The average hourly salary for physicians is a composite of earnings across various specialties and the number of years in practice. After medical school, residencies of at least three years provide training in a doctor's practice area, which affects earnings. Family medicine and pediatrics fall at the lower end of the salary range and have shorter residencies. With residencies of up to eight years, surgery and cardiology garner salaries at the top of the range.
After completing medical school and the required on-the-job training, in 2010 the average doctor earned $80 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This hourly rate translates into an annual salary of $166,400. With benefits such as health care, retirement plan contributions and paid leave, the total pay is often higher.
The BLS reports that, as of 2010, general practitioners or family doctors had a median annual income of $202,392, while doctors with specializations had median annual salaries of $356,885. Anesthesiologists had an annual income of $407,292, followed by surgical specialties at $343,958 annually. Physician specializations that garnered the lowest annual salaries included family practice at $189,402 and pediatrics at $192,148.
Best and Worst Salaries:
The industry of employment that a physician chooses affects his salary, even within specializations. Forbes reports that doctors who work as hospitalists had the lowest average 2008 to 2009 earnings for all physicians at $201,000. Emergency room physicians followed at $244,000. During this same period, orthopedic surgeons earned an average of $$481,000 and cardiologists earned $419,000.
The anticipated rate of job growth for all physicians is higher than average for all occupations at 24 percent. The aging U.S. population, retirement of existing physicians and the need for physicians in rural and underserved urban areas makes job prospects bright for physicians between 2010 and 2020. The BLS expects the total number of positions available for physicians to increase from 691,300 to 859,300 between 2010 and 2020. Due to the potential for higher earnings, the majority of these doctors will work in specializations instead of general medicine.