Physician Assistant Job Market Trends

A physician assistant offers medical care under the supervisor of a physician’s assistant and there are a wide variety of physician assistant jobs available.

Becoming a Physician Assistant

To become a physician assistant, you must complete a two year program of study in an accredited physician assistant program and complete and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. Entrance into a physician assistant program usually requires two years of post-secondary study and experience in the health care industry before applying to enter a physician assistant program.

The list of accredited programs, including online options, for physician assistants is available on the Physician Assistant Education Association website. Education options range from an associate’s degree to a master’s degree, so the educational options available will depend on your current progress in post-secondary studies. Nationwide, all physician assistants need to be licensed, which means you must graduate from a recognized program and complete the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination to work as a physician assistant.

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the profession of a physician assistant originated in the mid-1960s with medical corpsmen that wanted to use their skills and training in civilian life. For a current soldier that is thinking about transitioning out of the military or a veteran who worked as a medic, there are opportunities in the civilian workforce and in the military as a physician assistant.

Job Outlook for Physician Assistants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, available positions for physician assistants would increase by 20 percent or more between 2008 and 2018. Currently there are more jobs available than there are physician assistants, but some physician assistants will work more than one job; for example, one physician assistant could work two part-time jobs at two clinics.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nationwide median annual wage for physician assistants is $81,000. The top paying employers in this field include out-patient care centers and hospitals. The top paying states include Nevada, Washington and Connecticut. The top paying cities include Chattanooga (TN) and Racine (WI).

Finding Physician Assistant Jobs

Like most jobs in healthcare, the best place to find jobs is on niche job boards, such as Jobs4Healthcare, or on the industry specific channels on major job boards. One example of a niche job board, HospitalJobsOnline, allows users to search by keyword, by state, and be top 10 jobs on the site, and physician assistant is one of their top 10 job postings.

For the physician assistant who is about to graduate or planning to relocate, a career fair and a vertical search engine offer the best returns for time invested. A job fair that is specific to healthcare means that the job seeker will meet directly with the people who review the resumes, create the short-list of candidates and interview candidates for positions. They may also bring along healthcare professionals from the organization that can talk about working at the facility or service and who can talk about working and living in that region. A vertical search engine for job postings is a search engine that indexes job postings found on the Internet and can be searched by keyword and locale. These services can have other tools such as integration with LinkedIn or Facebook, include maps, salary data and job trends. They are the most useful for one-stop research on a potential employer.