Tuesday, September 26, 2023

What Are the Highest-Paying Medical Specialties?

Did you know that some doctors make millions of dollars every year? It is certainly not the norm. But the highest-earning medical specialties are very well compensated for their work.

You may be interested in starting a good medical career with high-income potential. You’ll need to go to medical school to work in medicine and bring in some of these high salaries.

It’s a long haul that’s not for everyone. The rigors of medical school and residency training are very intense. However, with the right path, students can become doctors and surgeons making very high salaries for their work.

In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the highest-paying medical specialties in recent years.


Neurosurgeons are often the highest-paid physicians in annual doctor compensation reports. The average neurosurgery compensation amounts to approximately $750,000, according to Doximity.

These surgeons focus on treating disorders of the brain and spine. Because they are handling such delicate soft tissues, they are compensated accordingly. Their salary reflects the stress and focus required in their work.

The majority of neurosurgical procedures are actually spine procedures. In the United States, spine disorders are more prevalent and require extensive expertise for optimal care.

Thoracic Surgery

Thoracic surgeons focus on surgical treatment of disorders of the heart and lungs. In general, this amounts to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.

These surgeons have to be highly trained to be able to resect a lung cancer safely and adequately. At the same time, other thoracic surgeons will focus on performing heart procedures. They often work to improve flow in the heart vessels.

Most thoracic surgeons will only perform 1 to 2 procedures per day due to the intense nature of this work.

Orthopedic Surgery

Orthopedic surgeons average over $500,000 per year in annual compensation. This is slightly less than thoracic surgeons, who come in at almost $700,000.

Orthopedic surgeons focus on treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. This can include spine problems. It can also include sports injuries and treatment of problems in the arms and legs.

Ultimately, these are doctors primarily focused on improving the function of patients. Orthopedic surgeons can help to give a much greater quality of life to those who desire it. They also treat common fractures and broken bones all throughout the body.

Plastic Surgery

When most people think about plastic surgeons, they imagine tummy tucks and mommy makeovers. Many plastic surgeons do perform these cosmetic procedures. However, other plastic surgeons focus on reconstructive procedures all around the body.

In fact, that’s how the specialty got started. Initially, plastic surgeons were focused on repairing soft tissue problems in soldiers coming home from war. Plastic surgeons worked to restore function and form to these unfortunate soldiers.

Nowadays, plastic surgeons can command approximately $540,000 per year.

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Identifying the Highest Paying Medical Specialties

At the end of the day, the highest paying medical specialties change somewhat year-to-year. However, most of the highest earners are surgeons. This subset of doctors focuses on intense procedures in the brain, heart, bones, and soft tissues.

The high level of stress and focus required for this work commands the highest salaries amongst physicians.

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