How Much Do Doctors Really Make?

Juliona Bacalles , Freelance Writer

People often ask themselves the same question, “how much do doctors really make?” They go to the doctor for a simple yearly check-up and could sometimes have their insurance charged up to $100 just to be in the office for ten minutes. It can be hard to reconcile the simplicity of a procedural visit with how much doctors really earn.  More importantly, what needs to be considered is what goes into being a doctor. 

Doctors and surgeons’ salaries fluctuate every year. From 2019 to 2020, emergency medicine, oncology, physical medicine, geriatrics, and genetics all saw a 4% jump in annual salary. Over the past year of this pandemic, it has raised high demand in emergency room doctors and specialists who treat high-risk patients such as ones with underlying health conditions. Vascular surgeons are experiencing the most growth in annual salary ranking 4.9% growth each year. Their average compensation in 2019 was $509,335, while in 2020 some Vascular Surgeons brought in $534,508. Being in the medical field is never about the money, it is about saving lives and making people feel better and better each day. Regardless, here is an inside view as to how much the highest paying surgeons and doctors in the United States really make. 

  1. Neurosurgery — $746,544 
  2. Thoracic surgery — $668,350
  3. Orthopedic surgery — $605,330
  4. Plastic surgery — $539,208
  5. Oral and maxillofacial — $538,590
  6. Vascular surgery — $534,508
  7. Cardiology — $527,231
  8. Radiation oncology — $516,016
  9. Gastroenterology — $485,817
  10. Radiology — $485,460
  11. Urology — $472,941
  12. Otolaryngology (ENT) — $472,273
  13. Dermatology — $449,494
  14. Anesthesiology — $445,533
  15. General surgery — $439,824
  16. Colon & rectal surgery — $438,811
  17. Oncology — $437,280
  18. Ophthalmology — $424,488
  19. Pulmonology — $374,293
  20. Nuclear medicine — $367,741

While these amounts of money seem outrageously high, being a doctor or surgeon is not about the salary. To become the doctors listed above, there is lots of hard work, time, dedication and money that goes into this journey. For example, becoming a dermatologist all starts in high school. You have to take countless AP courses and extracurricular activities such as clubs and volunteer work to be able to get into a great college. But there are also high SAT/ACT scores that need to be achieved.

After college, a prospective doctor would be matched into a medical school based on your major. To be able to pass from the four years of medical school into another four years of residency, you have to get in the 40 percentile of MCAT scores. After the four years of residency, there are another four years of internship. The total amount of schooling is around 12-14 years. While going through all of this schooling, those interested should also be volunteering at local hospitals or working at a dermatologist office. Beside from the large amount of time spent in school there is also a large amount of dues to pay. The average cost of schooling for dermatology is averaged around $400,000. 

Of course becoming a doctor can take away your 20’s and cost a lot of money in tuition. However, that does not compare to the satisfaction of helping others live a higher quality life or putting a smile on a patient’s face.