Late last month, Glassdoor released its first ever report on the 25 Best Jobs in America in 2015. While the rankings may be up for discussion by industry analysts in San Francisco, the top ranked job was not a software engineer. Despite having less than half the number of job openings as the second place finisher, the top job in America this year is physician assistant.

The findings from Sausalito-based Glassdoor determined the physician assistant industry had the highest Job Score of 4.8, out of a possible 5. Software engineers, business development managers, human resource managers and finance managers followed close behind with equal ratings of 4.6, although the number of software engineer jobs more than surpassed the total of the other top five.

According to the report, there are 45,484 job openings for physician assistants nationwide, with an average salary of $111,376 and a career opportunities rating of 3.5. Locally, there are more than 2,600 physician assistant job postings on Glassdoor in the San Francisco area, with base salaries averaging approximately $100,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) describes physician assistants as individuals who can provide healthcare services typically performed by a physician, under the supervision of a physician. Among the tasks a physician assistant is qualified to perform are complete physicals, provide treatment, counsel patients and prescribe medication. In order to become a physician assistant, individuals must graduate from an accredited educational program for that occupation.

San Francisco students interested in a career as a physician assistant can start reviewing physician assistant (PA) programs as early as their freshman year in college. However applicants must have at least two years of college coursework in basic and behavioral sciences, with the following prerequisites –  anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology and microbiology.

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) lists 205 PA programs nationwide, including a handful of Bay Area colleges – Samuel Merritt College, Stanford University and Touro University. Additionally, Foothill College in the Los Altos Hills, in partnership with Stanford, offers a primary care associate program.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.

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