Medical Assistant Careers

Medical assistants perform many administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians of all specialties. These include taking patient medical histories and recording vital signs and assisting physicians during examinations, along with preparing patients for examinations, procedures and treatments. Medical assistants also may collect and process specimens, and purchase and maintain medical supplies and equipment. Specialized medical assistants may have expanded duties, providing support for ophthalmologists or podiatrists, for example.

Employment Opportunities

Medical Assistants may work in a variety of environments, including:

  • Optometry and ophthalmology
  • Family and pediatric medical practices
  • Chiropractic


Medical Assistant need a wide range of capabilities, including:

  • Enjoy helping people
  • Strong interest in health and medicine
  • Able to handle a variety of different tasks
  • Adapt communications to patient’s level of understanding
  • Respond effectively to verbal, nonverbal, and written communications

Industry Spotlight

Medical assistants held about 417,000 jobs in 2006. About 62 percent worked in offices of physicians; 12 percent worked in public and private hospitals, including inpatient and outpatient facilities; and 11 percent worked in offices of other health practitioners, such as chiropractors, optometrists, and podiatrists. Most of the remainder worked in other health care industries such as outpatient care centers and nursing and residential care facilities.

- Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008