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How Much Do Physicians Get Paid in a Year?

by Aurelio Locsin

Physicians provide a number of health care and medical services, from helping patients develop healthier lifestyles to treating potentially fatal diseases. It's an important job, and one that requires the longest training period of any profession. As a physician, you need at least four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and an internship and residency that typically lasts three to eight years. Small wonder that physicians and surgeons receive some of the highest salaries in the country. They averaged $190,060 a year as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, salaries vary significantly by specialty.


Topping the physician compensation list are anesthesiologists, who manage pain before, during and after surgery. They earned a mean annual $232,830 as of May 2012, according to the BLS. Those who worked in their own offices earned a mean $241,910 per year, while those employed by specialty hospitals that did not include psychiatry or substance abuse averaged $229,400. Among the states, anesthesiologists in Wyoming and Tennessee earned the highest average salaries. For metropolitan areas, Hartford, Conn., and Burlington, Vt. topped the list. The BLS did not list specific averages for these locations, noting instead that pay at all of them exceeded a mean $187,199 yearly.


Surgeons use invasive, minimally-invasive or non-invasive surgical methods to treat patients. The BLS reports that surgeons earned a mean $230,540 a year as of May 2012. Most worked for themselves and averaged $237,770 per year. However, the highest average pay, $238,120 yearly, was at specialty hospitals that did not include psychiatry or substance abuse. Top-paying states for surgeons were Wyoming and West Virginia. The top paying metro areas were Worcester, Mass., and Waterbury, Conn. In all these locations, average salaries were more than $187,199 per year.

Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Obstetricians and gynecologists focus on women’s issues, especially those involving the reproductive system. They earned a mean $216,760 annually as of May 2012, according to the BLS. Most worked for and received their highest pay in their own offices, averaging a $223,070 a year. Among the states, Idaho ranked first and Oklahoma ranked second. The BLS did not list a specific average for Idaho, though it said obstetricians and gynecologists in Oklahoma averaged $249,960 a year. Among metro areas, Winston-Salem, N.C. and Warren, Mich., ranked at the top.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons handle injuries, diseases or defects by operating on the hard and soft tissues of the face and mouth. They earned a mean $216,440 per year as of May 2012. Most worked for dentists’ offices to average $226,280 yearly, but their highest wages were in physicians' offices at a mean annual $230,350. Top-paying states for the profession were Washington and Utah, and the best-paying metropolitan areas were Lowell, Mass., and Seattle, Wash. Mean salaries at these locations exceeded an annual $187,199.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

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