Want to Become a Doctor? Here are the Specialties That Earn the Most Money

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If income is a major priority for your career, you could do worse than becoming a doctor. Physicians take home some of the highest median salaries in the U.S. But as is the case with all fields, some positions are rewarded more generously than others. A recent report from WebMD’s online resource Medscape breaks down how much doctors make according to specialty.

As Business Insider reports, the annual study looked at the self-reported incomes of 19,200 medical professionals specializing in 27 areas. Orthopedists, or bone and muscle doctors, take home an average of $489,000 a year, making them the highest-earning group surveyed. They’re followed by plastic surgeons, with average yearly earnings of $440,000; cardiologists, with $410,000; and urologists, with $400,000 a year.

On the lower end of the scale, pediatricians make the least with an average salary of $202,000 a year. Family medical practitioners are one step up with an income of $209,000; endocrinologists, or doctors who specialize in hormones, make $220,000 a year; and doctors working in internal medicine make $225,000.

Medscape also broke down annual earnings by race for the first time in the survey's history. The data follows the larger race gap trend that persists across the workforce. White physicians across all specialties make the most on average, about $303,000 a year. Black doctors take home the least amount of pay with an average income of $262,000.

The report doesn’t include the salaries of residents, who are recent medical school graduates earning significantly less than doctors who’ve already paid their dues. Residencies last between three and seven years, during which time doctors get paid $40,000 to $50,000 a year. At that point in their careers, med school graduates face an average debt of nearly $200,000 in student loans. But like most college degrees, the investment does pay off eventually. It just might take pediatricians a little longer to catch up to their peers in orthopedics.

[h/t Business Insider]