Whether they’re working alongside physicians or caring for patients as independent primary care providers, physician assistants (PAs) of all specialties play an important role in maintaining continuity of high-quality care for people around the United States. But how in demand are these critical healthcare providers? In this blog, we’re going to dive into the physician assistant (PA) job outlook, taking a closer look at employment projections, the profession’s unemployment rate, and which states employ the most PAs.
BLS Projections of PA Employment
PAs are the eighth fastest growing occupation in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—with employment growth for these critical providers projected around 27% between 2022 and 2032. The numbers break down like this: in 2022, PA employment was at 148,000, but the BLS projects that to expand to 187,300 by 2032.
Taking an even more granular look at the BLS data, the organization projects that around 12,000 PA jobs will open every year up until 2032.
What States Have the Highest PA Employment Rates?
According to the BLS, California, New York, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina have the highest employment levels of PAs as of May 2022. In addition, the BLS reports that Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Nebraska, and Montana have the highest shares of PA employment when compared to the national average.
What is the Unemployment Rate for PAs in the United States?
PAs have a low unemployment rate when compared to the national average—according to the 100 Best Jobs list released by the U.S. News & World Report in 2024, the unemployment rate for PAs is 1.6%, which is less than the national unemployment rate of 3.7% in December 2023.
Where do PAs Commonly Work?
PAs are one of the most ubiquitous professions in medicine, meaning they can be found working at a wide variety of healthcare facilities. Some of the most common work environments for PAs are:
- Physician Offices
- Outpatient Care Centers
- Nursing Homes
- Community Health Centers
Why are PAs in Demand?
First, the BLS says the projected PA employment growth is related to the need to replace PAs who exit the workforce, whether that’s because they are retiring or moving to a new occupation. In addition, as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, the share of people who require complex healthcare services increases, which increases the demand for providers.
PAs are also increasingly serving as primary care providers in the event a physician is not available to provide healthcare services to a patient. Unlike nurse practitioners (NPs), however, PAs can not practice independently and require supervision from a physician to some degree in every state. Nevertheless, PAs have increasingly taken on increased responsibilities to maintain continuity of patient care across the country, such as prescribing medications and signing death certificates.
The exact limitations of what a PA can do, and how independently PAs can practice, varies wildly from one state to another.
Why Become a Locum Tenens PA?
Locum tenens is a Latin phrase meaning “holding one’s place,” but in the healthcare industry, it refers to a temporary travel medical professional who substitutes for a provider or works an open job until it can be filled with a permanent worker.
There are many benefits to taking a locum tenens assignment that aren’t available to those in permanent positions at a clinic or private practice, including greater work flexibility and higher earning potentials.
Work With Us
Interested in becoming a locum tenens PA? We connect skilled PAs with facilities that are short-staffed across the country for temporary assignments. Check out our job board and apply today to get started.