Click here to view the table.
What capital city should you move to if you want the highest median Physician Assistant salary in the United States?
I will give you a hint, In 2013, this city also set a new record with 37 homicides!
What capital city should you move to if you want the lowest median Physician Assistant salary in the US? Hint, in the 2010 census it was the second least populous state capital after Montpelier, Vermont.
The most recent data (May 2012) from the Bureau of labor statistics reports the median annual wage for physician assistants was $90,930 ($43.72 per hour). The lowest 10 percent earned less than $62,430, and the top 10 percent earned more than $124,770.
Compare this to the 2013 AAPA Census based on 951 PA responses which reports the median Physician Assistant Salary to be $107,268 ($54.05 per hour). As you can see in the table below there has been a steady increase over time.
According to the 2013 AAPA Salary Report, the median annual wages for physician assistants in the top industries in which these assistants worked were as follows:
- Hospitals (Non teaching) $95,000
- University Hospital $102,000
- Outpatient care centers $93,520
- Offices of health practitioners (solo practice) $85,000
- Government $86,870
- Multi-Specialty Practice Group $91,400
- Single Specialty Practice Group $89,000
Physician Assistant Salary Comparison Table: by State and Capital City (Updated January 8, 2015)
*The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.
Salary data is from salary.com - you can read more about their methodology here. Click on the corresponding links below see the most updated salary information for the particular region.
|STATE + CAPITAL||10%||20%||MEDIAN||75%||90%|
|Arkansas, Little Rock||$70,793||$77,236||$84,312||$92,606||$100,158|
|Iowa, Des Moines||$75,832||$82,733||$90,312||$99,197||$107,287|
|Louisiana, Baton Rouge||$68,737||$74,992||$81,862||$89,916||$97,249|
|Minnesota, St. Paul||$73,016||$79,661||$86,959||$95,514||$103,303|
|Missouri, Jefferson City||$71,221||$77,702||$84,820||$93,165||$100,763|
|Nevada, Carson City||$81,804||$89,248||$97,425||$107,010||$115,736|
|New Hampshire, Concord||$83,528||$91,130||$99,478||$109,265||$118,175|
|New Jersey, Trenton||$93,265||$101,753||$111,075||$122,002||$131,951|
|New Mexico, Santa Fe||$70,556||$76,977||$84,029||$92,296||$99,822|
|New York, Albany||$76,053||$82,974||$90,576||$99,487||$107,600|
|North Carolina, Raleigh||$78,782||$85,952||$93,826||$103,057||$111,461|
|North Dakota, Bismarck||$71,743||$78,271||$85,442||$93,848||$101,501|
|Oklahoma, Oklahoma City||$74,329||$81,093||$88,523||$97,232||$105,161|
|Rhode Island, Providence||$83,085||$90,646||$98,951||$108,686||$117,549|
|South Carolina, Columbia||$74,092||$80,834||$88,240||$96,921||$104,825|
|South Dakota, Pierre||$61,539||$67,139||$73,290||$80,500||$87,065|
|Utah, Salt Lake City||$75,199||$82,042||$89,559||$98,370||$106,392|
|West Virginia, Charleston||$69,441||$75,760||$82,701||$90,837||$98,245|
Are you looking for salary data to lean on while negotiating a new or existing contract?
Or maybe, you're doing reconnaissance to assess your future earnings if you do decide to pursue a career as a physicians assistant?
So many factors dictate your base salary and should be taken into consideration when you are in contract negotiations with your employer or while discussing a pay raise.
Some Factors That Determine Base Salary
- Is your place of work in a remote or less desirable location?
- Do you have to take call or work weekends?
- Do you have a lot of support or are you flying solo?
If the employer does not offer the highest salary are there other benefits worth considering such as a great healthcare or retirement package? Or better yet, does the work line up with your personal goals as a healthcare practitioner?
At my last job we had a high hourly wage coupled with a lackluster family health care plan and a poor retirement benefits package. After being swayed to sign on the dotted line by a higher than average salary offering the mid-levels across the organization were red-lined for the next 4 years. Sadly, we lost a number of very talented practitioners because of this.
A poor benefits package may seem like "no big deal" if you are tempted with the allure of a high salary, but be careful, a high salary with poor benefits can be fools gold, especially when it comes to long-term employment, dependent health care coverage or retirement planning.
I predict we will continue to see a rise in median pay (especially in specialty practice). When I look at PA salary compared to nursing salary in my home State of California, for example, it seems the sky is the limit. But be forewarned, there are always trade-offs; such as longer hours, mandatory call or the addition of weekends.
Make sure to check the average salaries in your region and be open to salary discussions with your colleagues.
I am well aware that nothing is more miserable than having the salary comparison talk. You are either going to be paid more which makes you a target, less which will make you angry, or the same which can make you angry or happy depending on the circumstances.
Keep in mind, this is not about comparisons, it is about mid-levels being on the same page, I am a believer that we are stronger when united which will benefit the profession as a whole.
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CASPA and Applying to PA School
Huge thanks to Lorenzo Santos (pre-PA student) for his help in updating this blog post!
In 2011, the average age of first-time applicants in CASPA programs was 26.1. The average undergraduate GPA was 3.49 and the average undergraduate science GPA was 3.43. The average non-science GPA was 3.56. The majority of applicants reported health care experience in the following categories: other work experience (mean = 4,264), patient contact experience (mean = 3,350), and other health care experience (mean = 1,830). More applicants reported health care experience from research (mean = 1,140) than health care shadowing (mean = 141) or community service (mean = 710).
Update to CASPA 3.0 Platform: Before beginning the 2015 application cycle, CASPA updated their interface in order to better streamline the application process. The application is now broken up into 4 main sections: Personal Information, Academic History, Supporting Information, and Program Materials. Funny story but last year, when I was applying to PA school, CASPA actually crashed because of so many applicants trying to access the website. To ironically add icing on the cake, it was also my birthday that same day (happy birthday to me). This proves that the PA profession is rapidly growing and becoming more competitive year after year. Therefore it best to prepare early in advance before the big day.
Here is what the new interface looks like:
What was great about the new interface was the progress bars that notified your percentage of completion. CASPA will not allow you to submit your application without completing every required section. In addition, it also kept you up-to-date with your selected school deadlines since not all programs have the same deadlines. Something I also stress is to have your email notifications turned on so that CASPA can send you confirmation emails notifying when rec letter writers updated their evaluation of you, when HQ receives academic transcript(s), and when your entire application was verified. Though it was a convenient feature, it is still imperative to be on top your application from start to finish. Leave no “stone” unturned.
1) Personal Information:
Make sure that your contact information is up to date since this is how CASPA and your selected programs will contact you.
Ethnicity and Race
2) Academic History
High School(s) Attended
College(s) Attended (input ALL institutions you received college credit from)
Every school must send in a transcript with a Transcript Request Form for every school!
Dual credit classes taken in high school, study abroad classes, etc.
Request unofficial transcripts from the schools you attended to help you fill out this section.
List every class you took, EXACTLY as it appears on your transcripts.
+/- grades apply
Section for planned coursework as well
This is where you place any remaining pre-reqs.
If you have pending prerequisite courses while applying to CASPA, remember to include this in a “In Progress”. This lets CASPA and your programs know that you will be updating these grades as soon as they are available.
Make sure that the programs you potentially apply to allow pending hours therefore it won’t affect you when it comes to getting interviews.
Note: In this picture, the one course I was pending was my microbiology lab (BIO 226L). Once I received a grade I uploaded this both on my CASPA application as well as notified the programs I was applying to.
Input your GRE scores, TOEFL, and MCAT
Note: You will need to send an OFFICIAL transcript report to every school.
You are allowed to send your scores to 4 institution for free at your testing site. Any additional school requires a $20 fee.
Scores can be accessed on the ETS website
3) Supporting Information
Minimum of 3 needed and maximum of 5 allowed. Make sure they spell the PA title correctly and tie in your experience with them to the qualities of what makes a good PA.
You will input their contact information (name and email) and CASPA will send them a link to create and account and have access their applicant evaluation page.
CASPA will notify you when they have submitted their evaluation.
ANY and EVERY documented hours of service are placed here.
Experience where you are DIRECTLY responsible for a patient’s health progress.
Ex. Working on a patient as an active EMT, PCT, NA, MA, pharm tech, scribe, medical missions, etc.
Experience where you are working in a healthcare setting but not directly involved in a patient’s health (communication, touching, etc.)
Ex. Filling prescriptions, performing clerical work, delivering patient food, cleaning patient rooms, etc.
Experience of observing a healthcare professional.
Ex. Doctor, PA, NP, nurse, pharmacist, PT, OT, etc.
Paid experience that does not pertain to any health-related field(s).
Ex. Mentoring, tutoring, work-study, etc.
Experience of community service outside the health field.
Research work performed OUTSIDE of receiving credit necessary for degree completion.
Note: CASPA will require a position, employer name, supervisor name, contact phone number, start-end date, frequency hours, and description of duties performed (600 characters).
Duties can be in paragraph or bullet form. DO NOT repeat categories. You may split up hours if your duties requires tasks that fall in more than 1 category.
Any awards, honors or titles that recognize/acknowledges an achievement earned.
Ex. University Honors, recognition awards, officer titles, committee/event leader, TAPA/AAPA membership, etc.
Credible certification with documented proof of passing an examination.
Ex. MA, EMT, CNA, pharm tech, CPR, First-Aid, phlebotomy, BCLS, etc.
Note: Do NOT give yourself a title if you did not receive certification for it/ have an expired membership.
“Essay” (AKA Personal Statement)
Prompt: “Please explain why you are interested in becoming a physician assistant”
5000 character limit
Please note that once you enter your personal statement, you CANNOT go back and edit it. Make sure that all editions are made on a separate document before transferring.
4) Program Materials
This section is intended to inform all applicants on PA program information such as a school’s mission statement, required prerequisite courses, contact information, etc.
Some programs may even include their supplemental application or even allow you to “claim” your prerequisite courses.
Keeping Track of Your Application
There is a “Monitor your progress” tab located at the top of the CASPA homepage. This is where you can keep track of your application once you submit your primary application.
“Received” means that CASPA has received and processed your application
“Materials Received” means that CASPA has received your outside requirements such as academic transcripts (with the transcript request forms), your rec letter evaluations, and your application fee.
“Verified” means that CASPA has confirmed that your application is completed and will then be sent to your selected programs.
Note: Applicants take roughly 1-3 weeks before becoming verified given the large pool of applicants submitted their applicants at the same time. Therefore it is IMPORTANT to submit yours early and get evaluated early.
Updating Your Application
After submitting your primary application, CASPA allows you to update your application for any new grades, experiences, evaluations, achievements, and certifications. However you can only add in NEW information and cannot edit previously entered ones.
You must first access your the section you wish to update and there will be a section that says “Add new (blank)”, once you update this, you need to go back to the CASPA homepage and click the blue button on top of the screen that says “Update my application”. This will then send in any newly added information to the school you are applying to.
When to begin CASPA:
CASPA traditionally opens around mid-April. It is best to get a head start on your application and prepare documents containing your health care hours, volunteer hours, work experience, and shadowing hours before applying. You’ll also want to secure your letters of recommendation and at least have a draft of your narrative done.
Below you’ll find all of the information you’ll see on the CASPA including a detailed description of each part. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to answer the question as best I can. For the most part, if you get stuck, you’ll need to contact your individual programs you are applying to for answers. As a last resort, try CASPA.
Highest Degree Earned To Date
Check if you have any professional certifications, e.g. BCLS for healthcare providers, EMT
Check if you have any professional registrations, e.g. TAPA Member, AAPA member, PAFT member
Have you ever matriculated in or attended any PA education program? If you answered Yes, please provide an explanation. Have you ever been disciplined for academic performance or conduct violations (e.g. academic probation, dismissal, suspension, disqualification, etc.) by any college or school? If you answered Yes, please provide a brief explanation.
Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor? Most PA program require background checks as a condition of acceptance pending satisfactory results. Failure to disclose prior convictions may have serious consequences.
Have you ever had any certification, registration, license or clinical privileges revoked, suspended or in any way restricted by any institution, state or locality?
Have you ever had any US military experience?
Authorization: Check box to authorize CASPA to release information (including admissions status) to pre-professional health advisors to assist those advisors in counseling future applicants.
How did you first hear about the PA profession/PA education?
What was the most influential factor in bringing you to the PA profession/PA education?
Health Related Training
In this section you list any CURRENT professional certifications ONLY.
Type, e.g. Basic Cardiac Life Support for Health Care Providers, EMT-Basic
Organization issuing certification, e.g. American Heart Association
Attendance From and To Dates, e.g. The time span which it took you to earn the certification. The dates can be the same for one day CPR courses or if you just took an exam. Not referring to dates which the certification is valid itself.
Certificate, e.g. If you received a certificate at end of course training/exam.
Narrative- see my posting about narratives, here, for details.
Work and Volunteer Experience - If you feel lost here, visit my blog posting about HCE and it might clear some things up a bit.
Patient Care Experience
Experiences where you are directly responsible for a patient’s care