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Medical assistants are the only healthcare professionals trained specifically for the physician's office and clinic. Under the supervision of a physician, medical assistants perform routine clinical procedures, such as:

  • Basic medical lab work
  • EKGs
  • Cast removal
  • Assisting at minor outpatient surgeries

Medical assistants are also trained for a wide variety of tasks requiring front office, administrative, and customer service skills in an outpatient setting, such as reception and insurance billing and coding. Some medical assistants are hired to do only front office tasks, some positions are primarily clinical in nature, and some positions require both sets of skills.

Most medical assistants work in a physician's office or in an office of other health practitioners such as chiropractors and optometrists.

Qualified medical assistants are in high demand, both locally and statewide.

Medical assistant
 Average hourly wage1
 Annual employment growth rate
 (2017-27, estimated)

 Northwest Washington*
 $19.94/hour  2.5%
 Washington State*
 $20.32/hour  2.7%
 National**  $16.16/hour  2.9%

1Starting wages are generally lower than average wages.

Sources: *WA State Employment Security Department, August 2019; **Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018.


Local and regional employers of recent program graduates include:

  • Access Living Inc.
  • Bellingham Ear Nose & Throat
  • Bellingham Urgent Care
  • Family Care Network
  • PeaceHealth Medical Group
  • Pioneer Human Services
  • Retina Specialists Northwest
  • SeaMar
  • Sumas Medical Clinic
  • Swedish Medical Group
  • Unity Care NW


Upon graduating from Whatcom's medical assisting degree or certificate program students are eligible to take the National Board exam to become Certified Medical Assistants. The medical assisting program at Whatcom Community College has a CMA (AAMA) exam pass rate of 92.68% over the past five (5) years.

Additionally, the medical assisting degree and certificate programs align with new Washington State laws for medical assisting credentials and scope of practice.

Career advancement

Medical assistants have two possible routes for advancement. With further training and coursework, medical assistants can advance to other medical positions. For example, they can become nurses or physician assistants. Experienced medical assistants can also advance to other clerical positions. They can become health records technicians, secretaries, or bookkeepers. They may need additional training to advance to these jobs. (

Career advisors in Entry & Advising, as well as medical assisting faculty, are available to help you explore your long-term career options.