Emergency doctors diagnose, stabilize and treat individuals presenting with acute symptoms and injuries. To be a good emergency doctor, you must thrive in a crisis environment, as your duties will include critical life-saving maneuvers such as trauma resuscitation, performing cardiac life support and treating victims of disasters.
CNN Money tabbed emergency doctors in its list of the 20 highest paying jobs as of 2010, at a median annual salary of $250,000 per year, meaning half of all emergency doctors earn more than $250,000 and half earn less. Top earners reported a median income of $368,000 per year. According to the Medscape website, salary differs by employer type, with academic doctors specializing in emergency medicine reporting an average income of $159,000 per year, while group-practice doctors with a single specialty reported an average income of $250,000 per year, according to their 2012 survey results.
Most emergency doctors starting out in the field earn less than the median wage. About 20 percent of the Medscape Emergency Physician Compensation Report respondents were under age 34, which is typical for those new to the field. These individuals tend to make wages in the bottom of their peer group. In this survey, the lowest 13 percent of all emergency doctors earned an average income of under $100,000 per year -- the typical starting salary for an emergency doctor.
Salary by Specialty
Starting salaries for emergency doctors vary by specialty. According to the Profiles database, anesthesiologists earned a typical starting salary of $265,000 as of September 2011, compared to $360,000 for those well-established in this specialty. A cardiologist's typical starting salary was $272,000, compared to $402,000 for established cardiologists. An emergency doctor specializing in trauma surgery typically started out earning approximately $298,000, compared to an annual salary of $400,000 for this established in this specialty.
Among all Medscape survey respondents, 43 percent indicated their salary increased between 2010 and 2011, 36 percent reported their salary stayed the same, and the remaining 20 percent indicated their salary declined. Emergency medicine is a male-dominated field. According to Medscape, about 75 percent of all emergency doctors are male and 25 percent are female. Males earned an average of 32 percent more than females. Geographically, those in the North Central U.S. earned the most, while those in the North East earned the least. Of those surveyed, 54 percent felt that even though they were well-compensated, their expenses and debts did not lead them to feel rich.
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