12 of the Highest Paid Medical Specialties

By Indeed Editorial Team

September 28, 2021

The medical profession offers several specialties to consider if you’re looking for a career, each one with its own unique area of expertise. In this article, we list 12 of the highest-paid medical specialties, their salaries and primary responsibilities.

Create a Resume on Indeed

Related: Applying to Medical School: Tips and Requirements

Highest-paid medical specialties to explore

Below is a list of the 12 highest-paid medical specialties in ascending order. Salaries can vary between medical specialties and may be influenced by factors such as experience and geographical location. If you are interested in a health care career and earning potential is one of your top priorities, you might consider pursuing one of these top-paying medical specialties. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link for each job title below.

1. Emergency medicine

National average salary: $188,418 per year

Primary duties: Emergency medicine physicians treat patients with urgent injuries or conditions, whether in an emergency room or another urgent care facility. They must assess patients quickly and make life-saving decisions.

They might have to diagnose and treat serious injuries and severe diseases, as well as stabilize patients. Emergency medicine specialists typically have a wide range of medical skills and knowledge, plus several years of clinical experience.

2. Pulmonology

National average salary: $191,904 per year

Primary duties: Pulmonologists diagnose and treat breathing or respiratory system problems. Often, a patient’s regular doctor will refer them to a pulmonologist, if they show symptoms of long-term or serious lung issues. These professionals use diagnostic methods such as X-rays, CT scans, bloodwork and airway scopes to diagnose conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and various lung diseases.

Some pulmonologists further specialize in certain patient demographics, such as children or the elderly. They might also work closely with cardiologists because many heart problems also cause breathing issues.

3. General surgery

National average salary: $214,339 per year

Primary duties: General surgeons have a significant amount of medical knowledge, so they can operate on patients with a variety of injuries and conditions. They assess patients, diagnose their conditions, prepare them for surgery, operate on them and manage their post-operative care. General surgeons commonly operate on skin conditions, the abdomen, soft tissues and other body parts.

If a patient has a neurologic, cardiac or other complex condition, they typically refer that individual to a specialty surgeon. General surgeons must have good decision-making skills and a thorough understanding of anatomy, pathology, immunology and healing.

4. Oncology

National average salary: $218,126 per year

Primary duties: Oncologists treat cancer patients. They explain each patient’s diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options. They work with patients throughout their treatment, helping them manage symptoms of the disease and radiation therapy. They might further specialize in medical, surgical, radiation, pediatric, gynecologic or hematologic oncology.

5. Orthopedic surgery

National average salary: $229,379 per year

Primary duties: Orthopedic surgeons diagnose, treat and prevent bone, joint, muscle and soft tissue injuries and conditions. Some treat all types of musculoskeletal issues, while others focus on certain body parts, such as hips, knees, feet, ankles, spine, shoulders, elbows and hands. They might encounter traumatic injuries, birth defects, cancers or infections. Orthopedic surgeons often repair broken bones, damaged or arthritic joints injured tendons and ligaments.

6. Urology

National average salary: $236,627 per year

Primary duties: Urologists treat urinary tract and reproductive system problems in both men and women. They must have a deep understanding of and experience diagnosing and treating conditions of the bladder, kidney, urethra, male genitalia and more.

These might include infections, kidney or bladder stones, urinary problems, cancers and male infertility. Urologists assess patients and run diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound, CT scans, MRIs, tissue samples, urine tests and urinary tract scopes. Their knowledge base typically includes internal medicine, surgery and gynecology.

7. Plastic surgery

National average salary: $245,601 per year

Primary duties: Plastic surgeons repair or reconstruct external body parts, such as facial features, breasts and skin. Sometimes, they perform cosmetic surgery to improve a patient’s appearance. Other times, they perform procedures to repair damage from an injury, burn, disease or a deformity, such as a cleft palate.

Techniques plastic surgeons might use include skin grafts, facelifts, liposuction, breast implants and tissue transfers. Some plastic surgeons focus on one part of the body, such as the face, or specific conditions, such as burns.

8. Gastroenterology

National average salary: $249,089 per year

Primary duties: Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat digestive system disorders. These conditions might affect the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas or gallbladder. They often see patients with heartburn, diarrhea, gastric ulcers, abdominal pain, acid reflux and digestive organ cancers.

Gastroenterologists run tests such as diagnostic imaging and scopes. They understand how the digestive system processes food, absorbs nutrients and removes waste. They prescribe medications and provide nutrition advice for patients dealing with conditions such as Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

9. Radiology

National average salary: $260,245 per year

Primary duties: Radiologists perform and interpret diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, ultrasounds and MRIs. They might also perform mammograms and oversee cancer patients’ radiation therapy.

Radiologists typically work closely with the patient’s main doctor to choose the best diagnostic tests and recommend treatment based on the results. They understand how to read each type of image, how to perform diagnostic imaging properly and how to use radiation safely when diagnosing and treating diseases.

10. Cardiology

National average salary: $294,822 per year

Primary duties: Cardiologists diagnose, treat and prevent heart and blood vessel diseases such as heart failure. They evaluate patients’ medical histories and measure blood pressure, blood flow and other parameters to assess heart function.

They might run tests such as X-rays, bloodwork, exercise tests and electrocardiograms. Based on their findings, they might prescribe medications or recommend diet or lifestyle changes. Cardiologists can also perform surgical procedures such as heart transplants, bypasses and heart valve repairs and insert pacemakers and defibrillators.

11. Anesthesiology

National average salary: $298,370 per year

Primary duties: Anesthesiologists administer medications, sedatives and nerve blocks to prevent patients from feeling pain during surgery. They work closely with surgeons during procedures to make sure the patients receive the right type and amount of anesthesia.

They also monitor patients’ vitals for signs of pain and adjust medications as needed throughout surgery. They understand how to handle drug reactions and side effects. In addition to surgical patients, anesthesiologists might provide pain relief for people with chronic discomfort or disease.

12. Dermatology

National average salary: $319,084 per year

Primary duties: Dermatologists diagnose and treat skin issues. They might treat acne, skin infections, eczema, inflammatory skin disease, skin allergies and skin cancers. They perform skin exams, allergy tests, biopsies and cancer screenings to diagnose conditions.

They monitor unusual moles, sun damage and skin changes. Procedures dermatologists might perform include laser surgery, mole removal, Botox injections, scar removal and tumor removal. Their work can be both cosmetic and medical.

Read more: Highest Paying Jobs in the Medical Field

Browse more articles