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What Would You Earn if You Became a Doctor?

Healthcare professionals are perceived as among the best-compensated working today. But within their ranks, salaries and demand can vary greatly just as...

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|Nov 28|magazine7 min read

Healthcare professionals are perceived as among the best-compensated working today. But within their ranks, salaries and demand can vary greatly just as in any other industry.

Medical search and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates reviewed internal data to determine the 20 most requested medical specialties between April of 2013 and March of this year. The compensation information listed here reflects starting salaries, as opposed to total annual compensation figures that might include bonuses or benefits.

“Though the healthcare system is evolving,” states the report, “and the role of other clinicians is growing, physicians remain the ‘quarterbacks’ of the healthcare delivery team and are at the center of the healthcare system. Through patient consultations, hospital admissions, treatment plans, prescriptions, tests, and procedures physicians control the levers to both quality of care and healthcare economics.”

Neurosurgeons were at the top of the list, being offered an average annual base salary of $591,000 during the search process. Urologists also followed close behind with an average annual salary of $504,000.

Orthopedic surgeons are guaranteed an average annual base salary of $488,000 while invasive cardiologists are tied with gastroenterologists at $454,000.

At the other end of the compensation spectrum are family medicine practitioners, those specializing in internal medicine, and pediatricians.

“Diagnostic and consultative medicine is less compensated and less complicated than the procedures specialist do. You’re never going to see that change,” said Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins.

Here are the best-paying jobs for doctors:

1. Neurosurgery
Average: $591,000

2. Urology 
Average: $504,000

3. Orthopedic Surgery
Average: $488,000

4. Cardiology (Invasive) 
Average: $454,000
(Tied with Gastroenterology)

4. Gastroenterology
Average: $454,000
(Tied with Cardiology – Invasive)

6. Cardiology (Non-Invasive)
Average: $442,000

7. Hematology/Oncology
Average: $377,000

8. Otolaryngology
Average: $372,000

9. Pulmonology
Average: $358,000

10. General Surgery
Average: $354,000