A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in caring for patients with kidney dysfunction or kidney disease. If you know someone who receives dialysis and he mentions going to his kidney doctor, he is talking about seeing his nephrologist. These physicians earn salaries that are higher on average than family practice doctors and some other specialty doctors.

Duties And Training:

A nephrologist treats patients with disorders such as chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, kidney infections and polycystic kidney disease. Like other doctors, a nephrologist has graduated from medical school and has also completed a residency. While in residency, a prospective nephrologist focuses on internal medicine. After the resident passes the American Board of Internal Medicine certification exam, he begins studying nephrology. A fellowship in nephrology can last two or three years.

Salary Range:

The average salary of a nephrologist as of 2011 was $209,000 per year, according to Medscape Today. For employed nephrologists, this figure includes any bonuses and profit-sharing. The annual pay translates to about $100 per hour for a nephrologist who works a standard full-time schedule, but it can be difficult to pinpoint the number of hours a nephrologist works per week. About 43 percent of nephrologists earned salaries in a range of $175,000 to $299,000 per year. About 5 percent earned more than $400,000 per year, while12 percent earned less than $125,000 per year.

Geographical Locations:

The most lucrative part of the country for nephrologists is in the northwest, including Alaska, according to Medscape Today. The average annual salary for kidney doctors in that area was $320,000 in 2011. In California and Hawaii, the average was also high, at $274,000 a year. In contrast, the average salary for nephrologists in the northeast was $164,000 per year.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the annual median total compensation for family practice doctors at about $189,400 as of 2010, citing a report by the Medical Group Management Association. That is about 9 percent lower than the average annual salary for nephrologists in 2011 as indicated by Medscape Today. Internists earned a median income of about $205,400, while general surgeons earned about $344,000. Anesthesiologists earned more than $400,000 annually at the median rate.

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