PAs in Administration: Higher Salaries and Job Satisfaction

2018 Salary Report Reveals Key Areas of Difference

August 14, 2018

By AAPA Research

Management and administration are career options that many PAs are pursuing outside the traditional path of clinical practice. AAPA continually monitors the work experiences of this emerging group of PA leaders and has gathered information on key areas of difference for these PAs in its 2018 AAPA Salary Report.

PAs in administration differ on experience and education.
PAs in administration, whose job titles include chief PA, director, department chair, manager or supervisor, tend to have much more experience in the profession than other PAs, with more than 3 in 5 reporting more than 15 years of experience in the profession, versus 29.1% of other PAs reporting more than 15 years of experience. Interestingly, slightly more PAs in administration have a doctorate (4.4% vs. 2.2%). But PAs in administration also have a higher proportion of bachelor’s degrees (23.5% versus 15.8%) than other PAs. This could be because PAs with more experience may have gotten their degrees before master’s level education became the norm for PAs.

PAs in administration likely have leadership training in school or on-the-job, and work in organizations with a career ladder.
Leadership training and organizational promotion potential differs between PAs in administration and other PAs. Almost 1 in 5 PAs in administration (19.2%) report that their PA program offered formal leadership training, versus about 1 in 14 other PAs (7.4%). Unsurprisingly, over two-thirds of PAs in administration (68.8%) have completed formal leadership training since becoming a PA, versus 11.6% of other PAs. Finally, PAs in administration are much more likely than other PAs to report there is a career ladder in the organization where they work (51.5% versus 19.4%).

PAs in administration are paid more, but likelihood of bonus or professional development is no greater.
Full-time PAs in administration and management in 2017 reported a median base salary of $138,000 versus $104,000 for other PAs, and they received larger average bonuses ($12,000 versus $5,738); both groups were equally likely to receive a bonus (48.0% versus 48.6%). Total compensation (base salary and bonus, if received) differed by more than $35,000 per year ($145,250 versus $110,000 per year). Of note, compared to PAs in other roles, PAs in administration are less likely to be clinically practicing (87.5% versus 96.5%) and they work more hours per week (45 versus 40), which may be related to compensation.

Regarding professional development, PAs in administration and other PAs were equally likely to receive an allowance for professional development. 88.2% of administrative PAs received an allowance and 89.9% of other PAs received an allowance and the amounts were $2,000 for both groups.

PAs in administration are more satisfied with employers, but not more satisfied with their careers.
PAs in administration report higher levels of employer satisfaction (88.5% vs. 76.9% satisfied or extremely satisfied) but are no more satisfied with their career than other PAs (85.4% vs. 83.1% agree or strongly agree that if they had to choose over again, they would become a PA).

In the 2018 AAPA Salary Survey, 1.2% of PAs reported that their primary role is administrator or manager; this is an increase from 0.7% in the 2016 and 2015 AAPA Salary Surveys.  While PAs who work primarily as administrators comprise a small proportion of the profession, it is increasing and likely will continue to do so in coming years.

Limitations of These Conclusions
PAs in administration comprise a small proportion of the PA profession, and although it is growing, small sample sizes increase the impact of outliers as well as non-response bias. AAPA is capturing information on PAs in administration when the opportunity arises so we can continue to monitor trends in this important group.

Authors are Tim McCall, PhD, manager of Research at AAPA, and Noël Smith, MA, senior director of PA and Industry Research and Analysis at AAPA. Contact them at [email protected].

More Resources
2018 AAPA Salary Report
Center for Healthcare Leadership and Management
PA/NP Leadership and Management Certificate Program

Trockel, M., Bohman, B., Lesure, E., Hamidi, M. S., Welle, D., Roberts, L., & Shanafelt, T. (2018). A brief instrument to assess both burnout and professional fulfillment in physicians: Reliability and validity, including correlation with self-reported medical errors, in a sample of resident and practicing physicians. Academic Psychiatry, 42, 11-24.

About the data
The 2018 AAPA Salary Survey was collected between Feb. 2 and March 2, 2018. The survey was sent to the 78,244 PAs (both AAPA members and nonmembers) who had not opted out of communication from AAPA, were based in the U.S., were not identified as retired, and had valid email addresses. A total of 9,140 PAs responded to the survey. The overall margin of error is +/- 1.05% at the 95% confidence level. Response rates and margins of error vary by breakout.

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