Top 9 Highest Paying Medical Specialties in 2020

Top 9 Highest Paying Medical Specialties in 2020

Aug 07, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

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It’s no secret that physicians are paid quite handsomely depending on their specialties. However, according to Medscape’s 2020 Physician Compensation Report, the rise of coronavirus pandemic may lead to a likelihood of a decrease in average salaries for physicians.

With implemented layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts for hospitals and physician groups as well as a 55% decrease in revenue and a 60% decrease in patient volume for practices, salaries are expected to be affected. Although physicians’ most critical concerns are those involving life and death, salary and income are important to one’s career and livelihood.

What are the highest paying medical specialties and how much do they actually own? Here’s an average overview for top medical specialties based on pay and what their job duties entail:

1. Orthopedics - $511,000

Contrary to the popular belief, neurology isn’t the top highest paying medical specialty. In fact, it’s not even anywhere close. For 2020, it’s reported that orthopedics is the highest paid medical specialty with a whopping average yearly salary of $511,000.

Orthopedic deals with musculoskeletal conditions. Orthopedists treat a range of conditions such as fractures, dislocations, bunions, and osteoporosis among others. Surgery is also integral to the role. One of the main reasons why orthopedic is highly valued in the medical community is because of the high demand for its services combined with the fact that it’s experiencing one of the highest physician shortages.

2. Plastic Surgery - $479,000

Plastic surgeons are constantly the second-highest paid healthcare professionals with an average salary of $479,000 yearly.

The reason why physicians in plastics earn the mot is because of the continuously spiking professional fees. Although most people might go through their lives without seeing a plastic surgeon, this medical specialty is niche-based and an expensive one. Most plastic procedures are uninsurable; therefore, it’s not subject to the recommended fees. Plus, those who undergo plastic surgery are more than willing to pay for it and as beauty continues to evolve and plastic surgery is becoming more common and accepted, it can only go up for the specialty.

3. Otolaryngology - $455,000

For the third spot, otolaryngologists are reported to earn an average salary of $455,000 yearly.

Otolaryngology is a specialty that focuses on the ears, nose, and throat. Those who specialize in this field are commonly referred to as ENT. There are different areas of specialty and responsibilities for ENT physicians. The most common conditions treated are ear infections, tinnitus, hearing loss, and nerve pain. Caring for sinuses and nasal cavity is one of ENT’s primary skills. Otolaryngologists also have expertise in managing conditions of the larynx and esophagus dealing with voice and swallowing disorders.

4. Cardiology - $438,000

Cardiologists earn an average of $438,000 per year.

Cardiology is the study and the treatment of disorders that involve heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treatment of the cardiovascular system. Their duty includes carrying out tests and performing certain procedures. A common misconception about cardiology is equating cardiologists to a cardiac surgeon. A cardiac surgeon is the one that is allowed to perform heart surgery while procedures done by cardiologists are usually centered on angioplasty and heart catheterizations.

5. Radiology - $427,000

In the fifth spot, those who specialize in radiology usually have an average yearly salary of $427,000.

Physicians who have a specialty in radiology have the proper skill set to diagnose and treat a wide range of diseases and injuries using medical imaging (radiology) procedures. Such procedures cover X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, nuclear medicine, and positron emission tomography (PET).

There are different sub-specialties training available for radiology: diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, and radiation oncology.

6. Gastroenterology - $419,000

The average yearly salary of gastroenterology physicians is $419,000, making it the sixth highest paying specialty in the United States.

Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine that deals with diseases and disorders of the stomach and the intestines. It also includes the study of the normal function of other gastrointestinal organs such as the esophagus, small intestine, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, bile ducts, and colon and rectum. Common conditions that gastroenterologists treat are hepatitis, heartburn, colon cancer and polyps, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and other nutritional problems.

7. Urology - $417,000

Urologists earn about $417,000 yearly which is the seventh highest salary for a medical specialty.

Physicians who specialize in urology is an expert in diagnosing and treating disease and infection in the urinary system. Care for the male’s reproductive system is also part of their specialization. Common conditions that urologists take care of are urinary tract infections (UTI), cancer to the kidney or bladder, and kidney blockage, and stones.

For physicians specializing in urology, they have the option to sub-specialize to one area of health care. Such areas are women’s urology, children’s urology, cancer, male infertility, reconstructive urology, sexual health, and kidney stones.

8. Dermatology - $411,000

Dermatology gains the eight spots for the highest paying medical specialty with an annual salary of $411,000.

Unlike the common perception when it comes to dermatology, this specialization is more than keeping their patients beautiful. A physician that specializes in dermatology has the skillset and specialty in conditions involving the skin, hair, and nails. With over 3,000 possible conditions, the most common conditions that dermatologists treat are psoriasis, skin cancer, and eczema.

9. Anesthesiology - $398,000

The average annual salary for an anesthesiologist is $398,000.

The sole responsibility of anesthesiologists is ensuring that the patient will receive proper anesthetics depending on their needs. Anesthesiologists specialize in perioperative care, writing and developing anesthetic plans, administering anesthetics before surgery, monitoring anesthetics level during surgery, and coming up with reducing measures for your post-operative pain.

Major subspecialties included in anesthesiology is cardiothoracic anesthesia, orthopedic anesthesia, critical care anesthesia, neurosurgical anesthesia, obstetric anesthesia, pediatric anesthesia, and pain medicine.