How Long Does It Take To Become A Physician Assistant?

Get more details on how many years it can take to become a physician assistant and the time you can consume to earn degrees based on your requirement.

Updated by Rakshitha.N on 15th September 2020

Some of you might get confused about becoming a physician assistant to other medical career paths. The career paths are different but the professionals hold great value. This article is focused solely on the career path of the physician assistants. 

If you are willing to become a physician assistant, there must be proper planning and determining how long it takes to achieve your goals can be determined in the planning phase. 

Initially, every degree gives you education on general courses and basics on the major you've chosen, and choosing healthcare or medical science is a good start for this profession.  

This article helps you to get a clear understanding of the time you invest at every step towards becoming a physician assistant.

How long does it take to become a physician assistant?

Becoming a physician assistant is simple yet confusing. The education requirements are clear cut. The time taken to meet them is usually about 9 years. 

You require an undergrad degree which takes about 2-4 years, also some employers require you to earn a master's degree which takes 2 years, a PA program takes about 2 years to complete and training you to gain can take anywhere between 6 to 10 years. Let's take a closer look at the time distributed,

Bachelor’s Degree: 4 years

The initial requirement to become a Physician assistant is to earn a bachelor’s degree which takes about 4 years. It offers 120-128 credits where it offers core and general courses such as psychology, biology, anatomy, sociology and others when you choose a medical-related major. 

PA program: 2 years

After earning a bachelor's degree, you can choose the PA program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)  to give you an in-depth understanding on healthcare concepts. You can complete a training program for a certain period before choosing this specialized program. The courses offered include Anatomy, Pathology, Physiology, Pharmacology, Clinical medicine and medical laws, and Ethics.

Healthcare Training: 3 years

More than gaining textbook knowledge, gaining practical knowledge is also necessary and has more importance. The knowledge gained through training programs, on-the-job-training, internships, workshops or part-time jobs is necessary to gain a high profile job with a good earring. You could also practice in hospitals, clinics, wards under the supervision of a professional PA which helps during your certification process. 

Certification exam - 6 months

After meeting the education and training requirements through accredited programs, you are eligible to take up the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). The test requires intense preparation which could take about 6 months depending on your capabilities. If you don't clear at your first attempt, you get chance of taking up the exam 6 times in 6 years


To sum up, the education for a PA takes about 6 years on the whole and the training adds up to this making it 9 years. This period is estimated for students who take up the career seriously and strive rigorously to become a PA. the time and financial investment will pay off once you land on your dream job.