How Much do Doctors Really Make?

April 21, 2015


Many young people choose medical school based almost solely on the perception that they’ll make tons of money after earning their degrees. And often, that perception is right on the money – pun intended. Doctors generally are highly compensated for their work. But depending upon the specialties, you may be surprised at the variance in annual incomes.

According to a newly released survey by Medscape, a subsidiary of the medical information website WebMD, the average primary care doctor made $195,000 in 2014 while the average specialist made $284,000.

“Those who perform procedures have the highest incomes compared with those who manage chronic illnesses,” wrote authors of Medscape’s 2015 Physician Compensation Report, which surveyed more than 19,500 physicians practicing 26 specialties. Here’s how respondents fared:

  1. Orthopedics, $421,000
  2. Cardiology, $376,000
  3. Gastroenterology, $370,000
  4. Anesthesiology, $358,000
  5. Plastic surgery, $354,000
  6. Radiology, $351,000
  7. Urology, $344,000
  8. Dermatology, $339,000
  9. General surgery, $317,000
  10. Emergency medicine, $306,000
  11. Oncology, $302,000
  12. Pulmonary medicine, $296,000
  13. Ophthalmology, $292,000
  14. Critical care, $283,000
  15. Pathology, $267,000
  16. Ob/Gyn and women’s health, $249,000
  17. Allergy and immunology, $247,000
  18. Nephrology, $243,000
  19. Neurology, $229,000
  20. Psychiatry and mental health, $216,000
  21. HIV and infectious disease, $213,000
  22. Rheumatology, $205,000
  23. Internal medicine, $196,000
  24. Diabetes and endocrinology, $196,000
  25. Family medicine, $195,000
  26. Pediatrics, $189,000

Most physicians practicing in America saw their earnings rise over the past few years. Infectious disease doctors last year earned 22 percent more and family physicians earned 10 percent more than they did in 2013.

A top factor in the varying figures is location. Average physician income ranges from $253,000 in the Northeast to $281,000 in the Northwest. And don’t be fooled by the Hollywood notion of the poor rural doctor who jettisons his big city paycheck out of pure altruism. The fact is that doctors practicing in rural areas actually tend to earn more than their major-market counterparts. The survey found that average salaries were highest in North Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming last year, while those in the District of Columbia, Rhode Island and Maryland were lowest.

In any case, industry experts predict that the US will face a shortage of as many as 90,000 physicians in multiple specialties over the next decade. As a result, the simple law of supply and demand ultimately may drive salaries higher. If you’re planning for a career in medicine, let WOLFPACC help prepare you for the many opportunities ahead. Call 904-209-3140 and ask about our Pre Med Head Start, USMLE prep and COMLEX prep courses today.