How To Become A PA

If you are thinking about becoming a physician assistant, there are multiple prerequisites that you must follow. Once these prerequisites are completed, the title of PA-C is given, which will allow you to practice as a PA at any location in the state that hires physician assistants and will enjoy a great salary, that of which has a current median of $89,878. To get you familiar with the road ahead as far as the criteria one must fulfill to become a physician assistant, below we will discuss the all the steps you need to take so you will have a personal guide to attaining your certification.

How To Become A Physician Assistant

There are many categories of requirements that one must meet when setting out to accomplish their goal of becoming a PA. These categories include previous schooling, requirements for getting accepted, passing the PA test and more. Below are the exact steps in each category.


  • The minimum requirement that aspiring PA’s must have for acceptance into a PA program is 2 years of college or 60 college credits. Although this is the minimum, almost all of the 159 accredited schools require their incoming students to have at least a Bachelors Degree in Health Sciences from an accredited college or university. Accredited schools have one of six different accreditation titles, those being; Middle States Association (MSA), Western Association (WASC Junior as well as Senior), North Central Association (NSC), New England Association (NEASC – CIHE and CTCI), Southern Association (SACS – CC) and Northwest Association (NASC).


  • The next step on the pursuit of becoming a physician assistant is to apply and be accepted into a PA program that is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). In order to apply to a pa program, you will need to most likely get an account with the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants, as most all programs use CASPA to make sure their students meet the requirements needed for acceptance into a PA program.
  • Once you have applied, there are certain requirements you must meet that are designated by all physician assistant programs, some of which include; a minimum cumulative GPA usually being 3.0 or higher, completion of prerequisite courses that include courses like  Biology and Anatomy & Physiology along with Microbiology and Mathematics as well as Chemistry among others that are completed with a minimum grade which is usually C – B range, hands-on medical experience ranging from up to 2000 hours, letters of recommendation preferably at least on from a physician, possibly a GRE test which is an aptitude test that tests on verbal and quantitative as well as analytical, a background check as well as certain immunizations are also required in order become a physician assistant student. To make sure that you fulfill the exact requirements for becoming a physician assistant, contact the PA program that you intend on applying to and inquire about it with them.


  • Once you have completed a PA program that is designated as ARC-PA, the next step to starting a career as a PA is to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), which is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). This test will be 6-hour exam and will consist of 600 different questions that are all demanded to be answered in one minute or less and is broken into 5 sections of 120 questions.
The last step you need to fulfill is to fill out an application for licensure through your state. This application will demand a picture id, requesting a release of the score you got on the PANCE from the NCCPA, fingerprints procedures as well as filling out multiple pages of personal information.
Once you have completed the above steps necessary to become a physician assistant, you will be a PA-C standing for Physician Assistant – Certified and will enter a career that has a job outlook that is considered to jump 39% in employment between the years of 2008 – 2018. The profession also has great opportunities for to increase your income through the various different PA specialties and offers a career that allows one to make an impact on many people every day.