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Changing careers


Hi everyone, new here. I am debating going into a Medical Assisting program. I am now in the legal field as an administrative assistant, have been for a very long time but I have always been intrigued by the medical field.

I enjoy helping people, which I do get to do in my job now, however, it is all attorneys and just find the entire atmosphere unrewarding. When they get upset, I get really mad because come on, really, it is not life or death. I guess I have just been needing a change for a really long time and am now really burnt out by it. So, to get to the point, I have always thought about going to school to become a Medical Assistant.

I have also gone back and forth between Nursing, Surgical Tech and even Coding. Coding looks very boring and just "another desk job", so I cancelled that out. Nursing, I would love but honestly do not think I could handle all that goes with it. Surgical Tech looked interesting, but cannot see myself standing in an OR confined in all of that gear on my face. So, I go back to Medical Assisting. However, I have always known that they do not pay well. But is it worth it to get into something I would enjoy even though it doesn't pay well?

I make pretty good money doing what I am doing now so it would be hard to give up, but I am NOT happy at all. Currently I make almost $25 an hour, hard to give up!! But everything that goes with it is not worth it and very unrewarding. Any advice would be appreciated, or if anyone has gone through the same thing. I hope I did not babble too much :) Thanks!!

Edited by Joe V

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

I completed a MA program 12 years ago and was never able to find a job with my training. The pay ranges from $9 to $14 in most places, even the large metro areas with high COLs.

Once in a blue moon you will find a MA who earns $20+, but this is because they have been on the job for many years and/or work in an extremely high COL area such as San Francisco.

If you are thinking of nursing (or any field really, even the MA), the best thing you can do is shadow. Nurses work in a wide variety of areas, and the jobs can be very very different. Call up your local hosp HR and speak to them or a nurse recruiter and say that you are thinking about the field and you want to shadow in a variety of areas-many hosp allow this pretty easily. You could prob do surg tech shadowing too-their job is really diff from nurses-but you are right, you will be in an OR nearly all the time. they also do organ procurement, so you might get a job traveling and harvesting donated organs, etc.

good luck!

I will only throw in, it is better to be happy in your career. If you are as unhappy as it seems, your health and wellbeing will suffer in time. On the other side, I would really look into whatever field you may be interested in to make sure you don't fall into the trap again. The money issue is, you might not make as much, but if your happy it will make up for some of it, and you'll want to stay with it.

Thank you for your responses so far. I really just want to be happy and the legal field, although the pay is well, is not making me happy at all. I fully expect to not make alot of money if I do decide on MA. I feel like the only reason I thought about nursing was because of the pay, and that is not a reason to get into nursing. I would like to help people, but not as directly as nurses do. It may be a good idea for me to see if I could shadow in different positions just to make sure. The main reason I am hesitant about nursing is that I am afraid I will not be able to handle the nasty stuff (I know real mature :) ) and also in my area, NJ, you really need a BSN. I would like to be able to change careers with getting my Associate's. My CC has a Medical Asssitant Associate's that you can get. I am already taking pre-reqs, completed Eng Comp 1 and 2, Intro to Psychology, Medical Terminology and will be starting Intro to Sociology on the 25th. I am trying to take the pre-reqs that will go towards alot of different careers. Looking forward to more replies : ) Thanks again.

MAs, surgical techs, and coders dont make nearly what you make and personally I couldnt take that much of a pay cut for a job that may or may not make me happier. Nursing is the only career you mentioned in interest in that will allow you to make real money. The medical field is not all peaches and cream. Its can be extremely stressful, like most jobs are.

......But if you're in a position where taking a large pay cut isn't going to make a difference in your life, then try the MA. It only takes a few months and you may in fact really enjoy it. Also I can speak from experience here, dental assisting is pretty easy and fun, with lots of hands on patient care. I did a 9 month program at the jc then got my license through the state, and you can make pretty decent money. Where I live (socal) MAs make approx $9-13 an hour and RDAs make approx $14-$20 an hour.

I couldnt go from 25$ a hour to just making 10 bucks an hour. My friend is a MA but can't afford to move out of her parents house but loves her job.

Hi! know where your coming from! I am an RN and am really interested in the RDA do they go to surgery with the oral surgeon??

If you go to MA take some Managment/administation a lot of the managers of Urgent care centers (in the South anyway), are MAs. They dont want to pay for lisenced people. But with the right skills they tend to promote from within.

ArrowRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Vascular, E.N.T.

Based on your current training, since there are many aspect of the medical field, have you ever thought of looking for something that combines both legal and medical field? I do not know what the exact positions are called but they are out there and most likely you wont be chopping your pay but moving up with enhanced skills and into something you are more in tuned with. For e.g I'm currently in telecom/cable field, I fix things a lot. I want to do nursing but if that does not work out for whatever reason, one field that I thought of in the begining of this journey was Biomedical Technician, fixing medical equipment.

In the long run a high paying job with more stress will just lead to a short miserable life, so make your move once the family supports it.


Specializes in hospice.

You might also want to look at the job market for MA's. From my understanding, and I could be wrong, but don't MA's only work in Dr. offices? If you are thinking about a hospital or LTC wouldn't that be for a certified nursing assistant (CNA)? CNA's have one of the hardest jobs in the medical field. I personally do not know how they do it, I could not, as it is back breaking work. I have great respect for CNA's because their job is so hard and the pay so bad.

Look into exactly what you want to do, where you want to work and what the job market is in your area before you make any decisions.


Specializes in ICU, Wound Care, Hospice.

I know this is a big jump...but have you thought about being a Pharmacist? They do make lots of money, they help people and the stress is not as intense as other areas of the medical field. They can/do work just about as long or longer as/then most nursing fields allow. You don't have direct patient contact, you are not subjected to multiple diseases on a daily basis, no "nasty" stuff, and you are highly respected. Unlike nurses or CNA's. There will always be sick people, your job will be a secure one, and for the most part...they seem to be pretty happy. I don't think they deal with the caddyness, that the rest of us do, in the medical field.

If I had to rethink my career path...It's the one I would choose...Hands down. :nurse:

Thank you again for the advice. I have been going back and forth about all of this for a couple of years at least. And as a couple have mentioned, the salary cut may not be the best idea for me but I am not sure how else I would be able to jump to another field without losing some money. I also realize it is not all about money, it is about me being happy.

I have alot to think about. The only reason I am driving myself crazy is because I really want to obtain my Associate's, and I figured while I am obtaining it, I can at least change careers as I am not happy with my current field. I am 37 by the way, so I feel like this is a perfect time/age for me to change careers into something I will do for the rest of my life and hopefully retire from. However, I do have a husband and a 2 year old, so what I decide to do will effect my family also. My mind always goes back to nursing, but just really worried after all of that hard work, I would not be able to handle it which I think is why I thought about MA, because it would not be as hard. But I also do not want to avoid it simply because I am afraid it will be really hard. Someone mentioned pharmacist, but that requires ALOT of school.

I apologize if my posts sound like babbling, I am trying to get my thoughts all out at once :) I appreciate all of the advice.


I am a Certified Medical Assistant. With MAs it really depends where you live. In different areas the pay is different because of limitations. For me I live in California where we do Blood Draws, Injections, Vitals, EKGs, Room patients, Prep Patients for exams,Call in prescriptions, and much more. Because we work underneath the Doctor's license, we can do whatever the Doctor's feels comfortable with us doing. Out here I have heard of MAs even performing X-Rays. So you see it depends where you live, which has a lot to do with how much you would be paid as well. In California as MAs we can also work in hospitals not just Doctor's offices...If you do not want to have all the responsibilities as a nurse I would highly recommend it as long as you feel in your heart it's what you want. Because CLEARLY you make a lot of money. I want to be a nurse so MA is not enough for me. But I feel what you are sayin you want to be happy! And if it makes you happy than that is worth more than money at the end of the day. But are you willing to give up that pay is the question? Go with your gut, sit down calm and quiet and think about it and ask yourself is it good for you? If you feel good about it. GO FOR IT! Best of luck to you!:D

You need to find a way out of your job. If money is not a concern.. pursue MA. If money is an issue and you don't want to make 12-14 an hour, I'd purse something else. I don't think you should choose a career for money... but I wouldn't choose a career that I know wouldn't support the way I wanted to live.


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