Physician Staffing Blog

Job Search Advice

Physician Starting Salaries by Specialty: 2018 vs. 2017

November 19, 2018

Physician Starting Salaries by Specialty: 2018 vs. 2017

What difference does a year make when it comes to average physician salary offers? It depends on your area of 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 just over half (11) of the top 20 recruited specialties saw a dip in their average starting salaries compared to last year, while the other nine saw an increase.

Now in its 25th year, the 2018 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives analyzed 3,045 recruiting assignments from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

This national sample shows that invasive cardiologists were offered the highest average physician salaries, at $590,000 for 2017/2018, which was up from an average of $563,000 the previous year. The lowest average physician salaries among the most-requested searches were paid to pediatricians, with an average salary of $230,000, compared to an average of $240,000 the previous year. 

Advanced practitioners also saw a mixed bag of results: the average salary offered to nurse practitioners for 2017/2018 was $129,000, which was an increase over the previous year, while the average salary offered to physician assistants was $109,000, which represented a decrease.

Average Physician Salaries: The Top 20 Recruited Specialties

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

Medical Specialty2017/2018 Average Salary Offer2016/2017 Average Salary Offer
1. Cardiologist (Invasive) $590,000 $563,000
2. Orthopedic Surgeon $533,000 $579,000
3. Gastroenterologist $487,000 $492,000
4. Cardiologist (Non-invasive) $427,000 $428,000
5. Dermatologist $425,000 $421,000
6. Pulmonologist $418,000 $390,000
7. Otolaryngologist $405,000 $468,000
8. Urologist $386,000 $460,000
9. Anesthesiologist $371,000 $376,000
10. Emergency Medicine Physician $358,000 $349,000
11. OB/GYN $324,000 $335,000
12. Neurologist $301,000 $305,000
13. Hospitalist $269,000 $264,000
14. Psychiatrist $261,000 $263,000
15. Internal Medicine (Internist) $261,000 $257,000
16. Family Medicine Physician $241,000 $231,000
17. Urgent Care Physician $234,000 $219,000
18. Pediatrician $230,000 $240,000
19. Nurse Practitioner $129,000 $123,000
20. Physician Assistant $109,000 $115,000


To learn more about the salary and incentive packages offered to 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 2018 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.


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.


Understanding Match Week
Job Search Advice

Understanding Match Week

How to Build a Professional Network — and Why You Should Start Now
Job Search Advice

How to Build a Professional Network — and Why You Should Start Now

Physicians, How to Accept the Offer
Job Search Advice

Physicians, How to Accept the Offer


Get the best of Merritt Hawkins in your inbox
Get these newsletter delivered to your inbox, and more info about our jobs and opportunities. Privacy Policy