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DO vs. MD Wages

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Those wanting to become a physician have two main options as far as the type of medicine they can practice. On the one hand, they can become an allopathic or medical doctor, which is the most traditional path for most doctors. The second option is to become an osteopathic doctor. The primary difference between the two is in they way that these two types of doctors approach medical treatment. D.O.s place more emphasis on holistic and preventative medicine, whereas the M.D. emphasizes diagnostic treatment of symptoms. The salaries for the D.O. and M.D., however, tend to be similar.

Physician Salaries

According to, nearly half of all osteopathic doctors work as general practitioners and make an average salary of about $185,000 per year, as of 2011. Similarly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also notes that the average salary of general practitioners, which includes both osteopathic doctors and allopathoic doctors, was $173,860, as of May 2010. The median salary for these general practitioners reported by the BLS was $163,510 annually.


Doctors holding the D.O. degree can also pursue specializations following the completion of medical school, the same as doctors holding the M.D. degree. Candidates typically accomplish this through the completing of medical residency. These residencies can last anywhere from three to seven years depending upon the area of specialization. Both allopathic and osteopathic doctors can expect to make substantially more than general practitioners if they choose to specialize. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2008, the median salary of physicians across all medical specialties was $339,738. Those who choose to specialize in orthopedic spinal surgery can expect to make the most money. According to the Physician Compensation Survey conducted by the American Medical Group Association, these surgeons made a median salary of $641,728 per year, as of 2009.

General Surgeons

Not all M.D. and D.O. doctors necessarily have to specialize in one particular field to make more money. Instead, those who complete a general surgical residency can expect to make a higher salary than general practitioners. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of surgeons was $225,390 per year, as of May 2010.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of new jobs for both allopathic and osteopathic doctor is expected to increase by 22 percent by 2018. The rapid growth of the population and the increasing age of the existing population are expected to necessitate the need for increased numbers of health care providers. Doctors in both types of medicine can expect to benefit from this job market, especially those in general practice who will serve as primary health care providers for this expanding and aging population.


Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.