The Average Pay for Physician Assistants, Revealed

Is your physician assistant salary above or below average? If you’re a PA student thinking about budgeting for loan repayment, how much can you expect to earn in your first job? Sources and online polls can vary pretty widely when it comes to average PA salaries. Small sample sizes and geographic differences can skew online surveys leading to inaccuracies and therefore misaligned expectations. So, here at ThriveAP we’ve gone to the source, Uncle Sam, to give us an idea of how much the average physician assistant can expect to earn. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes annual salary data by profession and PAs are no exception. According to the the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, physician assistants on average earn an hourly wage of $50.37 per hour, or an average annual wage of $104,760. Not bad considering the average PA salary was below the six-figure mark just a few years ago. 

While average salaries give a general benchmark, it’s helpful to see or anticipate where your pay will fall on the spectrum of compensation for physician assistants. These stats can be useful whether you’re drafting a budget or negotiating a raise. The following table gives a breakdown for estimated PA income on an hourly and annual basis by percentile. 

Other factors that play a role in PA compensation are specialty, practice setting and geographic location. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics gives detailed geographic comp information which we’ll discuss in another post. It also gives some general salary expectations for physician assistants based on practice setting. In which settings do PAs earn the most? The following table shares a breakdown. 

When you’re analyzing wage data and comparing your own salary, don’t forget to take other factors like cost of living into account. A lifestyle based on earning the average PA salary in California where the cost of living is high looks vastly different than earning the average PA salary in Arkansas, for example. And, keep your total compensation package in mind. Benefits, retirement plans and other financial incentives do add up. 

How does your physician assistant salary compare?


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