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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 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 538
Undergraduate Certificate 214
Associate’s Degree 59

What Physician Assistant Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to physician assistant and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Physician Assistant Majors

Physician Assistant majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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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

A major in physician assistant prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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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

As you progress with your physician assistant degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

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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?

59 Associate's Degrees Annually
64% Percent Women
78% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
The major attracts more women than men. About 64% 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:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Physician Assistant Students with Associate's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1
Black or African American 11
Hispanic or Latino 33
White 9
International Students 1
Other Races/Ethnicities 4

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Physician Assistant. About 1.7% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Physician Assistant Majors Make?

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $108,430 to $122,320 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to physician assistant. 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. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

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) 1.4%
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 the 2018-2019 academic year, 232 schools offered some type of physician assistant program. 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) 5 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 5 0
Associate’s Degree 5 0
Bachelor’s Degree 4 0
Post-Baccalaureate 0 0
Master’s Degree 216 10
Post-Master’s 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 2 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 2 2
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) 28,841
Radiologic Technology 9,673
Surgical Technology/Technologist 7,958
Respiratory Care Therapy/Therapist 7,034
Diagnostic Medical Sonography/Sonographer and Ultrasound Technician 5,530
Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist 5,297
Athletic Training 4,064
Other Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment Professions 1,908
Cardiovascular Technology/Technologist 1,429
Electrocardiograph Technology/Technician 773
Nuclear Medical Technology/Technologist 645
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technology/Technician 580
Electroneurodiagnostic/Electroencephalographic Technology/Technologist 337
Polysomnography 322
Mammography Technician/Technology 73
Radiation Protection/Health Physics Technician 53
Cardiopulmonary Technology/Technologist 43
Hearing Instrument Specialist 39
Gene/Genetic Therapy 17
Perfusion Technology/Perfusionist 10

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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