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 2021, Primary Care Physicians in the United States earned on average $260,000, while Specialists earned $368,000.

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Average Doctor Annual Compensation by Specialty

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

  1. Plastic Surgery: $576,000
  2. Orthopedics: $557,000
  3. Cardiology: $490,000
  4. Otolaryngology: $469,000
  5. Urology: $461,000
  6. Gastroenterology: $453,000
  7. Dermatology: $438,000
  8. Radiology: $437,000
  9. Ophthalmology: $417,000
  10. Oncology: $411,000
  11. Anesthesiology: $405,000
  12. Surgery, General: $402,000
  13. Emergency Medicine: $373,000
  14. Critical Care: $369,000
  15. Pulmonary Medicine: $353,000
  16. Ob/Gyn: $336,000
  17. Pathology: $334,000
  18. Nephrology: $329,000
  19. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: $322,000
  20. Neurology: $301,000
  21. Allergy and Immunology: $298,000
  22. Rheumatology: $289,000
  23. Psychiatry: $287,000
  24. Internal Medicine: $264,000
  25. Infectious Diseases: $260,000
  26. Diabetes and Endocrinology: $257,000
  27. Family Medicine: $255,000
  28. Pediatrics: $244,000
  29. Public Health and Preventative Medicine: $243,000

Source: MedScape Physician Compensation Report, 2022

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:

  1. Kentucky: $364,000
  2. Tennessee: $364,000
  3. Alabama: $358,000
  4. Missouri: $357,000
  5. Oregon: $352,000
  6. Indiana: $350,000
  7. North Carolina: $348,000
  8. Connecticut: $346,000
  9. Texas: $346,000
  10. Florida: $346,000

Source: MedScape Physician Compensation Report, 2022

Top Earning Metro Areas/Cities 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:

  1. Milwaukee: $395,363 
  2. New Orleans: $384,651 
  3. Riverside, Calif.: $371,296 
  4. Minneapolis: $369,889 
  5. Charlotte, N.C.: $368,205 
  6. Dallas: $362,472 
  7. Atlanta: $362,267 
  8. Los Angeles: $356,390 
  9. Cincinnati: $354,129 
  10. Hartford, Conn.: $352,129 
  11. Salt Lake City: $351,300 
  12. Bridgeport, Conn.: $348,089 
  13. Orlando, Fla.: $347,711
  14. San Diego: $347,154
  15. Phoenix: $347,065 
  16. Seattle: $346,721 
  17. Louisville, Ky.: $346,206 
  18. Sacramento, Calif.: $345,168 
  19. Indianapolis: $339,411 
  20. Jacksonville, Fla.: $338,790 
  21. San Francisco: $338,407 
  22. Nashville, Tenn.: $337,914 
  23. Kansas City, Mo.: $336,568 
  24. Miami: $336,336 
  25. 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.

How To Pay for Medical School

Assessing how you will pay for medical school can feel daunting, but it does not have to be if you plan properly.

Best 10 Medical Schools by Specialty

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