Doctors are some highest-paid professionals in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average doctor salary was $252,480 in 2021. But how much do different specialists make, and what are their tasks?
Doctor Salaries by Specialty – a Quick Overview
The word ‘doctor’ is very broad and can refer to many types of specialists. We’ve looked at the BLS’ breakdown of average doctor salaries in 2021 for some of the most popular specialties. For a full list of them, you can visit Medscape or another website with healthcare information.
Anesthesiologist – $331,190
Anesthesiologists are some of the top earners in the medical field, with an average salary of $331,190. They administer drugs to help patients relax during surgery and monitor patients’ vital signs.
Cardiologist – $353,970
Cardiologists make an average salary of $353,970. They’re doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating heart conditions. They might also work with patients to prevent heart disease.
Dermatologist – $302,740
Dermatologists are doctors who focus on skin conditions. They diagnose and treat skin diseases, perform skin cancer surgeries, and more. The average pay for a dermatologist is $302,740.
Family Medicine Physician – $235,930
Unlike general internal medicine practitioners who only see adults, family medicine physicians are primary care doctors who see patients of all ages. They treat a wide range of conditions, from colds and flu to more serious illnesses. The average doctor salary in family medicine is $235,930.
Neurologist – $267,660
Neurologists are doctors who specialize in the nervous system. They diagnose and treat conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and stroke. The average earnings of a neurologist are $267,660.
Obstetrician/Gynecologist – $296,210
Obstetricians and gynecologists specialize in women’s health. They provide care for pregnant women, deliver babies, and treat conditions like endometriosis. The average salary for OB/GYNs is $296,210.
Pediatrician – $198,420
Pediatricians are doctors who focus on the care of children. They provide well-child checkups, immunizations, and treatment for illnesses and injuries. The average doctor salary for pediatricians is $198,420.
Psychiatrist – $249,760
Psychiatrists specialize in mental health. They diagnose and treat conditions like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Unlike therapists, they mostly do it with medication. Their average earnings are $249,760 per year.
Radiologist – $301,720
Radiologists are physicians who use imaging to diagnose and treat conditions. They might perform X-rays, MRIs, and other types of scans. The average salary for radiologists is $301,720.
Surgeon – $294,520
Surgeons perform operations. They might specialize in a certain type of surgery, like neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery or cardiac surgery. Regardless of their exact field, the average salary for a surgeon is $294,520.
Doctor Salaries over the Years
The average doctor salary has gone up over the years. The exact numbers depend on the specialty, but let’s take a look at some examples.
- In 2010, family medicine physicians made $173,860. In 2020, their mean salary was $214,370.
- The average psychiatrist salary grew from $167,610 in 2010 to $217,100 in 2020.
- In the same time period, the average pay for anesthesiologists increased from $220,100 to $271,440.
Of course, not all specialties have seen the same level of growth. For example, pediatricians have seen a slower growth rate, with salaries increasing from $165,720 in 2010 to $184,570 in 2020.
Highest-Paying States for Doctors
Depending on what state you practice in, your doctor salary could be higher or lower than the national average. It’s difficult to compare the data for all specialties, but you can do it for the ones that interest you by visiting the BLS’ website. Here are the top-paying states for family doctors:
- Idaho – $305,960;
- Alaska – $297,130;
- New Hampshire – $294,830;
- Wyoming – $282,550;
- North Dakota – $273,010.
Some lowest-paying states are Louisiana ($173,530), New Mexico ($197,020), and Maine ($192,980). In Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Vermont, family doctors made $200,000 on average in 2021.
Is a Career in Medicine Right for You?
You might be a good candidate for a doctor if you:
- are interested in science and enjoy learning about the human body;
- like working with people and helping them improve their health;
- are comfortable with long hours and have the stamina to work long shifts;
- can handle stress well and stay calm under pressure.
How to Become a Doctor and Pick Your Specialty?
Becoming a doctor is not an easy feat. It takes at least 8 years of education and training after high school. First, you need to get a bachelor’s degree, then complete four years of medical school.
After that, you will do a residency in your chosen specialty. For some specialties, like surgery, you might also need to do a fellowship. This is an additional training program that can last one to three years.
The steps to becoming a doctor might seem long and daunting, but it’s worth it. Doctors enjoy high salaries, job security, and the satisfaction of helping others. Paying off your student loans might take some time, but it will be worth it in the end.
Doctor Salaries Are High, Regardless of Their Specialty
While doctor salaries can vary a lot, all doctors make a very good living. If you’re considering becoming a doctor, there are many specialties to choose from. Keep in mind that the salary is just one factor to consider. The tasks involved, the hours, and the lifestyle are also important things to think about.
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