The medical field is one of the highest paying among all professions. This relates to the importance of medical care in society, the 10 years or longer required to complete education for some medical careers, and the risks and demands of the jobs. Even within medicine, some careers stand out as especially high paying.
Among physicians, the more specialized the diagnosis and care, the higher the pay in most cases. According to Medscape's Physician Compensation Report for 2012, which detailed 2011 salaries, radiology was the highest paying physician specialty at an average of $315,000 per year. Radiologists assess and manage chemotherapy and treatment of cancer. Cardiologists, who specialize in heart conditions, were next with an average income of $314,000. Urologists, who specialize in reproductive and urinary tract care, averaged $309,000.
Surgeons perform preventative or reactive operations on patients struggling with a variety of physical conditions. Typically, specialized surgeons earn more than general surgeons, who perform a wide array of minor to moderate operations. Orthopedic surgeons, who specialize in bones, joints, ligaments and muscles, topped all surgeons in the Medscape report with annual income of $315,000. Plastic surgeons, who complete both cosmetic and structural repair surgeries, averaged $270,000 per year.
Among other top-paying medical careers, anesthesiologists rank high with an annual salary of $309,000, according to the Medscape report. They provide local and general anesthetic care for patients prior to surgery in hospitals and outpatient facilities. It should be noted that different salary surveys can vary widely due to differences in methodology and sample size. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a much lower average salary for anesthesiologists, $234,950 a year, as of May 2011.
For aspiring medical workers who don’t want to go deep into debt paying for extensive medical educations, a number of high-paying options are available. In a list of top-paying medical careers with a bachelor’s degree compiled by Forbes in 2011, medical perfusionists ranked first with an average annual income of $93,500. Perfusionists operate bypass machines and other equipment. Clinical trial managers ranked second at $92,600 a year, followed by health care product managers at $87,800.