Physician assistants are an integral part in the medical profession. Like their title describes, they are directed by physicians and surgeons to help diagnose and treat patients.
How Much Do Physician Assistant’s Make?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 83,540 physician assistants working as of May 2011. They garnered an average hourly rate of $43.01 and an average of $89,470 per year. The lowest 10% of physician assistants made up to $29.18 per hour ($60,690 per year) while the top 10% of physician assistants made more than $57.72 ($120,060 per year). These rates do not differentiate between full- and part-time workers, education level, geographical location, or experience which all impact wage rates that physician assistants receive.
There are five industries that have the highest mean hourly and annual wages that are well above the national average. Special hospitals (except substance abuse and psychiatric facilities) pay the highest with an average hourly rate of $46.58 or $96,880 per year. Scientific research and development services paid an average of $45.16 per hour or $93,930 per annum. Employment services came in third with an average hourly wage of $44.89 or $93,370 per year. Outpatient care centers and Office administrative services came in fourth and fifth with an hourly mean rate of $44.45 and $44.39 for an average annual wage of $92,450 and $92,330, respectively.
Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Connecticut, and New Jersey were the highest paying states for physician assistants as of May 2011. All the states, except New Jersey, paid an average annual salary above $100,000. Physician assistants in Rhode Island made an average of $107,000 per year. In Nevada they made the mean salary was $102,190 per annum. In Washington they made an average of $101,910 while in Connecticut they averaged $100,470 per year. New Jersey had an annual mean wage of $99,870 which was still $10,000 above the national average.
Physician assistants are expected to have a 30% increase in the jobs by 2020. Many physician assistants and physicians are projected to retire in the next eight years, leaving a gap in the medical field. Combined with the increased amount of people visiting the doctor and people that are living to advanced ages, there is a need for people that are trained to practice medicine. With the expected increase and the pay, becoming a physician assistant is smart endeavor for job security and the ability for advancement.
What do Physician Assistants Actually Do?
Physician assistants are trained to practice medicine under the guidance of a surgeon or physician. Routine duties can include reviewing patient’s charts, doing physical examinations, prescribing medicine, ordering tests such as lab work and x-rays, and diagnosing illnesses. They can work in a variety of locations, from rural to urban and emergency rooms to family practices. They have the option to specialize that gives them extended education and training in one of five different areas.
To find out more about physician assistant duties, please read the Physician Assistant Job Description article.