Physician Assistant Salaries in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development ranked physician assisting as the fourth fastest growing occupation in the state, with a projected job growth rate of 38% expected for the ten-year period leading up to 2022. This level of job growth would generate an average of 60 new jobs each year for Tennessee’s physician assistants. 

Factors Contributing to Job Growth in Physician Assisting

One of the key factors driving demand for more physician assistants in Tennessee is the fact that the state is home to a relatively low level of physician assistants on a per capita basis.  In fact, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants rated Tennessee as having the 40th lowest concentration of certified physician assistants in its 2014 statistical profile of this profession. 

Studies indicate that physician assistants provide high quality medical care and can serve as primary healthcare providers in underserved rural areas when working in clinics with supervising physicians.  An analysis by the Robert Graham Center suggests that Tennessee may face a shortage of primary care physicians in the coming years.  Its analysis predicted that the number of primary care physicians would need to increase by 27% through 2030.  This rate of growth is higher than that seen in other Southern states.  A shortage of doctors in Tennessee would further increase the need for physician assistants. 

Legislation pending in 2015 has the potential to strongly impact the scope of practice for physician assistants in Tennessee. Previous legal code regulating physician assistants stated that supervising physicians had complete and absolute authority over the actions of PAs. However, the pending legislation, known as Senate Bill 201, omits this sentence. As of September 2015, this bill was on its way to the Governor’s desk to be signed. 

How PA Salaries in Tennessee Vary by Location and Experience

Experienced physician assistants in Tennessee earned an average of 82.4% more than those just starting out according to the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development report published in 2014.  According to the report, physician assistants with experience earned an average of $106,125, while entry-level physician assistants earned an average of $58,180.

The median salary for physician assistants in the major metropolitan areas of Tennessee varied by more than two-fold. The median salary among physician assistants statewide was $88,855, while the median in Cleveland was 18.2% higher than the state as a whole.

  • Cleveland: $105022
  • Johnson City: $94142
  • Knoxville: $93875
  • Memphis: $92923
  • Clarksville: $90348
  • Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol: $89531
  • Chattanooga: $88301
  • Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro: $82402
  • Jackson: $51434

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides an extensive salary analysis for physician assistants in Tennessee as of 2014.  This data indicated that physician assistants in the Memphis area earning in the 90th percentile were the best paid PAs in Tennessee:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Chattanooga TN-GA
Clarksville TN-KY
Jackson TN
Johnson City TN
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol TN-VA
Knoxville TN
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin TN
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
North Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
Eastern Tennessee nonmetropolitan area

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