Health professionals, especially doctors, are in high demand for jobs in the United States. We will see in this article what is the average salary paid in the United States to the 29 highest paid medical specialties, as well as what are the options that foreign doctors have to work as health professionals in the United States.
According to information provided by a Medscape report, the median salary for physicians in the United States is $299,000; this increases to $329,000 if only the salaries of specialists are computed. These average values arise from processing the salary information of 200,000 physicians, information from which the breakdown of salaries by medical specialty can also be obtained.
The 29 Highest-Paying Medical Specialties in the United States
The remuneration of the 29 highest paid medical specialties is detailed below. It should be noted that gross remuneration is recorded, so taxes and other contributions must be subtracted to obtain the net salary. Extraordinary compensation such as annual or quarterly bonuses, incentives or shares in company profits are not considered either. These extraordinary compensations fluctuate between about $3,000 and $130,000 a year.
- Plastic surgery: $501,000 a year
- Orthopedics: $497,000 a year
- Cardiology: $423,000 a year
- Gastroenterology: $408,000 a year
- Radiology: $401,000 a year
- Dermatology: $309,930 a year
- Anesthesiology: $386,000 a year
- Otolaryngology: $383,000 a year
- Urology: $373,000 a year
- Oncology: $363,000 a year
- Ophthalmology: $357,000 a year
- Critical care: $354,000 a year
- Emergentology (emergency medicine): $350,000 a year
- General Surgery: $322,000 a year
- Pulmonology: $321,000 a year
- OB/GYN: $300,000 a year
- Nephrology: $294,000 a year
- Pathology: $386,000 a year
- Psychiatry: $273,000 a year
- Allergology and immunology: $272,000 a year
- Physical medicine and rehabilitation: $269,000 a year
- Rheumatology: $257,000 a year
- Neurology: $244,000 a year
- Infectology: $231,000 a year
- Internal medicine: $230,000 a year
- Family medicine: $219,000 a year
- Diabetology and endocrinology: $212,000 a year
- Pediatrics: $212,000 a year
- Public and preventive health: $199,000 a year
The new salary trends
Overall, physician salaries in the United States have been on an upward trend over the past seven years, with psychiatry, plastic surgery, rehabilitation, and oncology being the specialties that have increased pay the most. In contrast, specialties such as general surgery, urology, otolaryngology, and diabetology have seen stagnant or declining pay.
It should also be mentioned that the salaries of health professionals register great variations not only with respect to the specialty but also in relation to the experience of the professional, the institution or company in which they work, the state in which they are employed and even in relation to the gender of the doctor. According to Medscape, male physicians enter the same role at 18% higher pay than their female counterparts. The states that pay the best doctors are New York and Massachusetts, while those that offer the lowest are Florida and North Carolina.
According to the estimates of the American Association of Medical Schools ( Association of American Medical Schools ), it will be necessary to fill 100,000 jobs for medical professionals in the United States before 2030. It is also estimated that today one in every ten job offers are not covered due to lack of doctors; it is also estimated that one in four physicians practicing in the United States is a foreigner.
Foreign doctors in the United States
The foregoing presents the alternative of settling in the United States to practice the medical profession as very attractive, and it must be taken into account that salaries are high and so is the standard of living. In addition, it is important to remember that to access to work as a doctor you must have an excellent level of English and be evaluated by the authorities; Medical knowledge must also be validated through exhaustive exams.
The process to validate medical studies in the United States for those professionals who have completed them in another country can take years and involves passing the US Medical Licensing Exam (exam to obtain a medical license in the United States), obtaining certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Trained Medical Graduates , admission to a medical residency program, and passing a third licensing exam.
It is for these reasons that many foreign doctors do not choose to practice their profession in the United States. Currently, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Program estimates that there are about 65,000 foreign doctors who have settled in the United States and who have the possibility of working, but cannot work as doctors because they have not met all the requirements. Not being able to practice as doctors, they look for work as teachers or researchers at universities or as medical assistants. In this last category there is a great demand for work, but the wages are much lower. Others prefer to get licensed to work as a nurse, which is simpler and is also a well-paid profession.
It may also happen that a medical professional has passed all the exams and has obtained all the licenses to work as a doctor in the United States but does not have the immigration documentation that allows it. In that case it is necessary to obtain a work visa or a residence card, which in most cases requires a sponsor. Specialty residency in the United States is possible with a J-1 visa or with a temporary work visa, followed by return to the country of origin. It should be noted that the MAVNI program for doctors, which allows you to obtain United States citizenship by serving in the military, is currently on pause and does not apply.
Association of American Medical Schools. Tomorrow’s Doctors, Tomorrow’s Cures . Consulted in November 2021.
medscape. Latest Medical News, Clinical Trials, Guidelines. Consulted in November 2021.
medscape. last . Accessed November 2021.
Rafael A. Rivera. Medical training in the United States. Consulted in November 2021.
USMLE. United States Medical Licensing Examination . Consulted in November 2021.
ECFMG. Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates . Consulted in November 2021.