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Physician Assistant Major

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Physician Assistant

59 Associates's Degrees Annually
538 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
#157 in Popularity (Associate's)
$108,430 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Physician Assistant Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many physician assistant graduations there were in 2019-2020 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 379
Undergraduate Certificate 136
Associate Degree 54

What Physician Assistant Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, physician assistant majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Physician Assistant Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in physician assistant should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Skills for Physician Assistant Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to physician assistant:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Abilities for Physician Assistant Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a physician assistant student include the following:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Who Is Getting an Associate’s Degree in Physician Assistant?

54 Associate's Degrees Annually
65% Percent Women
83% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
The major attracts more women than men. About 65% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of physician assistant majors is as follows:

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Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 3
Black or African American 4
Hispanic or Latino 37
White 6
International Students 1
Other Races/Ethnicities 3

Geographic Diversity

Physician Assistant appeals to people across the globe. About 1.9% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Physician Assistant Majors Make?

Salaries According to BLS

Physician Assistant majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $108,430 to $122,320 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Physician Assistant Major  ( 108430 to 122320 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with physician assistant may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for physician assistant careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 2.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 21.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 2.5%
Master’s Degree 43.0%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 7.5%
Doctoral Degree 12.5%
Post-Doctoral Training 9.6%

Online Physician Assistant Programs

In 2019-2020, 240 schools offered a physician assistant program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 0 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 4 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 2 0
Associate’s Degree 5 0
Bachelor’s Degree 4 0
Post-Baccalaureate 0 0
Master’s Degree 228 2
Post-Master’s 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 2 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 3 3
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Physician Assistant Worth It?

The median salary for a physician assistant grad is $108,430 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 172% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,370,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to physician assistant.

Major Number of Grads
Emergency Medical Technology/Technician (EMT Paramedic) 25,604
Radiologic Technology 9,366
Surgical Technology 7,150
Respiratory Care Therapy 7,025
Diagnostic Medical Sonography/Sonographer and Ultrasound Technician 5,400
Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapy 5,275
Athletic Training 4,467
Other Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment Professions 1,975
Cardiovascular Technology/Technologist 1,435
Electrocardiograph Technology/Technician 689
Nuclear Medical Technology/Technologist 598
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technology 506
Electroneurodiagnostic/Electroencephalographic Technology/Technologist 361
Polysomnography 243
Perfusion Technology/Perfusionist 123
Mammography Technician/Technology 74
Radiation Protection/Health Physics Technician 47
Cardiopulmonary Technology 45
Hearing Instrument Specialist 25
Gene/Genetic Therapy 13
Orthopedic Technology 0

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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