Healthcare Professionals Healthcare Compensation Print Physician Assistant Specialties and Salaries By Andrea Clement Santiago Updated June 20, 2019 More in Healthcare Professionals Healthcare Compensation Career Choices Training & Education Getting Hired Healthcare Trends Geriatric Care Office Management Medical Technology Medical Supplies Physician assistants, also known as PAs, are medical providers who can practice independently in some states, and work with the oversight of a licensed physician in other states. Physician assistants complete a master's degree from an accredited physician assistant program. Like physicians, PAs can specialize in a variety of medical specialties, some of which provide higher pay than others. Here are some specialties that PAs can practice ranked according to the highest paying areas of medicine based on the 2018 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The survey included 89 percent of all certified PAs. 1 Pathology — $111,000 Hero Images/Getty Images Physician assistants specializing in pathology earn the highest annual income on average, according to the NCCPA. With an average annual salary of $111,000 and a median (midpoint) income of $115,000, pathology is a very lucrative specialty for PAs. What Are the Highest Paying Medical Careers? 2 Dermatology — $126,084 PAs in dermatology earn the second-highest annual income on average, according to the NCCPA, with an average annual salary of $126,084 and a median salary of $115,000. Dermatology is a lucrative specialty for both physician and non-physician providers like PAs. It combines medically necessary issues such as skin cancer and rashes, which are reimbursable from insurance plans, with cosmetic and elective procedures such as botox, skin peels, and fillers, which are paid on a cash basis by patients. Cash pay provides a boost to the bottom line of medical practices because it prevents interference from insurance companies, which can slow down cash flow and limit reimbursements. 3 Emergency Medicine — $123,006 Another high-paying specialty for physician assistants in emergency medicine, a hospital-based practice seeing patients on a walk-in basis. These PAs diagnose and treat chronic and acute illnesses, perform physical exams, prescribe medications, and order or perform diagnostic tests such as x-rays or labs. While the average annual salary is $123,006, the median salary is $115,000. 4 Critical Care Medicine — $122,957 Physician assistants in the field of critical care medicine are another group of high-earning medical professionals. They average $122,957 per year, with a median salary of $115,000. 5 Surgical Subspecialties — $119,852 PAs who go into surgical subspecialties can expect to earn an average of $119,852 per year, with a median salary of $115,000. Among other things, physician assistants in surgical subspecialties provide education for families, treat and diagnose patients, prescribe medications, do physical exams, and help surgeons perform procedures. These surgical subspecialties include cardiothoracic, colon and rectal, gynecology and obstetrics, neurology, gynecologic oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedic, urology, vascular, oral and maxillofacial, otorhinolaryngology, plastic, and pediatrics. 6 General Surgery — $112,396 Physician assistants in general surgery earn an average of $112,396 annually, with a median income of $105,000. 7 Lowest Paying Specialties for Physician Assistants Not all physician assistants earn six-figure salaries. However, even the lower-paying PA jobs average in the $69,120 range. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, PAs as a whole averaged around $108,610 in May 2018. The lowest paying specialties for physician assistants include: Adolescent Medicine — $90,588 Gynecology — $94,731Pediatrics — $92,194Obstetrics and Gynecology — $96,244 Other specialties that physician assistants can choose to practice include anesthesiology, family medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, hospital medicine, preventative medicine, psychiatry, urology, pain management, internal medicine, occupational medicine, physical medicine, and radiology. These specialties all pay in the mid- to high-$90,000s or more. Why PA Salaries Are On the Rise Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Get tips on how to better manage your health practice. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). 2018 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants, United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2017-2018 Edition: Physician Assistants. National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). 2016 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants by Specialty, 2017.