A September 15th, 2015 article in the Deseret News highlighting the upward growth trend in Utah’s healthcare industry described how local employers are offering skilled healthcare workers, like physician assistants, better starting salary offers as the job market forces employers to compete for top talent. According to Damian Garcia, the regional vice president of employment firm Robert Half International in Salt Lake City, the average starting salary for physician assistants in 2016 is expected to be 4.1% higher than the average in 2015.
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor reported that physician assistants employed in Utah earned an average annual salary of $92,600, which is almost $50,000 higher than the state’s overall average annual salary of $43,550. This substantial salary difference qualified physician assistants to be named among Utah’s fifty highest-paying occupations.
More Jobs Expected for Physician Assistants in Utah
In 2014, physician assisting was also recognized as one of Utah’s fifty fastest-growing occupations. The US Department of Labor has projected that the number of physician assistants working in Utah will increase from 1,060 in 2012 to 1,600 by 2022. This 50% employment growth change is expected to generate approximately 70 annual job openings for physician assistants during this projection period.
Examples of employers that posted online job advertisements for physician assistants throughout Utah in September 2015 included:
- St. Vincent’s Healthcare
- Utah Gastroenterology PC
- IASIS Physician Group of Utah
- Mountain West Medical Center
- Central Utah Clinic
- Ageless Men’s Health
- University of Utah
- Utah Imaging Physician Specialists
- Summit Medical Utah
- Utah Department of Corrections
The Utah Department of Workforce Services found that 66.67% of physician assistants worked in offices of physicians, 8.05% practiced in outpatient care centers, 2.3% had jobs in offices of other health practitioners, and 3.45% worked in federal or state public administration.
Higher Salaries Awarded to Experienced Physician Assistants
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor found physician assistants in entry-level positions received an average annual salary of $38,800 and an average hourly wage of $18.65. More accomplished, mid-career physician assistants took home an average annual salary of $90,100 and an average hourly wage of $43.30.
Common ways physician assistants in Utah gain experience and credentials include:
- Completing internships before entering into the workforce
- Working in part-time of full-time paid jobs
- Participating in volunteerism, mentorships, and apprenticeships
- Gaining additional training in specialized areas such as oncology, critical care or immunology
- Enrolling in continued education courses through nearby colleges and universities
- Getting involved in professional associations like the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants
Physician Assistant Salaries in Utah by Location
Salary information published by the United States Department of Labor shows that physician assistant salaries tend to differ considerably according to location. For example, in 2014 physician assistants working in the Ogden-Clearfield division earned an average annual salary of $109,600. However, those employed in the Provo-Orem were paid closer to $79,350 on average.
The following table provides a full analysis of physician assistant salaries in Utah’s major metro and non-metro areas (US Department of Labor, 2014):