By Dan Miller, WCI Contributor
While not all doctors go into medicine solely to make a lot of money, there's no denying that their potential income plays a part in the outlook of many physicians. Many, if not most, doctors make a healthy income, but they also have to deal with higher-than-average costs, such as disability insurance, malpractice insurance, and student loans (where they might have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars). While an average person may not realize this, most in the medical field understand that there is a wide range in salary and income between different specialties in the medical field—like, for instance, the salaries of pediatricians vs. plastic surgeons.
Last year, Medscape gathered data from more than 10,000 physicians in more than 29 different specialties and created the Compensation Report for Pediatricians and many other medical specialties. Pediatricians shared information about how much they earn, whether they supplement their salary with other income, and their overall outlook on the field. If you're a medical school student investigating pediatrics, this can provide helpful data to understand what you can expect. If you're already in pediatrics, you can use this information to see where you fit among others in the field.
Pediatrician Average Salary
According to the Medscape report, the average salary for pediatric doctors in 2023 was $251,000, a $7,000 raise from the previous year. This puts them at the bottom range among the medical specialties that were surveyed, only slightly above Public Health and Preventative Medicine doctors.
This probably does not come as a surprise to those familiar with the field, as pediatrics has a reputation for being (relatively) lower paying.
Is Pediatrician Income Rising?
While income for pediatricians is at the lower end of the scale, the same is not necessarily true for the year-over-year income. On average, pediatricians reported that their income rose 3% compared to 2022, an average that was in the middle range of all fields that were surveyed. It wasn't a huge raise, but it was better than plenty of other specialties.
From 2021 to 2022, though, pediatricians had reported that their income rose by 10%.
More information here:
Do Pediatricians Have Incentive Bonuses?
In the past, Medscape has reported that nearly 60% of surveyed physicians have some sort of incentive program. But once again, the pediatricians who were surveyed were the lowest subgroup in terms of receiving an annual incentive bonus.
While those in orthopedics could make six figures in incentive bonuses, pediatricians made about one-quarter of that. In the previous year, pediatricians made $28,000 in average incentive bonuses, so at least they got a little bit of a bump in 2023.
Do Pediatricians Feel Fairly Compensated?
It may not come as a surprise since pediatrics fell near the bottom of the overall compensation figures, but pediatricians also report not feeling fairly compensated at a higher rate than other doctors.
Only 45% of surveyed pediatricians reported feeling fairly compensated, placing them ahead of only a few other specialties. In the prior year, 47% of pediatricians felt fairly compensated.
Interestingly, even though pediatricians actually make more money than Public Health and Preventative Medicine doctors, the latter group overwhelmingly feels that they're treated more fairly than pediatricians.
Even a low-paid pediatrician still makes much more money than the average US worker, but it still can be tough. Especially since the lifestyle of an average pediatrician probably won't be as lavish as a plastic surgeon or a cardiologist. You don't get a pass on math. The less you make and the more of your income that you spend, the longer it will take to reach your financial goals.
But remember that a pediatrician family still will have enough income that, if managed well, will provide a wonderful life during the career and still allow for retirement at traditional retirement age without ever feeling financially deprived.
More information here:
The Medscape survey is not the end-all and be-all of physician salary data. There are other sources out there, and our recommended contract review firms use them to help ensure you are getting paid what you're worth. Other average salary numbers you can find from surveys done in the last year or two include:
- MGMA: $232,409
- AAMC: $220,000 (this survey only includes academics)
- Doximity: $242,832
- Merritt Hawkins: $236,000
- AMGA: $257,432
Increasing Your Physician Income
One of the most important things that you can do to earn more for your work is to negotiate your pay and the terms of your contract. Many doctors wind up with bad contracts that leave them improperly compensated, facing high costs and non-compete agreements that restrict their future opportunities.
If you’re negotiating a new contract, The White Coat Investor has a list of vetted attorneys and law firms to work with to make sure you get a good deal.
If you're a pediatrician, do these numbers track with your experience? Did anything surprise you with these numbers? How could you go about making more money? Comment below!