Physicians provide medical care by diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job prospects for doctors are "very good," especially for those willing to work in low-income or rural communities. Physicians enjoy a stable income after completing at least eight years of postsecondary training.
The BLS reports that the mean annual wage for physicians was $173,860 as of May 2009. The mean hourly wage was $83.59. Physicians' offices are the primary employers of doctors, and pay a mean annual wage of $202,480. Outpatient care centers are a high-paying industry for physicians, with an annual mean wage of $205,970. Medical laboratories pay physicians an annual mean wage of $205,070, slightly less than doctor's offices.
The five states with the highest concentration of doctors are New York, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware and Michigan. These states paid physicians an annual wage that ranged from $133,670 to $170,260. Physicians seeking the highest-paying states should consider Minnesota, Indiana, Georgia, New Hampshire or Nevada. The annual mean wage for physicians working in these states ranged from $205,410 to $218,180.
Pay for physicians tends to be higher in specialties. The American Association of Medical Colleges maintains information on salary ranges for about two dozen medical specialties on its website. For example, internists can select from subspecialties in critical care, infectious disease or sleep medicine, and earn between $184,200 and $231,691.2. Dermatologists treat skin conditions and earn between $313,100 and $480,000 annually. Prospective physicians should note that at least three years of residency training is required to enter a medical specialty.
Employment for physicians is expected to grow by 22 percent through the year 2018. Growth will be spurred largely by an increased consumer demand for high-level care. Additional job growth will occur as currently practicing physicians retire. As a result, medical schools are enrolling larger numbers of students, according to the BLS. One specialty that will see particularly strong demand is radiology -- which pays between $377,300 and $478,000, according to the AAMC.