Physician Staffing Blog

Healthcare News and Trends

Physician Starting Salaries by Specialty: 2022 vs. 2021

August 20, 2022

Physician Starting Salary Trends - Hero

By the Merritt Hawkins team

Are physician jobs and salaries recovering after a couple of turbulent years? A new report indicates that the job market is showing some positive trends, but the results will depend 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 starting salaries have generally rebounded since they were suppressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting salary offers for 14 physician specialties tracked in the 2022 Review were up year-over-year, while three were down. Average starting salaries for the two most widely recruited advanced practitioners were down slightly from the previous year.

Now in its 29th year, the 2022 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives analyzed 2,695 recruiting assignments during a 12-month period, from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, representing a 10 percent increase over the previous year. Among the search assignments conducted during that period, 64 percent were for physician specialists, 16 percent were for primary care physicians and 19 percent were for advanced practitioners. For the second year in a row, nurse practitioners topped the list as the most requested clinicians overall.

This national sample showed that orthopedic surgeons were offered the highest average physician starting salaries among the most in-demand specialties, at $565,000. The lowest average physician salaries among the most-requested searches were for pediatricians, with an average salary offer of $232,000. 

Among the top recruited specialties, the six that saw the largest increase in average physician starting salaries over the previous year included:

1. OB/GYN salaries – up 14% 

2. Radiologist salaries – up 12%

3. Anesthesiologist salaries – up 8%

4. Gastroenterologist salaries – up 7%

5. Neurologist salaries – up 7%

6. Psychiatrist salaries – up 7%

The most widely recruited advanced practitioners saw a slight dip in average compensation year-over-year, but an improvement over the salaries from two years ago, when COVID was first making an impact. The average starting salaries offered to nurse practitioners (NPs) for 2021/2022 was $138,000, while the average salary offered to certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) was $211,000.

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 the average physician starting salaries or guaranteed income only, shown in descending order. These salary amounts do not include bonuses or other benefits. Nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and nurse practitioners are included in this list of top 20 specialties in demand.

Medical Specialty2021/2022 Average Salary Offer2020/2021 Average Salary OfferYear over Year Change (YOY)
1. Orthopedic Surgeon $565,000 $546,000 3%
2. Cardiologist (Interventional) $527,000 $611,000 -16%
3. Urologist $510,000 $497,000 3%
4. Gastroenterologist $486,000 $453,000 7%
    Cardiologist (Non-invasive); counted with #2 above $484,000 $446,000 8%
5. Radiologist $455,000 $401,000 12%
6. Pulmonologist/Critical Care $412,000 $385,000 6%
7. Hematologist/Oncologist $404,000 $385,000 5%
8. Anesthesiologist  $400,000 $367,000 8%
9. Dermatologist $368,000 $378,000 -3%
10. Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon $368,000 NA* NA*
11. Neurologist $356,000 $332,000 7%
12. OB/GYN $332,000 $291,000 14%
13. Psychiatrist $299,000 $279,000 7%
14. Hospitalist $284,000 NA* NA*
15. Rheumatologist $258,000 NA*NA*
16. Internal Medicine (Internist) $255,000 $244,000 5%
17. Family Medicine Physician $251,000 $243,000 3%
18. Pediatrician $232,000 $236,000 -2%
19. CRNA $211,000 $222,000 -5%
20. Nurse Practitioner $138,000 $140,000 -1%

*NA - This specialty was not among the top 20 in demand last year; average salary offers are not available. 

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 2022 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.


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Physician Starting Salaries by Specialty: 2019 vs. 2018

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

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