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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 medical assistant certification in California, 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. Also, MAs must have medical assistant certification in California in order to train other medical assistants.

If you are enrolled in an accredited medical assisting program, you are eligible to take most certification exams upon earning the diploma, certificate, or associate 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. To learn more about medical assistant certification in California and medical assistant California salary data, continue reading below.

Salary and Employment Data for Major Cities Across California

What Does a Medical Assistant Make in California?
LocationTotal MAs EmployedMean Hourly WageAnnual Mean Wage
Source: Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2016
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metropolitan Division21,400$17.46$36,310
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine Metropolitan Division7,710$16.53$34,380
San Diego-Carlsbad7,270$17.88$37,190
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario7,400$15.06$31,330
Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley Metropolitan Division5,490$20.12$41,840
San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco Metropolitan Division3,650$21.70$45,130
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara4,580$21.65$35,020
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura2,260$17.57$36,550
Santa Rosa1,250$20.61$42,880
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria870$17.77$36,960
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande650$16.87$35,090
Santa Cruz-Watsonville540$19.94$41,480
Yuba City290$16.48$34,280
El Centro430$14.51$30,180

Scholarships in California

Scholarships for medical assistant students in the state of California
ScholarshipAward AmountDue DateAdditional Information
Allied Healthcare ScholarshipUp to $8,000TBDApplicant must be accepted or enrolled in an allied health program, including medical assisting, and willing to work in a medically underserved community for 12 months. Student must be enrolled in six or more credits and have a 2.0 GPA, among other eligibility requirements.
Alice Newell Joslyn Medical Scholarship$500-$2,000March 2, 2018Applicants must be entering medical/healthcare profession, which includes medical assistants, or seeking a degree in the health field. Applicant must live in the San Diego County.
California Community Service-Learning Program$5,000TBDScholarship provides students with the opportunity to take part in 200 hours of self-directed community service, helping to enhance their resume and skills. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited medical school in California and identify as being part of a minority group, among other eligibility requirements.

Resources for Medical Assistants in California


Visit the sites below for more detailed information on medical assistant certification 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 medical assistant California 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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