How Much Does a Physician Assistant Make a Year?

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Are you considering a career as a physician assistant? If so, it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the salary prospects associated with this profession. Physician assistants play a crucial role in the healthcare industry, working alongside doctors to provide high-quality care to patients. In this article, we will explore the average annual income of physician assistants and delve into the factors that impact their salaries.

What is a Physician Assistant?

Physician assistants, commonly known as PAs, are medical professionals who work under the supervision of physicians. They perform a wide range of tasks, including diagnosing illnesses, developing treatment plans, prescribing medications, and assisting in surgeries. PAs undergo extensive education and training, typically completing a master’s degree program and obtaining state licensure.

Factors Affecting Physician Assistant Salaries

Several factors influence the salary range of physician assistants. Understanding these factors can help you gauge the earning potential in this field.

1. Experience Level and Years of Practice

As with many professions, experience plays a significant role in determining salary. Physician assistants with more years of practice often earn higher salaries. This is due to the acquired knowledge, skills, and expertise that come with time spent in the field.

2. Geographic Location and Cost of Living

Where you work as a physician assistant can have a substantial impact on your earnings. Salaries can vary significantly between different regions and states. Areas with a higher cost of living or a greater demand for healthcare professionals generally offer higher salaries to attract qualified PAs.

3. Specialization and Industry

Physician assistants can choose to specialize in various medical fields, such as surgery, emergency medicine, dermatology, or pediatrics. Specializing in a sought-after area can lead to higher salaries. Additionally, the industry in which you work, such as hospitals, private practices, or outpatient care centers, can also influence your earning potential.

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4. Work Setting

The work setting of a physician assistant can impact their salary as well. PAs employed in hospitals or specialty clinics may earn higher salaries compared to those working in primary care settings. This disparity is often due to the complexity of cases and the level of responsibility associated with different work environments.

Average Salary Range for Physician Assistants

Now that we’ve explored the factors that affect physician assistant salaries, let’s delve into the average income range for PAs. It’s important to note that these figures can vary based on the factors mentioned earlier.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physician assistants was $112,260 in May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $75,480, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $157,120.

It’s worth mentioning that the salary range can differ based on the industry. For instance, PAs working in outpatient care centers had a median annual wage of $114,870, whereas those in general medical and surgical hospitals earned $112,960 per year on average.

Frequently Asked Questions about Physician Assistant Salaries

Let’s address some commonly asked questions related to physician assistant salaries:

Q: What is the starting salary for a physician assistant?

A: The starting salary for a physician assistant can vary depending on factors such as location, specialization, and work setting. On average, entry-level PAs can expect a starting salary in the range of $80,000 to $90,000 per year.

Q: How much do physician assistants make per hour?

A: The hourly wage of physician assistants can vary. On average, PAs earn approximately $54 to $60 per hour. However, this can be influenced by factors like experience, location, and industry.

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Q: Do physician assistants receive bonuses or benefits?

A: Yes, many physician assistants receive bonuses and benefits in addition to their base salary. These can include performance bonuses, health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and reimbursement for continuing education.


In conclusion, the salary of a physician assistant can vary based on several factors, including experience, geographic location, specialization, and work setting. According to recent data, the median annual wage for PAs is around $112,260. However, it’s important to note that salaries can differ significantly depending on individual circumstances and the healthcare industry’s dynamics in specific regions. If you’re considering a career as a physician assistant, thoroughly researching these factors will help you make informed decisions about your professional path.

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