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If you are looking for a career that is critical is many ways, becoming a physician assistant is just that type of career. Tough it is one of the most understated roles in the medical field, it is one of the most important. Doctors and nurses get all the limelight and attention. It is the (PA) Physician Assistant that is often responsible for the treatments plans and care that patients receive.

The core function of many healthcare facilities would not function as well without their physician assistants making everything run smoother. Another great option for those who have goals of becoming a doctor and have questions about whether they want to do their medical residency is to become a physician assistant. The PA is the closing thing to a doctor and physicians without residencies can work a physicians assistants very easily and it is also a great to have when waiting on your residency. We will breakdown the necessary education, the duties of the job itself, the ins and outs of the career and future of the career below for you.

What is the process to become an PA?

Below we will walk you through the steps to become a (PA) Physician’s Assistant in a few easy to follow steps. From choosing a school to getting your license we have you covered.

STEP 1 – Get a Bachelor’s Degree in a Related Science

Becoming a PA requires a masters degree from an accredited physician assistant program and requires an undergraduate degree in a related science like on of the ones listed below:


After graduating with your four year degree you will be on your way to applying for entrance in to an accredited PA program.

STEP 2 – Apply to an Accredited Physician Assisting Program

Selecting accredited PA programs is made easy if you look in the right place. The national accrediting body for all physician assistant schools is the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistants. They also have a wonderful database of accredited schools by state that will set you up for success with your admittance in to their programs.

You will be spending 2-3 years in your program and will be focusing on learning about specific medications and treatments all while preparing for your career and future. Clinical training is in abundance in PA training, for it is imperative that you get all the hands on experience possible and as you go further in your training you will be getting more and more of it. 6-7 years of schooling and training prepares students for the career and that is why they are as very relied upon in their duties on the job.

What Does Physician’s Assistant Training Cost?

Well, anytime you go get a master’s degree you can expect to be spending 20K-100K on your education, depending on where you go to school. In most cases, expect 20K-50K.

Step 3 – Get Your National PA Certification

Upon graduation from your accredited program to become a PA, you are then eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), which is administered by the (NCCPA) National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Once you successfully pass the PANCE examination and maintain your certification, the title Physician Assistant-Certified or PA-C can used.

Step 4 – Get Your PA License in Your State

To see your state licensing board information see a list of each states licensing board here and get each states rules and regulations here. Each state may have different demands of their PAs and be sure to make sure you are prepared for yours.

Step 5 – Maintain Your PA Certification

To maintain your national physicians assistant certification you need to complete a minimum of 100 hours of (CME) continuing medical education credits every two years. It is also expected of working PAs to take a re-certification examination every 10 years known as the (PANRE) Physician Assistant National Re-certifying Exam.

The PANCE Exam

Having success on the PANCE exam is critical for your success and career as a PA. We will walk you through some of the basics of the test and give you some tips for success and provide links to resources from the test provider and more.

After graduation, you will have 6 years to take and pass the exam. The exam costs $500 and once you pay the exam fee you can schedule your testing date. For more details on the exam registration click here.

More About the PANCE Exam

The PANCE exam is 5 hours long and has 300 multiple choice questions on it. You will be given 60 questions per hour block. You get a total of 45 minutes of breaks in between block times and it is up to the test taker how to manage the break times. There is also a 15 minute tutorial provided. Some tips for success are arrive early, dress comfortably, study hard and be prepared mentally for a long hard day. Five hours is a long grueling test. It is meant to test you and it does, Do not take it lightly.

What does a Physician Assistant do?

The (PA) physician assistant is one step below the doctor and is relied upon by doctors and physicians for many important duties. They are extremely capable and don’t let the “assistant” title fool you in to thinking they are like a medical assistant or nursing assistant. They more like doctors than a nurse. Their education is extensive and they are highly respected on the field of medicine and heavily relied upon. Below we cover some of the day to day tasks of the career as a whole.

While the doctors and physicians perform the diagnosis and make patients treatment plans, a (PA) physician assistant will in many situations, will do these tasks as well. There are many situations (rural areas specifically) where a physician assistant may be the primary care provider, requiring only small bits of communication with a doctor when necessary. They are as a close to a doctor as there is in the medical field. They will perform these tasks and some of the others listed below.

Diagnose injury or illness odf patients
Educate and counsel patients and their families on treatments and plans
Examine patients
Give treatment and care
Order and interpret diagnostic tests
Prescribe medicine
Research latest treatments
Review patients’ medical histories


About PA salary

The pay of physicians assistants is one of the highest in allied health! They are some of the most educated in the sector and are compensated highly for their work. Below we break down all the great details of the career!

What is the average salary for a Physicians Assistant?

The average pay and salary of working physician assistants is $50.41 per hour and $104,860 per year per’s latest statistics.

PA salary by state

StatesAvg. Hourly PayAvg. Salary
District of Columbia$47.77$99,370
New Hampshire$54.17$112,670
New Jersey$53.34$110,950
New Mexico$49.91$103,810
New York$51.46$107,030
North Carolina$48.31$100,480
North Dakota$55.20$114,810
Rhode Island$49.78$103,540
South Carolina$44.40$92,360
South Dakota$47.69$99,190
West Virginia$47.64$99,090


PA Salary by employer type

Employment services $114,780
Outpatient care centers $111,740
Hospitals $108,250
Offices of physicians $102,890
Educational services $101,730


What is the job outlook for Physician Assistants?

With an astounding 37% growth in demand over the next decade the PA is really one of the best career options in the medical and allied health fields! It does not really get any better or more exciting for an individual career!