Become a Certified PA

Certified PAs: The Best Job in Health Care


If you’re considering a career in health care, becoming a PA could be a rewarding career choice. 

Explore this page to learn about Certified PAs, how they practice and why you should join the more than 149,000 Certified PAs across the United States!

What do Certified PAs do?

  • Responsibilities
  • Specialities

Certified PAs treat millions of patients every week. They perform routine medical services and intricate procedures, including:

  • Diagnose and manage diseases, including chronic illnesses
  • Prescribe medications
  • Assist in major surgeries
  • Perform minor surgeries
  • Monitor and manage hospital inpatients
  • Order and interpret lab tests
  • Perform physical exams
  • Obtain medical histories
  • Educate patients on treatment and health maintenance

Certified PAs practice in every specialty and have the flexibility to change specialties throughout their careers.

Their specialty practice areas include:

  • Primary Care
  • Surgery subspecialties
  • Cardiology
  • Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine/General Practice
  • Gastroenterology
  • General Surgery
  • Hospital Medicine
  • Internal Medicine-General
  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pain Medicine
  • Pediatrics-General
  • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry
  • Urology
0 %

of Certified PAs work in primary care.

Where do Certified PAs work?

Certified PAs practice in every health care setting from hospitals and office-based private practice to schools, retail clinics and everywhere in between! PAs also practice in every state in the United States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Check out the gallery below to find out more about the top 5 states where PAs practice.

Why should I become a Certified PA?


average number of patients seen by Certified PAs each week.

How do I become a Certified PA?

Research PA Programs
Even before entering undergrad, it's a good idea to research PA programs to get a sense of the prerequisite courses that you'll need to take prior to applying to PA school.
Obtain a Bachelor's Degree
Before applying to PA school, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. You should strongly consider a science-related major and take any prerequisite courses necessary for PA school.
Get HCE/PCE Experience
After graduation, you'll need to obtain at least 1,000 hours of health care experience (HCE) or patient care experience (PCE). Health care experience is work in which you are not directly responsible for a patient’s care, while patient care experience is when you are directly responsible for a patient’s care. If you'd like to satisfy this requirement sooner, you may seek out opportunities to complete HCE/PCE hours during your undergraduate studies.
Apply to PA School
Once you've graduated and have obtained enough HCEs, it's time to apply to PA school. Many students apply to PA programs through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). As part of the application process, you'll need to be prepared to share your college transcripts, letters of recommendation and evidence of your health care experience(s). Many PA programs will also require a candidate interview, so be sure to research tips, and prepare by participating in mock interviews before the big day.
Complete PA School
PA school typically ranges between 23-27 months. During this time you'll want to remain focused and study hard and often. Prior to graduating, you'll need to complete at least 2,000 hours of structured clinical education.
After completing PA school, and before applying for licensure in your state, you'll need to complete and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Once you pass, you can apply for jobs and begin practicing as a Certified PA!

Where can I learn more about Certified PAs?

Look no further! Feel free to navigate the site to learn more about Certified PAs and how they practice.

If you’re a student, you can also access school level specific resources below.

PA Activity Book

Learn all about Certified PAs with this fun activity book! Through coloring exercises, a word search and various other activities young students will have a greater understanding of Certified PAs.

COMING SOON: Middle school students can learn more about the journey to becoming a Certified PA in this fun downloadable board game.

Check back soon for awesome infographics, handouts and videos from our “Day in the Life of a Certified PA” video series! 

Are you an educator that would like to have a Certified PA speak to your students?

Certified PAs are ready, and would love to speak to your students about this amazing profession. To schedule a presentation please contact us. 

Contact Us