(Closed) Physician Assistant or Computer Science?

posted 4 years ago in Career
Post # 2
7892 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

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luvely :  DH works in a computer science field and is in grad school for that subject. He makes a pretty good living even with just his bachelors, but he says more doors open with a graduate degree. He said there are a lot of computer scientists, but the good ones do thrive. He could do a lot of learning of the coding languages on his own. 

As for PA school, even though there is less room for advancement, on the flip side, he will likely be able to make a good living with reasonable work hours. Will the GI Bill support pay for PA school? The time in school will still be significant (4 years) but you could still TTC. 

I like the idea of him talking to people in those fields to see what fits him better. Both are good options, so it might boil down to what speaks to him more. 

Post # 3
145 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

Don’t know anything about PA stuff but I’m a computer scientist and have done the flexible working on projects thing as well as the regular salaried job one.

At least where I live a software developer can expect to start on a salary of twice the national average and quite quickly climb.from what I see of US jobs it seems much the same. A six figure salary isnt uncommon if you’re good. That said, contract work usually pays even more if you can stand the risk of being self employed. A lot of friends with children  have switched to contracting so they can earn the same money in fewer hours. It’s also an area with high demand so he should be able to get a job while still studying. 

Also! And I wish more people realised this – computer science is really broad. All grads should at least be able to code but you can focus on some really interesting areas even during undergrad. A lot of my friends went into physics and graphics for computer games. I studied machine learning and have since been paid ridiculous money to train robots and design systems to partially automate medical diagnosis. If he’s interested in medicine and computers I’d definitely check out going into bio informatics which is a specialisation within computer science dealing with medical systems.

Post # 4
2873 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

Uh, software engineers are the ones automating away many jobs and are paid handsomely for it. 

DH is an engineer and if he’s unhappy at work, he has a new job within a few weeks to months. He has increased his pay by 50% since we met and we’re able to afford to live in San Francisco easily. Yes, the COL sucks but only tech people and finance people can still afford to live here. 

Tech isn’t the most stable but only if you’re mediocre or terrible OR pick shitty startups to work at. If you’re good, you’ll get recruited constantly and that’s where the stability lies – in your reputation and ability to deliver. 

Post # 5
2873 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

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thorncastle :  machine learning is amazing. If the data’s clean (enough) training the model is super cool!

Post # 6
7269 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

I say he needs to do some serious research and talk to people in each field and try to get an idea for what interests him both. I think there will always be jobs in computer science, but likewise there will always be jobs in medicine. 

I know someone who went to PA school well after she’d graduated with her Bachelors, got married, and had been working a couple of years. Pretty sure the school she went to was 25 months, although I’m pretty sure she had most of the pre-reqs before she went in because she had initally been on a pharmacy track in undergrad. That being said after 2 years she got a great job making very good money. She works in private practice so she has a pretty regular M-F 9-5 job…..and now has 3 kids! 

You’re NEVER too old to go back to school and pursue your dreams. I wouldn’t let his age and the amount of schooling stop him from doing something he really wants to do. My aunt started medical school in her 30’s after having 4 kids!! My uncle (her husband) is also an MD and I guess it was something she’d always wanted to do. She’s been a physician for over 30 years now! 

Post # 7
919 posts
Busy bee

SO is a computer engineer. He’s currently interning at a company here (he won’t graduate until next way) and without a degree under his belt he’s making $28 an hour. Before income tax and such. He only works 20 hours a week, but if he had kept his full time hours (which is what he was doing this summer) he’d make $53,000 a year. 


That’s as an intern, without a degree. He does have an insane amount of programming experience in multiple languages though. If your SO chooses computer science, honestly tell him to go for computer engineering. Huge pay raise and while some differences in classes, well worth it. 

Post # 8
1698 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

If your husband is interested in continuing his CS degree, I think it is worth encouraging him to keep going with it! My DH is a senior level software engineer and we are very lucky that he both loves what he does and is very well compensated for it. I am in health myself, and am actually currently learning the R language for health applications. I think depending on what type of specialization your DH is interested in, health and software don’t have to be mutually exclusive 🙂 

Post # 9
237 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

PA here. I love my job and would recommend it to anybody with an honest passion for medicine. It is not for someone who can’t see past the good paycheck- they will burn out and resent their career choice. Medicine will you throw you into interaction with people and their families as some of the most vulnerable times of their lives and someone who isn’t in it for the right reasons will be easy to see through. It’s not glamorous. Depending on the job the hours aren’t always easy. My old job had me up at 4am and lucky to be home by 7:30-8pm, working nights/weekends/holidays and call. I agree with shadowing some PAs to see what our day to day is like but if he’s never shown interest in medicine before he should probably stick with IT. 

Post # 10
1904 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2016

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luvely :  Maybe I am misreading your post. It sounds like HE wants to go for Computer Science but YOU want him to think of other options? Let HIM chose his own career path. =)

Post # 11
10108 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL

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luvely :  Computer science grads were the highest earners out of my undergrad college (which was a technical institute). If he’s good at it, I wouldn’t worry about salary. The median starting salary for CS people (again, from my college) was 80k straight out of undergrad.

I have a friend that just got her P.A. license. It’s *almost* like going through medical school. You have to have passion for either to be able to complete the degrees, and both are so different from one another it will depend on him.

Is he a people person? Do blood and guts freak him out? If the answers are Yes/No then go for PA, but if the answers are No/Yes then go for CS.

Post # 12
618 posts
Busy bee

I help with admission for a PA program, so I know about the process to get in and the program itself.  I also have two friends in PA programs currently.  Our program is 28 months, so just over two years.  I feel like the 2-3 year range is typical for most programs.  But it is a super intense 2-3 years.  It is a full time job and then some, for both the classroom semesters and the clinical rotations.  PA schools are also extremely competitive.  Our program gets 500+ applications for 18 spots (we are one of the smaller programs of course).  It’s a great profession though, and I’m sure that all of that time and effort is worth it.  But you have to really want it for that to be the case.

Our school also has a computer science graduate program.  I think grad school is a good next step for someone who wants to make their career in that field.  It could definitely lead to a better salary and more stability.  I admit I don’t know as much about computer science in general, so I can’t give much more advice than that.

Best of luck to your husband in this decision process.  It’s not easy.  But he should definitely do as much research as possible, to make the best-informed decision.  He needs to choose a field he has a passion for.  Without that, no job will really be fulfilling, desipte the salary outlook.

Post # 13
1203 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

How about a happy medium between computer science and medicine? Biomedical informatics is the love child between the two. He could easily land a job with a bachelor’s degree and then it’s likely that whoever employs him would subsidize graduate studies. It’s a good niche to get into.

ETA: Forgot to mention that this is the field that I work in, and I like it a lot!

Post # 14
15045 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

I dunno how much PA’s get paid, but CS majors that I know bring in at least 100k, mostly around 130-150k with just a bachelors.  This is regular full time with benefits.

Post # 15
300 posts
Helper bee

PA here also, I second what HelloBlondie said.  

PA school was grueling and I hated most of it, my program was intense, but also ranked highly. All of it was worth it though as I absolutely love my career.  I work in Infectious Disease, specifically with transplant patients and my hours are awesome, my Attendings (doctors who I work for) are AMAZING, and the paycheck is plenty.  You have the luxury of changing specialties anytime you’d like, so for example if you work a 9-5 and need him to be home during opposite hours, he could work in emergency medicine where shifts are sporadic (as my SO does) or even an urgent care.  If you have any questions about schooling or what a PA does feel free to PM me!

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