Is a Doctor’s Salary Good?

The answer to this question depends on how you define “good.” Doctors are among the higher-earning professionals in the country. However, many doctors are dealing with student loan debts and long working hours, which can make it difficult for them to enjoy the wealth their salary provides. So, is a doctor’s salary good?

Is a Doctor’s Salary Good?

Yes,  overall, doctor salaries are very good. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for physicians and surgeons is $208,000, with some medical specialties earning much more than that. On top of this, doctors have excellent job security and ample opportunities for career advancement.

A male surgeon wearing a scrub suit with a stethoscope gives a thumbs up

However, remember that many expenses are associated with being a doctor. Medical school costs are often very high, and many doctors deal with massive student loan debt for years after graduating. Additionally, the long hours that doctors work can make it difficult for them to enjoy the wealth their salary provides.

How Much Do Doctors Make?

To clearly understand whether or not a doctor’s average salary is good, you first need to know how much they earn.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for primary care physicians and surgeons is $208,000, or around $100 per hour. The top 10 percent earned more than $208,742 a year.

However, doctors’ salaries can vary greatly depending on many factors:

  • Type of medical practice (Such as plastic surgery and family medicine)
  • Location
  • Experience and Education
  • Ability to negotiate salary
  • Gender
  • Race

Type of Medical Practice

Doctors in private practice may earn more than those who work in hospitals or clinics. This is because private practices usually charge higher fees for services.

Additionally, certain medical specialties, such as plastic surgery, cardiology, radiology, and emergency medicine, may command higher salaries due to the expertise and training required.

This is one of the big things that separates doctors from other jobs in the medical field like nursing: the ability to specialize. Specialization also increases your salary substantially.

On the other hand, primary care physicians, such as general practitioners or nurses and those in family medicine, may earn less than health professionals in more demanding jobs. Professionals in preventive medicine, such as public health officers, also generally earn less than highly trained specialists.

Location of Practice

Doctors who practice in urban areas or high-cost-of-living states may earn more than those in rural or low-cost-of-living areas.

This is because the demand for medical services is often higher in urban areas, and the cost of living is typically higher, leading to higher fees for medical services.

Experience and Education

While the average salaries of medical practitioners are generally high, doctors who have completed additional training or have specialized knowledge in a particular area command the highest salaries.

Similarly, doctors who have been practicing for many years may have built up a large patient base and may be able to attract much more than the starting salary.

Ability to Negotiate Salary

Doctors who can negotiate their salaries effectively earn more than those who are not as skilled at negotiating.

Factors influencing a doctor’s ability to negotiate to include their education, experience, and the demand for their services in the market.

A female doctor in medical uniform with a stethoscope standing in clinic


Unfortunately, gender can also affect income models in medicine. Studies have shown that male specialists may earn a higher income than female specialists, even when controlling for other factors such as medical specialty, experience, and practice location.

According to a report by The Commonwealth Fund, male physicians generally earn more money than their female counterparts. In fact, for every dollar that male physicians earn, females earn only 74 cents. Depending on the medical specialty, women get between  $0.9 million and  $2.5 million less in career earnings.

This gender pay disparity in medicine is similar to the pay gap in many other industries. It can be attributed to various factors, including discrimination and bias.


The Medscape Physicians’ Views on Racial Disparities Issues Report 2022 shows that there might be a big difference in how white and doctors of color are compensated. According to the Medscape survey, while the opinions of the survey respondents differ, there is evidence that race can cause pay disparity in healthcare.

The 2022 Medscape Physician Compensation Report reveals that white doctors make more than physicians of color. This is also primarily due to discrimination, bias, and systemic inequalities that disproportionately affect Black individuals in education and the workforce.

How to Determine if a Doctor’s Salary Is Good

I am assuming you have considered the factors above and now have a general idea of how much you might earn as a doctor. Let’s help you decide whether a physician’s salary is good.

There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Consider your expenses
  • Consider your current financial situation
  • Factor in your lifestyle
  • Think about your quality of life

A related field that might also be worth considering is becoming a veterinarian. A vet earns a great salary, jobs are in high demand, and you still are practicing in the medicine field.

Consider Your Expenses

Think about how much money you need to cover your expenses, such as rent, food, transportation, and medical school loan payments. If your average salary covers these costs, it is likely good.

Look at Your Current Financial Situation

How stable are you financially? Do you have many debts?  How much money are you able to save each month? These are all important questions that can help you decide whether a physician’s salary is good.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Think about how you would like to live and the kind of lifestyle you want to maintain. If your income allows you to achieve that, then it’s likely good.

Compare Your Salary to Others

If you are curious about how your starting salary compares to other doctors in the same medical specialty as yours, do some research to find out what the average salary is for physicians like yourself. That should give you a better idea of whether your compensation is reasonable.

For instance, if you are in plastic surgery, you can talk to other plastic surgeons to get an idea of the kind of physician compensation you should expect.

A male surgeon wearing a scrub suit with a stethoscope gives a thumbs up

Think About Your Quality of Life

It’s also important to consider how your income will affect your quality of life. Doctors often have extended hours and may not have the same free time as other professionals.

Make sure you are comfortable with the tradeoff between a high salary and less leisure time before committing to a career in medicine.

Related Questions

Is Becoming a Doctor Worth It Financially?

Becoming a doctor can be financially rewarding. Most physicians earn more than most professionals and have decent job security. However, being a doctor is also a significant financial investment. Medical school tuition can be expensive, and doctors often have to spend several years training as residents or fellows, during which they may receive lower compensation.

Is the Average Doctor a Millionaire?

The average doctor is not necessarily a millionaire. While doctors generally earn higher salaries compared to many other professions, the amount varies widely depending on their medical specialty, location, and type of practice.  Becoming a millionaire requires a combination of a high income and careful financial planning and management.


Generally, physician incomes are on the higher end of the scale in the job market. So, the average physician’s salary is good for most people. However, factors such as the cost of living, expenses, lifestyle, and your current financial situation will inform whether or not physician salaries are good for you.

Jared Bauman is the owner and editor of He has started and sold several companies, along with owning several investment properties. His interest in personal finance started as a young kid, developed through his entrepreneurial ventures and real estate investments, and continue through his conversations with friends and colleagues.

Leave a Comment