As a group, doctors earn higher wages than any other occupation. Some medical specialties significantly outearn others if we look at their mean annual pay:
- Anesthesiologists: $331,190
- Obstetricians and gynecologists: $296,210
- Surgeons: $294,520
- Physicians and surgeons, all other: $255,110
- Psychiatrists: $249,760
- Internists, general: $242,190
- Family and general practitioners: $235,930
- Pediatricians, general: $198,420
Physicians must attend medical school to earn a four-year Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree after college, then pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). They must then complete a four-year residency, a series of rotations at different medical facilities where they gain real-world experience. Most people then take the board certification exam for their specialty, because many employers will only hire doctors who are board-certified.
Physician job growth is much slower than average for U.S. careers, mainly thanks to technological advances and the increase in assistant roles who can perform tasks that doctors used to do exclusively. The BLS expects relatively little job turnover, with about 24,000 openings per year through 2031 despite a pool of more than 700,000 physicians.