Top 10 Highest Paid Physician Assistant Specialties

PA Coaching • May 27, 2023

A career as a PA can be very rewarding, both financially and professionally. In this video, I countdown the top 10 highest paid physician assistant specialties. From general practice to surgery, there are a number of roles that can command a high salary. So if you’re thinking of becoming a PA, watch this video to find out which roles could be.

Top 10 Highest Paid Physician Assistant Specialties

One of the most frequently asked questions from physician assistant (PA) students and those transitioning into practice is, “What are the highest paid physician assistant specialties?” In this article, we will provide you with a list of the top 10 highest paid physician assistant specialties based on average salaries as of 2021. It’s important to note that these figures may vary depending on factors such as practice setting, location, and the specific area of the country you are working in. However, these specialties have consistently shown higher earning potential for PAs. So, let’s dive into the list!

Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery (CT Surgery)

Average Salary: $147,200 per year CT Surgery tops the list as the highest paid specialty for PAs. This specialty involves complex patient cases, long working hours, being on-call, and billing for procedures, all contributing to the higher salary range.


Average Salary: $146,000 per year Dermatology is the second highest paid specialty for PAs. In this field, PAs perform a wide range of procedures, both in medical dermatology and cosmetic dermatology, such as Botox and fillers. These procedures generate high revenue, resulting in higher salaries.

Emergency Medicine

Average Salary: $129,000 per year Emergency medicine is a popular specialty for PAs, offering a fast-paced environment with a variety of procedures. PAs in this field often work in the emergency room and have the advantage of flexible shift schedules, typically working three 12-hour shifts per week.

Surgical Subspecialties

Average Salary: $127,775 per year Surgical subspecialties encompass various areas such as ENT (ear, nose, and throat), urology, and pediatric surgery. PAs in surgical subspecialties perform hands-on procedures and provide care both in and out of the hospital, contributing to higher salaries.

Occupational Medicine

Average Salary: $125,600 per year Occupational medicine focuses on helping patients with rehabilitation and recovery outside the hospital setting. While this specialty may seem unexpected on the list, it plays a crucial role in medical care and offers competitive salaries for PAs.

Critical Care

Average Salary: $125,000 per year PAs in critical care work in intensive care units (ICUs) and deal with high acuity patients. They perform a significant number of procedures and often work long hours and on-call shifts, which leads to higher compensation.


Average Salary: $124,000 per year Neurosurgery involves the complex care of patients with neurological conditions, both inside and outside the hospital. PAs in this field handle various surgical and post-operative tasks, contributing to their inclusion in the top 10 highest paid specialties.

Urgent Care

Average Salary: $123,000 per year Urgent care offers PAs the opportunity to work in a setting where they can address lower acuity emergencies that do not require an ER visit. This specialty allows for flexible work schedules and involves a range of procedures, leading to competitive salaries.


Average Salary: $122,000 per year PAs working in radiology can be involved in interventional radiology, performing procedures such as inserting central lines and draining fluids. There are also opportunities in nuclear medicine radiology. Both areas contribute to the higher earning potential in this specialty.

Plastic Surgery

Average Salary: $122,000 per year Plastic surgery, like other surgical subspecialties, involves a combination of in-hospital, outpatient, and post-operative care. PAs in plastic surgery perform a variety of procedures and wound care tasks, earning a place in the top 10 highest paid PA specialties.

It’s essential to keep in mind that these salary figures represent national averages and can vary depending on factors such as location, years of experience, and practice-specific circumstances. Additionally, while these specialties offer higher earning potential, it is crucial to consider other factors such as personal interests, job satisfaction, and work-life balance when choosing a specialty in the medical field.

Understanding the earning potential in various PA specialties is valuable for individuals seeking to enter the job market. However, it’s equally important to consider the corresponding rates of burnout and overall job satisfaction in these specialties, as addressed in a forthcoming video.

In conclusion, the top 10 highest paid physician assistant specialties provide a range of opportunities for PAs to excel financially while making a difference in patients’ lives. As you explore different specialties, it’s crucial to balance earning potential with your personal interests, skills, and long-term career goals.

Also read: How Online Physician Assistant Programs Work?

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!