In this article, you’re going to discover just how much in salary a medical assistant can truly earn while living in Illinois. Not only will we discuss salary figures, but we’ll also show you how well that annual pay compares to what medical assistants are making across the country.
Later, we’ll delve into whether your medical assistant salary is worth the cost of school tuition and the prospect of student loans, and we’ll also discuss how medical assistant employment and its salary number compare to what nurses make, and whether anything you learn while being a medical assistant can even remotely transfer over to if and when you become a nurse.
Making Money as a Medical Assistant in Illinois
Below, you’ll find a list of cities in Illinois and an estimated salary figure for how much medical assistants make in each location. Do note that the following information are estimates only, and are in no way indicative of how much or how little money you will make if you become a medical assistant. This information, found on salary.com, is always subject to change and is in no way guaranteed to be accurate:
- Chicago, IL: $34,570
- Aurora, IL: $31,493
- Rockford, IL: $32,943
- Joliet, IL: $30,100
- Naperville, IL: $31,004
- Springfield, IL: $29,600
- Peoria, IL: $30,014
- Elgin, IL: $31,497
- Waukegan, IL: $31,119
- Cicero, IL: $34,570
- Champaign, IL: $28,765
- Bloomington, IL: $28,887
- Arlington Heights, IL: $34,570
- Evanston, IL: $34,570
- Decatur, IL: $28,854
- Schaumburg, IL: $34,570
- Bolingbrook, IL: $31,010
- Palatine, IL: $31,000
- Skokie, IL: $34,570
- Des Plaines, IL: $34,570
- Orland Park, IL: $34,000
- Tinley Park, IL: $34,500
- Oak Lawn, IL: $34,000
- Berwyn, IL: $34,000
In addition to the numbers presented above, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gives us an even deeper story. In fact, the BLS presents a list of the top metro areas that possess the highest level of employment of medical assistants, and according to this list, the Chicago-Joilet-Naperville, Illinois area is ranked fourth on this listed with an estimated 12,500 employed medical assistants.
The annual mean wage of these MA’s is $31,970, or $15.37 per hour.
Will My Salary End Up Justifying My Student Loan Debt?
Anyone that goes to school, and certainly medical assistant school, wants to ultimate know the answer to one pivotal question: Will the annual salary that I earn as a medical assistant working in Illinois justify the expense of paying for school (tuition, books, etc)?
Well, let’s examine this question. Nationwide, medical assistants make about $31,000 per year on average. In Illinois, we’ve shown you a handful of cities that seem to pay their MA’s anywhere from $30,000 to $34,000 per year.
We’ve even shown a specific metropolitan area in the state that has over 12,000 medical assistants working, and the annual salary is estimated to be just over $31,000.
Now, medical assistant school cost varies greatly, but it’s not unfair to suggest that it could cost you about $10,000. If it cost you around $10,000 to go to school, and you end up graduating and needing to pay back some of that money, you’re certainly not going to be able to get a job as a medical assistant and easily pay back that loan. It will take some time, especially on an annual salary of $31,000.
With that said, there are a lot of working medical assistants throughout Illinois and the country, so they are certainly finding ways to make ends meet financially. But, it’s important to know that this certainly won’t be an easy thing for you to do, and will likely require a lot of budgeting of your money.
Is Becoming a Nurse a Smarter Option?
Yes, it certainly can be, but the question is at what cost? First, let’s start with the good news. A nurse, be it a LPN, LVN, or RN, makes quite a bit more money than a medical assistant. In fact, according to the BLS, a LPN or LVN can expect to make $41,000 per year on average. An RN, by contrast, can expect to make $65,000 per year on average.
As you can see, these numbers are quite drastic when compared to the $31,000 medical assistants can expect to earn.
But here is the one key advantage to choosing the medical assistant path: you can become an MA quicker and potentially begin earning money faster than taking the nursing route.
For example, a medical assistant can go to school for about one year, graduate, and begin applying for a job. A Licensed Pratical Nurse can go to school for roughly the same amount of time, but upon graduation, must pass a licensing examination before their allowed to practice in their field.
And, if you pursue the prospect of becoming an RN, you’re going to have to stay in school anywhere from two to four years on average. And since all nurses are required to be licensed to practice, you’re going to have to pass the NCLEX examination before you apply for any jobs.
So while it may seem like an easy choice to become a nurse rather than a medical assistant, you have to be willing to potentially sacrifice the ability to earn money faster if you do indeed decide to forgo being a medical assistant in favor or nursing.
But, if you’d prefer the medical assistant path, you can always work as an MA and then, after a couple years of gaining experience and better learning what you want to do, go back to school (for example, you could enter a BSN or ADN program) to begin your transition towards becoming a nurse. Fortunately, you’re not stuck if you choose to go down one path and then want to switch later. There’s always room for you to be flexible, so long as you’re willing to put in the work and spend the money on school.
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