Top Paying Medical Specialties in the US

Top Paying Medical Specialties in the US

By: LifeofaMedStudent





When considering a medical career, factors such as passion, earning potential, and personal fulfillment come into play. Today, we look at a comprehensive overview of the top paying medical specialties in the United States, while also examining compensation differences based on regional variations and gender disparities.



Top Paying Medical Specialties and Average Salaries

Below is a comprehensive list of medical specialties arranged in descending order based on average annual salaries:

  1. Neurosurgery: $737,000
  2. Orthopedic Surgery: $616,000
  3. Cardiac Surgery: $609,000
  4. Gastroenterology: $495,000
  5. Plastic Surgery: $501,000
  6. Thoracic Surgery: $580,000
  7. Urology: $433,000
  8. Dermatology: $419,000
  9. Radiation Oncology: $474,000
  10. Otolaryngology (ENT): $478,000
  11. Vascular Surgery: $487,000
  12. Cardiology: $459,000
  13. Anesthesiology: $427,000
  14. Ophthalmology: $427,000
  15. Colon and Rectal Surgery: $434,000
  16. Critical Care Medicine: $374,000
  17. Neurology: $280,000
  18. Hematology/Oncology: $396,000
  19. General Surgery: $409,000
  20. Radiology: $440,000
  21. Pain Medicine: $383,000
  22. Pulmonary Medicine: $385,000
  23. Infectious Disease: $240,000
  24. Nephrology: $346,000
  25. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: $331,000
  26. Obstetrics and Gynecology: $330,000
  27. Pathology: $325,000
  28. Endocrinology: $248,000
  29. Rheumatology: $245,000
  30. Pediatrics: $246,000
  31. Psychiatry: $273,000
  32. Internal Medicine: $260,000
  33. Geriatrics: $232,000
  34. Family Medicine: $236,000
  35. Occupational Medicine: $227,000



Regional Variations in Physician Compensation

Physician compensation can vary significantly based on geographic location. The top 5 metro areas with the highest physician compensation are below:

  1. Charolette, NC – $430,000
  2. St. Louis, MO – $426,000
  3. Oklahoma City, OK – $425,000
  4. San Jose, CA – $418,000
  5. Minneapolis, MN – $411,000


Compared the bottom 5 metro areas in compensation:

  1. Washington, DC – $342,000
  2. Baltimore, MD – $346,000
  3. Boston, MA – $347,000
  4. San Antonio, TX – $347,000
  5. Raleigh, NC – $351,000


Potentially the best way to look at “real” income is to compare salary and cost of living directly. These are places where not only will you earn well, but also be able to get more “bang for your buck!”

The top 5 metro areas for salary adjusted cost of living were:

  1. Oklahoma City, OK
  2. Charlotte, NC
  3. St. Louis, MO
  4. Louisville, KY
  5. Indianapolis, IN



Gender Disparities in Medical Specialty Earnings

Gender disparities persist within medicine, including differences in compensation. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, male physicians earned median annual earnings approximately 26% higher than female physicians. This equates to an income difference of nearly $110,000 per year, and potentially a $2 million disparity over a career – even when controlled for specialty, location, and years of experience. It is imperative that we all work address these disparities and find ways to achieve gender equity in the medical field.

Understanding the top paying medical specialties and the associated compensation differences based on regional variations and gender disparities provides valuable insights for medical professionals. Neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, cardiac surgery, and gastroenterology are among the highest paying specialties. However, it’s important to consider factors beyond financial goals when choosing a specialty, such as personal interests, fulfillment, and patient care.


References used:

  1. Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
  2. JAMA Internal Medicine study on physician compensation
  3. Salary data from Merritt Hawkins’ “2021 Review of Physician and Advanced Practition Recruiting Incentives” report
  4. American Medical Association (AMA) Physician Compensation Report
  5. Medscape Physician Compensation Report
  6. Doximity Physician Compensation Report


Disclaimer: It is important for individuals considering a medical career to research and consult with professionals in the field to make informed decisions based on their personal circumstances and interests. The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as financial or career advice. Always consult with appropriate professionals and resources before making any decisions regarding your medical career or financial matters.




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