There are about 900,000 doctors in America, and the U.S. has among the highest ratios of doctors to the population of any country in the world. Doctors make an average of $270,000 a year and work an average of 55 hours. These numbers are at least two years old. Among the weakness of these data are that they do not cover the number of physicians who have left the field due to COVID-19, either because of fear of infection, or a drop in revenue. Nevertheless, the range of what doctors make varies widely by specialty.
Medscape puts out an annual survey of physicians. It covers a broad spectrum of issues from pay to gender to pay by state. The doctors who make the most money by far are plastic surgeons who make an average of $526,000 a year.
Most of what plastic surgeons do involves either cosmetic or reconstructive surgery. So that patients can imagine the results, the American Society of Plastic Surgeon runs “before” and “after” photos of operations.
It is easy to see why plastic surgeons are paid so well. According to WebMD, a Facelift (rhytidectomy) costs $7,655. Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) costs $3,163. Breast augmentation can cost even more. Plastic surgeons also do reconstructive surgery for cancer victims. Some plastic surgeons also volunteer to work overseas for the poor in third-world countries who need reconstructive surgery to improve their lives.
The criticism of plastic surgeons is often that they only pick their specialty to be paid well, and that other important medical doctors like emergency room specialists make much less. The physicians who make the least in the Medscape survey are pediatricians ($221,000) who serve children, and doctors in family medical practices who make $236,000.