Doctor Salary by Specialty

Becoming a doctor is a dream for many. However, there are so many areas to choose from when deciding on a specialty that you may be finding it hard to determine which path is right for you. We will be breaking down the docotor salary by speciality in the guide below. 

With the amount of time and effort you will need to invest in becoming a doctor, including passing the MCAT, it is crucial to take the time to decide on the right specialization for you. 

In this article you will find what different doctors make, what job growth you can expect in each specialty, and what parts of the country pay doctors the most.

Average Doctor Salary Compared to Other Healthcare Professionals

 Doctor Salary by Specialty

How Much Do Different Doctors Make?

Primary Care Physician

A primary care physician is a doctor who practices family medicine, internal medicine, or pediatrics. This group of doctors is responsible for taking care of general day-to-day health concerns. 

Primary care physicians conduct well visits, give vaccines, and update regular prescriptions. They are also usually the first point of contact when someone has a non-urgent medical concern. A primary care physician assesses any potential medical conditions, and if they find further specialized treatment is needed, they will refer their patient to another doctor. 

Family physicians and pediatricians usually work out of a private practice or doctor's office, while doctors in internal medicine may have their office within a hospital. Because of their proximity to the hospital, some internal medicine physicians eventually decide to sub-specialize in another area of medicine also.

Primary Care Physician   
 Annual Median Salary  $203,450
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $97.81
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB/GYN) 

An obstetrician is a doctor who specializes in pregnant women and the delivery of babies. 

Similarly, a gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in general women's health. This means they are often the go-to for reproductive health, hormone imbalances, and menopausal issues. 

Since both relate to the female reproductive system, they are often combined. When a doctor practices both, they are known as an OB/GYN.

Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB/GYN)   
 Annual Median Salary  $233,610
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $112.31
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Surgeon

There are two different types of surgeons. A General Surgeon can perform a variety of surgeries while a specialized surgeon practices in one specific field.

Surgeons regularly perform surgery, but they are also responsible for consultations, planning pre-surgery, and post-surgery care. 

It is important to note that becoming a surgeon requires more training than a primary care physician. This can include 3-10 years of residency after medical school. 

Surgeon  
 Annual Median Salary  $252,040
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $121.17
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Cardiologist 

A cardiologist specializes in the heart. They regularly handle heart failure, cardiovascular disease, and care for patients who have undergone heart surgery. Cardiologists tend to make a higher salary than other specialized physicians. This is because they will likely spend more time on call and managing high-stress emergencies.

Becoming a cardiologist also requires several additional years of fellowship after the standard three years of residency. 

Cardiologist  
 Annual Median Salary  $405,000
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $194.17
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Dermatologist

Dermatology is one of the most competitive fields a doctor can choose for their specialization. It is extremely sought after because the pay is higher than most physicians, and they do not generally have the on-call hours of some specialties. 

Usually, dermatological conditions are not emergencies, and patients can be seen within regular office hours. A dermatologist will also have a group of patients with no medical condition at all. These patients are looking for a treatment for cosmetic purposes.

Dermatologist  
 Annual Median Salary  $206,500
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $99.27
 Job Outlook Through 2029  8%

Infectious Disease Physician

An infectious disease physician is specially trained to see patients with diseases that are hard to diagnose, treat, and in some cases, are very contagious. ID physicians are also experts at tracking and tracing infectious diseases to minimize their spread. 

Trying to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and find a way to eliminate the threat is just as critical to an infectious disease doctor as diagnosing and treating their patients. 

Infectious Disease Physician  
 Annual Median Salary  $203,880
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $98.01
 Job Outlook Through 2029  8%

Otolaryngologist 

An otolaryngologist, better known as an ENT, specializes in the ears, nose, and throat. They see patients with sinus problems, allergies, and cancers of the neck, head, and throat. 

Many hospitals have an otolaryngologist on staff, but other ENTs operate from their own private practice.  

Since there is so much to cover as an ENT, some choose to specialize even further into a particular area.

Otolaryngologist  
 Annual Median Salary  $205,000
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $98.56
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Pulmonologist 

A pulmonologist is a doctor that specializes in the respiratory system. Because their work can be urgent and mean the difference between life and death for their patience, an additional 3-year fellowship is required be required after residency, before going out on your own. 

As you can imagine, a pulmonologist is in demand in many intensive care units. A pulmonologist can also choose to see patients in an office setting, but they will see patients for less urgent ailments such as allergies and breathing disorders.

Pulmonologist  
 Annual Median Salary  $280,893
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $135.04
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Neurologist

A Neurologist is a specialist in the brain, spine, and nervous system. A neurologist's work can range from patients with something as serious as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s to something as small as dizziness or headaches.

Because there is such a vast range of medical conditions that could require a neurologist’s care, some decide to specialize further into a subcategory. Some of these include: 

  • Headache Medicine
  • Neuromuscular Medicine
  • Child Neurology

As the population ages, there is an increase in conditions such as stroke and neurodegenerative diseases that require the specialized skills of a neurologist. With a large number of baby boomers continuing to enter old age, we can expect to see an increase in demand for neurological care. You will see this demand reflected in the job outlook below. 

Neurologist  
 Annual Median Salary  $239,282
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $115.03
 Job Outlook Through 2029  13.42%

Radiologist

A radiologist is a doctor that reads and interprets the diagnostic tests run by other physicians. After reviewing a test the radiologist will often write a detailed report of what they see and advise on further testing. A radiologist usually works closely with other doctors rather than seeing a large number of patients. 

Radiologist  
 Annual Median Salary  $300,365
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $144.40
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Anesthesiologist

An anesthesiologist works alongside a surgeon to monitor a patient's pain and vital signs during surgery. They are the doctor responsible for putting a patient under should the surgery require it. 

If on call at a hospital, an anesthesiologist may also help with emergencies such as cardiac arrest or patients who have issues breathing. This may seem odd, but because they are trained in maintaining vitals, such as oxygen levels and heart rate, they are the ideal doctor to fill in during an emergency.

Anesthesiologist  
 Annual Median Salary  $261,730
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $125.83
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Oncologist

An oncologist specializes in treating cancer. They can choose one of three paths:

  • Medical Oncology – A doctor in medical oncology treats cancer using medicine such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
  • Surgical Oncology – A doctor who practices surgical oncology surgically removes cancerous tumors and growths.
  • Radiational Oncology. – A radiational oncologist uses radiation therapy to treat cancer in their patients.
Oncologist  
 Annual Median Salary  $257,000
 Annual Median Salary (Per Hour)  $123.55
 Job Outlook Through 2029  7%

Average Salary of Doctors with Different Specialties

Doctor Salary by Specialty

What accreditation is required to become a doctor? 

To apply to medical school, you must first earn at least a bachelor's degree. While there are no specifications for your major, many students choose a field in science, math, or English. 

In addition to a bachelor's degree, medical schools usually require letters of recommendation and your score for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Follow this link for MCAT practice tests, study suggestions, and registration information.  

Most medical schools are extremely competitive, so you may also have to interview with an admissions committee. This committee will consider your personality, leadership skills, and any extracurricular activities you have completed when making their admissions decisions. 

Once accepted into medical school, you will spend at least two years in classrooms and labs preparing to work with patients. The classes you will take will include anatomy, biochemistry, medical ethics, and the laws of medicine, to name a few.

After two years of learning in the classroom, you will be ready to work with patients. You will work alongside an experienced physician in your field of choice. 

This could be in a hospital or office setting. Under another doctor's supervision, you will get hands-on experience diagnosing and treating patients.

Once you graduate medical school, you will usually move on to a residency. Residency can last anywhere from 3-7 years and allows you to continue honing your skills with supervision and support.

With your degree in medicine and your medical residency complete, you can apply for your medical license. The requirements for a medical license are different in each state, but most will require you to pass all four tests in the United States Medical Licensing Exam. 

Depending on the specialization you choose, you may also need to complete several years in a medical fellowship. During this time, you will learn the required skills for your unique specialization. Medical fellowships are paid positions but keep in mind it will not be near the salary you will make once you are practicing independently.

Doctor Salaries in Various Locations Across the Country

The average salary for doctors varies and is based on the demand in a particular area. This means that your salary will depend more on how in-demand your skills are, rather than the cost of living in your region. The graph below will help demonstrate this point. It shows the average doctor salary for various states in the U.S.

Average Doctor Salaries for Various States

Average Salaries in Various U.S. States

Here are the states with the highest doctor salaries in the United States.

States with the highest doctor salaries

Doctor Salaries by State

Overall Job Outlook for Doctors 

According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, as the growing population ages, the number of doctors needed is expected to increase by at least 4%. As you can see above, this is just the minimum. Some specialties are expected to increase by over 13% 

Curious about other positions in the medical field? Check out:

Doctor Salary faqs

Which type of doctors get paid most?

The highest paid doctors are:
1. Cardiologist - $405,000
2. Radiologist - $300,365
3. Pulmonologist - $ 280,893
4. Anesthesiologist - $261,730
5. Surgeon - $252,040
6. Neurologist - $239,282
7. OB/GYN - $233,610
8. Primary Care Physician - $233,610
9. Dermatologist - $206,500
10. Otolaryngologist - $205,000

What are physicians salary?

Physicians salaries will vary depending on what they specialize in. A primary care physician has an average annual income of $233,610.

How do I become a doctor?

Students must first complete their undergraduate degree at an accredited college. After that, they must apply for and pass the MCAT. The MCAT is a very challenging exam - it is recommended that students take a MCAT prep course to help prepare for the exam.