Physician Assistants: Salary Overview
Physician assistants practice medicine alongside physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals.
Their job description typically includes taking and reviewing the patient’s medical history, examining patients, ordering and interpreting tests, diagnosing injuries or illnesses, giving treatment, and educating patients and their families, among many other tasks.
The extent to which they have to be supervised by physicians or other healthcare professionals vary state by state and region by region.
In rural areas, for example, where physicians are present only one or two days per week, physician assistants perform the primary care provider role.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physician assistants was $112,260 as of May 2019 which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on experience and education level, industry, the region of employment, and the tasks the physician assistant has to perform.
The lowest 10 percent of all workers in this profession earned less than $72,720 while the top 10 percent made more than $157,120 per year.
The 25th percentile for this profession was $92,800 as of May 2019 which means that most workers in this profession (75 percent) earned more than this amount.
Physician Assistant Salary by Industry of Employment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the biggest employer for physician assistants were offices of physicians- a sector where the average annual wage reported by these health professionals was $111,650.
Physician assistants also held jobs in general medical and surgical hospitals- where the average annual wage for this profession was $113,580 in 2019.
The mean annual wage was $121,320 for physician assistants who worked for outpatient care centers and $107,330 for those who worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools.
The salaries reported by physician assistants who worked for offices of other health practitioners was $108,190.
According to the report published by BLS, the top-paying industry for this profession was the field of scientific research and development services where the mean annual wage reported by physician assistants was $125,410.
A close second was the field of personal care services, where this profession was remunerated, on average, with $121,320.
Salaries also vary depending on other factors, including education and experience level.
Although a master’s degree and a state license are enough for employment, having some experience working as an EMT or paramedic, registered nurse, or a nursing assistant can improve your employment and earning prospects.
To keep their certification physician assistants need to complete continuing education classes every two years.
As an entry-level physician assistant, your salary will typically be closer to the minimum for this profession but your salary will increase after earning a few years of experience.
Experience and additional training may also qualify you for a supervisory position which is typically better paid.
Completing a postgraduate program will help you specialize in areas such as emergency medicine or psychiatry and after gaining clinical experience in your specialty you may receive new responsibilities and a higher wage.
Your salary as a physician assistant will also depend on the region of employment and the local economy and entry-level assistants in some regions may earn more than experienced physician assistants who work in other regions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying states for this profession are Connecticut, Washington, New Jersey, Alaska, and California- states where the average wage for this profession was above $125,000 per year.
Physician assistants in Louisiana and Kentucky, on the other hand, earned less than $90,000 per year as of May 2019.
Lower than average salaries were also reported in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Physician Assistants. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.