What Are Some Career Options for a Physician Assistant?

Training as a physician assistant can lead to a career in a clinic or a rural area, providing healthcare to those who need it. Physician assistants may work in hospitals in specialized areas like surgery, emergency medicine, dermatology, or oncology with additional training. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA, www.aapa.org), the physician assistant (PA) profession began in the 1960s during a shortage of full-fledged physicians and a drop in the quality of healthcare. Physician assistants took courses to help provide healthcare to those who needed it while working under a licensed physician supervisor. Today, the same is true. Oftentimes, physician assistants work in rural areas or in clinics that aren't as attractive to physicians who want to work in areas that pay better and offer more opportunities.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Median Pay (2018) $108,610*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 37%*
Entry-Level EducationTo get a job as a physician's assistant, typically one must have a bachelor's degree and related work experience. Some people who apply to be a physician's assistant already have experience working as a registered nurse or an EMT.
Similar OccupationsEMTs and Paramedics, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Physicians and Surgeons

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Clinics and Rural Areas

Physician assistants work under the supervision of doctors, in doctors' offices, or in hospitals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), they often work in traditional office-based settings as part of a healthcare team. Since clinics and hospitals in rural areas often pay less, they tend to have difficulty attracting physicians; physician assistants often work in these areas.


Clinics aren't the only option for physician assistants. Physician assistants can work in doctors' offices and hospitals as well, providing specialized healthcare to those who need it. For instance, in hospitals, a PA might be a first or second surgical aide to a surgical physician. Further education and certification can lead to more and specialized career options. According to the BLS and the Association of Postgraduate Physician Assistant Programs (APPAP, www.appap.org), PAs can work in a number of specialties (with additional education), including:

  • Emergency medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Neonatology
  • Surgery
  • Occupational medicine
  • Urology
  • Critical care
  • Psychiatry
  • Dermatology

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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