If you desire to pursue a career in the healthcare sector, there are many options you could choose from apart from being a doctor or a nurse. For persons more inclined to patient care, becoming a medical assistant or phlebotomist can put you in direct contact with patients.

It can be a challenge picking one of these careers over the other because of their similarity. If you are undecided or confused about which path is best for you, this post highlights the similarities and the differences between the two, which can help you decide which fits you best.

Training Requirements

It is possible to start your career as a medical assistant after on-the-job training. However, on-the-job training may not be recognizable when hunting for a job. So it is essential to get formal training by enrolling for a medical assistant program in a recognized institution. Most programs take anywhere between one to two years. You may also opt to take an associate degree which can take much longer.

To become a Phlebotomist, you must take a certificate or diploma course in phlebotomy. The course duration is relatively shorter, taking six to twelve months.

Even with academic certification, getting a job in this field may require certification because most employers prefer certified phlebotomists. You can attain a phlebotomist certification from the American Medical Technologists, the National Center for Competency Testing, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an 18% job growth for medical assistants between 2020 to 2030. With the total employment projected to grow 7.7% over the same period, there’s no doubt a medical assistant career path is a great choice.

Additionally, most medical assistants make $17.23 per hour or $35,850 a year, but it is possible to make more than this figure depending on experience and the level of education.

BLS statistics predict a 22% career growth in phlebotomy jobs between 2020 and 2030, higher than a medical assistant career. Additionally, phlebotomists make an average of $17.46 per hour, which amounts to $36,320 a year, slightly more than their medical assistant counterparts.

Based on these facts, it would be right to say that both careers are a great place to venture in because they offer better pay and a good job outlook.


Medical assistants work on a wide range of tasks, some of which are administrative while others involve care. This means every individual medical assistant’s role can vary based on their employer’s needs.

Some responsibilities of a medical assistant include collecting patients’ medical history, checking their vitals, collecting lab samples, scheduling appointments, billing, and booking appointments.

On the other hand, the roles of a phlebotomist are relatively clear-cut. They focus mainly on venepuncture, sending blood to the lab, and ensuring a sanitary work environment. It is right to say a phlebotomist’s role is more behind the scenes.

Work Settings

While both career paths involve working in the health care sector, work settings for the two can vary. The largest number of medical assistants are employed in physician offices. However, they can also work in hospitals, chiropractic offices, and outpatient health care centres.

Hospitals are the biggest source of employment for phlebotomists. The second-largest employer for phlebotomists is medical and diagnostic laboratories. These individuals can also work at a physician’s office, outpatient care canters, and research labs.

The Verdict

While the medical assistant and a phlebotomist career may differ on some aspects, such as duties and work settings, the two are largely the same. That means your choice of career will depend on where your passion lies.

If your passion is working with patients directly, a medical assistant career will fit you best. Similarly, if you love more of a behind-the-scenes role, go for a career in phlebotomy.