How Much Do PAs Make in California? Salary Guide

How Much Do PAs Make in California? Salary Guide

Curious about how much physician assistants make in California? Wondering what factors contribute to their salaries?

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Understanding wage estimates and salary ranges for physician assistants is crucial for those considering a career in the medical field or looking to advance their current position. This includes understanding the mean wage and median salaries in different areas. By exploring wage estimates and employment data, we can gain valuable insights into the income potential of workers in the labor industry. Additionally, this information can provide important guidance for individuals seeking education and training in this field. We’ll also highlight the significance of location and experience on physician assistant salaries, shedding light on how these variables can impact earning potential in different areas. We’ll provide wage estimates and discuss how income can vary based on location and experience, including the mean wage.

So, if you’re curious about the income potential of physician assistants in California and want to know what factors come into play, keep reading! This article will provide information on wage estimates for workers in different areas. You won’t want to miss out on this essential information about metropolitan areas and income concentration.

Average salary of physician assistants in California

The average annual income for physician assistants in California is approximately $130,000, according to wage estimates. This means that on average, PAs in the state earn a higher income compared to many other healthcare professions, according to occupational employment and wage estimates for different areas. In terms of hourly wages, the average income comes out to be around $62 per hour. These estimates are based on employment data in various areas.

There are several factors that can influence the variation in income and wage estimates among physician assistants. These factors can include employment and the specific areas where they work. Specialization and work setting play a significant role in determining employment and income estimates for a PA, including their wage. For instance, those who specialize in high-demand areas such as dermatology or orthopedics may command higher employment and income compared to general practice PAs. The wage estimates for these specialized fields are significantly higher.

In addition to specialization, the work setting also has an impact on PA salaries, wage, employment, and income estimates. Physician assistants working in hospitals or surgical centers tend to earn higher wages and have higher income estimates than those employed in outpatient clinics or private practices. This is because hospital-based PAs often handle more complex cases and have additional responsibilities related to employment, income, and wage.

It is worth noting that these wage and income figures are specific to California and may differ from national averages or other states. The cost of living and demand for healthcare services can significantly impact wage and income levels in different regions.


  • Physician assistants in California enjoy above-average incomes compared to many other healthcare professions.
  • Specializing in high-demand areas can lead to even higher income earnings.
  • Working in hospitals or surgical centers generally results in higher income pay.


  • While PAs earn good incomes overall, there may still be variations based on factors like specialization and work setting.
  • It’s important to consider the cost of living when evaluating income levels, as expenses can vary across different regions within California.

To summarize, physician assistants in California have an average annual salary of around $130,000 and an average hourly wage of approximately $62. Specialization and work setting are key factors that determine variations in PA salaries. While these figures indicate favorable earning potential for PAs in California, it’s important to consider the specific factors that can influence compensation levels.

Factors affecting physician assistant salaries in California

Specialization within the field can impact a physician assistant’s earning potential.

The specialization that a physician assistant chooses to pursue can have a significant impact on their salary in California. Certain specialties, such as dermatology or orthopedics, often command higher salaries due to the specialized knowledge and skills required. On the other hand, working in a more general practice or primary care setting may result in a lower salary. It’s important for physician assistants to consider their interests and career goals when choosing a specialization, as it can greatly influence their earning potential.

Work setting, such as hospitals or private practices, influences salary levels.

The work setting in which a physician assistant is employed also plays a role in determining their salary. Working in a hospital or medical center tends to offer higher salaries compared to positions in private practices or outpatient clinics. This is because hospitals often deal with more complex cases and require additional expertise from physician assistants. Larger healthcare facilities may have more resources available for higher compensation packages. However, it’s worth noting that working at smaller clinics or private practices may offer other benefits like greater autonomy and flexibility.

Geographic location within California plays a role in determining compensation.

Just like with many professions, the geographic location within California can significantly affect the wages of physician assistants. Areas with high demand for healthcare professionals and limited supply may offer higher salaries to attract talent. For example, metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco tend to have higher living costs but also offer higher compensation for physician assistants due to increased demand. Conversely, rural areas or regions with fewer healthcare facilities might have lower average salaries but could provide other advantages like lower living expenses and a stronger sense of community.

Additional certifications and advanced degrees may lead to higher salaries.

Physician assistants who pursue additional certifications or advanced degrees often see an increase in their earning potential. These credentials demonstrate an expanded skill set and a commitment to professional development, which can make them more valuable to employers. For example, obtaining a specialty certification in emergency medicine or surgery can open up opportunities for higher-paying positions within those fields. Similarly, pursuing advanced degrees like a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies or a Doctorate in Medical Science may lead to leadership roles and increased salaries.

Comparison of physician assistant salaries in California to other states

Physician assistants (PAs) in California are known to rake in higher salaries compared to the national average. However, it’s important to note that certain states offer competitive compensation packages similar to those found in the Golden State. The amount of money PAs make can vary significantly depending on the state they practice in, as regional cost of living differences come into play.

Understanding state-specific regulations and licensing requirements is crucial when comparing salaries across different states. Let’s take a closer look at how physician assistant salaries stack up in California compared to other states across the United States.

Physician Assistants’ Salaries Compared to National Averages

Physician assistants in California generally earn higher salaries than their counterparts across the nation. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the mean annual wage for PAs nationwide was $116,080. In contrast, PAs in California boasted a mean annual wage of $128,480. This significant difference can be attributed to various factors such as the high cost of living and demand for healthcare professionals in California.

Competitive Compensation Packages Offered by Certain States

While California may lead the packThere are several states that offer competitive compensation packages comparable to those found on the West Coast. For instance:

  • New Jersey: PAs practicing in New Jersey enjoy an average annual salary of $125,610.
  • Nevada: The Silver State offers an average annual salary of $124,770 for physician assistants.
  • Washington: PAs practicing in Washington State earn an average annual salary of $122,850.

These states provide lucrative opportunities for physician assistants outside of California while still offering attractive pay rates.

Regional Cost-of-Living Differences Impacting Salaries

One crucial factor influencing how much physician assistants make across different states is regional cost-of-living disparities. While a higher salary may be offered in one state, the cost of housing, transportation, and other expenses may also be significantly higher. It’s essential to consider these factors when comparing salaries across different states.

For example, while PAs in California may earn higher salaries than those in other states, the high cost of living in cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles can offset the financial advantage. On the other hand, states with lower costs of living may offer slightly lower salaries but provide a more favorable financial situation due to reduced expenses.

Impact of experience on physician assistant salaries in California

As experience increases, so does the earning potential for physician assistants in California. Entry-level positions typically offer lower starting salaries than more experienced roles. However, as physician assistants gain more experience and expertise, they often command higher pay rates.

Continual Professional Development

Continual professional development plays a crucial role in influencing salary growth over time for physician assistants in California. By actively seeking opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge through additional certifications, specialized training programs, or advanced degrees, PAs can position themselves for higher-paying roles. Employers value continuous learning and are willing to compensate those who demonstrate a commitment to staying updated with the latest advancements in healthcare.

Advantages of Experience

Physician assistants with several years of experience have several advantages. Their extensive practical knowledge gained from working with diverse patient populations allows them to handle complex cases independently and make informed decisions. This level of expertise is highly valued by employers, leading to increased compensation packages.

Experienced physician assistants also tend to develop strong professional networks over time. These networks can provide access to job opportunities that offer higher salaries or better benefits. Established relationships with physicians and other healthcare professionals may lead to collaborative partnerships or leadership positions within medical practices or hospitals, which often come with increased earning potential.

Salary Growth Over Time

The initial salary of a physician assistant in California may be modest compared to someone with several years of experience. However, as they accumulate years under their belt and continue advancing their skills and knowledge through professional development opportunities, their earning potential grows significantly.

For example, a newly graduated PA might start at an entry-level position earning around $100,000 per year. However, after five years of experience and continuous learning initiatives such as obtaining specialty certifications or completing advanced training programs like surgical assisting or dermatology specialization courses, their annual salary could increase by 20% or more.

Top cities for physician assistant salaries in California

If you’re a physician assistant (PA) looking to work in California, you’re probably wondering where you can find the best salary opportunities.

San Francisco

San Francisco is known for its high cost of living, but it also offers some of the highest-paying opportunities for physician assistants within the state. The city’s thriving healthcare sector and competitive job market contribute to the attractive salary ranges available. PAs in San Francisco can enjoy not only financial rewards but also a vibrant city with a rich cultural scene and picturesque views.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, with its bustling metropolitan area, provides competitive compensation packages for experienced physician assistants. The city is home to renowned medical institutions and hospitals that offer excellent employment prospects for PAs. With its diverse population and vibrant entertainment industry, Los Angeles offers a unique lifestyle that appeals to many healthcare professionals.

San Diego

San Diego boasts attractive salary ranges for physician assistants due to its thriving healthcare sector and numerous medical facilities. The city’s proximity to the Mexican border makes it an ideal location for PAs who are interested in working with diverse patient populations. San Diego’s pleasant climate and beautiful beaches make it an appealing place to live and work.


If you’re seeking employment as a PA in California’s capital city, Sacramento offers favorable salary prospects. As the seat of government and home to several major healthcare systems, Sacramento provides ample opportunities for PAs looking to advance their careers while enjoying a comfortable standard of living. With its relatively lower cost of living compared to other major cities in California, Sacramento presents an enticing option for those seeking financial stability.

When considering which city in California is right for you as a PA, it’s important to weigh factors such as cost of living, job availability, and lifestyle preferences. While these top cities offer attractive salary ranges, it’s crucial to research specific job opportunities and consider other aspects such as housing costs, transportation options, and the overall quality of life.

Recommended employers and certifications for physician assistants in California

If you’re a physician assistant (PA) looking to work in California, it’s essential to know about the recommended employers and certifications that can help boost your career. Here are some key points to consider:

Prominent Healthcare Organizations

Several prominent healthcare organizations employ a significant number of physician assistants in California. These organizations offer excellent opportunities for PAs to grow professionally and gain valuable experience. Some notable employers include:

  • Kaiser Permanente: Known for its comprehensive healthcare services, Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest healthcare organizations in California. Working as a PA at Kaiser Permanente can provide stability, competitive salaries, and access to advanced medical resources.
  • Sutter Health: With a network of hospitals, clinics, and medical foundations across Northern California, Sutter Health is another major employer for PAs. Joining their team can offer diverse clinical settings and opportunities for collaboration with multidisciplinary healthcare professionals.

Certification from NCCPA

Obtaining certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is highly recommended for career advancement as a PA in California. The NCCPA certification demonstrates your competence and commitment to providing quality patient care. It also increases your marketability and opens doors to better job prospects.

Specialized Certifications

While NCCPA certification is crucial, obtaining specialized certifications can further enhance your earning potential as a PA in California. Specialized certifications allow you to develop expertise in specific areas of medicine, making you more valuable within those specialties. Some examples include:

  • Emergency Medicine Certification: This certification equips PAs with the necessary skills to work efficiently in emergency departments or urgent care centers. It demonstrates your ability to handle critical situations effectively.
  • Dermatology Certification: With this certification, you can specialize in diagnosing and treating various skin conditions. Dermatology PAs often work alongside dermatologists, providing comprehensive care to patients with skin-related issues.

Collaborating with Renowned Medical Institutions

Collaborating with renowned medical institutions in California can provide excellent professional opportunities for physician assistants. These institutions offer cutting-edge research, advanced technologies, and exposure to complex medical cases. Some notable medical institutions to consider include:

  • Stanford Health Care: As one of the leading academic medical centers in California, Stanford Health Care offers a wide range of specialties and subspecialties. Working at Stanford can provide exposure to innovative treatments and collaboration with world-class healthcare professionals.
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: Located in Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai is known for its exceptional patient care and research contributions. Joining their team as a PA can offer exposure to various specialties and access to state-of-the-art facilities.

By targeting prominent healthcare organizations like Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health, obtaining certification from NCCPA, pursuing specialized certifications, and collaborating with renowned medical institutions such as Stanford Health Care or Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, you can enhance your career prospects as a physician assistant in California.

Summary of physician assistant salaries in California

We discussed the average salary range for PAs in the state and examined various factors that can influence these salaries. We compared physician assistant salaries in California to those in other states and highlighted the impact of experience on earning potential. We also provided insights into the top cities for PA salaries in California and recommended employers and certifications for aspiring PAs.

Now that you have a better understanding of physician assistant salaries in California, it’s time to take action. If you’re considering a career as a PA, use this information to guide your decision-making process. Research different employers and certifications that align with your goals, and consider exploring opportunities in cities known for higher PA salaries. Remember, becoming a PA requires dedication and ongoing learning, but it can be an incredibly rewarding profession both financially and personally.


What is the average salary range for physician assistants in California?

The average salary range for physician assistants in California varies depending on factors such as location, experience, and specialty. However, according to recent data, the average annual salary for PAs in California ranges from $100,000 to $150,000.

How do physician assistant salaries in California compare to other states?

Physician assistant salaries in California are generally higher compared to many other states due to the high cost of living and demand for healthcare professionals. However, it’s important to note that specific salary figures may vary depending on regional factors within each state.

Does experience affect physician assistant salaries in California?

Yes, experience plays a significant role in determining physician assistant salaries in California. Generally, as PAs gain more years of experience working within their field, they become eligible for higher pay scales or may negotiate higher compensation packages.

Which cities offer the highest PA salaries in California?

Several cities within California offer higher-than-average salaries for physician assistants. Some of the top cities known for their competitive PA salaries include San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Are there any recommended employers or certifications for physician assistants in California?

While there are many reputable employers and certifications available to physician assistants in California, some highly regarded options include large healthcare systems like Kaiser Permanente and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Furthermore, certifications from organizations such as the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) can enhance job prospects and earning potential for PAs in California.

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