Average Doctor Salaries by Specialty

The average salary of a doctor can be an important consideration when deciding what field you want to specialize in or whether you want to pursue a medical degree. There are many factors to weigh when considering specialties, and understanding how much money different types of doctors make per year can help with financial planning and give you an estimate of when you can expect to pay off your medical school loans. This guide discusses the highest and lowest-paying salaries for doctors by specialty and which U.S. cities and states pay their doctors the best.


How Much Do Doctors Make Per Year?

According to the MedScape Physician Compensation Report, doctor salaries continue to rise. In 2023, Primary Care Physicians in the United States earned an average of $265,000, while Specialists earned an average of $382,000. However, the average income for a doctor varies widely depending on your specialty and where you live in the U.S. Below, we list the average doctor annual compensation by specialty so you can see which types of doctors get paid the most – and the least.

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Average Doctor Annual Compensation by Specialty

Here are the top medical specialties, ranked by average income:

  1. Plastic Surgery: $619,000
  2. Orthopedics: $573,000
  3. Cardiology: $507,000
  4. Urology: $506,000
  5. Gastroenterology: $501,000
  6. Otolaryngology: $485,000
  7. Radiology: $483,000
  8. Oncology: $463,000
  9. Anesthesiology: $448,000
  10. Dermatology: $443,000
  11. Surgery, General: $412,000
  12. Critical Care: $406,000
  13. Ophthalmology: $388,000
  14. Pulmonary Medicine: $378,000
  15. Emergency Medicine: $352,000
  16. Pathology: $339,000
  17. Ob/Gyn: $337,000
  18. Neurology: $313,000
  19. Nephrology: $312,000
  20. Psychiatry: $309,000
  21. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: $306,000
  22. Allergy and Immunology: $282,000
  23. Rheumatology: $281,000
  24. Internal Medicine: $273,000
  25. Diabetes and Endocrinology: $267,000
  26. Infectious Diseases: $262,000
  27. Family Medicine: $255,000
  28. Pediatrics: $251,000
  29. Public Health and Preventative Medicine: $249,000

Source: MedScape Physician Compensation Report, 2023

Top 10 Earning States for Physicians

U.S. map showing the top earning states for physicians.

Here are the top earning states in the U.S. ranked by income for physicians:

  1. Wisconsin: $397,000
  2. Indiana: $372,000
  3. Georgia: $363,000
  4. Connecticut: $362,000
  5. Missouri: $361,000
  6. New Jersey: $360,000
  7. South Carolina: $360,000
  8. Florida: $359,000
  9. California: $358,000
  10. Michigan: $356,000

Source: MedScape Physician Compensation Report, 2023

Top Earning Metro Areas/Cities for Physicians

The numbers above represent state-wide averages. Average salaries for doctors in metropolitan areas tend to be higher. Here are the top 10 metro areas in which physicians are paid the highest average annual salary:

  1. Charlotte, NC: $462,760
  2. St. Louis, MO: $452,219
  3. Buffalo, NY: $426,440
  4. Jacksonville, FL: $425,706
  5. Orlando, FL: $425,634
  6. Minneapolis, MN: $424,059
  7. Milwaukee, WI: $422,735
  8. Phoenix, AZ: $415,487
  9. Dallas, TX: $415,487
  10. Los Angeles, CA: $414,925

Source: Doximity 2021 Physician Compensation Report

Lowest Earning States for Physicians

U.S. map showing the lowest earning states for physicians.

Here are the lowest earning states in the U.S. ranked by income for physicians. 

  1. Maryland: $306,000
  2. Colorado: $327,000 
  3. Virginia: $330,000
  4. Massachusetts: $331,000
  5. Arizona: $334,000
  6. Washington: $338,000
  7. Tennessee: $340,000
  8. Pennsylvania: $344,000
  9. Alabama: $348,000
  10. New York: $348,000 
  11. Illinois: $350,000
  12. North Carolina: $350,000
  13. Texas: $353,000

Source: MedScape Physician Compensation Report, 2023

Lowest Earning Metro Areas/Cities for Physicians

Here are the ten lowest earning metro areas for doctors in the U.S.

  1. Baltimore, MD: $330,917
  2. Providence, RI: $346,092
  3. San Antonio, TX: $355,439
  4. Washington, D.C.: $356,633
  5. Boston, MA: $363,545
  6. Portland, OR: $363,890
  7. Denver, CO: $364,927
  8. Philadelphia, PA: $373,765
  9. Birmingham, AL: $375,074
  10. Detroit, MI: $376,007 

Source: Doximity 2021 Physician Compensation Report

Specialties With the Largest Increase in Compensation in 2023

While doctor salaries have risen overall, some specialties have seen a particularly large increase in 2023. According to MedScape, six specialties have seen at least a 10% increase in compensation over the past year: oncology, anesthesiology, gastroenterology, radiology, critical care, and urology. Post-pandemic, these medical specialties with more involved procedures have been in higher demand. The largest pay increase in 2023 was seen in oncology at 13%.

Physician Gender Pay Gap

There exists a national gender pay gap in medicine paralleling a national trend across all fields. The Doximity 2021 Physician Compensation Report reported that male physicians earned an average of $435,315, while female physicians earned an average of $312,571. Men have higher compensation than women in all specialties. In 2021, the overall gender pay gap for physicians was 28.2%. However, MedScape reports a narrowing gender pay gap for Primary Care Physicians (PCPs). Their 2023 report reveals the gender pay gap has decreased from 25% to 19% for PCPs. While this is still a substantial gap, it is the lowest it has been in five years. Male specialists earned 27% more than their female counterparts, which has also decreased from previous years.

Preparing for Medical School

Becoming a doctor, regardless of specialty, is a multi-step process that typically begins in high school when you decide to attend an accredited university as a premed student. In order to get into medical school and eventually earn your medical license, you must first take premed classes during your undergraduate years and pass the MCAT. Earning a good score on the MCAT is a major achievement and a critical step on your journey to medical school. Enrolling in MCAT prep is a great way to boost your MCAT score and feel confident on test day. It’s important to practice for the exam with realistic MCAT practice tests so you feel prepared. Doing well on the MCAT will make your medical school application more competitive and increase your chances of getting into your top-choice medical school.

Quick Pop Quiz Featuring MCAT Practice Questions

The first step toward becoming a doctor is preparing for and passing the MCAT.

How to Pay for Medical School

Another important step in preparing for medical school is assessing how you will fund your medical studies. Paying for medical school can feel daunting, but it does not have to be if you plan properly. In the video below, we’ll break down how to pay for medical school so you can get a jumpstart on your planning.

Choosing a Medical Specialty

Although you likely won’t choose a specialty until you are well into medical school, you can take advantage of shadowing opportunities to not only gain clinical experience for your application to medical school but also to learn more about the specialties and get a feeling for the day-to-day life of various physicians. It’s important to note that the specialties listed above do not constitute an exhaustive list. The AAMC provides a full list of medical specialties on their website. The number of specialties and potential careers can be overwhelming at first. But as you continue on your journey to med school and residency, you’ll learn more about all of the various opportunities for a career in medicine and zero-in on the type of doctor you want to be.

Medical Schools by Specialty

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