Physician Assistant Salary and Compensation
"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill
According to the latest NCCPA data, the average salary of certified PAs in 2021 is $113,186, and the median salary is $105,000. The highest-paid PAs are those working in dermatology ($129,246) and critical care medicine ($125,522). The average wage of PAs has increased by 15.0% in the last six years. On average, family medicine PAs make $105,286, emergency medicine PAs make $125,110, and an orthopedic surgery PA can expect to make $122,477 in 2021.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median salary for PAs at $112,260, with the top 90% earning $157,120, an increase of just below 4% from the previous year when the median salary for PAs was $108,610.
The latest American Academy of PAs (AAPA) salary report showed an increase in median annual salary for PAs to $107,500. This is an increase from $105,000 compared to the prior year AAPA salary report.
As of August 3, 2021, the average annual pay for a physician assistant in the United States, according to data from ZipRecruiter is $107,038 a year. While ZipRecruiter sees yearly salaries as high as $155,000 and as low as $50,500, the majority of PA salaries currently range between $92,500 (25th percentile) to $117,000 (75th percentile) across the United States.
The Melnic salary report showed an average PA salary of $115,799. PAs working as PA first assist earned an average salary of $130,000.
PAs working in outpatient care centers earn the highest salaries with a mean of $121,320. New York had the highest number of employed PAs at 13,270, and a mean wage of $123,080. Connecticut had the highest salary for PAs at $137,060. Salinas, California, was the top-paying metropolitan area with an annual salary of $161,370.
The median salary for recently certified, new-graduate, male, and female PAs is ~$95.000 per year.
PAs who receive an hourly wage, rather than an annual salary, earn an average of ~$60.00 per hour.
Most (79.4%) of PAs are paid an annual (versus an hourly) salary. PAs who work in emergency medicine, urgent care, or are independent contractors are more likely to receive an hourly wage.
Most PAs Receive Additional Non-Salary Benefits:
In addition to their base salary, most PAs receive additional non-salary benefits:
- Half of full-time clinically practicing PAs receive a bonus of $6,000 or more, with the average bonus being $6,118. Sadly, the average bonus for a female PA is $3,000 less than their male counterparts.
- Almost all (87%) of PAs receive some professional development compensation from their primary employer. These include DEA license reimbursement, CME expense coverage, reimbursement of state license fees, etc. etc.
- Most full-time PAs continue to have individual health, dental, and liability insurance included as a covered benefit.
- The majority of employers match between 3-7% of 401K contributions.
PA salaries and the buying power of those salaries vary significantly by region. While PAs in California have some of the highest median salaries of $118,000, PAs in Kentucky, Iowa, and Mississippi have some of the highest cost-adjusted median wages in the nation.
What is the Best PA Salary Report?
As you can see, there are multiple organizations that report the salary of physician assistants; however, each PA salary report varies with how the data is gathered and what salary data is included.
The NCCPA Statistical Report and AAPA salary reports combine a decent sample size (the NCCPA report wins by including ~117,280 of 131,152 certified PAs) and comprehensive data (the AAPA report includes salary by region, specialty, benefits, etc.) and are probably the most reliable.
The median pay for PAs, according to five of the most reliable PA salary reports is summarized here:
- AAPA Salary Report: ($107,500) 2018 ($105,000)
- NCCPA Statistical Report: ($113,186)
- The Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook ($112,260)
- Melnic PA Salary Report ($104,000) 10 years of experience ($115,799)
- ZipRecruiter PA Salary Report: ($107,038)
Like a fine wine, PA salaries also get better with age
Years of experience also matters with salary peaking for PAs with 15-19 years of experience. Those in this group can make up to $30,000 more per year than their new-grad counterparts.
According to NCCPA data, 68% of new graduate students expect starting salaries in the $80,000 to $100,000 range, while 22.0% of recently certified PAs who have not yet accepted a position, indicate that the minimum wage they would accept for their first position would be over $100,000. For recently Certified PAs who have accepted a position, 35.0% are earning over $100,000.
PA salaries, on average, have shown a 15.7% increase over the last six years, which is about 2.61% increase per year, which means PA salaries have been beating the current US inflation rate.
|Earnings||10th percentile||25th percentile||50th percentile||75th percentile||90th percentile|
|Critical Care Medicine||$125,522|
|Family Medicine/General Practice||$105,286|
|Hospice and Palliative Care||$106,333|
|Obstetrics and Gynecology||$99,151|
|Source: 2019-2020 NCCPA Statistical Profile of Physician Assistants|
Know Your Worth
- 117,280 of 131,152 certified PA respondents
- FREE for everyone
- 13,099 of 131,152 PA respondents
- FREE to AAPA fellow, student, and retired members and $200 to non-members
Included in the AAPA annual report are:
- Median Base Salary and Bonus From Primary Employer by Work Setting and Years of Experience
- The proportion of Professional Expenses Paid such as DEA, NCCPA fees, AAPA membership, and CME expenses
- Insurance Benefits Paid for by Primary Employer
- Retirement Benefits Provided by Primary Employer
- Paid Days Off
- PA Call Status
- Hours per Month PAs Took Call
- PA Participation in Profit-Sharing Plans
- Mode of Profit Sharing
- Amount of Additional Forms of Compensation
- PA Compensation by Wage Type (annual, hourly, and productivity pay)
- Median PA Salary By Region (west, northwest, south, and Midwest)
- Median Base Salary From Primary Employer by Primary Work Setting
- Median Base Salary From Primary Employer by Employer Type
- Median Base Salary From Primary Employer by Major Specialty Area
- Career Changes by PAs
Also included in the AAPA report is a cost adjusted median salary by state. Using cost-of-living data, you can determine not only your adjusted cost-of-living salary, but you can use this data to calculate the salary you will need to maintain the same standard of living in a different location.