Physician Assistant Jobs

Training and Education Jobs and Salaries

Physician assistants hold about 65,000 jobs. The number of jobs is greater than the number of practicing physician assistants because some hold two or more jobs. For example, some physician assistants work with a supervising physician, but also work in another practice, clinic, or hospital. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, about 15 percent of actively practicing physician assistants work in more than one clinical job concurrently. More than half of jobs for physician assistants are in the offices of physicians. About a quarter are in hospitals, public or private while the rest are mostly in outpatient care centers, including health maintenance organizations; the Federal Government; and public or private colleges, universities, and professional schools. A few physician assistants are self-employed.

Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average as health care establishments increasingly use physician assistants to contain costs. Job opportunities for physician assistants should be good, particularly in rural and inner city clinics, as these settings typically have difficulty attracting physicians. Employment of physician assistants is expected to grow 27 percent from 2006 to 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. Projected rapid job growth reflects the expansion of health care industries and an emphasis on cost containment, which results in increasing use of physician assistants by health care establishments.

Physicians and institutions are expected to employ more physician assistants to provide primary care and to assist with medical and surgical procedures because physician assistants are cost-effective and productive members of the health care team. Physician assistants can relieve physicians of routine duties and procedures. Telemedicine - using technology to facilitate interactive consultations between physicians and physician assistants - also will expand the use of physician assistants. Besides working in traditional office-based settings, physician assistants should find a growing number of jobs in institutional settings such as hospitals, academic medical centers, public clinics, and prisons.

Physician assistants also may be needed to augment medical staffing in inpatient teaching hospital settings as the number of hours physician residents are permitted to work is reduced, encouraging hospitals to use physician assistants to supply some physician resident services. Job opportunities for physician assistants should be good, particularly in rural and inner-city clinics because those settings have difficulty attracting physicians. In addition to job openings from employment growth, openings will result from the need to replace physician assistants who retire or leave the occupation permanently. Opportunities will be best in States that allow physician assistants a wider scope of practice, such as allowing physician assistants to prescribe medications.

Median annual earnings of wage-and-salary physician assistants are around $75,000. The middle fifty percent earn between $62,500 and $89,500. The lowest ten percent earn less than $44,000, and the highest ten percent earn more than $102,500. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of physician assistants are as follows: outpatient care centers pay around $81,000, general medical and surgical hospitals pay about $77,000 and jobs in offices of physicians pay around 75,000.

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, median income for physician assistants in full-time clinical practice is around $80,500 while the median income for first-year graduates was close to $70,000. Income varies by specialty, practice setting, geographical location, and years of experience. Employers often pay for their employees liability insurance, registration fees with the Drug Enforcement Administration, State licensing fees, and credentialing fees. Other health care workers who provide direct patient care that requires a similar level of skill and training include audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, registered nurses, and speech-language pathologists.