In this article, you’re going to learn about how much money you can make as a working medical assistant in Florida. We’ll show you estimated salary numbers for dozens of FL cities, and then we’ll compare how well Florida pays its medical assistants as compared to the rest of the country.
Finally, we’ll discuss whether going to medical assistant school and the cost of its tuition will be worth it in terms of how much you can make in annual salary once hired, and whether it’s better to consider nursing school in order to receive a higher annual salary come graduation.
How Much Does a Medical Assistant Make?
Using salary.com and Indeed.com’s salary search page as a guide, we’ve collected estimated salary numbers for medical assistants all throughout Florida. Please note that these numbers are only estimates, and are in no way 100% accurate. Salary is based on a variety of different factors, and these numbers are certainly subject to change as time goes by:
- Jacksonville, FL: $30,721
- Miami, FL: $34,291
- Tampa, FL: $31,339
- Orlando, FL: $31,355
- St. Petersburg, FL: $31,000
- Hialeah, FL: $31,372
- Tallahassee, FL: $29,817
- Fort Lauderdale, FL: $31,000
- Port St. Lucie, FL: $30,021
- Cape Coral, FL: $26,000
- Kenansville: $29,768
- Pembroke Pines, FL: $22,000
- Sunshine Parkway, FL: Not Available
- Hollywood, FL: $22,000
- Miramar, FL: $22,000
- Gainesville, FL: $21,000
- Coral Springs, FL: $24,000
- Southwest Orange, FL: $23,000
- Citrus Park-Fern Lake, FL: $21,000
- Northwest Dade, FL: Not Available
- North Westside, FL: Not Available
- Clearwater, FL: $20,000
- Palm Bay, FL: $26,000
- Brandon, FL: $20,000
- Pompano Beach, FL: $24,000
- West Palm Beach, FL: $23,000
- Lakeland, FL: $22,000
- South Westside, FL: Not Available
- Spring Hill, FL: $21,000
- Davie, FL: $22,000
- Miami Beach, FL: $22,000
- Sunrise, FL: $23,000
- Plantation, FL: $22,000
- Boca Raton, FL: $24,000
- Lehigh Acres, FL: $26,000
- Deltona, FL: $21,000
- Royal Palm Beach-West Jupiter, FL: $23,000
- Town ‘n’ Country, FL: $20,000
- Alafaya Largo, FL : $20,000
- Deerfield Beach, FL: $24,000
- Palm Coast, FL: $19,000
- Melbourne, FL: $26,000
- Kendall, FL: $21,000
Also, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state of Florida is listed in the top five of state with the highest concentration of medical assistant jobs. Ranking just under California and Texas, Florida (as of May 2014) employs approximately 40,770 medical assistants all throughout the state.
The average salary across the state (annual mean wage) is $29,400. Based on that figure, the average pay per hour for medical assistants in Florida is $14.13.
The BLS also ranks the top metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of medical assisting jobs and location quotients, and again, Florida cracks the list.
Both Punta Gorda, Florida and the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area make this list. In fact, Punta Gorda employs approximately 410 MA’s, while Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville employs about 1,800.
The city of Punta Gorda pays its medical assistants approximately $27,310, or $13.13 per hour. The metro area of Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville (Brevard County) pays its medical assistants approximately $27,470 or $13.20 per hour. This is a little better than Punta Gorda and just a bit less than the state average ($29,400).
Comparatively speaking, the national annual mean wage or salary for medical assistants is $31,220. So while Florida does technically pay its medical assistants a bit below the national average, it’s always important to remember that salary can often be directly tied to region and a given location’s cost of living. And because the cost of living is cheaper in Florida than other areas around the country, the salary one can earn is expectedly a little lower, as well.
Is the Salary I Can Earn in Florida Worth the Cost of School?
If you’re trying to determine whether or not what you will earn annually will, in your mind, justify the cost of your school’s tuition cost, that’s only something you can answer. Each school charges student’s differently for a medical assistant education, and each student may graduate with different levels of responsibility, debt, or other financial concerns.
With that said, there’s no question that earning a little over $29,000 isn’t a large annual salary to begin your job or career. And because going to medical assisting school can cost you anywhere from a few thousand dollars to more than $12,000, it’s never been more important for you to do your best to determine if you’re going to be able to support yourself once you get a job.
At the end of the day, you’ll need to figure out how much in student loans you may have to repay in order to better get a handle of how difficult living off of, for example, $28,000 per year will be.
With that said, do note too that there are a lot of medical assistants working in Florida (the third most in the country), which means that you might not only have the best opportunity to find a job in Florida, but that there are other people working in this career field and making ends meet.
Medical Assistant vs Nurse: Which is Better for Salary?
Well, there’s no question that working as a nurse is a better solution to your financial concerns. But it’s certainly more complicated than just saying “I’ll choose nursing over medical assisting.” And here’s why.
Yes, a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse earns more money per year on average than a Medical Assistant. A RN, for example, can earn $65,000 on average per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A LPN or LVN does well for themselves too, earning about $41,000 on average per year.
By contrast, a medical assistant (as discussed already today) earns about $31,000 on average per year. So, yes, the numbers don’t lie. But, they can also be a little misleading.
While a medical assistant may not earn as much money as a nurse, he or she also doesn’t have as many requirements they must meet in order to get hired in the first place.
A nurse, for example, may need to go to school for two to four years (like a Registered Nurse). And although an LPN or LVN can go to school for close to the same number of years as a medical assistant, all nurses must be licensed (meaning, they must pass the NCLEX examination before they can practice in whatever state they reside).
And although its encouraged that medical assistants become certified, there’s no sweeping requirement across the country that they do so. That means that you can go to school, graduate from a medical assisting program within a year or so, earn a certificate or diploma, and then begin sending out your resume to employers.
So, yes, while you might not earn quite as much money working as a medical assistant, you will be able to hit the job market earlier. And while being able to hit the job market sooner doesn’t guarantee you a job, depending on your financial situation, it at least affords you the opportunity to attempt to find a job instead of having to either work on passing a licensing exam, or remaining in school another year or two (or three) to become a Registered Nurse.
Lastly, it’s important to point out that for some people, they become medical assistants and then after a couple years on the job, they decide they’d like to go back to school to become a nurse. So, don’t ever feel like you have to get your decision right immediately. If you want to become a medical assistant today, but want to leave open the possibility of becoming a nurse in the future, you can certainly do that.
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