The top 10 highest physician salaries by specialty

Doctor putting money in pocket
For doctors who want a big paycheck, orthopedics is one way to get there, a new survey says. (Getty/Niyazz)

Specialists continue to draw bigger paychecks than primary care physicians, with orthopedic salaries at the top of the list, according to a new survey.

Orthopedic doctors had the highest salary among 25 types of physicians, according to a MedPage Today salary survey. The online survey received more than 20,000 responses, including 7,753 with salary information used in the analysis.

Here are the top 10 highest paid specialties:

Free Daily Newsletter

Like this story? Subscribe to FierceHealthcare!

The healthcare sector remains in flux as policy, regulation, technology and trends shape the market. FierceHealthcare subscribers rely on our suite of newsletters as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data impacting their world. Sign up today to get healthcare news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

1. Orthopedics: $414,283

2. Oncology: $410,941

3. Cardiology: $400,603

4. Urology: $395,000

5. Gastroenterology: $387,078

6. General surgery: $359,761

7. Dermatology: $359,519

8. Radiology: $357,292

9. Anesthesiology: $356,992

10. Critical care: $340,900

Although in high demand, primary care physicians ranked near the bottom of the salary list. Internal medicine physicians earned an average of $212,915; family medicine physicians earned $208,272 and pediatricians were last on the list at $199,616. The country could see a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, according to a projection from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Interestingly, the average salary for physicians/surgeons dropped last year, according to the survey, from an average of $258,039 in 2017 to $250,000 in 2018.

The survey also looked at salaries for nurse practitioners and physician assistants—both of which increased last year.

The average salary for nurse practitioners went from $102,523 in 2017 to $109,000 in 2018. Those working in critical care demanded the highest pay, with an average salary of $139,964.

The average salary for physician assistants went from $108,311 in 2017 to $110,000 in 2018. Those in emergency medicine demanded the highest salary, an average of $136,352.

Asked about the best aspects of being in healthcare, 80% of respondents said it was caring for people. Asked about the worst aspects, 53% said record keeping, 50% said burnout and 46% said government interference/regulations and achieving work-life balance.

Suggested Articles

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has tapped former CVS Health and Aetna executive Claus Torp Jensen, Ph.D., as its first chief digital officer.

NYC Health + Hospitals plans to upgrade millions of imaging technologies across the health system as part of a $224 million deal with GE Healthcare.

A New Orleans-based genetic testing company will pay $42.6 million to resolve False Claims Act and kickback allegations.