What Is the Average Salary for a Physician Assistant?

Research what it takes to become a physician assistant. Learn about job outlook, salary, licensure and degree requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Physician's Assistant?

Physician assistants (PAs) examine and treat patients under licensed doctors. Much like doctors, they order and interpret diagnostic tests like x-rays and blood work, provide a diagnosis for patients, and create a treatment plan. They also have the power to prescribe medication. As a PA, you may be in contact with patients' families often and may have to relay critical and sometimes sensitive information to them. Some physician assistants may be involved in research. Check out some of the education requirements and career statistics for this profession in the table below.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Physician assistant
Key Responsibilities Perform annual examinations, prescribe medication, read diagnostic tests, counsel patients on healthcare treatments
Licensure Required in all states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 38%*
Average Salary (2015) $99,270*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Overall Average Salary Do Physician Assistants Earn?

May 2015 annual salary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that you could earn an average salary of $99,270. The middle range was $83,520-$118,200.

What Effect Does Experience Have on Salary?

According to a PayScale.com October 2016 report of median earnings for PAs, those at the entry-level made $88,000. With 5-10 years of experience, the median income was $99,000, while experienced PAs with 10-20 years of work made $103,000. After 20 or more years of experience, you could earn $104,000 per year.

How Does Salary Vary by Skill Area or Specialization?

October 2016 median incomes from PayScale.com showed that some specialties would pay you at a higher level of compensation than others. At the lower end, physician assistants who worked in pediatrics earned $85,923 and those in emergency medicine earned $93,392. Higher salary specialties included critical care at $95,986 and surgery at $96,661.

How Does Salary Vary by City?

You can expect to encounter a wide range depending on the city you work in. The BLS reported that as of May 2015, the top five metropolitan areas by mean salary were Santa Fe, NM, at $163,070; Yuba City, CA at $157,780; Longview, TX at $150,520; Leominster-Garnder, MA at $140,860; and Santa Rosa, CA at $140,810.

The top-paying nonmetropolitan areas were located in Southern Vermont, Northeast Florida, North and West Central New Mexico, West Kentucky, and central New Hampshire. Average salaries in these areas ranged from $116,880 to $126,560

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in other medical careers that require a master's degree or doctoral degree and professional licensure, you might consider occupational therapy or physical therapy. Occupational therapists may work with disabled or injured patients, helping them develop or re-master the most essential skills for daily life. Physical therapists have similar duties, though they often focus more on pain management and rehabilitation for ill or injured clients. You may also consider becoming a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist - two careers that require a master's degree and professional licensure. Nurse practitioners provide primary care to patients, while nurse anesthetists give patients anesthesia before they undergo a surgical procedure.

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