Working as a physician can be a rewarding experience — treating patients is emotionally satisfying, and it is of course a rapidly advancing profession. However, the work involved to become a doctor is substantial–and as physicians–we typically work extremely long hours. We also have to deal with complex bureaucracy and very expensive malpractice insurance rates.
A doctor’s salary should be commensurate with the significant amount of work required by our specialties, the years of training invested, the competitiveness to enter the field, and with the level of skill and risk associated with our trade. However, sometimes compensation does not correlate with these factors. Some specialties offer much higher compensation than others for many different reasons and it is important for aspiring physicians to know how well rewarded they may be for a particular physician job.
To help you understand the compensation rates, this article will examine the 10 highest paying physician jobs in America (figures courtesy of the Medscape 2016 Physicians Compensation Report and the Cejka Physicians Compensation Report).
#1 — Neurosurgeon
Average Doctor Salary: $625,300
Neurosurgeons top the list with an average doctor salary of $625,300. The 2012 MGMA Physician Compensation Report put this figure even higher, suggesting the average income was $775,968 with the top ten percent earning up to $1,229,881. Their salary is so high because most neurosurgeons work extremely long hours, the work is very difficult, and they have to undergo a tremendously long course of education and training.
#2 — Orthopedic Surgeon
Average Doctor Salary: $443,000
An orthopedic surgeon treats conditions which relate to the musculoskeletal system. This may include medical conditions involving ligaments, skin, muscles, joints and tendons. Orthopedic surgeons are in extremely highly demand which is why they attract such high compensation.
#3 — Cardiologist
Average Doctor Salary: $410,000
Cardiologists treat heart-related diseases including heart failure, pericardial disease, congenital heart disease, and abnormal heart rhythms. They may use both invasive and non-invasive techniques to treat these conditions. Cardiology is one of the highest paying doctor jobs because of the high level of expertise and experience required.
#4 — Dermatologist
Average Doctor Salary: $381,000
Dermatology has risen 5 spots since the 2015 Medscape Physician Compensation Report when the highest-paid dermatologists were earning $339,000. Dermatologists specialize in diagnosing and treating skin ailments including dandruff, dermatitis, skin cancer, acne, and allergic disorders. They have the training necessary to diagnose skin conditions which are caused by infection, neoplastic disorders, degenerative diseases and more. They use a combination of therapies including medications, lasers, and surgery to treat their patients.
#5 — Gastroenterologist
Average Doctor Salary: $380,000
Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat problems involving the digestive system. They often work in private practices and have become one of the highest paying physician jobs in the last decade.
#6 — Radiologist
Average Doctor Salary: $375,000
Radiologists specialize in the use of radiologic diagnostic tools and interventions to diagnose and treat a variety of illnesses. They are trained in the use of magnetic resonance, computer tomography, nuclear radiology, diagnostic ultrasounds and other imaging techniques. Because the field of radiology has advanced so rapidly in recent years, there is now a great deal of demand for radiologists.
#7 — Urologist
Average Doctor Salary: $367,000
This profession diagnoses and treats conditions relating to the genitourinary tract and organs. These conditions typically involve the bladder, kidneys, prostate, and urethra. The demand for urologists has largely been driven by the aging population and the large number of older patients presenting with prostate conditions.
#8 — Anesthesiologist
Average Doctor Salary: $360,000
An anesthesiologist is responsible for administering regional or general anesthetic to patients for procedures. It is a very complex and high-pressure role that must be performed precisely. They must have a strong working knowledge of human physiology, drug interactions and health conditions that are impacted by anesthetic or sedation. It is a role that can be very stressful and demanding — in many cases, their decisions will mean the difference between life and death for a patient.
#9 — Plastic Surgeon
Average Doctor Salary: $355,000
Plastic surgeons restore function and appearance to different parts of the human body. This often includes surgery that repairs burns, corrects congenital deformities and repairs the damage done by diseases like cancer.
#10 — Oncologist
Average Doctor Salary: $329,000
Oncologists diagnose, treat and prevent cancer and a variety of blood diseases. This is a very difficult role for physicians because they frequently encounter very ill patients with high mortality rates. It is one of the highest paying doctor jobs because the aging population has an increased demand for these specialists.
Other specialties that pay well include general surgery, emergency medicine, ophthalmology, and critical care and pulmonary medicine, all of which have an average salary of between $281,000-$322,000.
While some of these physician salaries seem quite impressive, it is important to remember that most of these specialties are very demanding–with long work hours and a lot of stress. They also require extensive study, sacrifice, liability, and dedication. Make sure you consider all of the factors when choosing a physician specialty that suits you perfectly.
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