According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were around 125,280 physician assistants in the United States in 2020, and this number is predicted to grow to 203,243 clinically active PAs by 2035. The estimates coincide with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants estimates, which logged around 148,560 active PAs in 2020 and predict a rise to 214,248 in active practice by 2035.
In short, the job outlook for physician assistants is only going upward, and with the rising demand for specialty physician assistant skills amidst an aging population and an increasingly complex healthcare system, salaries are expected to grow as well. As PAs become more involved in patient care, it's important to understand the best physician assistant jobs that lead to the best job satisfaction and patient outcomes.
What Does A Physician Assistant Do?
A physician assistant is a licensed medical professional practicing with physician supervision. PAs take on many of the responsibilities of a doctor, including but not limited to:
- examining patients,
- diagnosing and treating patients,
- ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and
- prescribing medications.
Note that physician assistants are NOT the same as medical assistants. Medical assistants do not perform routine clinical tasks and do not practice medicine.
PAs are trained in all aspects of primary care, but they may also specialize in a particular area of medicine. The most common specialties for PAs include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, surgery, and emergency medicine.
How Much Does A Physician Assistant Make?
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for PAs is $121,530 as of 2021. The top 10 percent of PAs earned around $164,620, while the bottom 10 percent earned about $77,940.
The best-paying industries for PAs include outpatient care centers, hospitals, and offices of physicians.
The states with the highest employment levels for PAs are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the states with the highest paid physician assistants are:
- Rhode Island: $146,880
- Alaska: $145,830
- Connecticut: $141,790
- New Jersey: $140,080
- New Hampshire: $137,330
Highest Paying Physician Assistant Jobs
The following are the seven best-paying physician assistant fields in the United States.
Urology is one of the highest paying PA specialties, with a median salary of $176,915.
PAs in this specialty provide care for patients with disorders of the urinary system, such as urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones. They may perform physical exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose and treat conditions, prescribe medications, and provide counseling to patients on lifestyle changes to prevent or manage their condition.
The median salary for PAs working in neurology is $168,796. Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with the treatment of disorders of the nervous system.
PAs in this specialty provide care for patients with conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke. They may perform physical exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose and treat conditions, prescribe medications, and provide counseling to patients and their families.
3. Emergency Medicine
Emergency medicine is one of the highest paying PA specialties, with a median salary of $160,000.
PAs in emergency medicine provide care for patients with acute illnesses or injuries that require immediate medical attention. They must be able to assess a patient's condition quickly and provide treatment accordingly. This can include stabilizing patients, ordering diagnostic tests, and administering medications.
The median salary for PAs working in orthopedics is $159,200. Orthopedics is the branch of medicine that deals with the treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
PAs in this specialty provide care for patients with injuries or diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and tendons. They may perform physical exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose and treat conditions, prescribe medications, and provide rehabilitation services.
The median salary for PAs working in oncology is $148,928. Oncology is the study of cancer, and PAs in this specialty provide care for patients with cancer. This can include performing physical exams, ordering and interpreting tests, diagnosing and treating conditions, prescribing medications, and providing counseling and support to patients and their families.
Gastroenterology is another high-paying PA specialty, with a median salary of $142,931. PAs in this specialty provide care for patients with digestive system disorders, such as stomach pain, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease. They may perform physical exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose and treat conditions, prescribe medications, and provide lifestyle counseling to patients.
The median yearly salary for PAs working in cardiology is $124,000, according to ZipRecruiter. As the population ages and rates of heart disease continue to rise, the demand for cardiology services is expected to grow.
PAs in this specialty provide diagnostic and therapeutic care to patients with cardiovascular disorders. This can include performing physical exams, ordering and interpreting tests, diagnosing and treating conditions, prescribing medications, and counseling patients on lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease.
What Is The Best Specialty For a PA?
The best specialty for a PA depends on the individual's interests and skills. Some of the highest paying physician assistant specialties require additional training and experience, while others may be less competitive. Ultimately, the best specialty for a PA is the one that is the best fit for the individual.
Go Forward As A Physician Assistant With On Time Talent Solutions
Physician assistants play a vital role in the delivery of healthcare services in the United States. They are trained to provide a wide range of medical services, from performing physical exams to prescribing medications. They work in all types of healthcare settings, from hospitals to clinics to private practices.
If you are a physician assistant looking for an exciting and rewarding career, consider one of these best PA specialties. Visit On Time Talent Solutions to search for open positions in these and other specialty areas in the healthcare industry.