Are you planning to go to medical school but you do not know what residency program to pursue? This list of the 19 highest paying jobs for doctors might help you decide, financially-speaking. As a medical student myself, I have always been told that if you want to be a doctor, make sure you are in it not for the money but because you want to help others as well. As the years went by, I realized that being a doctor is HARD. And I mean really hard. You always lack sleep, you get shouted at not only by your seniors but also by your patients, and you are overworked. If I had the chance, I would probably relocate to one of the 18 highest paying cities for doctors, where at least pay is higher and doctors compensated better.
However, being a doctor is not only a mean to put food on the table. You think of all the opportunities this profession can bring you. You think about the rewarding part, which is not only the fulfillment you get helping others, but also the money that you earn. The nice thing about medicine is that the more work you put in, the better the compensation. That is why if you read about the highest paying jobs for doctors, many of the specialties and sub-specialties listed are surgical programs.
Insider Money came up with its own unique ranking to identify the 19 highest paying jobs for doctors. We scoured the internet and found credible sources, namely Forbes, Medscape and MerrittHawkins. The information provided by these websites was supplemented by searching for specific salaries on Doximity and 1Salary. The sources above usually have different annual averages for each residency program, which we averaged and this was used to determine each program’s ranking in our list.
As a doctor, my advice to everyone who dream to be doctors: Make sure you REALLY want to be doctors. You will be in it for the long haul, you will be overworked, you will be drained physically, emotionally, mentally and psychologically. But at the end of the day, if you love what you are doing, then everything won’t matter, except maybe your paycheck!
We present to you the 19 highest paying jobs for doctors. Enjoy!
Average annual salary: $284,805
Pathologists mainly work in laboratories, with minimal patient interaction. However, they are the ones responsible for finding out the causes of diseases at a cellular level. A sub-specialty of pathology that you may be familiar with is Forensic Pathology.
18. Nuclear Medicine
Average annual salary: $296,381
As the term implies, Nuclear Medicine involved the application and use of radioactive substances for diagnostic and curative purposes. These specialists are responsible for the administration of radioactive substances for curing diseases such as cancer, hyperthyroidism, etc.
Average annual salary: $314,774
Pulmonologists deal with lung diseases but are not limited to it. You may be familiar with the ones they usually manage, such as asthma, COPD, and pneumonia.
Average annual salary: $317,572
The eye specialists. They deal with diseases as common as presbyopia, or the normal decrease in vision as one ages, to retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eye that usually manifests in young children.
Average annual salary: $321,851
Oncologists deal with malignancies. If you have cancer, you would usually be referred to an oncologist for management and initiation of chemotherapy, if needed.
14. Emergency Medicine
Average annual salary: $323,806
They are found in the emergency rooms and departments all over the country. Aside from the EMTs, they are the first-line responders and managers of patients brought to the hospital. Their skills range from minor surgery to quick decision-making.
13. General Surgery
Average annual salary: $338,978
If you want to be a plastic surgeon, you usually have to be a general surgeon first. You have to be impressed with these guys as their skills are very important in saving lives. With steady hands and fingers, they make removing body parts look like an art in itself.
Average annual salary: $346,830
Hematologists usually deal with diseases of the blood. Your physician may refer you to one if you have sickle cell disease, hemophilia, or leukemia. In the case of leukemia, hematologists may work closely with oncologists for the management and treatment of the disease.
11. Otolaryngology (ENT)
Average annual salary: $351,895
ENT stands for Ears, nose and throat which gives you an idea of what they do. These doctors would be responsible for almost any disease on the ears, nose and throat. Thyroid diseases are a gray area, as general surgeons can also manage thyroidectomies.
Average annual salary: $357,558
If you’ve undergone an operation without any complications or negative experiences, you have to also thank your anesthesiologist. They make sure that anyone undergoing an operation has sufficient anesthesia to not feel any pain. They would also be the ones responsible for putting you to sleep with sedatives if you are to undergo an operation where general anesthesia is needed.
Average annual salary: $377,651
Radiologists often “read” and interpret imaging studies such as x-rays to CT-Scans. These guys spend a lot of time looking at different imaging studies and interpreting them to hone their skills.
Average annual salary: $379,010
If you’re a man and you have problems peeing, then Urologists are the ones you would want to see. They usually deal with disease found in the urinary tract such as kidney stones, enlarged prostate and bladder problems.
Average annual salary: $379,299
Dermatologists are very in demand nowadays, thanks to a lot of advertisements promoting vanity and looking good. However, these doctors not only deal with making you skin look smooth, but also with different skin diseases such as psoriasis, scabies, and warts.
6. Plastic Surgery
Average annual salary: $380,855
Plastic surgery is a sub-specialty of general surgery which is usually responsible for the reconstruction of the form of the body. Another branch of plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery, is responsible for improving the appearance of a certain body part.
Average annual salary: $401,487
This field deals with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, from the esophagus to the large intestines. Common diseases dealt by gastroenterologists include stomach ulcers, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease and gastritis.
Average annual salary: $407,212
Cardiology deals with the heart. Now don’t just go to the nearest cardiologist for a recent heartbreak. Unless you have other cardiac diseases then what you need is a friend, not this doctor! Cardiologists deal with heart diseases such as hypertension, congenital heart defects, and treatment of blocked cardiac arteries and heart attacks.
3. Thoracic and Vascular Surgery
Average annual salary: $450,040
This specialty is another branch of general surgery. They deal with the vessels in the thorax such as the aorta, and vascular structures in the body. While thoracic surgeons deal mainly with the great vessels in the chest, vascular surgeons deal with arteries and veins in the body. So if there is a block in one of your arteries or an aneurysm, they would be the ones to deal with it.
2. Orthopedic Surgery
Average annual salary: $484,556
Orthopedic surgery deals with the musculoskeletal system, mainly the skeleton. The not only deal with broken bones but also with degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis, sports injuries, infections, and tumors.
Average annual salary: $574,820
This specialty has the same concept as general surgery, but neurosurgeons deal mainly with the brain and spinal cord. They are the ones who remove brain tumors, drain blood from cerebral hemorrhages and manage cases of hydrocephalus in childhood. It’s no wonder that they earn a lot of money and top this list of highest paying jobs for doctors, as their every action in the operating room will determine if a patient is to have a good outcome after the procedure or not. You are required to undergo 7 years of residency training before becoming a qualified neurosurgeon.