Physician Staffing Blog

Healthcare News and Trends

Physician Starting Salaries by Specialty: 2019 vs. 2018

August 06, 2019

Physician Starting Salaries by Specialty: 2019 vs. 2018

Are physician salary offers going up or down? The ever-changing job market is showing a little of both, depending on your medical specialty.

Merritt Hawkins tracks recruiting trends including salaries, bonuses and other incentives offered to physicians and advanced practitioner candidates on an annual basis. Our latest report shows that 13 of the top 20 recruited specialties saw an increase in their average starting salaries compared to the previous year, while the other seven saw a decrease. This in itself is a positive trend, as last year’s report found just nine out of the top 20 specialties experienced year-over-year salary increases.

Now in its 26th year, the 2019 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives analyzed 3,131 recruiting assignments from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

This national sample shows that invasive cardiologists were once again offered the highest average physician salaries, at $648,000 for 2018/2019, which was an increase from the previous year. The lowest average physician salaries among the most-requested searches were paid to family medicine physicians, with an average salary of $239,000, down just slightly from the previous year. (Family physicians were the most requested specialty among all of those tracked, for the 13th year in a row.)

The five specialties that saw the largest increase in physicians’ starting salaries from the previous year included:

1. Urologists – up 20.2%

2. Invasive Cardiologists – up 9.8%

3. Anesthesiologists – up 8.9%

4. Emergency Medicine Physicians – up 8.5%

5. Neurologists – up 5.3%

The most widely recruited advanced practitioners saw mixed results: the average salary offered to nurse practitioners (NPs) for 2018/2019 was $125,000, which was a decrease over the previous year, while the average salary offered to certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) was $197,000, up slightly from 2017/2018.

Average Physician Salaries: The Top 20 Recruited Specialties

This year-to-year comparison for the top 20 specialty searches conducted by Merritt Hawkins and their associated staffing companies represent physician starting salaries or guaranteed income only; these amounts do not include bonuses or benefits.

Medical Specialty2018/2019 Average Salary Offer2017/2018 Average Salary OfferYear over Year Change (YOY)
1. Cardiologist (Invasive) $648,000 $590,000 9.8%
2. Orthopedic Surgeon $536,000 $533,000 0.6%
3. Gastroenterologist $495,000 $487,000 1.6%
4. Urologist $464,000 $386,000 20.2%
   Cardiologist (Non-invasive); counted with #1 above $441,000 $427,000 3.3%
5. Dermatologist $420,000 $425,000 -1.2%
6. Anesthesiologist $404,000 $371,000 8.9%
7. Otolaryngologist $402,000 $405,000 -0.7%
8. Pulmonologist $399,000 $418,000 -4.6%
9. Hematologist/Oncologist $393,000 $391,000 0.5%
10. Radiologist $387,000 $371,000 4.3%
11. Emergency Medicine Physician $382,000 $358,000 8.5%
12. OB/GYN $318,000 $324,000 -1.9%
13. Neurologist $317,000 $301,000 5.3%
14. Psychiatrist $273,000 $261,220 4.5%
15. Hospitalist $268,000 $269,000 -0.4%
16. Internal Medicine (Internist) $264,000 $261,000 1.2%
17. Pediatrician $242,000 $230,000 5.2%
18. Family Medicine Physician $239,000 $241,000 -0.8%
19. CRNA $197,000 $194,000 1.6%
20. Nurse Practitioner $124,000 $129,000 -3.8%


To learn more about the salary and incentive packages offered to all specialties of physicians and advanced practitioners in various workplace settings—including bonuses, relocation packages, student loan repayment and other elements of compensation—download a copy of the 2019 Review. This comprehensive report also looks at the current demand for various medical specialties, and a number of trends that are impacting the healthcare workforce.


Physician Starting Salaries by Specialty: 2018 vs. 2017

8 Top Incentives Offered to Physicians and Advanced Practitioners

MERRITT HAWKINS’ experienced recruitment consultants can help you take the next step in your career. CONNECT with a recruiter today.


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