Salary profiles

The Highest-Earning Specialties in the USA

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Let’s talk about money! Having spoken to medics from diverse backgrounds, one thing I’ve noticed that a lot of them have in common is that they find having conversations about money uncomfortable, and usually will find very creative ways to avoid topics that relate to their wages. This is understandable as it’s probably more socially acceptable for medics to portray the image of compassion which is valued over income capabilities. But realistically, as much as a majority of Medics choose their careers based on the desire to help others, money is still an important aspect of life in general, whether you’re a medic or not. Anyone brave enough to dish out thousands of dollars on an education, be it engineering, interior design or medicine, will invariably desire a realistic return on investments.

As a medical student, you’re faced with 4- 8 years of schooling, paying tuition (a LOT of tuition!), countless hours studying for numerous exams, night shifts, and on-calls, a LOT of challenges (personal and otherwise), and so much more. While it’s vital to follow your dreams as regards picking a specialty, many also desire a reasonable return on investments, especially to offset pending student loans and all. The average US medical student at the time of graduation would have incurred upwards of $200,000 in student loans, considering medical school can cost as much as $64,000 annually. This could take many many years to pay back.

Of all the specialties, Family Medicine Physicians and Paediatricians are amongst the lowest earners, while Orthopaedics earn the highest.

Moving on, here are the 10 highest earning specialties (after residency training) in the US at the moment along with their estimated average annual wages.

  • Orthopedics- $489,000
  • Plastic surgery- $440,000
  • Cardiology- $410,000
  • Urology- $400,000
  • Otolaryngology- $398,000
  • Radiology- $396,000
  • Gastroenterology- $391,000
  • Dermatology- $386,000
  • Anesthesiology- $364,000
  • General surgery- $352,000



Don’t be a doctor for the money. No salary is worth leaving your family at 3 am to take care of patients. You have to love medicine. ~Unknown


References: Medscape; American Medical Association; American Medical Student Association 

Dr Wendy Evans-Uhegbu

The author Dr Wendy Evans-Uhegbu

Dr. Wendy Evans-Uhegbu is a graduate of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with experience in Connected Health, Medical Technology, Clinical Research, Medical Education, Medical Communications, and Web Design/Development. She is a part of the Medics Abroad team with the role of Chief Communications Officer. She is also a Medical Writer at 3D4 Medical and runs a Medical Communications and Children's books company (ODR Integrated Services/ ODR Books).  She is the author of the newly published children's book series "The Things Around Me".

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