5 Highest Paid Medical Specialties to Pursue

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Are you a potential medical student wondering how many medical specialties you can choose from? Are you trying to link remuneration with the workload for each medical specialty before deciding which is suitable for you? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you’re in the right place. This article offers you all the information about the highest paying medical specialties, including what they are and how their remuneration is calculated. Salary is an essential factor in choosing medicine, so it’s only right to know how much we can earn for each specialty beforehand.

How Many Medical Specialties are There?How Many Medical Specialties are There?

A medical specialty is a branch of medical practice focused on a defined group of patients, philosophy, skills, or diseases. With the human body made of several different components, it’s only natural that different patients have various concerns concerning different components. They need a specialist to help walk them through such problems when they do. This offers medical students different medical specialties to choose from.

There are more than 135 medical specialties and subspecialties in the United States. As a medical student, you are expected to choose your medical specialty based on your career aspirations and the lifestyle you want for yourself. However, before making your choice, you should check out the description of the specialty, the salary, training requirements, and every other information.

Which Medical Specialty is Most Competitive?

Which Medical Specialty is Most Competitive?

Competitiveness is an important factor to consider when choosing a specialty, alongside passion, work-life balance, and the risk of burnout. Therefore, it’s only natural that potential medical students always search to know the most competitive medical specialties.

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) considers the most competitive Specialties as those that match with the highest percentage of U.S. medical school graduates. That said, here’s a list of the most competitive medical specialties in the United States.

  • Integrated interventional radiology
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Integrated plastic surgery
  • Radiation oncology
  • Neurological surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Thoracic surgery

At this point, please note that being the most competitive specialties doesn’t necessarily make them the highest paying medical jobs of the best medical specialties. It all boils down to popularity due to several factors.

How Much Do Different Medical Specialties Make?

How Much Do Different Medical Specialties Make?

The average salary of a doctor can be an important consideration when deciding your area of specialization. As we’ve pointed out above, many factors combine to help you arrive at the right decision, and remuneration is one. Knowing how much money you’ll make can help you plan better while mapping out when you can expect to pay off your medical school loans. Here’s a table showing the average salary of the most popular medical specialties in the United States.

List of Medical Specialties National Average Salary
Neurosurgery 616,823
Orthopedic surgery 526,385
Radiation oncology 486,089
Vascular surgery 484,740
Dermatology 455,000
Cardiology 454,000
Plastic surgery 433,000
Radiology 429,000
Urology 427,000
Anaesthesiology 405,000
General surgery 403,000
Oncology 383,000
Colon & Rectal surgery 373,000
Ophthalmology 371,000
Emergency medicine 336,000
Obstetrics and gynecology 335,000
Physical medicine/rehab 315,000
Neurology 303,000
Pediatric cardiology 303,000

5 High Paying Medical Specialties

5 High Paying Medical Specialties

One question we often hear students ask when going into the medical field is, “what are the highest-paid medical specialties.” After reviewing several data and information, we’ve come up with a list of five of the most profitable medical specialties. Here, let’s look at them.


As expected, neurosurgery is the best-paid medical specialty. The brain is a very fragile system, and neurosurgeons need to have an outstanding level of expertise and experience with the brain, spinal cord, spine, and nervous system. Neurosurgeons impact patients’ lives because the nervous system is connected to different areas of the body.

Annual earnings: $609,201

Invasive cardiology

Coming closely behind neurosurgery is invasive surgery. This is an excellent specialty to try if you don’t mind the pressure of holding a patient’s heart in your hands. According to a recent report by Forbes, doctors who specialize in this field can earn up to $525,000 per year. If you are interested in handling heart health but can’t deal with the high-stress invasive aspect, you can still choose cardiology. With an annual average salary of $376,000, you can tell that you’ll still be a top earner in the medical field.

Orthopedic surgery

Forbes estimates the average salary of orthopedic surgeons to be around $497,000 per year. This specialty involves treating the musculoskeletal system, so you can expect to work on the spine, extremities, and other related structures. Under this specialty, you can also focus on a particular type of condition, like sports injuries, oncology, etc. Irrespective of your area of focus, your job description would include setting broken bones, replacing damaged joints, surgically removing tumors, and repairing injured tendons.


Gastroenterology comes fought on our list with an average base salary of $455,000 per annum. A gastroenterologist specializes in treating any disorder that occurs in the digestive system. Their job includes diagnosing and recommending treatments for heartburns, diarrhea, ulcers, pain, and acid reflux. Under this specialty, you’ll also play the role of diagnosing, preventing and treating cancers of the digestive system.


This specialty involves the use of nuclear radiation for medical purposes. Radiologists use nuclear radiation for almost everything, including diagnostic tests and radiation treatments. With an average annual salary of around $414,090, you can tell that radiology is a very rewarding specialty to venture into.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Medical Specialty

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Medical Specialty

So you’ve decided to go into the medical field, and you’re wondering where to specialize. This is another part of the decision-making process that you should pay serious attention to. Unfortunately, many people do not enjoy the medical specialties they choose because they fail to choose what suits them. If you’re at this stage, don’t worry. This section highlights important factors to consider when choosing a medical specialty.


Often, we see people choosing medical specialties without first considering their personality. Unfortunately, things would hardly go well if you don’t start by considering who you are: your personality, ambition, interest, likes and dislikes, abilities, limitations, and aptitudes.

Ask and answer important questions about yourself like, “am I a hands-on practical person, or do I like to think about details when solving problems?” Different medical specialties require different blends of attributes, so you’ll be doing yourself good by understanding your attributes and choosing a specialty that you can function best in with those attributes.

Job market

Physicians are in high demand due to a worldwide provider shortage. While this demand may be considerably high, each specialty has a specific market that dictates the number and distribution of available employment opportunities. We all want to choose specialties that can guarantee high employment opportunities. Therefore, you must investigate your prospective specialty to know whether or not it has the right opportunities you desire. If it doesn’t, it’s not too late to search for another one that suits what you require and change to it.


Let’s face the fact – financial remuneration is vital in any profession. With the burdensome levels of student loan debt continually rising, potential income has become a fundamental issue for medical students when considering employment opportunities. For starters, you’ll need to determine your potential income needs, evaluate your dream type of lifestyle, and all your future financial goals. Once these details are well stated, you can choose a specialty that guarantees enough income to meet your current and future needs.

Practice expenses

Another important factor that people often overlook when choosing a medical specialty is practice expenses. Just like remuneration, different specialties require different levels of training and practice expenses. Before selecting a specialty, evaluate the expenses and liabilities associated with that practice. Bear in mind that certain medical specialties typically face steeper practice expenses, practice liability insurance premiums, and are open to more liability issues. So, you should ask yourself whether you’re ready for those before diving into a specialty.


Questions like “what do I envision my life to look like after medical training” should be at the top of your thoughts. The answer to these questions can help you decide on the right medical specialty for you. Think about things like work hours, family time, physical requirements, and stress levels associated with each specialty. Consider how these factors can affect your lifestyle goals before choosing a specialty that ticks your boxes.

Wrapping Things Up: 5 Highest Paid Medical Specialties to Pursue

It’s no longer a new story that medical specialty comes top among factors that determine the salaries of medical doctors. Certain medical specialties typically earn more than others irrespective of location because of the workload attached to these specialties and how difficult their training can be. So, while choosing a specialty because of potential remuneration seems okay, it’s also essential to look at other factors that may affect job satisfaction in the long run. To help make the process easier when choosing a medical specialty, we’ve highlighted crucial information you should know about different specialties, including their salaries and job descriptions.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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