Salary of a Physician Assistant in the US: A Comprehensive Guide

By Acadlog 11 Min Read
11 Min Read

The healthcare sector continues to change, with Physician Assistants (PAs) playing a critical role in providing medical services. A deeper look into the salary of a physician assistant across the United States not only showcases the financial rewards of this profession but also highlights the variables that influence earning potential. This article focuses on the average salaries, regional differences, and the impact of experience on a PA’s income.

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Salary of a Physician Assistant: A Detailed Analysis

As of recent data, the average salary of a physician assistant in the U.S. varies widely depending on several factors including geographical location, area of specialization, experience, and the type of healthcare facility. Historically, PAs have been among the top 50 highest-paying occupations in various states, including Florida, indicating the lucrative nature of this career path.

In 2014, PAs in Florida earned an average annual salary of $97,710, with an average hourly wage of $46.98. These figures are indicative of the substantial earning potential for PAs, with the profession witnessing a steady increase in average salaries over the years. This growth trajectory is expected to continue, propelled by the increasing demand for skilled healthcare professionals.

Regional Variations

The salary of a physician assistant is notably affected by their geographic location. Some areas offer higher average salaries due to factors like the cost of living, local demand for healthcare services, and state-specific healthcare funding. For instance, in Florida, the earning capacity varies significantly across different cities:

  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers: Average annual salary of $106,410
  • Ocala: $118,870
  • West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach: $108,080

These variations highlight the importance of location in determining a PA’s salary, with some regions offering salaries well above the national average.

Impact of Experience

Experience remains a key factor influencing a PA’s salary. Entry-level PAs in Florida, for instance, received an average annual salary of $66,900, which escalates with experience, reaching up to $137,400 annually for highly experienced PAs. This substantial range underscores the potential for salary growth within the profession, rewarding experience and expertise with higher compensation.

Specialization and Skills

Beyond geographic and experience factors, specialization within the PA profession can also influence earnings. Specialties like surgery, emergency medicine, or dermatology often command higher salaries due to the specific skills and additional certifications required. For instance, possessing a DEA certification can potentially increase a PA’s salary by over 21.78%, underscoring the value of specialized skills and qualifications.

Industry and Employment Settings for Physician Assistants


Hospitals are among the primary employers of PAs, offering roles in various departments such as emergency medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that PAs in hospital settings often earn higher salaries due to the demanding nature of hospital work, which may include irregular hours and emergency situations. The average salary in hospital settings can vary, with PAs in surgical hospitals potentially earning upwards of $110,000 annually, reflecting the high demand and specialized skills required in these environments.

Private Practices

Private practices, including those of physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare practitioners, provide a significant number of employment opportunities for PAs. In these settings, PAs often have a more stable work schedule compared to hospitals. However, salaries in private practices can be slightly lower than those in hospital settings, depending on the practice’s size, location, and specialty. On average, PAs in private practices can expect to earn between $95,000 to $105,000 per year, according to salary data from the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).

Specialty Clinics

Specialty clinics, including those focused on orthopedics, dermatology, cardiology, and other specific areas of medicine, offer PAs the chance to specialize deeply in a particular field. These clinics often provide competitive salaries due to the specialized nature of the work and the additional training required. For example, PAs working in dermatology clinics might earn an average of $115,000 annually, highlighting the premium placed on specialized knowledge and skills.

Outpatient Care Centers

Outpatient care centers, including urgent care clinics and ambulatory surgical centers, represent a growing sector of healthcare employment for PAs. These settings typically offer a more predictable schedule than hospitals but may require PAs to handle a broad range of medical conditions and procedures. Salaries in outpatient care centers can be competitive, with average annual earnings around $105,000 to $120,000, depending on the center’s location and the volume of patients served.

Educational and Research Institutions

PAs with a passion for teaching and research may find rewarding opportunities in academic and research settings. These roles may involve educating PA students, conducting clinical research, or both. While these positions might offer lower salaries compared to clinical settings, they provide a unique blend of teaching, research, and patient care. Average salaries in these settings can range from $85,000 to $100,000 annually, with the added benefits of contributing to the advancement of medical knowledge and PA education.


The rise of telehealth has opened new avenues for PAs, allowing them to provide care remotely. This burgeoning field offers flexibility in terms of work location and hours, and while salary data for telehealth PAs is still emerging, early indications suggest competitive compensation, especially for PAs with specialties that lend themselves well to remote consultations.

Benefits and Perquisites for Physician Assistants

In the healthcare sector, Physician Assistants (PAs) are not only valued for their versatile skills and contributions to patient care but also receive comprehensive benefits packages that enhance their overall compensation and job satisfaction. These benefits, which can vary significantly by employer and setting, play a crucial role in attracting and retaining top PA talent.

Health Insurance and Wellness Programs

Health insurance is a cornerstone of the benefits package for most PAs, offering coverage for medical, dental, and vision care. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Salary Report, nearly 90% of PAs receive health insurance from their employers. Many institutions also offer wellness programs that include gym memberships, mental health support, and preventive health screenings, emphasizing the importance of healthcare workers’ physical and mental well-being.

Retirement Plans

Retirement benefits are another key component of a PA’s compensation package, with employer-sponsored plans like 401(k) or 403(b) being the most common. Employers often match a portion of the PA’s contributions, effectively increasing their salary. For example, a typical employer match might be 50% of the PA’s contributions up to 6% of their salary, providing a significant boost to their retirement savings.

Paid time off is essential for work-life balance, and PAs typically receive generous PTO allowances. The AAPA reports that the average PA receives between 3 to 4 weeks of PTO per year, in addition to paid holidays and sick leave. This allows PAs to take necessary time off for rest, travel, or dealing with personal matters without financial penalty.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Given the rapidly evolving nature of medicine, continuous learning is critical for PAs. Employers often support this through tuition reimbursement for further education and allowances for attending conferences, workshops, and other professional development opportunities. These benefits not only aid in the PA’s career advancement but also ensure they remain at the forefront of medical knowledge and practices.

Malpractice Insurance

Malpractice insurance is vital for protecting PAs against legal claims related to their professional activities. Most healthcare employers cover the full cost of malpractice insurance for their PAs, providing peace of mind and financial protection. This coverage is crucial, especially in high-risk specialties where the likelihood of facing litigation is higher.

Loan Repayment Programs

To address the burden of educational loans, some employers offer loan repayment programs as part of their benefits package. These programs can significantly reduce the financial strain on PAs, with some institutions offering up to $10,000 per year in loan repayment assistance. This benefit is particularly attractive in underserved areas where healthcare providers are in high demand.

Flexible Scheduling and Telecommuting Options

The advent of telehealth and flexible work arrangements has introduced new benefits for PAs. Employers may offer part-time positions, flexible scheduling, or telecommuting options, allowing PAs to better balance their professional and personal lives. This flexibility is increasingly important for PAs seeking to manage family responsibilities or pursue additional education.

Final Words

Being a Physician Assistant allows you to significantly impact people’s health and enjoy a fulfilling career with competitive pay. By understanding what influences salaries, such as location, experience, specialization, and negotiation skills, Physician Assistants can position themselves for financial success. As the healthcare field progress, the future for Physician Assistants looks promising, offering many opportunities for professional growth and advancement in this crucial role.

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