What Is the Average Salary of a Physician Assistant? (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 January 2023

Published 13 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Consider becoming a physician assistant if you want to work in a high-paying and well-regarded medical field. Although physician assistants perform many of the same responsibilities as doctors, physician assistants require a different educational background and, on average, receive a different salary. Understanding what this job includes can assist you in determining whether this is the correct career option for you. In this article, we discuss what does a physician assistant do, what is the average salary of a physician assistant and what are the skill requirements for the role.

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What does a physician assistant do?

Physician assistants are medical professionals who operate under the supervision of a physician. The physician-physician assistant connection supports and fosters the provision of excellent patient care. This collaboration may take place remotely via electronic methods when the assistant requires help with a consultation. A physician has many of the same responsibilities as a doctor, however, a physician operates with a doctor rather than independently. The responsibilities of a physician assistant include doing patient examinations, interpreting lab tests and helping during surgical procedures.

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Physician assistants are responsible for a wide range of activities related to patient care. The primary responsibilities include doing physical examinations on patients, determining diagnoses and developing treatment plans based on the diagnosis. All of this occurs under the supervision of a doctor. Outlined below are some daily responsibilities of a physician assistant:

  • Performing physical examinations on patients

  • Obtaining a patient's medical history

  • Providing patient counselling

  • Recognising and treating patient diseases

  • Developing patient treatment strategies

  • Requesting patient lab testing

  • Analysing and interpreting the results of patient lab tests

  • Carrying out medical treatments

  • Assisting in the prescription of medications

  • Assisting with surgical procedures

  • Informing patients about preventative care

  • Closing minor wounds

  • Making casts or splints

What is the average salary of a physician assistant?

Physician assistants operate in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices. Physician assistants generally work full-time hours even if the workplace is in urgent care, nursing home or after-hours clinics. They may complete those hours in a rotating shift. Higher pay can be obtained in the private sector, and employer size and experience may also affect salary.

According to Indeed Salaries, the national average salary for a physician assistant is $45,845 per year. The answer to “what is the average salary of a physician assistant” can vary. Your compensation as a physician assistant is dependent on your level of professional, education and credentials as well as your professional expertise. It also depends on the size and type of your employer. You may also enhance your earning potential through a variety of techniques.

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Tips for increasing your salary as a physician assistant

There are several strategies to help you improve your income. If you want to earn more than the typical wage for your position, you may consider the following tips:

  • Negotiate your salary. When the chance for a pay increase occurs, like with any other employment, you might try to negotiate better compensation as a physician assistant. If you do, be sure to properly showcase your talents while keeping the usual wage for this job in mind and negotiate a wage that is appropriate for your credentials and the job itself.

  • Get a specialisation. A specialisation can improve your chances of obtaining better compensation. Consider getting a degree from a recognised institution and pursuing a speciality in neurology, cardiology or dermatology.

  • Switch employer type. Changing the sort of employer you work for, as with most industries, might enhance your chances of earning higher pay. This is because, in some situations, a private clinic may pay better than regular hospitals.

  • Change your location. You might even relocate to a new region or country in the hopes of improving your earnings. Just keep in mind that regions that offer higher-than-average wages may result in a rise in the cost of living.

  • Increase your level of education. Getting a master's degree in physician assistant studies from an accredited university can also help you obtain a higher salary. Though you may continue your education after this, earning your master's degree can show others in your field that you've met certain standards.

How to become a physician assistant

Outlined below are the steps you can take to begin your career as a physician assistant:

1. Obtain a bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree is the first step in becoming a physician assistant. Pursuing a healthcare area makes it simpler to obtain clinical experience as you advance in your career. You can pursue a degree in medicine or a closely related field.

2. Gather extensive professional experience

It's essential that you find work in the medical field. You may consider becoming a physiotherapist or nurse to log in to the required clinic hours. You may also undertake training and fellowship when still pursuing your education.

3. Get certified and licensed

Complete all the necessary certifications to become licensed to practise. You may also pursue and take additional certifications to enhance your earning potential. Additional certifications validate your competence and demonstrate your eagerness to learn.

4. Develop your soft skills

Ensure that you possess excellent analytical thinking abilities, problem-solving skills as well as attention to detail. Strive to develop these skills while pursuing your studies and gathering your work experience. You can emphasise these soft skills on your resume to enhance your competitiveness.

5. Create a resume

Your resume is the first step toward a successful job search and might help you earn a job in your desired industry. A well-written resume combined with the right keywords can attract prospective employers. Make certain that it contains all of your clinic work, education, experience and credentials.

6. Apply for jobs

Once you've got enough experience, credentials and a licence, you can apply for jobs that are a good fit for you. You may demonstrate your expertise in smaller clinics before progressing into larger health facilities and hospitals. Ensure that your qualifications match the job requirements.

What skills do you need to become a physician assistant?

To become a physician assistant, you may use a variety of hard and soft skills. Along with having extensive medical knowledge and understanding of mathematics and science, you may need the following skills:

  • Active listening skills: As a physician assistant, it's critical that you understand your patients' needs and can respond to them appropriately by practising active listening skills.

  • Compassion: It's critical to show compassion to a wide range of patients who rely on you in your time of need.

  • Critical thinking skills: It's critical that you can properly evaluate and make conclusions from patient lab data as you interpret them, as this plays a major role in your treatment suggestion.

  • Self-confidence: Working in the medical industry requires you to be confident in your job and your talents as you provide patient care.

  • Communication: This position requires both verbal and written communication abilities. You may communicate information to team members and patients clearly and compassionately.

  • Teamwork and collaboration: You may be working closely with a physician who may oversee you and other professionals in the healthcare team. It's critical to collaborate and assist one another to deliver high-quality patient care.

  • Problem-solving and strategic thinking: In a fast-paced medical setting, you may consider other techniques and approaches to achieve your goal. It's essential that you plan how to get to the most critical patients first when managing a busy day.

  • Emotional intelligence: You may often use empathy and tact to communicate unpleasant messages to patients.

  • Detail orientation: You may prescribe medications, obtain medical histories and perform physical examinations on patients. As such, it's essential that you complete tasks correctly with strong attention to detail.

What is the work environment of a physician assistant like?

Typically, physician assistants operate in a patient-facing capacity. Schedules and work hours might vary greatly based on the industry, as well as the hours of the supervising physician. Shifts may rotate and include weekends, evenings and holidays. Physician assistants may also participate in the emergency call rotations. In most cases, the hospital or clinic may include an administration office where the physician assistant may collaborate with other team members to accomplish administrative duties. During the course of a typical workday, a physician assistant may come into contact with the following environmental factors:

  • Standing for long amounts of time

  • Stooping and reaching for equipment

  • Having high exposure to infectious and contaminated materials

  • Maintaining a high level of interpersonal interaction

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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