How much do physician assistants make? Well, the salary truly depends on a number of different variables. These variables include the PA’s area of expertise, the practice setting, the geographical location, and the amount of experience the physician assistant has. All of these will affect the salary of physician assistant and the benefits. Therefore, it’s important to take all of these factors into consideration while looking for a job. The average salary, however, is high enough to allow physician assistants to live fairly comfortably.
Pay Scale for Physician Assistant
A physician assistant’s starting salary ranges between $64,000 and $77,000. From these numbers, it is easy to see that they are not paid as much as some other medical professionals, especially when you consider their work hours: PAs typically work the same number of hours as those doctors. In other words, they have a similar work schedule and are expected to put in the same hours as the doctors, but their title and income does not carry the same prestige.
While some jobs have experienced major salary fluctuation in recent years, the salaries for physician assistants haven’t really changed since 2008. Their yearly salary can be divided into three categories. The lowest salaries reported were less than $80,000.
Most of those earning represents the beginning of their careers as a physician assistant. The Physician Assistant Education Association reported that in 2009, those with less than a year of experience earned an average of $69,000. The average salary of all physician assistants surveyed was a little less than $83,000, while the highest salaries reported were near $92,000 a year. A small number of physician assistants do earn more than $100,000.
The most recent income reports for 2011 give the average salary in the industry as a little less than $84,000. With the current state of the economy, that truly isn’t a bad income at all, especially since some industries have either laid off many workers or frozen salary increases.
While some physician assistants are paid a salary, some do get paid hourly. In 2010, the average pay per hour was $41.50 as reported by the US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those just starting out will be on the lower end of the pay scale and will make around $27/hour, while physician assistants with years of experience may make as much as $55/hour or more.
Types of Job
Looking to work in a specific part of the medical industry? In general, physician assistants who worked in medical or surgical hospitals received an average salary of about $85,000 a year. If you don’t care for the stress that often comes with those jobs, you may want to work in an outpatient care center. However, the average salary is a bit lower than $85,000 a year. If you choose to work in a private physician’s office, you may find your yearly salary is at about $80,000, especially if you live in a rural area.
There are some federal positions available as well. The average salary here is even lower: $78,000. However, some PAs find employment at colleges, universities, and other educational facilities. They make an average of $74,000 a year.
Salary isn’t the only factor to consider when looking for a job, of course, but it is a very important one. One important area to look at is advancement and salary increases. So how do you increase your hourly pay or yearly salary as a physician assistant?
Consider moving. The pay per hour or wages for the exact same position in two different cities may be widely different depending on the average incomes for the two areas.
Look at the shifts you work. Sometimes, the night shift pays a little more. If you’re a night owl or don’t mind changing your sleeping habits, you can make a little more.
Be willing to put in the time. As with any industry, a physician assistant with more experience can ask for a larger salary.
Get more education. If you specialize or take extra classes, you may be eligible for a raise.
Experience Pays Off
How much does the previous experience affect the salary of physician assistant positions? Here’s a short breakdown.
- Years of Experience: 1 – 4, Average Salary $72,000
- Years of Experience: 5 – 9, Average Salary $80,000
- Years of Experience: 10 – 19, Average Salary $83,000
- Years of Experience: 20 plus, Average Salary $86,000
Remember, these salary ranges will not be the same for all areas.
Physician Assistant Salary by Specialty
Another fact that affects salary is the medical field you decide to work on. A surgical physician assistant salary is considered one of the best. While many seek out these positions and competition is quite fierce, there is also a large demand for surgical physician assistants. The median salary of these positions after eight years of experience is almost $87,000. Overall, the salary range is from $77,000 to over $100,000.
Another area is orthopedic physician assistants. An orthopedic physician assistant salary starts from $77,000 and can reach $107,000 with eight years of experience. In some areas, orthopedic physician assistants have even hit $130,000 a year. However, their median wage of $87,000 isn’t much above the starting salary.
The dermatology physician assistant salary works a little differently. It is generally a base salary plus production bonuses, benefits, and other compensation considerations. Experience, education, job location, and number of hours worked highly impact these positions. For example, working at least 30 hours can pay as much as $100,000. In some cases, dermatology physician assistants have even reported that their median salary was up to $250,000.
A pediatric physician assistant salary can reach about the same levels. This is another very popular medical career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, their average salary as of May 2010 was $87,000, which is on par with the national average for general physician assistants. Most starting salaries were around $78,000, while those with years of experience were making $100,000.
Finally, some PAs may wish to work in the high-pressure area of the emergency room. An emergency room physician assistant salary, however, may seem disappointing: the starting income is only about $67,000. However, within a few years, it is possible to make over $90,000. Because many do not work in this field for long due to the incredible amount of stress, those who have several years of experience are paid very well. While this is considered one of the most prestigious physician assistant positions, it also requires a large amount of education and training.
Salary by State
Physician Assistant Salary by State
As a physician assistant, the salary range will heavily depend on the state you work in. While listing the income range for every state isn’t impossible, in this article we have only complied data on the physician assistant salary in six different states. These states are scattered across the US, and generally, salaries in nearby states will be similar.
The physician assistant salary in Florida, for example, tends to be only around $57,000 for those just starting out. However, many in Florida were making $74,000 or more. The median salary is actually around $87,000. The upper range maxes out at a little more than $100,000 a year, making Florida a very temping location for those with a few years of experience as a physician assistant.
The physician assistant salary in Texas starts from $58,000 and may end at around $140,000. Their median wage was almost $92,000 in 2010.
A physician assistant salary in New York begins at $69,000. The average salary is $90,000. Those who have several years of experience under their belt will make anywhere from $79,000 to $103,000 a year depending on their specialization and where they work. Lastly, the upper 10% of physician assistants in New York can make as much as $116,000 a year.
As for the physician assistant salary in California, the starting yearly pay is at $61,000 and can get as high as $134,000. The median salary for a physician assistant with some experience is $92,000 a year. For those who have spent a few years in the medical industry, a move to California can mean a large salary increase, but be certain to look into the cost of living in the state first. You will most likely spend more in housing, insurance and foods, so you may not actually have more disposable income.
On the other hand, the physician assistant salary in Michigan is a bit lower. The salary range is between $62,000 and $113,000. The average income for a PA is at around $87,000.
As one would expect, the physician assistant salary in Georgia is similar to the salary paid in Florida. It starts at $62,000, which is higher than Florida’s, and it can go as high as $111,000. The average, however, is at $83,000 as of 2010.
As you can see, while income does fluctuate by state, especially the upper levels of income, the average is actually fairly similar. Georgia is at the lower end of the pay scale with $83,000 while the highest average salary of $92,000 can be made in California or Texas