Plastic Surgeon Assistant: Job Description & School Requirements

Do you want to learn more about how to become a plastic surgeon assistant? Keep reading to learn what the job entails, schooling requirements, salary information and job outlook. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Plastic surgeon assistants, also known as physician's assistants, work with surgeons to provide patient care in plastic surgery operations. They are required to have a master's degree and receive a license by passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. The table below provides basic information on the career.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Physician assisting
Key Responsibilities Providing patient education, examining patient medical history, giving tests and interpreting results, assisting physicians during surgery, assisting patients during the recovery process
Licensure Required in all states
Job Growth (2018-2028) 31%* (for physician assistants)
Median Salary (2019) $95,231** (for physician assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Does A Plastic Surgeon Assistant Do?

A plastic surgeon assistant works with a surgeon to help provide patients with pre- and post-operative care. They may educate patients, assess patient history, give blood tests, perform biopsies and prescribe medicine to help with recovery. Plastic surgeon assistants are also involved in the surgical process and assist surgeons during procedures. Some plastic surgeon assistants can be the primary care provider and may coordinate appointments leading up to and after the surgery.

What Degree Do I Need?

To become a plastic surgeon assistant, you'll need a master's degree from an accredited university. Many programs require between 2 and 4 years of undergraduate work prior to acceptance, and people entering these programs often have both bachelor's degrees and experience caring for patients directly. For example, registered nurses and EMTs are among some of the potential applicants, although those who have patient care experience in a volunteer capacity may be considered. Programs typically include classroom and lab time, and students participate in clinical training rotations under a physician's supervision.

What Are the Licensing Requirements?

All states require physician's assistants to be licensed. To receive your license as a plastic surgeon assistant, you'll need to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Then, you'll need to make sure you renew your license every two years by completing 100 hours of continuing education and by passing a recertification exam every 10 years. Finally, licensure laws require physician assistants to have an agreement in which a licensed physician supervises their work.

Are There Any Additional Schooling Requirements?

While at minimum a plastic surgeon assistant needs to have their master's degree and license, there is additional schooling that they can pursue. Completing advanced education in a surgical residency program can help a physician assistant earn higher wages and lead to more opportunities, such as becoming a staff supervisor or leader of a healthcare organization.

Plastic surgeon assistants also have the option of joining the Association of Plastic Surgery Physician Assistants (APSPA), which provides further networking and learning opportunities in their field.

What Is a Plastic Surgeon Assistant's Salary?

According to, the median salary for a physician assistant in 2019 was $95,231. The BLS notes that physician assistants earning the lowest 10 percent took home salaries of less than $69,120 as of May 2018. Those earning the highest 10 percent, however, earned more than $151,850. Employment for physician assistants is also expected to see a 31 percent growth between 2018 and 2028.

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