In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. In particular, the ACS data is reported for the larger career group physicians and surgeons, which combines the data for 8 careers, including physicians and surgeons (specialized areas). Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.
The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?
Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.
With 36% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 50% of careers.
As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is better for physicians and surgeons, with the median salary for men only 3.8% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.
Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Physicians and surgeons have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 87% of other jobs.
The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority physicians and surgeons than for 86% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.
For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physicians and surgeons (specialized areas) typically hold a doctoral or professional degree.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as physicians and surgeons as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for physicians and surgeons.
Most applicants to medical school have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have advanced degrees. Although no specific major is required, students usually complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. Students also may take courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain experience in a healthcare setting.
Medical schools are highly competitive. Most applicants must submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant’s personality, leadership qualities, and participation in extracurricular activities. Most schools require applicants to interview with members of the admissions committee.
A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 to 8 years.
Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and in the laws governing medicine. They also gain practical skills; learning to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses.
During their last 2 years, medical students work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery, they gain experience in diagnosing and treating illnesses in a variety of areas.
All states require physicians and surgeons to be licensed; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license, candidates must graduate from an accredited medical school and complete residency training in their specialty.
All physicians and surgeons also must pass a standardized national licensure exam. M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). D.O.s take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). For specific state information about licensing, contact your state’s medical board.
Certification is not required for physicians and surgeons; however, it may increase their employment opportunities. M.D.s and D.O.s seeking board certification in a specialty may spend up to 7 years in residency training; the length of time varies with the specialty. To become board certified, candidates must complete a residency program and pass a specialty certification exam from a certifying board including the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).
What level of education is truly needed for physicians and surgeons? Below we see the distribution of physicians and surgeons salaries based on the education attained. You may have noticed in the dashboard and elsewhere that BLS top-codes salaries. ACS also engages in a form of top-coding, but by looking at the broader field of physicians and surgeons and using the ACS, we are able to see some of the higher salaries and can give a better idea of the range of salaries for this field. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as physicians and surgeons, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.
This table shows the college majors held by people working as physicians and surgeons. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.
If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!
With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as physicians and surgeons, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by physicians and surgeons given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.
What jobs will most physicians and surgeons hold next year?
The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.
Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of physicians and surgeons reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list? For physicians and surgeons, there isn't a lot of action in this chart! This isn't a career that invites much moving around.
A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies the one job which was held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as physicians and surgeons as well as 1% of respondents after working as physicians and surgeons. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.
What do people typically do before and after they work as physicians and surgeons? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of physicians and surgeons surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.
Physicians and surgeons typically do the following:
Physicians and surgeons work in one or more specialties. The following are examples of types of physicians and surgeons:
Anesthesiologists focus on the care of surgical patients and pain relief. They administer drugs (anesthetics) that reduce or eliminate the sensation of pain during an operation or another medical procedure. During surgery, they are responsible for adjusting the amount of anesthetic as needed, and monitoring the patient's heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing. They also work outside of the operating room, providing pain relief for patients in the intensive care unit, for women in labor and delivery of babies, and for patients who suffer from chronic pain. Anesthesiologists work with other physicians and surgeons to decide on treatments and procedures before, during, and after surgery.
Family and general physicians assess and treat a range of conditions that occur in everyday life. These conditions include sinus and respiratory infections to broken bones. Family and general physicians typically have regular, long-term patients.
General internists diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for a range of problems that affect internal organ systems such as the stomach, kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. Internists use a variety of diagnostic techniques to treat patients through medication or hospitalization. They work mostly with adult patients.
General pediatricians provide care for infants, children, teenagers, and young adults. They specialize in diagnosing and treating problems specific to younger people. Most pediatricians treat common illnesses, minor injuries, and infectious diseases, and administer vaccinations. Some pediatricians specialize in pediatric surgery or serious medical conditions that commonly affect younger patients, such as autoimmune disorders or chronic ailments.
Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) provide care related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the female reproductive system. They treat and counsel women throughout their pregnancy and deliver babies. They also diagnose and treat health issues specific to women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, hormonal disorders, and symptoms related to menopause.
Psychiatrists are primary mental health physicians. They diagnose and treat mental illnesses through a combination of personal counseling (psychotherapy), psychoanalysis, hospitalization, and medication. Psychotherapy involves regular discussions with patients about their problems. The psychiatrist helps them find solutions through changes in their behavioral patterns, explorations of their past experiences, or group and family therapy sessions. Psychoanalysis involves long-term psychotherapy and counseling for patients. Psychiatrists may prescribe medications to correct chemical imbalances that cause some mental illnesses.
Surgeons treat injuries, diseases, and deformities through operations. Using a variety of instruments, a surgeon corrects physical deformities, repairs bone and tissue after injuries, or performs preventive or elective surgeries on patients. Although a large number perform general surgery, many surgeons choose to specialize in a specific area. Specialties include orthopedic surgery (the treatment of the musculoskeletal system), neurological surgery (treatment of the brain and nervous system), cardiovascular surgery, and plastic or reconstructive surgery. Like other physicians, surgeons examine patients, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and counsel patients on preventive healthcare. Some specialist physicians also perform surgery.
Physicians and surgeons may work in a number of other medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties. The following specialists are some of the most common examples:
Physicians in healthcare establishments work daily with other healthcare staff, such as registered nurses, other physicians, medical assistants, and medical records and health information technicians.
Some physicians may choose to work in fields that do not involve patient care, such as medical research or public policy.
Can you see yourself in the ranks of physicians and surgeons (specialized areas)? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
In 2018, the median (middle) salary for physicians and surgeons (specialized areas) was higher than 99% of all other jobs' middle salaries. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.
Note: The salaries for physicians and surgeons (specialized areas) have been top-coded by the BLS; in 2018, all annual salaries larger than $208,000 are recorded as $208,000.
Currently, jobs for physicians and surgeons (specialized areas) are anticipated to grow by 11% over the next decade; only 23% of jobs are predicted to grow more.
The projected employment for physicians and surgeons (specialized areas) is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Which states hire the most physicians and surgeons (specialized areas)? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as physicians and surgeons (specialized areas). You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.
One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all physicians and surgeons, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all physicians and surgeons, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.
If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Physicians and surgeons (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)
There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide: