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What Is the Employment Outlook for a Physician Assistant Career?

The employment outlook for a physician assistant career is excellent. As the healthcare industry is growing and more people will need services, facilities hire these professionals to reduce costs. Read on to learn more about the job growth and salary expectations for this career.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), anticipates that the growth in physician assistant positions will be approximately 37% in the decade 2016-2026. This growth is much faster than other occupations are experiencing over that time. As of 2016, the BLS estimated that there were 106,200 of these professionals employed. An increase of 39,600 positions is expected over the decade, which will result in 145,900 employed by 2026. As a result, job prospects should be excellent.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Similar Occupations Audiologist, EMT, paramedic, occupational therapist
Licensing Required in all states
Key Skills Problem-solving and communication skills; empathy and emotional stability; attention to detail

Factors Influencing Job Growth

The employment of physician assistants is anticipated to increase because the healthcare industry is trying to save money. Employing these workers is cost effective, since they can do many of the same duties as physicians. In fact, they can help by taking over many of the routine procedures and duties now performed by a physician. Due to the expansion of state laws governing physician assistants, these professionals can now provide more physician-level services, including writing prescriptions in most states.

The BLS notes that another factor driving this strong growth is the aging population and its need for healthcare over the coming years. As more people are being diagnosed with chronic diseases, there will be an increased need for preventive care and treatments. In addition, health insurance reform will allow more people to get healthcare, and physician assistants will be needed to provide services. The best opportunities are anticipated to be in inner city and rural clinics where many physicians choose not to practice.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, physician assistants earned an average wage of $108,430 as of May 2018. Most professionals earned between $69,120 and $151,850. Offices of physicians employed the highest number of these professionals and paid an average wage of $108,180. Average earnings were $109,140 for general medical and surgical hospitals and $116,780 for outpatient care centers. Outpatient care centers and residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities paid the highest average wages for these professionals; the latter paid an average yearly salary of $110,470.

Employment Opportunities

Finding a career as a physician assistant doesn't necessarily mean you'll be working at a clinic in some long-forgotten rural town. You could teach at a university, provide healthcare to prisoners or work in a hospital, according to the BLS. Working in surgery, orthopedics, emergency medicine, neonatology and other specialties can be realized by earning certification, according to the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA, www.paeaonline.org). More certifications may also lead to more job opportunities and a higher salary.