Salary, Wages, Pay: Physicians & Surgeons

Earnings of physicians and surgeons are among the highest of any occupation. According to the Medical Group Management Associationís Physician Compensation and Production Survey, median total compensation for physicians in 2004 varied by specialty, as shown in table 2. Total compensation for physicians reflects the amount reported as direct compensation for tax purposes, plus all voluntary salary reductions. Salary, bonus and/or incentive payments, research stipends, honoraria, and distribution of profits were included in total compensation.

Table 2. Median total compensation of physicians by specialty, 2004
Less than two years in specialty Over one year in specialty

$259,948 $321,686
Surgery: General

228,839 282,504
Obstetrics/Gynecology: General

203,270 247,348
Psychiatry: General

173,922 180,000
Internal medicine: General

141,912 166,420
Pediatrics: General

132,953 161,331
Family practice (without obstetrics) 137,119 156,010
SOURCE: Medical Group Management Association, Physician Compensation and Production Report, 2005.

Self-employed physicians—those who own or are part owners of their medical practice—generally have higher median incomes than salaried physicians. Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, geographic region, hours worked, and skill, personality, and professional reputation. Self-employed physicians and surgeons must provide for their own health insurance and retirement.