Here’s how much money doctors make across the US, from brain surgeons to oncologists

Doctor pay varies a lot depending on what area a doctor specializes in and other factors, two new reports find.

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Doctor pay varies a lot depending on what area a doctor specializes in and other factors, two new reports find.
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Doctors have some of the highest salaries in the US.
  • An in-depth study from Doximity, a social-networking service for doctors, found that pay can vary a lot, depending on things like whether a physician treats kids, specializes in bladder diseases, or performs surgery.
  • Gender and racial pay gaps are also very real in medicine, the Doximity study and another new report from Medscape show.
  • Read on to find out how much each area of medicine makes on average, and where the wage gap between male and female doctors is most and least pronounced.

Healthcare is important, and doctor pay reflects that. Physicians have some of the highest salaries in the US.

Now we have details about just how much they make, thanks to an in-depth report from Doximity, a social-networking service for doctors.

Wages range a lot depending on what kind of medicine a doctor practices, with some specialties paying as much as $500,000 or $600,000 a year on average.

You might not be surprised to find that many of those top-paid doctors are surgeons, with brain surgeons topping the list. Some of the lowest-paid physicians treat kids, families, and older people.

Doctor salaries usually go up each year, but this year was the first since at least 2016 that they started to level out, the report found. Doximity tied this to big-picture changes in how people get healthcare in the US, with fewer doctors owning their own practices and more hospitals buying each other up and getting even larger.

Unfortunately, another factor in salary is a doctor’s gender and race. Doximity found that the wage gap between physicians persists but seems to be narrowing. The study also identified the medical specialties where the discrepancy is largest and smallest.

Another report out this year from Medscape, a medical resource for doctors, showed a continuing discrepancy between the salaries of white physicians and physicians of other races.

Read more: The 10 best states to live in where healthcare is the cheapest

Doximity, in San Francisco, got started in 2011 and says more than 70% of US doctors are members. The company said that for the study it surveyed about 90,000 licensed US doctors who practice full time. Medscape, for its part, surveyed almost 20,000 doctors in more than 30 specialties.

Here’s what we’ve learned.


Family doctors and pediatricians tend to make some of the lowest physician salaries in the US.

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Specializing in surgery has a reputation for being a demanding but lucrative profession. That held up in the Doximity report, with other high-paying specialties including dermatology, cardiology, and plastic surgery.

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Shayanne Gal / Business Insider

The gender pay gap is real and persists in medicine too. Some of the specialties where it appears to be smallest include hematology (treating blood diseases), rheumatology (musculoskeletal diseases), and thoracic surgery (operating on chest organs like the heart and lungs).

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Shayanne Gal / Business Insider

Some of the biggest discrepancies between what male and female physicians are paid can be seen in pediatric pulmonology (treating breathing problems like asthma in kids), otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), and urology (treating diseases related to the bladder, kidneys, and more).

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Shayanne Gal / Business Insider

The Medscape survey, out this week, found that white physicians were paid more than physicians of other races, a result that carried over from prior surveys. White doctors are much more represented in well-paying specialties than in areas like primary care, the survey noted. Even so, “the racial pay disparity within specialties is still present,” the study found.

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Shayanne Gal / Business Insider

The Medscape survey also found a sizeable wage difference between male and female physicians. Unlike the Doximity one, it also asked physicians how much time they spent seeing patients each week, versus doing paperwork and administrative tasks. Male doctors reported spending a couple more hours each week seeing patients…

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Shayanne Gal / Business Insider

…but female doctors reported spending slightly more time on paperwork and administrative tasks. Medscape contributor Dr. Greg Hood told the researchers that extra time spent seeing patients could explain such a wage disparity in some medical settings, though it varies depending on where the doctor is employed.

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Shayanne Gal / Business Insider