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Record Number of PAs Earned Initial Certification in 2021


For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Busola Saka, Senior Communications Specialist
email: [email protected]
phone: 678-417-8591

Johns Creek, Ga., August 10, 2022 – 10,950 PAs earned their initial certification in 2021 alone, marking the greatest number of newly Certified PAs according to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistant’s (NCCPA) 2021 Statistical Profile of Certified PAs. This latest and most comprehensive data on Certified PAs reports that there were 158,470 Certified PAs in the U.S. at the end of 2021. With the number of Certified PAs growing by 28.7% in five years, the report reflects a profession that is growing steadily, and increasing in its capacity to specialize in areas with growing needs whether by area of practice, practice setting or geographically:

  • The family medicine and psychiatry specialty practice areas experienced the greatest proportional growth in the five-year period from 2017 to 2021.
  • Certified PAs practicing in urgent care settings increased by 97.3%, and 21.8% provide care to underserved populations in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area or Medically Underserved Area.
  • Rhode Island (48%), Mississippi (47.2%) and Indiana (46%) experienced the highest percentage of growth in the number of Certified PAs.

“Although the past few years have been challenging for health care providers overall, the PA profession continues to grow and step up to varying patient needs,” said NCCPA President and CEO Dawn Morton-Rias, Ed.D., PA-C. “For example, there has been a tremendous increase in the use of telemedicine which helps increase access to care for patients in remote areas, with travel restrictions or other barriers to attending in-person health care appointments. Certified PAs remain an integral and responsive part of the U.S. health care system.”

In addition to a growing profession, NCCPA’s 2021 Statistical Profile of Certified PAs reports high job satisfaction and substantial increase in average income among Certified PAs. 70.5% of Certified PAs indicated they are completely or mostly satisfied with their present jobs, and the average income for Certified PAs increased from $107,718 in 2017 to $117,381 in 2021.

“The PA profession is not only growing in number – it continues to improve in all aspects according to our data,” said Morton-Rias.

Additional key findings from the 2021 report include the following:

  • There were 48 Certified PAs per 100,000 population in 2021, compared to 37 per 100,000 population in 2017
  • The percentage of Certified PAs participating in telemedicine has grown from 8.4 in 2017 to 33.6 in 2021.
  • 4% of Certified PAs reported that their primary place of employment is currently hiring/recruiting PAs.
  • 7% indicated they work with other health professionals in their principal practice.
    • 1% work with other PAs.
    • 7% work with advanced practice nurses.
    • 6% work with mental health providers.

PAs are consistently ranked among the list of the top jobs in America. In 2022 U.S. News and World Report ranked PA as the #2 best job in the United States, the #3 best health care job and the #3 best job in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

About the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is the only certifying organization for the over 150,000 PAs in the United States. The PA-C credential is awarded by NCCPA to PAs who fulfill certification, certification maintenance and recertification requirements. NCCPA also administers the Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) program for experienced, Certified PAs practicing in seven specialties. For more information, please visit