15 Highest Paid PA Specialities to Explore

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As people have become more conscious of their health there has been a high demand for physician assistants, healthcare administrators, genetic counselors, etc. These all are part of the healthcare team which focuses on wellness prevention of disease. Due to the high demand, higher salaries are paid to these healthcare professionals. However, income for PAs varies significantly among specializations. In this article, we will inform you about the highest paying physician assistant jobs and about the highest paid PA specialities.

Who is a Physician Assistant?

A physician assistant is a medical mainstay who transfers out the treatment plan after identifying an illness. They prescribe the medicine we need, the compulsory procedures, and help in surgeries. He works under the supervision of a doctor and is as responsible as a doctor.

According to a world report, it is the number one ranking job for healthcare. A physician assistant is an integral part of the health care team, which focuses on overall health and wellness, disease prevention, and treatment of their patients. Demand for physician assistants is rising day by day for healthcare administration.

15 Highest Paid PA Specialities to Explore

According to the American Academy of PAs, flexibility is a physician assistant’s uniqueness. As Physician assistants are educated as generalists, they have substantial lateral mobility. This is one of the many perks of this job. Let us now begin our list.

1. Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery

Surgeons performing surgery
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Physician assistants don’t operate any surgery. Their role is to help the surgeon before and after the surgery. They take care of and treat patients who are about to undergo surgery. Cardiothoracic and vascular surgery physician assistants work parallel with cardiothoracic surgeons. They hold responsibilities like explaining the entire procedure, performing critical exams, and monitoring how the patient is recovering after the surgery.

  • Salary: $125,000 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: Surgical Subspecialties

2. Pathology

Researcher in lab | Highest Paid PA Specialities

Another highest paying physician assistant specialties job is pathology as they provide pathology reports of the different specimens and laboratories, including postmortem. PA also helps pathologists to wind up a diagnosis. They are responsible for the gross examination and dismemberment of anatomic pathology cases and the execution of postmortem examinations.

They carry out their duty under the direction and provision of their seniors. Pathology Physician Assistant has a wide scope in clinical practice. Despite this fact, they work in academic and community hospitals. This is one of the highest paid PA specialities.

  • Salary: $119,000 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

3. Dermatology

Woman having facial care | Highest Paid PA Specialities
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels

Dermatology physician assistant specialties perform surgical, medical, and cosmetic procedures, prescribe medicine, develop treatment plans, and provide information about preventive care. They perform specific cosmetic procedures like laser skin botox injection and assist in surgeries like Mohs surgery.

Physician assistants carry out necessary dermatologist diagnoses and treat different conditions related to skin, hair, and nails. PA must hold a bachelor’s degree in biology or chemistry and take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam, which the National Commission manages on the Certification of Physician Assistants.

  • Salary: $115,000 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

4. Pain Medicine

A chemist
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Physician assistant specialties are to work in pain medicine to ensure that patients with pain-related states are taken care of. They advise patients about the medication, make referrals, conduct physical examinations and interpret X- rays. He also helps with management and diagnosis. If a Physician assistant works in private practice, he may cover about 84 percent and 10 percent of work in a hospital setting. It is another highest paying physician assistant jobs specialty.

  • Salary: Around $115,000 – $100,000 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

5. Neurosurgery

Researcher looking at monitor

Neurosurgery field physician assistants diagnose neurological conditions which involve surgery and a neurosurgical plan of action. The physician assistants also offer counsel to the patients, review CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays and perform physical examinations.

The role in this job will be to maintain a secure and clean working environment by observation with procedures, rules, and regulations. They also protect patients and employees by sticking to infection-control policies and protocols. It is another highest paying physician assistant job.

  • Salary: Around $115,000 – $100,000 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: Surgical Subspecialties

6. Surgical Subspecialties

Person holding a tray | Highest Paid PA Specialities
Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy on Pexels

Surgical subspecialties are classified under orthopedic, pediatrics, plastic, oral vascular surgery, gynecology, ophthalmology, etc. Surgical subspecialties physician assistant work is to assist care before and after surgery and help the surgeons to carry out diagnostic examinations. They also provide postoperative care and may work as a first or second assistant during the procedure. No wonder they are on this list of the highest paid PA specialities.

  • Salary: Around $115,000 – $100,000 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: Surgical Subspecialties

7. Psychiatry

Two woman talking
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels

Psychiatry physician assistants work in office-based centers or mental health facilities. They are specialists in treating anxiety, depression, psychiatric illness, schizophrenia, etc. They prescribe medicine to patients and are caregivers. Physician assistants in psychiatry relieve physician scarcity and provide high-quality medical care to their patients. They are also considered one of the highest paid PA specialities.

  • Salary: Around $115,000 – $100,000 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

Also Read: 21 Best Paying Jobs in Basic Industries

8. Emergency Medicine

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels

Emergency medicine physician assistants carry out urgent care, emergency room needs, and condemnatory care units. Their main job includes managing and treating illness, recording patient history, counseling patients, carrying out procedures such as cast and splint application, wound care and blood gas sampling, performing diagnostics like x-rays, and conducting physical examinations. It is one of the highest-paying physician assistant jobs, as emergency medicine is a matter of life and death.

  • Salary: Around $115,000 – $100,000 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

9. Occupational Health Physician Assistant

Nurse and doctor | Highest Paid PA Specialities
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels

Occupational health physician assistants provide care to employees hurt or wounded at work. They offer primary care in large companies and walk-in services for their employees. They may execute and manage health and wellness programs offered to employees. The occupational health physician assistant must hold a Master’s Degree.

  • Salary: $98,400 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

10. Internal Medicine Physician Assistant

Doctor talking to patient
Photo by CDC on Pexels

Internal medicine physician assistants manage and execute health-related problems in adults. They work in a clinical setting and care for patients with incurable medical conditions. They are serving adults in the area of medicine, such as mental health, addiction, wellness, health promotion, women’s health, disease prevention, etc. Therefore, internal medicine physician assistants working under the supervision of internists may also be subspecialists.

  • Salary: $98,555 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

11. Dental Hygienist

Woman having dental checkup
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

A dental hygienists physical assistant is essential in a dental clinic. They are responsible for cleaning the patient’s teeth and examining for signs of oral diseases or perish, such as gingivitis. They also provide dental care, such as x-rays. Their role is to offer knowledge about maintaining and taking care of your teeth. Dental hygienists must hold an Associate’s Degree in dental hygiene. A Dentist hygienist license is required for practicing this occupation. The growth is expected to rise in this area due to overall personal health concerns.

  • Salary: $75,869 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

12. Orthotic and Prosthetic Physician Assistant

Man fitting prosthetic hand | Highest Paid PA Specialities
Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Orthotics and prosthetics are among the highest paying physician assistant jobs. They are responsible for designing, measuring, and fitting orthotic and prosthetic devices for all ages (adults or children), performing slight outpatient procedures such as hardware removal, k-wire remover, tender repair, etc., and surgeries like the spine, hand, foot, and ankle. Orthotics and prosthetics work with artificial limbs and other medical and surgical devices. They work in hospitals, manufacturing companies, and health and care departments.

  • Salary: $69,129 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

13. Dieticians and Nutritionists

Smiling nutritionist

Dieticians and nutritionists, and physician assistants are professionals in the area of food and nutrition. They assist their patients in promoting a better healthy diet and managing the disease. Dieticians provide precious knowledge of obesity and diabetes. They belong on this list of the highest paid PA specialities. As we learn more about health and well-being, continuous growth is expected in dieticians and nutritionists. Growth is predicted in employment between 2016-2026.

  • Salary: $60,347 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

14. Chiropractors

Physiotherapist massaging man's back | Highest Paid PA Specialities

Chiropractor’s physician assistants help patients through spinal adjustment and manipulation of other clinical interventions. They take care of the health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system. They work in group chiropractic practice. Chiropractors do not provide drugs to their patients as they use non-surgical methods, and their care is captivating to the patients. They must hold a doctoral or professional degree of four years. Employment is expected to rise in this field till 2026.

  • Salary: $71,410 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

Also Read: The 15 Highest Paying Railroad Jobs

15. Nuclear Medicine Technologist

MRI machine
Photo by Accuray on Unsplash

You must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program. Nuclear medicine technologist physician assistants treat a patient body to help diagnose medical conditions with the help of sophisticated scanners. They are responsible for preparing drugs and administering them to patients who undergo the scans. Radioactive drugs can cause abnormal areas of the body to look normal in the image. This allows doctors to treat and locate problem areas.

  • Salary: $76,820 per year
  • Major Specialty Area: All Other Specialties

Role of Physician Assistant

Nurse helping a patient | Highest Paid PA Specialities
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels

As a physician assistant, you have to work under the supervision of a doctor. A doctor can work independently, whereas a physician assistant cannot. For instance, a doctor works with a physician assistant when performing surgeries, as physicians can’t perform surgery.

Physician assistant requires a wide range of specialties, from family practice to surgical subspecialties, including vascular surgery, transplant surgery, plastic surgery, and trauma surgery. According to the research, the highest paid PA specialities are largely those working in the dermatology department, where they may make up to $129,246 per year. Physician assistants in the critical care unit make around $125,522 per year.

Family practice and extensive medicine remain the most well-liked choice for certification. During the past few years, the number of physician assistants practicing in different specialties has been constant, with a shift of just a few percentage points. There are nearly 18.5% of practices in surgical subspecialties. The percentage of PAs in family practice and general medicine practice fell from 54% to 24.9% in 2007. This change has occurred due to the salary difference between family medicine and specialties.

Factors that affect Physician Assistant salary

Med students
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels

Many factors may affect the salaries of physician assistant specialties. Some of them are given below.

  • Experience
  • Alternative of specialty
  • Facility
  • Geographical area.

One of the advantages of practicing as a Physician Assistant is that flexibility is provided throughout your career. However, it is wise to be mindful of your finances. Considering the patient’s rising population and your potential to move from one specialty to another behind your career is essential.

All you need to do is assess your options and remember that you have many good chances to make moves throughout your career. According to the AAPA salary survey, the foundation pay is collected through salaries, hourly remuneration, or guaranteed pay within a production model.

Remember, you have many options and opportunities to make sidewise moves all over your career, and you may find more options in highest paid PA specialties. Choose your department wisely after researching which has a high demand in the future.

Also Read: Why do you want to join our company? Best Answers


Here are commonly asked questions about physician assistants with answers.

1. How much do physician assistants earn?

Physician assistants in the United States can earn from $92,500 – $117,000 per year.

2. Which is the highest paying physician assistant specialty?

Cardiovascular, dermatology, surgical subspecialties, occupational medicine, and emergency medicine are the highest-paying physician assistant specialty.

3. Where do physician assistants make the most money?

Physical assistants make the most money in California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Alaska, and Nevada.

4. Is a physician assistant job stressful?

Physician assistants spend many hours at work as a crucial contributor to stress. The number of female physician assistants is higher than men due to stress. In general, physician assistant jobs have moderate levels of burnout but are satisfied at work.

5. Are physician salaries increasing?

According to the 2021 survey report, salary is a 4.5% increase from a median of $110,000 in 2020 to $115,000 in 2021.

6. Can a physician assistant do what a doctor does?

Physicians cannot perform surgery, cannot take part in complex or acute medical cases, and can’t prescribe medicines.

7. Can a physician assistant become a doctor?

A physician assistant cannot become a doctor without a doctorate. They must apply to medical school to attend a doctor-in-medicine program and complete residency training.

8. Why become a physician assistant over a doctor?

A physician assistant has advantages such as spending less time and money on schooling and switching specializations more easily than MDs ( medicine in doctorate). They can enjoy a comfortable starting salary after practicing for 2 or 3 years of education.

9. Is becoming a Physician assistant worth it?

Physician assistants are always in demand. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the job perspective is outstanding. The physician assistant profession is expected to grow more in the future by 31% by the year 2029. This is the fastest-growing future profession.

10. Who has the most freedom, NPs or PAs?

NPs have the power to practice freely, which allows more freedom and flexibility in their career.

Sushma Singh

Sushma is a financial expert and online entrepreneur. With years of experience in personal finance and business management, she is dedicated to empowering individuals to take control of their finances and make smart investment decisions. Through Moneymint's website, she provides insightful tips, strategies and resources to help individuals grow their wealth and achieve financial stability. Join Sushma on the journey to financial freedom today!

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