8 Highest Paid Physician Assistant Specialties | Ultimate Guide

A physician assistant is a medical provider who carries out treatment plans after diagnosing an illness. They prescribe the medication that you would need, the necessary procedures, and helps in surgeries.

The job responsibility is almost similar to that of a doctor. According to U.S News & World Report, a physician assistant is the number one ranking job in healthcare.

Some of the five states where physician assistants earn the most are Connecticut $125,610, Hawaii $121,120, Washington $123,980, Alaska $122,260, and California $117,230.

Meanwhile, we will list the highest-paid physician assistant specialists in the world.

What is the Job Function of Physician Assistant Specialties?

The significant difference in job functions between a physician assistant and a doctor is that you can work freely and autonomously if you are a doctor. As a PA, however, you work under the supervision of a certified doctor.

For example, when it comes to surgeries, a doctor works with a physician assistant. A PA can’t perform surgery alone.

To become a physician assistant, you don’t need a lot of certification, just like a doctor. 

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How Much Do Physician Assistants Earn?

As of 2020, according to the National Commission On Certification Of Physician Assistants, NCCPA report, the approximate salary of a certified physician assistant was estimated to be $113,186, and the median wage was said to be $105,000.

The data shows that the highest-paid physician assistant specialties mostly work in the dermatology department, earning up to $129,246 per annum. Physician assistants in the critical care department also earn about $125,522 annually. 

The average physician assistant’s salary over the last six years has constantly increased by 15.0 percent to the data.

If you are interested in working in the family medicine department as a physician assistant, you will likely earn an average salary of $105,286 per year. If you are more interested in an emergency medicine specialist, the approximate pay per year is $125,110.

For physician assistants in orthopedic surgery, you are likely to make $122,477

According to Zip Recruiter data, as of July 2020, a physician assistant in America earned an average of $107,038 per year. On the lower side, yearly salaries range from $50,000 and $155,000 on the higher side.

A physician assistant in the United States earns from $92,500 to $117,000 annually.

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What Are the Highest Paid Specialties for Physician Assistants?

Just like physicians, a physician assistant can specialize in several areas. The pay for these specializations varies from one area to another.

For example, a surgical physician assistant’s salary is slightly higher ($105,000) than a pediatrics physician assistant’s salary, which is $85,000.

If you are considering becoming a physician assistant, below are the highest-paid PA specialties in 2023.

#1. Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery

Cardiothoracic PAs typically work side by side with a cardiothoracic surgeon to take care and treat patients who are about to undergo surgery, let’s say, of the heart, esophagus, or lungs.

One thing that you should not is that physician assistants don’t operate. Their prominent role is to help the surgeon before and after surgery.

Some of the responsibilities of a cardiothoracic PA include explaining what the procedure entails to a patient, performing the necessary exams, and, finally, monitoring how the patient is recovering after the surgery.

The median salary of a cardiothoracic physician assistant is around $125,000 per year.

A good number of PAs work in this field in hospitals. They take up to 82 percent. The other 12 percent work in private practices. 

This is the first Highest Paid Physician Assistant Specialty.

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#2. Pathology

Physician assistants in the pathology department help provide pathology reports of different laboratory specimens, including postmortem.

In this department, a PA helps a pathologist to conclude a diagnosis. Among the highest-paid jobs in the physician assistant specialties are pathology. The median salary for pathology PA s $119,000. 

#3. Pain Medicine

Pain medicine is another highest-paying/paid physician specialty in 2023.

These PAs work in pain medicine to ensure that patients with pain-related conditions are taken care of. PAs in this field help with management and diagnosis. Pain management physician assistants work in private practice, covering 84 percent, and 10 percent work in a hospital setting.

They conduct all forms of physical examination, make referrals, advise patients on the kind of pain medicine to take, and perform and interpret X-rays.

The median salary of a pain management PA is $115,000 per annum. 

#4. Dermatology

Dermatological diagnosis necessitates treating various skin, hair, and nail conditions by Physician Assistants (PAs).

Statistics show that the number of PAs specializing in dermatology is below four percent, with the most considerable percentage practicing privately. Dermatology PAs perform surgical, cosmetics, and medical procedures; and prescribe medicines or offer counsel to patients depending on the patient’s needs.

The Dermatologist physician assistant earns a median of $115,000 per year.

They are among the highest-paid Physician Assistant Specialties

#5. Emergency Medicine

When discussing emergency medicine, it is worth noting that Physician Assistants handle urgent care, critical care unit, and emergency room needs.

Their main tasks include managing and treating chronic illnesses, conducting physical examinations, performing diagnostic assessments such as x-rays, and prescribing medicines.

Emergency medicine is a matter of life and death, and it is the highest-paid subspecialty, with the Physician Assistant earning a salary of $115,000 annually.   

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#6. Neurosurgery

Physician Assistants in the neurosurgery field diagnose people with neurological conditions which necessitate surgery and help during neurosurgical procedures.

Additionally, they perform physical examinations, offer to counsel to the patients’ families and patients, and review CT scans and X-rays, and MRIs.

You will find neurosurgery PAs working in hospitals, but some still work in an office-based setup.

The PAs here earn $115,000 per year.

#7. Psychiatry

Most physical assistants in Psychiatry facilities work in private office-based centers or mental health facilities. They specialize in treating depression, schizophrenia, or any psychiatric illness.

Majorly, these PAs may prescribe medicines for chronic or acute mental cases or give counseling to the parents, caregivers, or the patient’s family.

Most PAs in psychiatric settings earn a median salary of $115,000 annually. 

This is one of the Highest Paid Physician Assistant Specialties.

#8. Surgical Subspecialties

Gynecology, orthopedics, pediatric plastic, ophthalmology, oral, vascular surgery, and urology are classified under surgical subspecialties.

The PAs in this section help the surgeons carry out diagnostic examinations, educating families and families on the post-care after surgery.

For this job, the Physical Assistants earn $115,000 per year.

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FAQs 8 Highest Paid Physician Assistant Specialties in 2023

Where do PA’s make the most money?

Rhode Island

How much do physician assistants earn?

Physician assistant salary

A physician assistant in the United States earns from $92,500 to $117,000 annually.

What is the highest-paying PA specialty?

Cardiovascular/cardiothoracic surgery
Emergency medicine
Surgical subspecialties
Occupational medicine


As much as it is difficult to get recruited into PA school, many institutions will offer access to specialized mentors who offer advice about the application and help you understand it.

The only thing you can do is to find out how the admission process works and get admission at the PA school of your choice and join pre-PA internships across America. 

You might think that identifying one of the best specialties is next to impossible. However, that is not the case. You must evaluate your options and remember that you can make moves throughout your career.

Choose the department you think you will excel in, and you will find many jobs waiting for you. 

Finally, find out the Highest Paid Physician Assistant Specialties.



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