If you are trying to decide if you would like to study to become a CNA or a Medical Assistant, you might want to know some of the differences between the two professions. Both of these Allied Health positions have been growing in popularity recently because of all of the medical care centers, hospitals, and personal care homes that are growing in cities and towns around the country. There are a few different areas of study that you can become certified in just by taking classes online or through a more traditional program. Online schools offer many classes for you to become certified and work in healthcare related profession as such positions as a Certified Nursing Assistant and MA.

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The field of medicine and nursing is growing very rapidly with all of the new changes in health care and medical care. The need for more qualified

medical professionals is growing at an alarming rate to try to match the increasing demand for medical care. This increased demand is a direct result of an aging population combined with tremendous advancements in medical technology. By becoming a healthcare worker such as a CNA and Medical Assistant, you will be entering a much needed occupation which also provides you the ability to gain further education and work yourself up to higher positions.

Differences Between CNA and Medical Assistant

It isn’t that uncommon for some people to be slightly confused on the differences between a CNA and Medical Assistant. Both are Allied Health professionals that do not require a post-secondary education in order to start working. Let’s look at both positions separately so you can get a better idea how these jobs are very different from each other.

Certified Nursing Assistant:

A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, helps patients out in healthcare settings with the supervision of an RN, Registered Nurse, or an LPN, a Licensed Practical Nurse. The responsibilities of a CNA depend all on where you decide to work.

There are many job opportunities for CNA’s in nursing homes, adult day care centers, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and patients’ personal homes. CNA’s help with a patient’s day to day life and help to better their quality of life.

CNA’s are educated to do a few very important tasks. They can observe any changes in patient behaviors, assist with exercises that patients may have been asked to do by their doctors, and help them out with their personal hygiene.

CNA’s are also responsible for taking records such as blood pressure, temperature, pulse, respiration, and body weight. A CNA can also take any specimens that patients need to give for health tests. They also provide emotional support for their patients and in some cases, the families of their patients.

Medical Assistants:

A Medical Assistant is a bit different than a CNA. Medical assistants perform more administrative duties than CNA’s do. They answer phones for doctors and hospitals, greet patients, fill out insurance forms, and help to maintain patient records.

Medical Assistants do help record vital signs before patients visit the doctors and can even draw blood if it is necessary. Medical Assistants are also very hands-on when it comes to explaining any procedures to patients before they are done.

Medical assistants can also help to collect specimens and send them to the lab for results. They make sure that any instruments that doctors need are sterilized and readily available for them.

Medical assistants also prepare patients for X-Rays and surgery. They can remove sutures and change dressings for patients while they are waiting for their doctor. Medical Assistants can also take classes online to land a job in this part of the medical industry.

AMA Weighs In

American Medical Association (AMA) tried to clear the distinction between the positions of CNA and Medical Assistant. These differences include:

  • Medical Assistants primarily work in ambulatory settings such as clinics and medical offices

  • CNAs work mostly in in-patient settings such as hospitals and nursing homes

  • Medical Assistants work under the guidance of a physician

  • CNA works under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RN) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)

  • Medical Assistant has to pass the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) CMA Certification Examination

  • CNA must pass a certification process that is issued by either the state or a governing examination group

Salary and Outlook

This chart represents the latest numbers presented ONet Online for the projected growth and median salary for CNA and Medical Assistant positions.


Categories CNA Medical Assistant
Median Hourly Salary
Median Yearly Salary
% Projected Growth until 2022
Projected New Jobs Until 2022

CNA’s and Medical Assistants are very different and also a bit similar. They help to put patients at ease while they are waiting for their doctors to finalize treatments for them. They also can earn a valuable education online and on campus. It is important that if you are looking to go into one of these professions, you find the information that is needed to make a great living doing so. These jobs are both rewarding and require much patience. If you feel that you are a good candidate, sign up now and earn an education that will prepare you for your future.