Treating chronic skin conditions is just one of the many responsibilities that fall to physician assistants in dermatology. Sometimes referred to as dermatology PAs, these medical professionals work under the license and supervision of board-certified dermatologists, diagnosing conditions, performing exams, prescribing medications and assisting in skin surgeries and cosmetic procedures. PAs in dermatology often earn more than PAs in other branches of medicine, but their salaries aren't the highest of the specialties.
In 2012, PAs earned an average of $92,460 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $124,770, while the bottom 10 percent made less than $62,430 annually. But none of these figures account for specialty -- a factor that has great bearing on earnings.
A survey published in Advance for NPs & PAs, a professional journal for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, gives a better idea of what PAs earn by specialty. As of 2011, PAs in dermatology averaged $94,275 a year. This was almost a 13-percent drop from the previous year, when salaries were $107,727. For comparison, PAs in oncology averaged just over $90,000, while those in family practice made $89,847. The highest wages paid to PAs were in mental health, where the salary was $112,445 a year.
In addition to specialty, location affects earnings. PAs in Rhode Island earned the highest wages, at an average of $112,250 a year. Those working in Connecticut ranked second, averaging $104,540, while those in Washington were a close third, with an average salary of $103,890 annually. The lowest wages paid were to PAs in Mississippi, where the average was closer to $50,200 a year.
The BLS expects employment for PAs to grow by 30 percent through 2020. This is over twice the rate of the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated 14 percent. In this relatively small field, the 30 percent works out to the creation of almost 25,000 new jobs. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology claims that dermatology has tremendous growth potential and that roughly 30 percent of dermatology practices now employ PAs.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Physician Assistant
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physician Assistant
- Advance for NPs & Pas: National Salary Report 2011
- American Academy of Physician Assistants: Physician Assistants in Dermatology
- The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: Physician Assistants in Dermatology
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images