Guest Post

The Best and Worst States to Work as a PA

Being a physician assistant (PA) can be an extremely rewarding career. However, the state you practice in greatly impacts your salary, cost of living, and overall job satisfaction. The following is a guide to some of the best and worst states for PAs.

Best States for PAs

Alaska – With the third-highest average annual salaries for PAs in the country ($144,460), Alaska is a top choice. The state also has a low cost of living in many areas. The stunning natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities are added pros. When working as a PA in this state, however, just be prepared for the cold, long winters.

Washington – Washington has the second-highest average PA salary at $145,390. It also ranks high for job opportunities with an above-average outlook for PA jobs between 2020-2030. The Seattle area offers urban amenities while areas like Olympia and Spokane provide more affordable options. The mild Pacific Northwest climate is ideal for those who love the outdoors.

Texas – Although no income tax seems appealing, the real draw of Texas for PAs is the warm climate, affordability, and abundance of job opportunities in growing metro areas. The PA role is expanding due to the large aging population. Salaries are also well above the national median. Nevertheless, be prepared for scorching hot summers.

Wyoming – The low cost of living and lack of an income tax help make up for Wyoming’s relatively lower PA salaries. The small population also means less competition. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the access to unspoiled nature. However, the brutal winters and remoteness are definite downsides.

New Mexico-The average salary for a PA in New Mexico is only $133,630. When you adjust for living expenses, though, physician assistants in this state actually have the highest income. The cost-of-living adjusted salary for a PA in New Mexico is $145,657.

Worst States for PAs

Hawaii – Although the tropical paradise may seem enticing, Hawaii is one of the worst for PAs due to the high cost of living and low salaries. The average PA salary is well below the national average at $106,960. Housing costs are drastically higher than the national average. States with no income tax offer better affordability.

Rhode Island – Rhode Island’s very high cost of living index makes it a poor choice for PAs. Salaries don’t go as far due to costs being about 12.5% higher than the national average. Job competition is also fierce due to the saturated northeast market.

Arkansas – Arkansas ranks low for physician assistant pay and job outlook compared to other states. It has fewer job opportunities overall for PAs, especially in desirable metropolitan areas. The lack of jobs along with lower salaries and restrictive regulations make Arkansas less advantageous for PAs compared to states with higher incomes, greater autonomy, and more robust job markets

West Virginia – There are positives like low cost of living and no income tax. However, West Virginia ranks poorly for PAs due to extremely limited job opportunities. The state has the third-oldest population, so the healthcare system relies heavily on PAs. Salaries are below the national median though.

The best states for PAs offer a balance of high salaries, affordability, job prospects, and quality-of-life amenities. Do your research to find the environment best suited to your career and lifestyle needs. Cost of living, climate, urban or rural setting, and recreation opportunities are all important factors to weigh. Find the place that offers the highest potential for career success and enjoyment.

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