Many parents encourage their children to become doctors or lawyers. Why? The two professions are among the highest paid in America, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, categories of physicians take up eight of the highest paying professions, according to BLS data.
The path to becoming a physician is a long one. Once a candidate has a college degree, he or she spends four years in a medical school, a year or more as a resident and often another year or more in fellowships. Fellowships can be particularly important for doctors who want to become specialists.
Being a doctor also can be expensive. Malpractice insurance can run as much as $50,000 a year. Doctors who are not employed by hospitals need staff and office space. Altogether, these costs can run into tens of thousands of dollars a year. Both expenses and income can vary by geographic location. Doctors in Manhattan often make more than physicians who work in rural settings.
Among the conclusions of the recently released “Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2021: The Recovery Begins” is that some doctor practices did not make it through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. They continued to have their ongoing costs, but patient visits dropped. Other doctors could afford to wait out the slow period but lost a great deal of money in the process. Medscape collected data from about 18,000 doctors on their incomes (including bonuses) and expenses and how many hours they worked.
This year, the average pay for primary care physicians was $242,000, about the same as in 2020. Specialists made an average of $346,000, also very close to last year’s number.
Plastic surgeons made the most money this year, at an average of $526,000.
This is the annual compensation for the highest paid specialties:
- Plastic surgery ($526,000)
- Orthopedics and orthopedic surgery ($511,000)
- Cardiology (459,000)
- Urology ($427,000)
- Otolaryngology ($417,000)
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