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How Much Do Doctors Make a Year

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Create a Financial Future Through Helping Others

If you are a natural problem-solver who loves science and making a difference in others’ lives, a career in medicine could really fit the bill. Physicians provide preventive care, diagnose and treat illness, order tests, prescribe medications and counsel patients on health and self-care. Many doctors bring home a solid paycheck that could easily support a family and provide college funds and a solid financial future. Hours can be long and unpredictable at times, but the field is rapidly growing, providing plenty of opportunity for stable and consistent work.

Job Description

Physicians diagnose and treat illnesses in a wide variety of specialties, including general medicine, allergy, dermatology, ophthalmology, psychiatry, gynecology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology and more. Surgeons provide surgical interventions for a wide variety of medical concerns. Physicians meet with patients to take a careful medical history, order tests, discuss results, recommend treatment, prescribe medications and answer general health questions. Many physicians also help patients with preventive care and health and lifestyle choices. Hours can be long and somewhat unpredictable, depending on the area of specialty.

Education Requirements

Doctors complete several years of education and training to learn how to serve their patients with care and attention to detail. They are required to earn a bachelor’s degree, followed by a four-year graduate degree from a medical school. After graduation, they complete another three to seven years of residency before they can take the national licensing exam. To become board certified in a specialty, most physicians complete specialized residency programs and exams in their area of expertise. Multiple years of schooling and residency can take their financial toll, but scholarships and grants often help offset the cost.

Physicians and surgeons earn a median salary of $208,000 per year, which means that half of all doctors earn more than this, and half earn less. Area of practice impacts earning, with primary care physicians earning a median salary of $251,578, and specialists earning a median salary of $425,509.


Roughly half of all physicians work in clinics, where they see patients, often traveling between their office and the hospital throughout the day. Hours can be unpredictable, but excellent family support and reliable child care help make the schedule easier for physicians with children. The other half of physicians work outside of the clinic, in academic institutions, hospitals and government settings. Group medical practices offer more flexibility and predictable days off than solo practice, since patient care is shared between several physicians.

Years of Experience

As in most careers, salary increases gradually with years of experience in the field. General physicians can expect to earn a bit less than surgeons, but they are still well paid. General physicians can expect these salaries:

  • Entry-Level: $49,730–$199,931
  • Mid-Career: $58,669–$208,688
  • Experienced: $77,345–$248,214
  • Late-Career: $80,595–$256,190

Surgeons can look forward to these salaries throughout their career:

  • Entry-Level: $102,043–$354,743
  • Mid-Career: $102,495–$397,643
  • Experienced: $146,092–$395,856
  • Late-Career: $149,499–$406,683

Job Growth Trend

With the baby-boomer population aging, doctors are more in demand than ever. Jobs are plentiful, and most medical students are easily matched with residencies upon graduation. Rural and low-income areas are especially in need of medical professionals, including doctors. Anesthesiology and general practitioners are particularly in demand, but all specialties are experiencing fast growth. Job security and plentiful opportunities bring peace of mind when you are trying to raise children while working. Though the hours can be challenging, the financial security and benefits of the profession create a stable financial environment for raising little ones and preparing them for the future.