Medical Assistant VS. Certified Nursing Assistant

What is the Difference?

A career in the medical field can be respectable, stable and rewarding. It may seem that all assistant positions are the same, but they all perform different tasks. 

When thinking about a career as a Medical Assistant (MA) or a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) it is important to know what tasks you would like to perform, and what tasks you would like to avoid. Consider each positions key roles and see what positions is right for you. 

Generally, a CNA assists nurses and an MA assists doctors, paramedics, nurses, etc.

A CNA helps patients with: 

  • Toileting
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Transfers and ambulation, and a number of other daily activities
  • Depending on the facility they may also take vital signs


A MA can do a variety of things depending on where they work and what education/certifications they have. Some things you might do as an MA are:

  • Checking patients in
  • Taking vital signs
  • Drawing blood
  • Getting medical histories
  • Doing clerical work
  • Getting charts ready for the doctor
  • Assisting the doctor/NP with any task they may need you to help

If you want to become a nurse practitioner (NP) either of these roles would be beneficial to you, but MA would probably give you a much higher skill level.

Besides figuring out what key tasks match your personal preferences you might also consider job stability and income potential. 

The job outlook for CNA over the next  8 years is expected to grow by 11% nationwide. This means there will be 172,073  additional jobs in this field between now and 2026. 

The average income for a CNA is $26,590 per year. 

The job outlook for MA over the next  8 years is expected to grow by 29% nationwide. This means there will be 183, 976 additional jobs in this field between now and 2026. 

The average income for a MA is $31,540 per year

If paying back your student loans is a concern it makes more financial sense to go with a higher paying career field. However, the hours are a bit longer and the stress level might be higher. 

If you would like more information regarding either of these visit our website at http://medicalinstitutepb.edu/ or contact one of our admission representatives at (561) 513-4676