Despite a competitive job market, the demand for physician assistants continues to grow in Colorado. Occupational employment figures compiled by the United States Department of Labor maintain the number of physician assistants working in Colorado will shoot up from 2,020 in 2012 to 2,830 by 2022. This 40% projected job growth rate is exciting news for physician assistants since it will create nearly 120 annual job openings during this ten-year period. This places the profession among Colorado’s top fifty fastest-growing occupations through 2022. Even with strong job growth expected, the demand is still high for skilled PAs, creating greater access to high-salaried positions.
Factors Contributing to Higher Salaries for Physician Assistants in Colorado
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor reported that physician assistants working in Colorado earned an average annual salary of $93,070 and an average hourly wage of $44.74. Yet, physician assistants can attain much greater salaries by using experience to increase their marketability.
The highest paid physician assistants in Colorado start laying the groundwork for future earnings by gaining clinical experience, sometimes even before they hit the job market. For instance, students involved in physician assistant degree programs frequently opt to complete internships or volunteer opportunities prior to graduation.
Examples of experience and credentials that employers consider highly sought after include:
- Acquiring specialized training in a medical discipline such as urgent care, cardio-thoracic surgery or pediatrics
- Attending career-related conferences, seminars, and workshops hosted by professional associations like the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) or the Colorado Academy of Physician Assistants (CAPA)
- Completing a postgraduate program approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
Physician assistants with the most experience often earn nearly twice that of those just starting out.
In 2014, entry-level physician assistants earned an average annual salary of $67,800 and an average hourly wage of $32.59, while mid-level workers received an average annual salary of $92,200 and an average hourly wage of $44.31. However, the most experienced physician assistants in Colorado took home an average annual salary of $120,700 and an average hourly wage of $58.01.
Physician Assistant Salaries Differ by Locale in Colorado
An area’s population density, number of health care facilities, and employee turnover rate all help determine a physician assistant’s salary. In 2014, the United States Department of Labor published reports showing physician assistant salary variations across several metropolitan and nonmetropolitan locales throughout the state:
- Boulder: $102,610
- Colorado Springs: $89,630
- Denver-Aurora-Broomfield: $91,840
- Fort Collins-Loveland: $100,410
- Grand Junction: $92,210
- Greeley: $92,640
- Pueblo: $89,230
- East and South nonmetropolitan area: $95,620
- West nonmetropolitan area: $85,230
- Northcentral nonmetropolitan area: $99,660
The following data table shows a more detailed analysis of physician assistant salaries by locale in Colorado (US Department of Labor, 2014):