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What capital city should you move to if you want the highest median Physician Assistant salary in the United States?
I will give you a hint, this city has banned "happy hour" since 1984.
What capital city should you move to if you want the lowest median physician assistant salary in the US? Hint, the state only has 11 inhabitants per square mile and is one of five states not served by an interstate highway.
The most recent data from the Bureau of labor statistics reports the median annual wage for physician assistants was $104,860 per year ($50.41 per hour). The lowest 25 percent earned less than $78,220, and the top 25 percent earned more than $131,066
Compare this to the 2018 AAPA Census data which report the median Physician Assistant Salary to be $106,860 per year ($60.00 per hour). While PAs in California have the highest median salary of $118,000, PAs in Kentucky, Iowa, and Mississippi have some of the highest cost-adjusted median wages in the nation.
As you can see in the table below there has been a slow and steady increase in PA salaries over time.
According to the 2018 AAPA Salary and Compensation Report, the median annual wages for physician assistants in the top industries in which these PAs worked were as follows:
- Hospitals (Non teaching) $110,000
- University Hospital $103,000
- Outpatient care centers $102,000
- Offices of health practitioners (solo practice) $98,900
- Government $103,000
- Physician practice: Multispecialty group $101,750
- Physician practice: Single specialty group $100,000
- Federally Qualified Health Center $100,000
- Certified Rural Health Clinic $97,500
- Community health clinic $95,500
- Physician Solo practice $93,000
The least profitable place for a PA to work is for a physician solo practice, community health clinic or certified rural health center. Those receiving the highest salary work as independent contractors or work for non-healthcare related corporations.
Physician Assistant Salary Comparison Table: by State and Capital City (Updated March 11, 2019)
*The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.
Salary data is from salary.com - you can read more about their methodology here. Click on the corresponding links below see the most updated salary information for the particular region.
|STATE + CAPITAL||25%||MEDIAN||75%||Cost Adjusted|
|Arkansas, Little Rock||$89,408||$97,134||$107,090||$109,300|
|Iowa, Des Moines||$92,446||$100,434||$110,729||$118,498|
|Louisiana, Baton Rouge||$88,492||$96,139||$105,994||$104,874|
|Minnesota, St. Paul||$102,450||$111,303||$122,712||$112,228|
|Missouri, Jefferson City||$92,970||$101,004||$111,357||$111,070|
|Nevada, Carson City||$96,967||$105,346||$116,145||$103,103|
|New Hampshire, Concord||$99,276||$107,855||$118,910||$89,824|
|New Jersey, Trenton||$108,703||$118,097||$130,202||$94,254|
|New Mexico, Santa Fe||$90,906||$98,762||$108,886||$105,181|
|New York, Albany||$98,343||$106,841||$117,792||$79,832|
|North Carolina, Raleigh||$90,906||$98,762||$108,886||$111,157|
|North Dakota, Bismarck||$89,666||$97,414||$107,399||$104,942|
|Oklahoma, Oklahoma City||$91,224||$99,107||$109,266||$113,468|
|Rhode Island, Providence||$101,873||$110,676||$122,021||$95,948|
|South Carolina, Columbia||$90,349||$98,156||$108,217||$104,874|
|South Dakota, Pierre||$79,844||$86,743||$95,635||$98,636|
|Utah, Salt Lake City||$91,239||$99,124||$109,284||$107,759|
|West Virginia, Charleston||$87,626||$95,198||$104,957||$108,598|
Are you looking for salary data to lean on while negotiating a new or existing contract?
Or maybe, you're doing reconnaissance to assess your future earnings if you do decide to pursue a career as a physicians assistant?
So many factors dictate your base salary and should be taken into consideration when you are in contract negotiations with your employer or while discussing a pay raise.
Some Factors That Determine Base Salary
- Is your place of work in a remote or less desirable location?
- Are you looking at salary data adjusted for cost of living?
- Do you have to take call or work on weekends?
- Do you have a lot of support or are you flying solo?
If the employer does not offer the highest salary are there other benefits worth considering such as a great healthcare or retirement package? Or better yet, does the work line up with your personal goals as a healthcare practitioner?
At my last job, we had a high hourly wage coupled with a lackluster family health care plan and a poor retirement benefits package. After being swayed to sign on the dotted line by a higher than average salary offering the mid-levels across the organization were red-lined for the next 4 years. Sadly, we lost a number of very talented practitioners because of this.
A poor benefits package may seem like "no big deal" if you are tempted with the allure of a high salary, but be careful, a high salary with poor benefits can be fools gold, especially when it comes to long-term employment, dependent health care coverage or retirement planning.
I predict we will continue to see a rise in median pay (especially in specialty practice). When I look at PA salary compared to nursing salary in my home State of California, for example, it seems the sky is the limit. But be forewarned, there are always trade-offs; such as longer hours, mandatory call or the addition of weekends.
Make sure to check the average salaries in your region and be open to salary discussions with your colleagues.
I am well aware that nothing is more miserable than having a salary comparison talk. You are either going to be paid more which makes you a target, less which will make you angry, or the same which can make you angry or happy depending on the circumstances.
Keep in mind, this is not about comparisons, it is about mid-levels being on the same page, I am a believer that we are stronger when united which will benefit the profession as a whole.
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Agree! But Fort Worth texas and Austin are great places as well.
Cassidy Hennigan says
Hmm, Indiana isn’t as bad as I figured it would be. That median wage in Hawaii is giving me another reason to want to move there though… 😛
Just remember the cost of living aspect. if you work in Indiana you will keep more of your $. If you got to Hawaii you will be spending most of the salary on living
Stephen Pasquini PA-C says
Yes, Rob, the cost of living is the key to truly understanding these salary numbers. This is available in every AAPA salary report for this very reason.