There are about 900,000 doctors in America, and the United States has among the highest ratios of doctors to the population of any country in the world. Physicians make an average of $270,000 a year and work an average of 55 hours a week. However, these numbers are at least two years old. One weakness of the data is that it does not cover the number of doctors 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 are paid varies widely by specialty and location.
An annual survey of physicians by Medscape covers a broad spectrum of issues, from pay by 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. The lowest-paid doctors in America are pediatricians. They make an average of $221,000 a year, followed by doctors who practice family medicine at $236,000.
How much doctors make by state also varies widely. The Medscape data shows that doctors in Alabama make the most at $348,000, followed by Kentucky by $340,000. The numbers are counterintuitive. The median household income in Alabama is among the lowest of all states at $51,734, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That compares to $65,712 nationwide. Kentucky is also among the lowest in median household income at $52,285.
The lack of a relationship between a doctor’s income and state median income also holds true in states where the median income is high. Doctors make $296,000 in Minnesota. The median income in the state is $74,953. The doctor income figure in New York is second lowest at $298,000, while the median income is $71.208. The state with the third-lowest doctor pay level is Massachusetts at $300,000. The median household income there is $85,843, among the highest in the country.
There is no solid proof, but the pay per doctor could have to do with the ratio of doctors to the population by state on a per 100,000 basis. Alabama (217) and Kentucky (231) are at the low end of this scale. Minnesota (303), New York (375) and Massachusetts (450) are at the high end.