Physician Assistant as a Career

The Role of the Physician Assistant (PA)

PAs are medical professionals who are certified nationally and licensed within a state to practice medicine. PAs are in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in U.S. territories. PAs have been part of the healthcare team in American medicine for more than 50 years. Educated at the graduate level as medical generalists, PAs practice in every medical and surgical specialty and setting. PAs are unique in that they can change medical specialties without a need for additional formal education or training.  -2021 AAPA Salary Report

Physician Assistant as a Profession

PAs are medical professionals who are educated at the graduate level to diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. PAs practice team-based care in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, improving healthcare access and quality -2021 AAPA Salary Report

The Physician Assistant Career by the Numbers

  • Surgical Specialties 18.7%
  • Family Medicine 18.1%
  • Emergency Medicine 12.4%
  • Internal Medicine Subspecialties 9.5%
  • Internal Medicine 4.4%
  • Dermatology 4.1%
  • Hospital Medicine 3.6%
  • General Surgery 3.0%
  • Pediatrics 1.9%
  • Psychiatry 1.8%

*In 2020, the ten specialties above comprised over three quarter (77.5%) of certified PAs. – 2020 Statistical Profile of Certified PAs


National Mean – $115,470

-2020 Statistical Profile of Certified PAs

The Job Outlook

Employment of physician assistants is expected to grow by 31% from 2020 to 2030.  Physicians and institutions are expected to employ more PAs to provide primary care and to assist with medical and surgical procedures because PAs are cost-effective and productive members of the health care team.

For more information about the physician assistant career, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site.

External Resources

American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA) 


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