Full Guide to Hematology Oncology Salaries by Region, Practice, and Subspecialty

When someone has cancer, they go to a specialist. This means seeing an oncologist, a physician who’s a cancer specialist. Yet, it goes one step further. You visit the type of oncologist who’s specialized in the type of cancer you have or the population you’re in. So, someone with uterine cancer would go to a gynecologic oncologist. In contrast, someone over age 65 with cancer would visit a geriatric oncologist. Furthermore, you would see a hematologist-oncologist for blood cancer.

In terms of a career, working as a hematologist oncologist puts you in the position of specializing with people who have blood cancers.

The field of hematology oncology, or HEME/ONC, is separate from other oncology fields like medical oncology, surgical oncology or radiation oncology. This is also a smaller focus within the specialty of a hematologist. A hematologist is a doctor who focuses on blood, lymphatic and bone marrow disorders. Basically, a hematology-oncology physician combines the specialties of focusing on cancer and targeting blood disorders. This creates a targeted focus on blood cancers. Some common types of blood cancers you would diagnose and treat within this field are leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma.

Education

These hematologist oncologists have extensive schooling to become a hematology/oncology specialist, as they start with four years of medical school. Then, they carry out a residency for three years, which is where they gain specialization. After that, they can choose to continue with a fellowship for two to four years to gain extra experience in a subspecialty. For instance, they could specialize in adult or pediatric hematology/oncology. You can also choose to become board-certified in medical oncology and/or hematology to add to your credentials. Gaining these high levels of training helps a physician earn higher pay than many career paths.

This article goes into the expected salary of these cancer specialists. It breaks down factors that affect the salary range, such as location and type of practice. Also, it reviews ways to pay off school debt and care for your money after you get started in this field.

Average Hematology Oncology Salary

This blood cancer specialization is a highly paid one as a physician. The nationwide median income for this field is $481,250, according to Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) report from 2021. Median income means that 50% fall above while 50% fall below this income level. The pay range given goes from $328,540 all the way up to $810,850. These numbers reflect total compensation.

Other sources give different numbers for this occupation, which are reflections of base salary without bonuses or benefits included. Salary.com’s data from February 2022 lists the median salary for hematology-oncology physicians as $317,442. This explains that the most common salaries for this position fall into the range of $255,484 to $404,475. Comparably it gives $450,000 as the median salary for hematology/oncologists in the United States. Its data gives a range of $360,000 to $540,000.

Factors That Affect a Hematology Oncology Physician’s Salary

Above, we covered median salary in this field from different sources. As you could see, there was a range of income rates. What creates this range of compensation? Let’s take a look at various factors that affect a physician’s salary within this specialty area.

Years of Experience

You can expect to make significantly less during your residency time as you train to become a specialist in this field. Hematologist oncologists generally make less at the beginning of their career in the early stages. You can expect your salary to increase as you gain experience and add years to your resume.

While the information is not broken down into this oncology specialization, Payscale notes that hematologists make 6% less in their early careers, 15% more in their mid-careers and 20% more in their late careers.

Location

The part of the country where you live makes a difference to your salary in this field. The median salary is broken down like this:

  • Western U.S.: $446,422
  • Eastern U.S.: $472,961
  • Midwestern U.S.: $491,500
  • Southern U.S.: $530,187

Another factor is the population density of the area where you work. The numbers may break down differently than you would expect. This specialty makes the most in non-metro areas of 20,000 people or more, with a salary of $586,372. The next highest salary is a metro area of 250,000 to one million people at $549,602. After that is metro areas of under 250,000 at $481,250 and metro areas of more than one million at $461,710.

Type of Practice

You can expect to earn more by working in a single specialty practice than a multispecialty one as a hematology oncology physician. The former makes a median salary of $509,664, while the latter makes $481,250.

In addition, those working in a hospital/IDS owned practice earn $488,043. Those working in a physician owned practice earn $450,000, while those in another type of majority owned practice make $431,697.

Factors related to the company could also play a role. These may include its size, status and stage of growth.

Bonuses

You may get bonuses working as a physician in HEME/ONC. Salary.com shows how the median salary for this type of physician goes up to $332,560 when you factor in bonuses, compared to the median pay of $317,442 as a base salary.

One bonus that hematologist oncologists miss out on is the signing bonus. You can negotiate a signing bonus to be included in your employment contract, and we show you how here: How to Ask for a Signing Bonus on Your Physician Contract.

Further, benefits packages could be factored into your salary and quality of life. For instance, the type of health insurance plan you receive through your position and the amount your employer pays into it impact your overall salary. Salary.com notes that factoring in the value of benefits and bonuses brings the total pay for this role up to $430,597. As you can see, this is significantly higher than the base pay listed.

Specialization and Credentials in Hematology Oncology

Hematology oncology is a specialty in itself, which pays more than a general hematologist. Payscale’s data shows that the average base salary for a regular hematologist is $250,000. This is lower than the base pay for the specialization of hematology/oncologists, which was covered above. So gaining specialized education in this area pays off.

In addition, you may have the potential to earn more through further education and credentials. For example, you could consider board certification in medical oncology and/or hematology, as well as fellowship training. Subspecialties like pediatric hematology/oncology may or may not increase pay.

Average Loan Debt for Hematology Oncology

Physicians, especially specialized ones like this, tend to start their careers with a significant student debt burden. The problem can be further strained by low residency or entry level salaries before gaining experience and thus increasing salary to pay off debt. Medical students tend to have about $160,000 in debt from school loans, while this amount may be higher with further specialization.

You have some options for repaying these debts. For example, it’s possible to refinance the loans to get a lower interest rate and save money over the course of the loans. It may be possible to take advantage of federal loan reduction programs for medical school borrowers. In addition, there are loan repayment programs through medical institutions and non-profits for fellows that help repay some of the educational debt. This could be an extra benefit of going through fellowship training.

Ways for Physicians in HEME/ONC to Increase Their Salary

Hematologist oncologists already earn a higher salary than many other physicians. Therefore, it’s a good choice for the goal of high compensation. Also, you stand to increase your income naturally as you work more and gain experience. But, you don’t have to be passive. There are steps you can take to increase your income. Here are top ways to achieve that goal.

Change Your Work Setting

If you want to earn more than you are currently making in this position, switching to a new employer allows an increase in income. Be smart about this type of move. Consider how certain types of practices could earn you more money. We saw above that working in a single specialty practice earns you more. For example, working in a hospital/IDS owned practice provides a higher salary. This means that after gaining some experience in a multispecialty practice, physician owned or other majority owned practice, it could make sense to switch to one of the higher earning types.

For instance, we saw that the part of the country where you live has a significant role to play in terms of salary for this specialization. If you’re willing to relocate, you could potentially earn more by living in the South or Midwest and by working in a non-metro area of 20,000 people or more.

Hematology Oncology On-Call Pay 

Physicians can often boost their income by being on-call. The rates of on-call payment vary greatly depending on the location and specialization of the physician.

There are also diverse methods of payment for on-call pay. You may be offered an hourly rate, a per shift stipend, a daily stipend, or an annual stipend.

This rate and/or stipend for on-call payment can be negotiated in your physician contract.

For a more in-depth breakdown of on-call pay, read Your Full Guide to On-Call Pay for Physicians.

Look Beyond Hematology Oncology Base Salary

The numbers above show us that your total compensation can be more than $100,000 higher than your base salary. Don’t overlook this area of opportunity. Rather than only focusing on base salary being offered by a potential employer, carefully consider the company’s bonus structure and benefits packages. Also, factor in the value of the benefits. In other words, consider total compensation rather than just base salary. You have a lot of room to work with here.

When your contract includes some great benefits, you have gained much more than a simple paycheck. Benefits can include paid leave (for illness, vacation, or CME), health insurance, and malpractice insurance coverage (as well as tail coverage).

Negotiate Your Contract

Total compensation is a large part of negotiating your contract. This is how you can earn more money in your career. When a company is interested in you or you’re going through a work review, aim to negotiate good benefits and bonus opportunities in your contract. You could stand to gain a significant amount of total compensation by doing so.

Before you negotiate a contract, make sure you do research on a company and the area of specialization. See if there are ways to adjust your contract, such as working less to earn the same amount. This could provide a better quality of life or free up time for you to take extra patients or gain side income on-call through a hospital. Be sure to ask for a higher salary than you expect and create room for the employer to negotiate. Also, fight for yourself. Take the opportunity to renegotiate your contract if your work situation changes. Ensure you are getting income in line with your qualifications and experience level.

Another thing to include in your contract is the opportunity for you to make some additional income on the side. Make sure you don’t sign away your rights to earn income from outside sources such as publishing articles, patents and lectures. Your contract should plainly state your right to earn additional income.

Disability Insurance to Protect Your Salary

Once you are set with a good contract that pays you well and provides a good amount of benefits, you are protected financially, right?

Well, there is another essential layer of protection that a hematologist oncologist should invest in:

Disability insurance.

Many physicians make the mistake of relying on their group disability plan and Social Security to help them through difficult situations.

Unfortunately, they often don’t even scratch the surface of covering your financial obligations, even when combined.

That is why we recommend the purchase of a long-term disability insurance policy for full protection if you become unable to work due to disability.

Our article on disability insurance for physicians will help you make sure that the policy you choose meets all the qualifications of a policy that will protect you when it matters most.


To fully assess how your HEME/ONC employment offer compares to industry standards, you need a professional contract review conducted by a financial professional and an attorney who specialize in physician employment issues.

A lucrative employment contract is the single most important financial asset for most physicians. The quality and clarity of an employment contract can have a tremendous, ongoing impact on your compensation and work life.

You don’t get paid what you’re worth; you get paid what you negotiate.

However, knowing what you are worth and what can increase your worth certainly helps, and we’ve done our best to deliver as much information on that topic as possible.

It also helps to have a team of compensation specialists behind you while you make career moves to improve your financial situation. That’s where we come in — contact Physicians Thrive today for help with managing every aspect of your financial journey.

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