If you’re already a Physician assistant (PA), you’re in luck. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, PA’s can expect a 30% career growth in the next ten years, which is much faster than average for other jobs. It appears demand for Physician Assistants will be there, but what salary can you expect?
While the American Academy of Physician Assistants lists the 2014 average salary of PA’s to be over $107,000 a year, there are several factors that play a role in earnings. For example, the area of the country in which you live, as well as your level of experience, both determine how much you’ll make as a PA. Another important factor in salary is the specialty in which you work.
Choosing which area of medicine you want to pursue should be based on several things, such as your interests, the lifestyle you want, and your goals. That being said, it does not hurt to get an idea of what different specialties pay. Below are three of the highest paying PA specialties.
Dermatology: Dermatology appears to be one of the highest paying specialties for physician assistants. A 2013 survey by Medical Group Management Association reports the average salary for dermatology physician assistants was about $117,000 a year. Dermatology physician assistants treat people with all types of skin conditions; they may perform a variety of duties, including treating skin cancer and performing cosmetic procedures.
Dermatology physician assistant residencies and fellowships are available for those who want to work in the field, but some doctors will also train a general PA on the job.
There are several advantages to working as a dermatology PA. For instance, most PA’s who work in dermatology usually only work in the daytime, and emergencies are infrequent.
Emergency room physician assistants are also among the top earners. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Advance for NP’s and PA’s, physician assistants working in emergency medicine earned about $116,000 a year. A 2015 surgery by the website Clinical Advisor listed the yearly earnings for emergency room PA’s even higher, at $122,000.
Of course, money is not everything, and fortunately, working in the ER has several additional advantages. For example, if you thrive in a fast-paced work environment, you’ll probably enjoy emergency medicine. Also, since no two days are the same, the job stays interesting. You may also have the opportunity to be involved in life and death situations, which can be very rewarding.
If you enjoy variety, you have also come to the right place. Physician assistants working in the emergency room may treat patients in cardiac arrest, respiratory distress, victims of trauma, and a wide variety of other emergencies.
Although employment requirements may vary, some hospitals prefer to hire emergency room PA’s who have completed an 18-month emergency medicine PA residency.
Surgical Specialties: Earnings for a surgical PA may depend on the specialty in which you’re working. In general, surgery is one of the highest paying specialties. A 2014 survey by the American Academy of Physician Assistants indicated that the average salary for surgical PA’s was over $105,000 a year. Surgical physician assistants practice in most specialties which doctors work in, such as trauma, cardiac, vascular, and general surgery.
The duties of a surgical PA may vary but often include performing pre-operative evaluations and exams, assisting during surgical procedures, and providing follow-up care.
After graduating from PA school, the path to becoming a surgical PA usually requires completing a two-year PA residency.
Working as a surgical PA can be challenging and exciting. Depending on the specialty you choose, however, you may need to be on call. PA’s working in surgery also often work long hours, and their schedule can be unpredictable.