Exploring Physician Assistant (PA) Career Options

The role of a Physician Assistant (PA) is both dynamic and rewarding, offering a broad range of career opportunities across various healthcare settings. As the demand for physician assistants continues to rise, those in the profession can look forward to an array of job options that cater to diverse interests and specialties. Whether you are a seasoned PA, a career changer, or a pre-med student, understanding the possible career paths can help you make informed decisions about your future. 

Apply Now

The Rising Demand for Physician Assistants 

The healthcare industry is experiencing a significant increase in the demand for physician assistants. This surge is fueled by an aging population, a focus on preventative care, and a shortage of both physicians and specialists. Consequently, PAs are increasingly sought after to fill crucial roles in healthcare teams. This demand spans various practice settings and specialties, making it an excellent time to explore the multitude of career options available. 

Moreover, PAs have the flexibility to choose between permanent positions and locum tenens roles, offering both stability and variety in their careers. Now, let’s delve into the diverse opportunities available for PAs. 

PAs in Hospital Settings 

Inpatient Medicine: Inpatient medicine is a crucial area where PAs play a vital role. Working alongside physicians, PAs manage a range of patient care activities, from conducting physical exams to developing treatment plans. This setting allows PAs to work in different departments, including internal medicine, cardiology, and oncology, providing comprehensive care to hospitalized patients. 

Emergency Medicine: For those who thrive in fast-paced environments, emergency medicine offers an exciting career path. PAs in this specialty are trained to handle acute medical conditions, perform life-saving procedures, and collaborate closely with emergency physicians. The ability to work under pressure and make quick decisions is essential in this high-stakes arena. 

Surgical Specialties: PAs in surgical specialties assist with preoperative and postoperative care, as well as intraoperative procedures. They work in various surgical fields, such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, and general surgery. This role not only demands advanced clinical skills but also offers the opportunity to participate in complex surgical cases and contribute to patient outcomes. 

Primary Care 

Primary care remains a cornerstone of healthcare delivery, and PAs are integral to this domain. They provide continuous and comprehensive care, often forming lasting relationships with their patients. 

Family Medicine: Family medicine offers PAs the chance to treat patients of all ages, addressing a wide range of health issues. This specialty emphasizes preventive care, chronic disease management, and health education, making it an ideal choice for those who enjoy long-term patient interactions. 

Internal Medicine: Specializing in internal medicine allows PAs to focus on adult patients, managing complex and chronic conditions. This field requires a deep understanding of internal organ systems and the ability to coordinate care with other specialists. 

Pediatrics: Pediatrics is a rewarding specialty for PAs who are passionate about working with children and adolescents. From routine checkups to managing developmental disorders, PAs in pediatrics play a critical role in fostering the health and well-being of younger patients. 

Physician Assistant and Doctor looking at an ipad and discussing patient information
See Also
The Benefits of Physician Assistant Travel Jobs

Specialized Clinic Opportunities 

For PAs interested in specific medical fields, specialized clinics offer unique and fulfilling career paths. 

Dermatology: Dermatology PAs diagnose and treat skin conditions, from acne to skin cancer. This specialty combines clinical care with procedural skills, allowing PAs to perform biopsies, excision, and cosmetic treatments. 

Cardiology: In cardiology, PAs work with patients suffering from heart-related conditions. They conduct diagnostic tests, develop treatment plans, and educate patients on lifestyle changes to manage cardiovascular diseases. 

Orthopedics: Orthopedic PAs assist in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal issues. They work closely with orthopedic surgeons, helping with fracture management, joint injections, and postoperative care. 


The digital age has revolutionized healthcare, and telemedicine is emerging as an exciting career option for PAs. Through telemedicine, PAs can provide remote patient care, consult with specialists, and deliver virtual healthcare services. This model offers flexibility and access to care, especially in underserved areas. 

The Top-4 Paying States for PAs 

As a Physician Assistant (PA), understanding where to work can significantly impact your earning potential and quality of life. Emphasizing both financial and lifestyle considerations, we have a comprehensive overview of opportunities across different regions. 

What is the Average PA Salary? 

The average salary for a Physician Assistant in the United States varies based on factors such as location, experience, and specialty. As of 2024, the average salary for a PA in the U.S. is approximately $125,000 per year. However, those working with AMN Healthcare earn more across locum tenens and permanent positions, with average annual earnings of $167,566.16. 

California: California is the top-paying state for PAs, with an average salary of $179,986.57 per year. The state's progressive healthcare system and high demand for medical professionals create lucrative opportunities. The cost of living in California varies widely between regions. Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have higher costs compared to more rural areas. Experience plays a crucial role in salary negotiations, with seasoned PAs commanding higher wages. California's diverse landscape, from beaches to mountains, and its cultural richness make it an attractive place to live and work. 

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania is another high-paying state with an average PA salary of $177,419.87 per year. The state's rich history in medical education and diverse healthcare settings provide ample opportunities for professional growth. Experience and advanced education significantly influence earning potential in Pennsylvania. The cost of living here is moderate, offering a good balance between salary and lifestyle advantages. The state's mix of urban and rural areas allows for varied practice environments and living conditions. 

Washington: Washington state offers competitive salaries for PAs, averaging $144,008.57 per year. The state is known for its innovative healthcare landscape, particularly in cities like Seattle. The cost of living in Washington can be high, particularly in urban areas. However, the state's natural beauty, outdoor recreational activities, and quality of life are significant draws. Balancing higher salaries with the cost of living, Washington remains a top choice for many PAs. 

New York: In New York, Physician Assistants can expect to earn an above-average salary, with the state boasting an average PA salary of $134,334.47 per year. The bustling healthcare environment in cities like New York City and the diverse patient populations offer enriching professional experiences. While New York offers high earning potential, it's essential to consider the cost of living, which is notably higher than the national average, especially in metropolitan areas. Housing, transportation, and daily expenses can be steep, but the vibrant culture, access to world-class amenities, and abundant recreational activities present substantial lifestyle benefits. 

Elevate Your PA Career with AMN Healthcare 

At AMN Healthcare, we understand the diverse needs of PAs and offer numerous permanent placement and locum tenens opportunities. Locum tenens provides a unique opportunity to experience different practice settings and locations, while permanent roles offer stability and the chance to build long-term relationships within a community. 

Our extensive network connects you with top healthcare facilities, ensuring that you find the perfect fit for your skills and career aspirations. Whether you are a brand new physician assistant or looking for your next career opportunity, our expert recruitment team is here to help with all of your needs.  

Click the link below to learn more about our exciting PA jobs and get started on your path to career growth.

Search PA Jobs 

Latest News

Take the first step to starting your new career.

Authorized to work in the US? *
Job Type Interest *
Have you been on an Interim engagement with AMN before? *
Are you currently employed or on an active Interim engagement? *

How much notice would you have to give? *

How much notice would you have to give? *

What date are you available to start an Interim engagement? *

What date are you available to start an Interim engagement? *

* Indicates Required Fields


I agree to receive emails, automated text messages and phone calls (including calls that contain prerecorded content) from and on behalf of AMN Healthcare, and affiliates. {{show_more}} I understand these messages will be to the email or phone number provided, and will be about employment opportunities, positions in which I’ve been placed, and my employment with AMN companies. See privacy policy or cookie policy for more details.

* Indicates Required Fields


I agree to receive emails, automated text messages and phone calls (including calls that contain prerecorded content) from and on behalf of AMN Healthcare, and affiliates. {{show_more}} I understand these messages will be to the email or phone number provided, and will be about employment opportunities, positions in which I’ve been placed, and my employment with AMN companies. See privacy policy or cookie policy for more details.

Complete Your Application!
Continue to NurseFinders to complete your application and profile.