Sunday, January 04, 2009

How much do doctors and physicians make?

How much doctors make depends on their specialty, practice, and where they work. In general, physicians are the highest paid in the United States and are in the top 5% of earners according to the US Census. In order to make the high salary, doctors make a huge financial investment (e.g., an average of $140,000 in school debt vs. the average debt of $20,000 for college graduates), at least 11 years of schooling and training after high school, and significant personal sacrifices. A medical career is rewarding, and there are benefits unable to be measured by money, such as satisfaction with helping others and job security. I advise students to find a career they love and that money is icing on the cake.

Physicians who do not do surgery make an average of $119,000 - $205,000 per year. In contrast, surgeons make an average of $192,000 - $299,000 per year.

Are the financial and personal sacrifices worth it? This is something you can only answer yourself after considering your personal and financial goals, your family priorities, and how hard you are willing to work. A financial statistic to consider is that the more you invest in your education, the higher your potential income. According to the 2006 US Census, people who do not graduate from high school make mean incomes of $20,980/year. High school grads make mean incomes of $30,249/year. For college grads, this group receives mean incomes of $57,519/year. Master degree holders demand mean incomes of $70,242/year. The highest mean incomes of $95,359 - $117,386/year were seen in individuals holding professional or doctorate degrees.

Another statistic to consider is an average college debt of $20,000 will result in yearly mean incomes of $57,519/year whereas an average medical student debt of $140,000 will result in yearly mean incomes of $119,000-$299,000 per year.

For medical students with significant debt, consider these resources:

US Navy:

US Army:

US Air Force:

National Health Service Corps:


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