Average PA Salary – How Much Does a Physician’s Assistant Make

Editors Note: This article was recently updated due to requests from readers regarding inaccurate information provided by the author. 

A PA or physicians assistant is similar to a traditional doctor in many ways. A PA’s job consists of a variety of things, some of which include diagnosing patients, developing and executing treatment plans, counseling patients through their ailments, and in some area’s prescribing suitable medications.  Essentially many of the same job requirements handled by MD’s with the exception of performing surgeries (though they can assist doctors in the this area.)

One of the main differences between a Physician Assistant and a doctor is the fact that PA’s always work under the supervision of doctors. That said a lot of clinics where surgery isn’t performed tend to hire PA’s rather than doctors as they are able to handle the same work generally at a lower cost than an MD. Due to this the demand for Physician Assistants the job prospects project to be rising over the coming years. Typical workplaces for Physician Assistants include private practices, hospitals, and other major medical locations. They spend most of their time with patients or in medical offices. PAs typically work full-time.

How much do Physician Assistants make per year?

The average physician assistant makes $98,180 per year as of 2017. This translates to roughly $47.20 per hour.


There are currently just under 100,000 physician assistants employed in the United States. The amount of PAs on the workforce today is expect to grow by 30 percent from 2014 to 2024, which means there will be approximately 30,000 new PA jobs in the coming years. This growth rate is substantially faster than average, as it is a byproduct of globalization and rapid advances in healthcare technology.

Pay varies on state and specialization. However, nearly all PAs receive a very high salary. PAs on the lower end of the pay scale receive $62,760 per year. The highest paid PAs work at outpatient care centers and make $106,010 yearly. The top ten percent of PAs make as much as $139,540 annually.

How to become a Physician Assistant

The requirements to become a physician’s assistant vary based on the state they are practicing in. That said most every state requires the completion of a 4 year degree and then successful completion of a Physcian Assistant program. Again these programs vary however they are generally a little over 2 years in length. Additionally PA’s generally also have to complete a year long clinical rotation similar to the residencies completed by MD’s. Once licensed and practicing a PA is required to do on-going training, education, and re-testing.

A physician assistant must also have a certain type of character and personality that can handle the demanding nature of their job. Some skills that help in these areas include:

  • Hard Working: Due to the demand of the job, Physicians assistants generally work long hours with high amounts of stress. The rigorous schedule and pressure working with patients who are going through trying situations make hard work a must for any PA.
  • Compassionate and personable: A PA’s job revolves around their patients and medical team. They must know how to properly communicate ideas in a professional yet friendly manner to both the patient and their team. Health can also be a very stressful matter for some people, making it greatly comforting to be treated by someone kind and caring. Making the interaction between doctor and patient memorable also helps patients and physicians establish long-lasting bonds.
  • Emotionally stable: The immense workload coupled with constantly seeing others suffering can take a toll on someone who cannot manage it. Proper coping strategies can help in this area. The ability to remain calm and collected through out these situations is a must.
  • Detailed orientated and efficient at solving problems: Every patient requires a different approach. PAs must remember their patient’s health issues as well as their preferences. The ability to keep track of everything while working in a fast paced environment is a must.

Source: BLS.gov

Editors Note: This article was recently updated due to requests from readers regarding inaccurate information provided by the author. 




17 COMMENTS

  1. Wow. There is so much inaccuracy, so much wrong in this article, one wonders where and how Ms.Demi did her research….. and the role of her editors? Talk about “fake news”.

    The basis for my “opinion”? I have been a PA for 37 years. I have met, have worked with, taught and mentored, am friends with hundreds to thousands of PAs in that time.

    Please, Ms. Demi….. send me an email….let’s fix your article.

  2. How unfortunate that the public might read this.

    It seems that you have misdiagnosed the PA profession.

    I would borrow a play from my High School English teacher and a scratch out a bold “See Me” at the top of your paper rather than allowing my red pan to turn your work into something that would necessitare the assistance of a skilled crime scene technician.

    With all due respect, work like this harms the patient provider relationship. I recommend that you enlist the help of someone that actually knows what we PAs actually do.

  3. I have never seen a more inaccurate representation of the PA profession. You should be ashamed of publishing such an article that sets back any progress that the PA community has made in educating their patients and the rest of the community on the profession.

    Just terrible.

  4. To whoever wrote this article, you should be ashamed at how inaccurate your description of a PA is. Physician Assistants are NOT working to become Doctors, we chose the PA profession for a reason. We are not just “assistants,” almost all of us see our OWN patients and make all of our OWN medical decisions with the attending physician as needed. Please do your research before you portray our profession that is essential to the health care field.

  5. This contains more inaccuracies than it does fact. Very few PAs choose to become physicians. PAs choose to be PAs because becoming a physician is seen by many to no longer be a wise career move. PAs do virtually everything physicians do, without consulting anyone, and get paid a fraction less. That fraction isn’t very significant when you consider the immense debt and exponential interest accrued from medical school. I practice emergency medicine as a PA and I ask physicians for their thoughts on my patients as frequently as they ask me for my thoughts on theirs.

  6. When can we expect a retraction and correction that quotes actual PAs? I recommend you reach out to Maureen Regan of the NY State Society for a more accurate portrayal.

  7. Um, this is a horribly inaccurate article. I’m actually appalled that such erroneous information made it past the editorial staff.

  8. I will agree to one part of the article as being accurate and that is that PAs must be emotionally stable. It helped me from blowing my stack………I’m remaining calm in this situation hoping it won’t burden me with long lasting psychological ramifications.

  9. This article is insulting. Our job is not likened to that of interns. I train and teach interns daily. “Not yet full fledged physicians” is a ridiculous statement. I chose to be a PA to avoid the time and debt associated with medical school. There is no difference between my role and that of my colleague physicians in my emergency medicine position. I have no intention or financial need to go on to become a doctor (I would be backtracking by going to medical school first). It is articles like this that perpetuate patient’s misunderstanding of the role of a PA in healthcare.

  10. This is entirely accurate and done with no research. Best do some research in order to keep your reporting. What if I wrote “Journalists are those that are assigned a topic and then copy and paste what they find on the internet in order to create a story. Many write without any knowledge of a topic and hope their editors catch any errors they make.” Would be inaccurate all around expectaybe in this article.

  11. Even this “updated” version contains numerous inaccuracies and spelling errors. This is lazy journalism at its worst.

  12. Who proofread this article? You switch from using “physicians assistant” to “Physician Assistant” and “PA’s” and “PAs.” Just to name a few inconsistencies. What year are you quoting these salaries from? I know PAs who are making much more than you are quoting is the maximum pay. The year long clinical rotations are not in addition to the 2 years of PA school, it is part of the 2 years. There is an option to do a residency later though. This article was poorly researched and edited.

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