ophthalmic Assistants
What Would I Do?
Medical Assistants greet patients in medical offices or other medical settings where they help doctors with examinations and treatments. They run routine lab tests such as urinalysis and blood counts. They may take blood pressure readings and take temperatures. They may give injections or perform ‘finger sticks’ to draw small amounts of blood if they are properly trained. Assistants may instruct patients about medication and self-treatment. They prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations and sterilize and arrange instruments and equipment used in treatment and diagnosis. They check office and lab supplies and keep the waiting, consulting, and examination rooms neat and orderly.
Medical Assistants deal with patients from many cultures. To obtain information for the doctor, Medical Assistants need the ability to put patients at ease and get them to talk freely. This is especially important with patients who are reluctant to discuss their reason for seeing the doctor and those with limited English-speaking skills.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Interview patients to obtain medical information and measure their vital signs, weight, and height.||Active Listening|
|Show patients to examination rooms and prepare them for the physician.||Customer and Personal Service|
|Record patients' medical history, vital statistics and information such as test results in medical records.||Writing|
|Prepare and administer medications as directed by a physician.||Medicine and Dentistry|
|Collect blood, tissue or other laboratory specimens, log the specimens, and prepare them for testing.||Problem Sensitivity|
|Explain treatment procedures, medications, diets and physicians' instructions to patients.||Oral Expression|
|Help physicians examine and treat patients, handing them instruments and materials or performing such tasks as giving injections or removing sutures.||Service Orientation|
|Authorize drug refills and provide prescription information to pharmacies.||Clerical|
|Prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations, keeping the rooms neat and clean.||Information Ordering|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Active Listening||Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.|
|Customer and Personal Service||Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.|
|Writing||Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.|
|Medicine and Dentistry||Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Oral Expression||The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.|
|Service Orientation||Actively looking for ways to help people.|
|Clerical||Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.|
|Information Ordering||The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).|
Medical Assistants usually work in pleasant, well-lit, air-conditioned offices. They lift, stand, stoop, and walk to do their work. They constantly interact with other people and may have to handle several responsibilities at once. Uniforms are usually required and may be supplied by employers. Most full-time Medical Assistants work a regular 40-hour week. Some work part-time, evenings, or weekends. Many employers hire part-time Assistants.
Medical Assistants working for hospitals and nursing homes sometimes join the Health Care Workers division of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Will This Job Fit Me?
Medical Assistants frequently show social, conventional, and realistic traits. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communication with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Medical Assistants in California is $34,518 annually, or $16.60 hourly. The median wage for Medical Assistants in San Diego County is $35,956 annually, or $17.28 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Benefits normally include paid vacation, holiday, and sick leave. Many Assistants also enjoy employer-paid health and dental insurance, and retirement plans.
What Do Local Employers Say About Benefits? Of the 28 employers in San Diego County, almost all provide medical insurance, and most provide vacation benefits to Medical Assistants who work full-time.
|Percent of Employers Who Provide|
Specific Benefits by Time Base
|Paid Time Off Bank||29%||7%|
Of the 24 employers surveyed who responded in San Diego County, who provides medical benefits, almost all reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for full-time, and many reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for part-time Medical Assistants.
|Percent of Employers Who Paid Medical |
Insurance by Portion Paid by Time Base
|Portion Paid by Employer:||Full-Time||Part-Time|
|Half or more||43%||50%|
|Less than Half||4%||50%|
What is the Job Outlook?
Medical Assistants are one of the fastest growing occupations in California. Employment growth is expected because of the increase in the number of group practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities that need greater numbers of support personnel, particularly the flexible Medical Assistant who can handle both administrative and clinical duties. Because many health care employers prefer a trained staff, job prospects should be best for Medical Assistants with formal training or experience.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Medical Assistants is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Medical Assistants are expected to increase by 27.7 percent, or 22,400 jobs between 2014 and 2024.
In San Diego County, the number of Medical Assistants is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Medical Assistants are expected to increase by 19.7 percent, or 1,350 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|San Diego County|
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 2,230 new job openings per year is expected for Medical Assistants, plus an additional 1,690 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 3,920 job openings.
In San Diego County, an average of 135 new job openings per year is expected for Medical Assistants, plus an additional 131 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 266 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|San Diego County|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
A formal training program lasting one or two years is now the most common entry into the occupation. Many employers will hire an applicant directly from such a program. Experienced Medical Assistants have an advantage when seeking employment, but most employers do not require it.
Some employers will hire applicants with no experience or training, and train them on the job. This is less common than in previous years.
Experience is helpful, but not required, in order to find a job in this field. Many employers will hire an applicant directly from such a training program. Experienced Medical Assistants have an advantage when seeking employment, but inexperienced workers should still be able to find a job.
Early Career Planning
Science and math are two classes that might help prepare the high school student for a training program.
Medical Assistants are not licensed, certified, or registered by the State of California. However, the Medical Assistant's employer and/or supervising physician's or podiatrist's malpractice insurance carrier may require that the Medical Assistant be certified by a national or private association. A Medical Assistant must be certified by an approved certifying organization in order to train other Medical Assistants. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
Most Medical Assistants work in doctors offices. Others work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, schools, and other health care practitioners offices, including chiropractors, optometrists, and podiatrists. The largest industries employing Medical Assistants are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Offices of Physicians ||62.0%|
|Outpatient Care Centers ||12.3%|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ||10.3%|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners ||7.5%|
|Employment Services ||2.0%|
What Employers Say...
The Employment Development Department surveyed 28 employers in San Diego County which employ 259 Medical Assistants. Here's what they had to say:
About Full-Time/Part-Time: Almost All of these firms employ full-time and some employ part-time Medical Assistants.
About Work Experience: Of the 28 employers surveyed in San Diego County, almost all require new hires to have prior work experience as Medical Assistants. In the table below, percentages may not add to 100% since employers may select more than one time period.
|How Much Work Experience|
Do Employers Require?
|More than 5 years ||0%|
|25 to 60 months ||19%|
|13 to 24 months ||42%|
|1 to 12 months ||38%|
About Recruitment: Of the 28 employers surveyed in San Diego County, many indicate it is easy to find applicants with experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements, while many indicate it is easy to find applicants without previous experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements to fill vacancies for Medical Assistants.
About Hiring: Of the 28 employers surveyed in San Diego County, almost all expect the number of Medical Assistants they employ to remain stable during the coming year.
|Expect Employment to Increase ||14%|
|Expect Employment to Remain Stable ||82%|
|Expect Employment to Decline ||4%|
About Vacancies: Of the 28 employers surveyed in San Diego County, 39 percent hired Medical Assistants during the past year. Of the hiring firms, 100 percent filled existing vacancies, none filled newly created positions, and 18 percent filled temporary assignments.
Finding a Job
Direct contact with employers is a traditional means to finding a job as a Medical Assistant. College placement offices, company recruiting events, job fairs, and online job search sites are also good places to look. Career associations sometimes offer job openings on their Web sites. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Medical Assistants.
- Physicians & Surgeons
- Nursing Homes
- Health Clinics
- Chiropractic Doctors
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
With additional training a Medical Assistant can become a licensed vocational nurse or registered nurse.
Below is a list of occupations related to Medical Assistants with links to more information.
|Medical Records and Health Information Technicians||Guide|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||Profile|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||Profile|
|Physical Therapist Aides||Guide|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||Guide|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.