Income and benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for all physician assistants was $112,260 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $72,720, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $157,120.
The top paying industry for physician assistants was outpatient care centers, which had a median annual salary of $1119,090. This was followed by hospitals ($115,190), employment services ($114,220), office of physicians (110,670) and educational services ($109,080).
Autonomy and flexibility
The autonomy and flexibility of a physician assistant depends on where they work. Physician assistants who work in remote locations, where a physician is only in attendance a few days a week, will have more autonomy and flexibility than a physician assistant in a busy hospital where a doctor is always supervising them. Generally speaking, physician assistants will have control over their decisions. But, this is limited by the need to consult more senior physicians. Flexibility is perhaps lower, as physician assistants will normally always work in busy settings and will have little control over the hours they work.
Locations and commute
Physician assistants are needed to support the work of physicians wherever there are communities of people. Based on this, physicians shouldn’t struggle too much to find work in most locations. According to Zippia, the best states to be a physician assistant, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities available, are:
- Pennsylvania, where the average annual salary is $146,118
- Rhode Island where the average annual salary is $150,577
- Connecticut, where the average annual salary is $149,196
- New York where the average annual salary is $149,808
- Maine, where the average annual salary is $143,926
The worst states, according to Zippia, are North Dakota, Missouri, Utah, Colorado and Hawaii.
The largest employer of physician assistants in the United States was offices of physicians, which employed 54% of all physician assistants. Hospitals employed 26%, outpatient care centers employed 8%, educational services employed 4% and employment services employed 1%.
Working as a physician assistant is physically and emotionally demanding as physician assistants spend much of their time on their feet, making rounds, evaluating patients and may have to stand in operating rooms for an extended period of time.