Physician Assistant Salary Info & Job Requirements

  • Article by:Health Career Center

What Does a Physician Assistant Do?

Physician Assistants (PAs) are nationally certified and state licensed medical professionals that practice medicine under the supervision of physicians and surgeons. Recent legislation in a majority of states has made PAs more independent and autonomous by allowing them to practice to the fullest extent of their experiences and education with fewer restrictions and regulations.

Physician Assistants job responsibilities vary greatly depending on their specialty, but most PAs typically do the following:

  • Take patient’s medical history
  • Conduct physical exams to check patient’s health status
  • Order, review, and diagnose diagnostic tests
  • Give treatment, like immunizing patients or setting a broken bone
  • Create treatment plans
  • Assist with surgeries
  • Write prescriptions
  • Make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes
  • Record progress of patient
  • Research latest treatments
  • Participate in outreach programs

The job responsibilities for PAs can be even more extensive in rural or medically underserved areas where they serve as the primary care providers at clinics where the physician is only in the office one or two days per week.


The Job Requirements for Physician Assistants:

There has never been a better time to consider a career path as a Physician Assistant. According to the national healthcare firm Merritt Hawkins, the demand for Physician Assistant jobs rose by more than 300 percent between 2011 and 2014.

So what do you need to do to become a PA? Here’s a list of all of the job requirements for Physician Assistants:

  • A Master’s degree from an accredited educational program. Prior to earning a Master’s, future PAs typically have a Bachelor’s degree in a related field and have recent, relevant healthcare-related work experience. PA Master’s programs typically take two years to complete.
  • All PAs license. To become licensed, prospective PAs must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

To maintain certification, PAs must complete a minimum of 100 hours of continuing education every two years and must now take a recertification exam every 10 years as well.


Salary Info for Physician Assistants:

Physician Assistant jobs are on the rise thanks to a high employment rate, an acceptable debt-to-salary ratio for recent grads, and the evolution toward value-based care delivery models. Although the cost of education has gone up, the salary for PAs remains competitive and desirable for recent grads. 

According to an annual report by the NCCPA, the median salary of PAs in 2014 was around $95,000 and the median educational debt of recently certified PAs was around $112,500, with the top 19.5 percent of PAs making over $120,000 annually. The amount of educational debt may seem high, but the employability and salary range prospective PAs experience upon graduating makes it very manageable, according to Dawn Morton-Rias, PA-C, president and CEO of NCCPA.

Considering the high demand and impressive starting salary, the future of Physician Assistant jobs looks very bright for incoming talent. Search now for PA job openings available now.