Average Doctor Salaries by Specialty

The average salary of a doctor can be an important consideration when you are deciding what field you want to specialize in or whether you want to pursue a medical degree. There are many factors to weigh when considering specialities, and knowing about how much money you might make can help with financial planning, giving you a good estimate of when you can expect to pay off your medical school loans.

According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report, in 2018, Primary Care Physicians in the United States earned on average $237,000, while Specialists earned $341,000. This marked about a 21.5% increase for PCPs from 2015, and about a 20% increase for Specialists.

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Average Doctor Annual Compensation by Specialty

Here are the top medical specialties, ranked by average income:

Average Annual Physician Compensation
Source: MedScape Physician Compensation Report, 2019

  1. Orthopedics: $482K
  2. Plastic Surgery: $471K
  3. Otolaryngology: $461K
  4. Cardiology: $430K
  5. Dermatology: $419K
  6. Radiology: $419K
  7. Gastroenterology: $417K
  8. Urology: $408K
  9. Anesthesiology: $392K
  10. Ophthalmology: $366K
  11. Surgery, General: $362K
  12. Oncology: $359K
  13. Emergency Medicine: $353K
  14. Critical Care: $349K
  15. Pulmonary Medicine: $331K
  16. Pathology: $308K
  17. Physical Medicine & Rehab.: $306K
  18. Nephrology: $305K
  19. Ob/Gyn: $303K
  20. Allergy & Immunology: $275K
  21. Neurology: $267K
  22. Psychiatry: $260K
  23. Rheumatology: $259K
  24. Internal Medicine: $243K
  25. Infectious Diseases: $239K
  26. Diabetes & Endocrinology: $236K
  27. Family Medicine: $231K
  28. Pediatrics: $225K
  29. Public Health/Preventative Med.: $209K

According to MedScape, Cardiology and Orthopedics have been among the top five-earning specialities in their annual report every year for the past five years. Pediatrics, Family Medicine, and Diabetes & Endocrinology have been among the bottom five.

Top 10 Earning States for Physicians

Here are the states ranked by income for physicians:

Source: MedScape Physician Compensation Report, 2019

  1. Oklahoma: $337K
  2. Alabama: $330K
  3. Nevada: $329K
  4. Arkansas: $326K
  5. Florida: $325K
  6. Kentucky: $324K
  7. Tennessee: $323K
  8. Connecticut: $323K
  9. Georgia: $322K
  10. Indiana: $322K

Top Earning Metro Areas for Physicians

The numbers above represent state-wide averages. Average salaries for doctors in metropolitan areas tend to be higher. Here are the top 25 metro areas in which physicians are paid the highest average annual salary:
  • Milwaukee: $395,363 
  • New Orleans: $384,651 
  • Riverside, Calif.: $371,296 
  • Minneapolis: $369,889 
  • Charlotte, N.C.: $368,205 
  • Dallas: $362,472 
  • Atlanta: $362,267 
  • Los Angeles: $356,390 
  • Cincinnati: $354,129 
  • Hartford, Conn.: $352,129 
  • Salt Lake City: $351,300 
  • Bridgeport, Conn.: $348,089 
  • Orlando, Fla.: $347,711

  • San Diego: $347,154
  • Phoenix: $347,065 
  • Seattle: $346,721 
  • Louisville, Ky.: $346,206 
  • Sacramento, Calif.: $345,168 
  • Indianapolis: $339,411 
  • Jacksonville, Fla.: $338,790 
  • San Francisco: $338,407 
  • Nashville, Tenn.: $337,914 
  • Kansas City, Mo.: $336,568 
  • Miami: $336,336 
  • New York City: $333,604

Source: Doximity 2019 Physician Compensation Report

Doctor Wage Gap between Men and Women

Paralleling a national trend across all fields, there exists a national gender pay gap in medicine. The Doximity 2019 Physician Compensation Report reported on the incomes of doctors in U.S. metro areas, finding that male physicians earned an average of $1.25 for every $1 female physicians earned in 2018.

Medscape reported a similar trend nationwide, finding that male Specialists earned 33% more than female Specialists, and that Male PCPs earned 25% more. The gap appears to be narrowing each year, however. According to Doximity, compensation for male physicians has stagnated, but increased for women by two percent over last year.

Choosing a Medical Specialty

Although you likely won’t choose a specialty until you are well into medical school, you can take advantage of shadowing opportunities to not only gain clinical experience for your application to medical school, but also to learn more about the specialties you are interested in and get a feeling for the day-to-day life of various physicians. 

It’s important to note, too, that the specialties listed above do not constitute an exhaustive list. The AAMC provides a full list on their website. The number of specialties and potential careers can be overwhelming at first. But know that as you continue on your journey to med school and residency, you’ll learn more about all of the various opportunities for a career in medicine, and will likely zero-in on the type of doctor you want to be.

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