Career Advice on How to Become A Physician Assistant

General Career Information

Physician assistants are hired to do much of the grunt work that doctors feel that they are too important or too busy to do.  Physician assistants are trained to be part of a doctor’s team and gather information on patients, including medical histories, as well as order and evaluate lab test and x rays.  In fact, physician assistants can do some diagnoses and treat some forms of injury.  In other words, one of the little secrets of the medical industry is that while you are paying for a doctor that doesn’t mean you will receive that level of expertise.

Many physician assistants come from within the health care industry.  Often experienced nurses or medics make the transition to the job of physician assistant for a variety of reasons.  One major reason is the substantial increase in pay.

Part of what makes this job a potentially attractive one for those in the middle of a job search or career planning is that the pay is much better than one might expect.  The average physicians assistant averages about $80,000, with the top ten percent earning about $102,000.

The fact that the project future rate of growth for the profession is very strong is another reason that this job could be an attractive one for job seekers.  This is especially the case when factoring in that the necessary training to become a physician assistant is just two years.  You did read that correctly, just two years.  However, most physician assistants do have a Bachelor’s Degree.


Career Facts:

As of 2007, there were 136 educational programs that were accredited for physician assistants.  Physician assistants, in addition to their course work, must also pass a national exam that allows for certification.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook- Excellent:

The growth rate for physician assistants is a staggering twenty-seven percent.  Meaning that 18,000 new physician assistants will be added by 2016.  No doubt this number is due in part to steady decline in the nation’s health and large number of aging Baby Boomers.
Job Outlook is Excellent

A Day in The Life:

Physician assistants spend most of their day doing the work that most people would assume they were paying their doctor to do.  They order and evaluate test results and help with gathering information from patients.  On average, a physician assistant works about forty hours per week.

Average Salary:

The average salary of a physician assistant is about $80,000, with first year students earning about $70,000.  The top ten percent of physician assistants earn a very surprising $102,000.

$70k - $102k


Career Training and Qualifications:

Most physician assistants have a college degree.  There is, however, a two-year program, but most programs expect prospect students to have at least two years of college.  Additionally, there is a national exam that all physician assistants must pass in order to practice.  It is common for physician assistants to come from within the medical industry having serviced as nurses or medics.
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