Physician's Technician: Job Description & Career Info

Mar 26, 2019

Learn about the specific work a physician's technician or physician assistant performs. Explore required skills and education as well as salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career choice.

Career Definition for Physician Assistants

Physician's technician is not a particularly common job title; these professionals are more often referred to as physician assistants, or simply PAs. These professionals work with physicians and surgeons to care for patients. They are responsible for all stages of the medical process, from diagnosing to treating.

Education Master's degree
Job Skills Interpersonal communication, emotional stability, compassion
Median Salary (2017)* $104,860
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 37%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Physician assistants will need at least a master's degree. A physician assistant master's program typically includes courses in pharmacology, physical diagnosis, physiology, pathology, and other related topics. For admission to a master's program, applicants typically need at least two years of undergraduate coursework with a focus in science, although requirements will vary from program to program. Most applicants to these programs possess a bachelor's degree as well as healthcare-related work experience.

Licensure & Certification

PAs will need to be licensed, as all states and the District of Columbia require certification. Professionals can obtain certification by passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Successful completion of the program results in the 'Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C)' credential.

Re-certification occurs every two years, with practicing physician assistants being required to earn 100 hours of continuing education. In addition, a re-certification exam must be taken every 10 years.

Career and Economic Outlook

Jobs for physician assistants are expected to grow 37% from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also states that these workers made a median annual wage of $104,860 in May 2017.

Alternative Careers

Consider these other options for a career in medical or laboratory settings:

Biological Technician

For those who want to work in a laboratory assisting with medical research projects, becoming a biological technician may be another good career option. Somewhat similar to a physician's technician, a biological technician prepares samples that may include food, bacteria, blood or other biological substances. They assist medical scientists with experiments relating to the identification of organism characteristics or the creation of new drugs to cure and prevent disease.

A bachelor's degree in biology or a related field is required, and coursework should include chemistry, ecology, microbiology and mathematics. The BLS expects about 8,400 new jobs will be created in this occupation between 2016 and 2026. It also determined in 2017 that biological technicians received a median yearly salary of $43,800.

Medical Assistant

If working in medical practice and providing support to doctors and nurses sounds more appealing, a career in medical assisting should be considered. Medical assistants not only perform scheduling and clerical tasks; they also interact with patients, measure vitals, prepare lab specimens, record medical histories and administer injections under doctor supervision. To gain employment, a high school diploma may be the only required education, but many employers prefer to hire those who have completed a medical assistant certificate or diploma program. Optional professional certification can also provide an advantage when looking for a job.

According to BLS projections, medical assistants may see employment opportunities grow by 29% from 2016-2026, and these medical professionals can expect to earn $32,480 in median annual wages, based on 2017 BLS statistics.

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