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Medical Assistant Programs and Jobs in California

Those who wish to become a medical assistant (MA) in California should have at least a high school diploma or GED. It is possible to work as an MA without certification in this state, but you must be able to satisfactorily demonstrate that you meet the Medical Board of California’s training criteria.

Some employers or their malpractice insurance carriers prefer MAs to become certified by a state or nationally-approved certifying agency. If you enrolled in an accredited medical assisting program, you are eligible to take most certification exams upon earning the diploma, certificate, or associate’s degree. If you received training while on the job, the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants requires you to be fully employed for at least two of the last five years.

The tasks performed by MAs vary based on certification and place of employment. As long as the procedures are non-invasive, and they are completed under the express orders and supervision of the licensed physician or nurse practitioner, most MAs in California may:

  • Draw blood
  • Screen vision and hearing
  • Administer intramuscular (in the muscles), subcutaneous (under the skin), or intradermal (between layers of the skin) injections
  • Administer flu shots and vaccinations
  • Take blood pressure, height and weight measurements

There are several procedures MAs are prohibited from performing:

  • Starting and disconnecting the infusion tube of an IV
  • Administering medications into the IV
  • Charting pupillary responses
  • Inserting a catheter
  • Performing telephone triage without supervision
  • Injecting collagen
  • Using lasers for hair, wrinkle, scar, etc. removal
  • Administering chemotherapy

Individual employers may train MAs on additional responsibilities as needed.

Salary and Employment Data for Major Cities Across California

LocationTotal MAs EmployedMean Hourly WageAnnual Mean Wage
Source: Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metropolitan Division23,650$15.48$32,210
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine Metropolitan Division7,700$16.71$34,770
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos7,070$16.82$34,980
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario6,950$13.28$27,610
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward Metropolitan Division5,680$19.67$40,910
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City Metropolitan Division4,290$21.00$43,680
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara3,440$18.67$38,830
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura2,430$15.26$31,740
Santa Rosa-Petaluma930$19.53$40,630
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta900$16.90$35,160
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles610$15.66$32,580
Santa Cruz-Watsonville530$19.11$39,750
Yuba City300$15.48$32,210
El Centro230$12.79$26,610

Resources for Medical Assistants in California

  • California Medical Assistants Association: The CMAA advocates for the continued education and certification of medical assistants in the state of California. It does not require certification for membership, and provides information and resources for those interested in certification or recertification.
  • Medical Board of California – Medical Assistants: The Medical Board of California provides resources for individuals seeking employment and certification as a MA. An in-depth FAQ details what a medical assistant can and cannot do.

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