How Much Do Physician Assistants Make?

Published August 19, 2022 · 5 Min Read

Review the yearly salary of physician assistants, states and settings where they earn expect the highest pay, along with tips to increase earning potential.

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How Much Do Physician Assistants Make?
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With competitive salaries and encouraging employment projections, becoming a physician assistant (PA) offers an attractive choice for prospective medical professionals. The role features many of the same benefits as becoming a physician, such as prescribing medications, performing medical procedures, and developing treatment plans. However, becoming a PA takes less time and money.

This page details PA salaries, the highest-paying states and practice settings, and ways to increase compensation.

Average Salary for Physician Assistants

According to Payscale data from July 2022, the average physician assistant salary is $100,610. Depending on experience, compensation can range from about $92,000 for entry-level positions to $118,000 for individuals who have spent 20 or more years in the field.

Other factors can affect PA earning potential, such as practice setting, certification, and location. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that the bottom 10% of PAs earn an average of $77,940, while the top 10% earn $164,620 annually.

$100,610
Average Annual Salary
Source: Payscale, July 2022

$56.13
Average Hourly Wage
Source: Payscale, July 2022

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The Highest-Paying States for Phsyician Assistants

According to the 2021 U.S. census, the top five most populous states are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. These five also happen to be the highest-paying states for PAs. Areas that have more patients typically deliver higher pay.

The states with the highest annual pay for physician assistants are:

Highest-Paying States
State Average Salary
California $136,920
New York $131,810
Texas $116,070
Pennsylvania $109,530
Florida $104,810

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Highest-Paying Workplaces for Physician Assistants

According to the BLS, PAs in settings with a steady stream of patients, such as outpatient care centers, hospitals, and primary care offices, tend to earn more than professionals working for the government or educational services.

Highest-Paying Workplaces
Workplace Setting Average Salary
Outpatient care centers $128,430
Hospitals; state, local, and private $127,240
Offices of physicians $121,010
Government $106,910
Educational services; state, local, and private $101,040

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

3 Ways to Increase Pay As a Physician Assistant

PAs can increase their annual salaries in several ways. Earning a certification, gaining administrative experience, or changing practice settings/geographic locations can help PAs increase their earning potential.

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) offers certificates of added qualifications (CAQs) in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, emergency medicine, hospital medicine, and nephrology. Nurses can also pursue CAQs in orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, and psychiatry.

Before taking the CAQ exam in their chosen specialty, each PA must hold licensure from NCCPA and have completed continuing medical education hours and a certain amount of experience, based on the specialty.

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), certification can increase a PA's earning potential, depending on the specialty. For example, PAs working in emergency medicine earn an average of $110,000 annually.

By expanding their administrative responsibilities, PAs can increase their salaries. AAPA reports that PAs in administrative roles earned a median base salary of $138,000 — over 30% more than their non-administrative counterparts. Administrative PAs also reported higher average bonuses, earning almost $7,000 more per year.

The total compensation, which includes base salary and bonuses, is about $35,000 higher for administrative PAs. However, these professionals typically work more hours per week than PAs, who focus more on clinical work.

PAs can also focus on certain geographic or practice settings that offer higher annual salaries. Moving to a more populated state like Texas or Pennsylvania could be financially beneficial.

However, states with higher salaries typically have higher cost-of-living, like California. PAs can also switch to practice settings that provide higher pay, such as outpatient care centers, hospitals, and primary care offices.

How do Physician Assistant Salaries Compare to Nursing Careers?

Compared to nursing careers, PAs earn similar salaries to nurses with more advanced and specialized roles. For instance, while PAs and nurse practitioners (NPs) differ in their responsibilities, both positions earn similar pay. July 2022 Payscale data indicates that NPs earn an annual salary of $100,940, which is slightly higher than $100,610 for PAs.

Acute care NPs ($105,800) and psychiatric NPs ($113,550), earn more than PAs, while other NPs, such as pediatric NPs ($94,120) and family NPs ($98,370) earn less.

Frequently Asked Questions About Physician Assistant Salaries Nurse Salaries


How much does a physician assistant make annually?

Payscale reports an average yearly physician assistant salary of $100,610. However, they also report that compensation can range from $82,000-$129,000 depending on experience, practice setting, and location.

How long does it take to become a physician assistant?

It typically takes a minimum of eight to nine years to become a PA. The process includes earning an undergraduate degree, gaining approximately 1,000 hours of healthcare/patient experience, and completing a master's degree.

Do physician assistants earn more than nurse practitioners?

According to Payscale, the difference between the annual physician assistant salary and pay for NPs is minimal. NPs earn an annual average salary of $100,940, just over $200 more than what PAs earn in a year.

Are physician assistants in high demand?

Yes, there is currently a demand for PAs. The BLS projects that PA employment will grow by 31% from 2020-2030 — significantly higher than the 8% average for all other occupations.


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