Even in a down economy, physician assistant salary numbers remain strong.

The American Association of Physician Assistants recently released its 2010 Census & Salary Report, a survey of approximately 20,000 physician assistants (both AAPA members and non-members) about the types of work they do, where they work, their job satisfaction, and physician assistant salary.

Median Physician Assistant Salary

  • PAs earn a median annual salary of $90,000, a 2.8% increase since the 2009.  For a little perspective, a 2.8% increase may not seem like much, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, the average salary for all professions fell by 1.7%.   This means that while most Americans’ pay dropped in 2010, PA pay actually grew.
  • Top Earning Physician Assistant Specialties:
    • Cardiovascular/Cardiothoracic Surgery: $115,000 (median annual income)
    • Dermatology: $103,000
    • Emergency Medicine: $101,000
    • Critical Care Internal Medicine: $100,000

You may remember that a previous Inside PA Training article on PA vs NP salaries found that psychiatry is one of, if not the highest paying specialty.  That information came from a study by Advanceweb for PAs and NPs.  We’re not sure where psychiatry falls in the latest AAPA census, since some of the data have yet to be released.  We trust the the current survey by the AAPA, as it surveyed 5X as many PAs (nearly 20,000, as opposed to the 4,300 or so surveyed by Advanceweb).  We’ll follow up on this for you when all the data is available.

  • Physician assistant salaries in Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Missouri jumped the most, all with increases of more than 9% over the previous year.

New Physician Assistant Salary

  • Median salary after practicing for 5 years:   $91,000.
  • Median salary after practicing for 10 years: $100,000
  • Median salary out of PA School: $80,000

These last numbers are great news for anyone about to start a career as a PA.  There are few other professions out there that can set you up for such earning power in so short a time.  To be fair, it often takes some years of non-PA healthcare experience to get into a PA program.  But clearly, the time and hard work are worth it in terms of physician assistant salary.