Gastroenterologist Salary and How to Increase Earnings

As of 2021, the gastroenterologist salary was considered seventh on the list of highest-paid physician specialties from Medscape data. The fact that the salary for this specialty is above average for physicians may be one of the reasons for interest in the field. These medical doctors focus on diseases and disorders within the organs of the digestive tract. If you worked as this type of physician, you would diagnose and treat problems in a patient’s digestive systems.

In this specialty area, you may help people with any type of digestive disease and disorders as a general gastroenterologist. Or, you may become more specialized. For example, some become hepatologists and only focus on specific digestive organs, while others work in a lab, focus on irritable bowel disease or otherwise specialize by skills or services.

Gastroenterologists go through extensive schooling, so it makes sense to highly compensate them for the role. To become one, you start with a four-year bachelor’s degree and continue through four years of medical school. After that, you go through a three-year residency program in internal medicine, become board-certified and then complete three years of a fellowship training program in gastroenterology. At this point, you can take an exam to become certified in this subspecialty.

Interested in other routes in Internal Medicine? Read our Internal Medicine Salary report here!

After all of that training, how much could you expect to make in this role? This article covers the average gastroenterologist salary you could expect working in this profession. You’ll see how a variety of factors can impact salary, which gives the opportunity to make more money. We cover ways to earn as much money as you can through base gastroenterology salary, bonuses and other factors.


Average Gastroenterologist Salary

The median national salary for a gastroenterology physician is $539,961, according to the 2021 Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Compensation & Production Report. Median salary is the point at which 50% of this type of professional makes less and the other 50% makes more. The report shows that the full salary ranges from $339,124 in the 10th percentile to $884,256 in the 90th percentile. These numbers reflect total compensation.

Salary information varies by the source and factors like the data used and the date it was gathered. Salary.com lists $396,109 as the median salary for this occupation in the U.S. as of April 2022, with a range from $278,183 to $532,933. These amounts given are for the salary alone. When bonuses and benefits are added in, Salary.com lists the median total compensation as $531,906.

ZipRecruiter lists the national average as $344,381, while Indeed.com says the average base salary is $208,835. Payscale says the average base salary is $356,680. Medscape gave $406,000 as the salary for gastroenterologists in 2021. Its data noted that the salary for this profession increased steadily over time, going from $380,000 in 2015-16 to $419,000 in 2019-20.


Factors That Affect Gastroenterologist Salary

Salary varies due to many factors. This knowledge can be advantageous in finding ways to increase your salary. These factors affecting salary create the broad range of salaries listed and the discrepancies between various sources. Here are the top factors that affect gastroenterologist salary:

Region

Living in different parts of the country can change your gastroenterology salary. These are median salaries by region, following MGMA data:

  • Eastern U.S.: $501,718
  • Western U.S.: $519,791
  • Southern U.S.: $554,325
  • Midwestern U.S.: $582,789

Related: 10 Best States to Practice Medicine

Then, you can consider the size of the area where you practice as a physician, as this makes a difference to salary. You may be surprised to learn that you make the lowest salary in the large metropolitan areas of more than one million people, at a median salary of $515,378. The next highest is a metro area of 250,000 to one million people, with a salary of $561,892. The salary increases to $585,117 in metro areas of under 250,000 people. Finally, you can expect the highest salary for this profession in non-metro areas of 20,000 or more, with a salary of $636,079.

State by state, ZipRecruiter lists the highest paying states for this occupation, which pay above the national average and are as follows:

  • New York: $388,186
  • New Hampshire: $376,305
  • Vermont: $355,710
  • Wyoming: $346,591
  • Maine: $345,915
  • Massachusetts: $345,397

Moving to another state? Check out our library on State Medical Licensing.

Type of Practice

Gastroenterologists make more money when they work in single specialty practices, with a median salary of $583,410, according to MGMA data. Compare this to the salary in multispecialty practices, which is $520,700 for this profession.

Another factor is the majority owner of the practice. Gastroenterology salary is lowest in physician owned practices, at $532,263. It increases in hospital/IDS owned practices to $545,990. There is just a slight increase in other majority owner practices to $546,093.

According to Medscape, employed and self-employed gastroenterologists earn a comparable amount, which is $405,000 for employed and $408,000 for self-employed. Nonetheless, this information does not factor in the potential for bonuses or benefits, so it’s worth comparing what an employer has to offer in these areas compared to being self-employed.

Level of Experience

It’s natural to make less money when you’re just starting out in your occupation and then earn more as you gain years of experience and increase levels within your field. During fellowship, as you work to become a gastroenterologist, you make an average of $63,600 in total compensation, according to Student Loan Planner.

After that, Payscale notes that an entry-level physician in this specialty makes an average total compensation of $311,159, which is 13% lower than the median. By their late careers, gastroenterologists make 14% more than the median.

Bonuses and Benefits

You can’t consider gastroenterologist salary alone when you want to increase your earnings. There is a significant amount of money to be made through bonuses and benefits for a gastroenterology physician, so it’s important to consider these amounts that are added to a base salary.

Salary.com shows that this type of physician makes a median of $22,539 annually as a bonus. In addition, the value of benefits adds up to $113,258. Adding the value of benefits and bonuses to the base salary brings the yearly income up from $396,109 to $531,906, which is a considerable increase.

Medscape data gives even higher amounts as bonuses for this occupation. Its report notes that these physicians earn an average of $60,000 in incentive bonuses and that they tend to earn bonuses that make up 15% of their total salaries. Payscale says that a gastroenterologist’s bonuses can range from $10,000 to $77,000, and profit sharing can go up to $45,000. These are added to the base salary to increase the total compensation.

Salary by Subspecialties

You can also consider how a subspecialty may impact your salary. A common type is a hepatologist, which focuses on the liver, pancreas and gallbladder in particular, instead of all organs within the digestive tract. This specialty earns less than the average gastroenterologist salary, with a national average of $297,999 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.

Gastroenterologists may focus on various skills, which can impact salary. Payscale shows that an average gastroenterology salary is $345,615, while gastrointestinal lab is $375,000, internal medicine is $341,570, diagnosis and treatment planning is $350,000 and medicine/surgery is $358,430.


Average Loan Debt for Gastroenterology Physicians

The median student loan debt for physicians is $200,000, according to Student Loan Planner. This accounts for college and medical school, so it is similar to any kind of physician. The total cost of repayment is listed as $365,000 to $440,000.

One way to maximize your salary as a gastroenterology physician is to reduce your student loan burden. You can achieve this goal by obtaining a lower interest on your loan, which reduces the total cost to repay the loan. You can then keep more of your salary that would have otherwise gone to repaying school loans. We offer special discount rates for refinancing student loans, which you can compare to your current rates to see if you can save. You can also consider student loan forgiveness programs.

Ways to Increase Your Gastroenterologist Salary

You can see from the above information that changing your place of employment could bring in more income. For gastroenterologists, you could expect to make more money in general by working in the Midwest. Nonetheless, some Northeastern states have the highest income when you look at the numbers state-by-state instead of by region. If you’re currently working in a lower paying part of the nation, you could consider a move. Another way to potentially move up is to switch to a single specialty practice from a multispecialty one.

How else can you increase your salary? If possible, you could see more patients. This may include taking on more patients within your practice or adding on shifts through a hospital on the side. Medscape data shows that this specialty spends 15.2 hours a week on administrative work, so if it’s possible to get that number down, you could potentially see more patients instead to increase income. Consider negotiating your duties, including administrative work, when you make your contract. This allows you to free up more time for extra income or a better work-life balance.

Speaking of negotiating, this is one of the top ways to change your gastroenterology salary. By negotiating your contract to begin with, you have the potential to increase your earnings at the start of a new job and from then on. You should also renegotiate as needed, such as if you gain skills or after gaining a certain level of experience.

In addition, you can negotiate a signing bonus or good production bonus structure. Once you have a good incentive bonus potential, aim to meet that potential as much as possible. Medscape shows that physicians in this specialty tend to earn 73% of their potential incentive bonus. The more you follow the guidelines of your potential bonus, the more of it you can earn during a year. Also, make sure to negotiate a good benefits package that increases your total compensation fairly.


Seek Support to Maximize Your Earning Potential

Once you get started in this profession, all of your training and knowledge will be in gastroenterology and the medical field. You may not be as strong in contract negotiations, as this is not your specialty in life. That doesn’t mean you need to leave money on the table. Instead, gaining expert assistance with contract review and negotiation provides you with the best of both worlds. You can focus on your own specialty while you work with experts in getting you the best contract, promoting the highest gastroenterologist salary possible for you.

Our team is ready to review your contract, so reach out to us whenever you’re starting a new job or are in a position to renegotiate your contract. We can assist you in creating a contract that maximizes your earning potential. Read our Definitive Guide to Physician Contract Review to find out everything you need to know. This is the best way to ensure that your compensation is fair, that the responsibilities and duties of your job are what you expect them to be, and that the terms of your exit or termination are clearly stated.

Finally, it’s beneficial to have disability insurance as a safety net. This kind of insurance helps protect your gastroenterology salary in the event that a sickness or injury happens that prevents you from performing your work. Disability insurance ensures you continue to receive the majority of the salary you worked so hard to earn.

Disability insurance is not just for older physicians or gastroenterologists already suffering from current medical conditions. A disability can occur at any point in life. Therefore, it’s vital for younger physicians who stand to earn millions of future dollars throughout their careers.

Without disability insurance, you could find yourself in a position where you’re earning zero income or working in a role that pays far less than a job as a gastroenterologist would.

For more information on disability insurance and how to choose the right provider, contact Physicians Thrive now.

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