Doctor Salary: Average Annual Pay & Income Factors

Doctor salaries vary depending on a wide range of factors, from area of specialty and years of professional experience to employer type, industry, and geographical location.

Doctors employed in the medical field are among the best paid professionals in the United States, with a number of specialties ranking among the best paid occupations in the country.

The 2013 Physician Compensation Report released by Medscape reveals that medical doctors’ salaries are still generally on the rise, with a third of the specialties included in the survey earning more than $300,000 a year.

The best paid specialties are orthopedics, cardiology, and radiology, while those with the lowest income are HIV/ID, pediatrics, and family medicine.

The same report shows that most specialties in the medical field have seen a significant increase in annual income in the last year. The highest yearly salary increases were reported by orthopedists (27%), nephrologists (20%), and neurologists (18%). Doctors specializing in cardiology, critical care, and gastroenterology had a 12% salary increase, while emergency medicine doctors, HIV/ID specialists, pathologists, and pulmonary doctors reported an income increase of 12%.

Plastic surgeons‘ salaries rose by 11%, dermatologists‘ salaries by 10%, and internal medicine doctors reported a 9% salary increase. Obstetricians, gynecologists, and pediatricians reported a 7% increase in income, while anesthesiologists, family medicine specialists, ophthalmologists, and rheumatologists‘ salaries rose by 5%. Doctors specializing in general surgery saw a 4% increase in their annual income, urologists‘ salaries rose by 2%, and psychiatrists and radiologists reported a 1% income increase. The biggest salary decrease was reported by oncologists (4%), and endocrinologists and diabetes specialists (3%).

In terms of satisfaction, specialties that ranked highest were dermatology, with 64% of the doctors saying that they were satisfied with their compensation, followed by psychiatry (56%), emergency medicine (54%), HIV/ID (53%), and pathology (53%).

Average salary

The average salary of a medical doctor depends on a variety of factors. Work situation is one of the major ones. Doctors who own their own practice earn $216,000 a year on average, while those working as independent contractors earn around $243,000 a year. Doctors who are partners in their organizations report the highest annual income, at $311,000 a year on average, while employed physicians earn an average annual salary of $220,000 a year.

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Work setting is another significant factor in determining a doctor’s salary. Professionals employed in an academic setting earn $187,000 a year on average, those working for healthcare organizations make around $247,000 a year, and doctors working in a solo practice earn around $211,000 a year. The average yearly salary for multispecialty group practices and hospitals is $260,000, while doctors in single-specialty hospitals are paid $265,000 annually on average. Doctors working in outpatient clinics have a median yearly salary of $185,000.

Board certification is one of the major factors in determining a physician’s income. Doctors with board certification earn significantly more ($251,000 a year) than those without it ($150,000 a year).

Doctors’ average salaries vary significantly from region to region. Professionals employed in the North East earn $228,000 a year on average, those based in the Mid-Atlantic region make $232,000 a year, doctors in the Great Lakes region earn around $248,000 a year, and those working in the Southeast are paid around $247,000 annually.

Doctors based in the North Central region have an average annual salary of $259,000, while those in the South Central and Northwest regions make $247,000 a year on average. Doctors employed in the Southwest earn around $242,000 a year, and those working in the West region make $238,000 a year on average according to Medscape’s annual report.

Men earn significantly (30%) more than women: the median annual salary for male physicians is $259,000 a year, while women earn only $199,000 a year according to the 2013 Physician Compensation Report. The salary gap is smaller in primary care, where men earn $189,000 a year, and women are paid $161,000 annually on average.

Salaries by specialty

Specialty is a major factor in determining a doctor’s salary, and different types of doctors report very different annual salaries. The median yearly salary for a Doctor of Medicine (MD) is $177,176 a year. A professional with the title of Doctor of Medicine (MD), Internal Medicine earns an average salary of $156,584 a year, while a Doctor of Medicine (MD), Family Medicine will earn around $161,676 a year. A doctor who specializes in neurology earns $195,183 a year on average, while a radiology MD makes $225,000 a year. Pediatrics doctors generally earn around $158,422 a year, cardiologists are paid $110,000 annually on average, while doctors who are on an Obstetrics & Gynecology Residency Program (OB/GYN) have an average annual salary of $200,000.

Medscape’s 2013 salary report shows that the best paid doctors are those specializing in orthopedics ($405,000 a year on average), cardiology ($357,000), radiology ($349,000), gastroenterology ($342,000), and urology ($340,000). The top five are followed by anesthesiology ($337,000), plastic surgery ($317,000), dermatology ($306,000), general surgery ($279,000), oncology ($278,000), and ophthalmology ($276,000). Emergency medicine doctors earn a median salary of $270,000 a year, critical care physicians make around $268,000 a year, nephrologists and pulmonologists earn $263,000 a year, pathologists are paid around $247,000 annually, and obstetricians and gynecologists earn $242,000 a year on average.

On the lower end of the scale, neurologists earn an average income of $217,000 a year, rheumatologists and psychiatrists make $186,000 a year on average, internal medicine specialists earn around $185,000 a year, and endocrinologists and diabetes doctors earn an average yearly pay of $178,000. The lowest annual income is reported by family medicine doctors ($175,000 a year), pediatricians ($173,000), and HIV/ID doctors ($170,000) according to Medscape’s report.

Starting salary

The starting salary for general practice doctors is typically in the range from $30,913 to $223,003 a year according to Payscale. Other starting salaries for doctors in their first year will depend on the doctor’s area of specialty.

Salary range

General practice physicians typically earn between $54,292 and $218,549 a year on average according to Payscale’s salary data, which includes yearly bonuses and profit sharing. These professionals typically earn bonuses in the amount of up to $25,436 a year, and their earnings from profit sharing can go up to $48,936 a year.

Hourly wage

Docotrs’ hourly wage depends on a number of factors, including years of experience on the job. Doctors with 1 to 4 years of experience typically make between $20.63 and $87.78 per hour, those with 5 to 9 years of experience earn from $25.17 to $99.33 per hour, and professionals with 10 to 19 years of experience under their belt are typically offered an hourly rate of $17.23 to $108.50. Doctors with 20 or more years of professional experience typically earn between $30.64 and $122.34 per hour according to Payscale’s salary data.