careertrend article image
Barabasa/iStock/GettyImages

How Much Do PAs Make a Year?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Provide Excellent Care for Patients Without Medical School and Residency

If you are experienced in the medical field and love caring for patients, but yet you don't want to spend several years in medical school and residency to become a physician, you might consider becoming a physician assistant. Your pay could increase, a major bonus as you care for your family. Many physician assistants also work in physician's offices, which may offer more predictable hours than hospital work.

Job Description

Physician assistants take medical histories, meet with patients, listen to their concerns, provide medical advice, diagnose problems and prescribe treatment. They often work on medical teams with physicians, nurses and other medical professionals. Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, including pediatrics, psychiatry, general medicine, emergency medicine and more. Those who work in surgery spend long hours on their feet and assist in surgeries, as well as help close wounds. Physician assistants must be supervised by licensed physicians in their work, but the level of supervision required varies by state.

Education Requirements

Physician assistants are required to earn an undergraduate degree in the sciences and then complete a two year master's-level program accredited by the Accreditation and Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. There are roughly 200 accredited programs nationwide, and acceptance is highly competitive. Those with a background as a nurse, paramedic or in other medical professions are generally given priority during admissions. Following graduation, a physician assistant must take a state licensing exam before beginning their practice. Every two years, 100 hours of continuing education are required to maintain licensure. Every 10 years, a physician assistant must repeat the exam to continue.

Physician assistants earn a median salary of $101,480, which means that half earn more than this, while the other half earns less. The top 10 percent earns more than $142,210, while the bottom 10 percent earns less than $65,620.

Industry

Roughly 56 percent of physician assistants work in physician offices, which generally offer regular work hours and less erratic schedules than hospitals. Another 23 percent work in hospitals, while the rest work in outpatient medical care facilities, corporate and educational settings. Sometimes, physician assistants provide the majority of care in a rural or small town clinic, while the licensed physician only comes in to the office once or twice a week to provide supervision. Those who work as primary care professionals may have more on-call hours and a less-predictable schedule. For those in settings in which work hours are unpredictable, dependable child care helps take the stress out of family life.

Years of Experience

Physician assistants see their biggest increase in pay during the first five to 10 years of their practice. Possessing skill in specialty areas of medicine, like emergency medicine, may also increase pay. One projection of pay over a career looks like this:

  • Entry-Level: 

    $69,968 - $104,447
    * Mid-Career:

    $77,004 - $120,745
    * Experienced: 

    $78,922 - $128,750
    * Late-Career:

    $83,239 - $134,818

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities are expected to increase by an impressive 37 percent over the next decade, which is much faster than in other industries. High demand is due to an aging population and an increasing number of patients with chronic illnesses that require regular care. Greater access to medical care is another factor that increases demand, with rural and low-income settings offering particularly high-demand and plentiful opportunities for physician assistants.