Dermatology Mohs Surgeon Salary Guide

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event, regardless of the stage of cancer or where on or in the body it’s located. However, receiving the specialized care that you need in order to successfully address and treat the cancer can be life-changing as well. One cannot understate the significance of a Mohs surgeon in the medical world. Mohs surgeons are specially trained to remove skin cancer in such a way that other surgery types can’t, also providing necessary services like reconstructive surgery post-cancer removal. One question prospective Mohs surgeons might have is, what does a Mohs surgeon’s salary look like?

Because of your specialty and because of the high success rate of such technical surgeries (success rates can reach as high as 99%), you deserve to be compensated fairly. But what does the average Mohs surgeon salary look like, what factors will ultimately play into compensation, and what can you do in order to both boost your current salary as well as make sure that your money is working for you?

Let’s take a look at all of the above topics to give you a comprehensive overview of compensation as you prepare for your career as a Mohs surgeon.

Average Mohs Surgeon Salary

The average salary for a Moh’s surgeon is going to depend on the source, but the good news is that estimates trend on the much higher end for this specialty, even if those estimates do tend to fluctuate based on who you ask.

The 2023 MGMA Compensation & Production Report show that the median national salary for a Mohs surgeon is $721,777. In 2019, Mohs surgeons were listed in MGMA’s top 5 highest paid specialities, with a total compensation of $805,374.

But what about other sources? While other reports might appear discouraging, the salaries are still relatively high, and the data likely skews in comparison to the actual number of jobs available for Mohs surgeons. Also keep in mind that MGMA is reporting total compensation, including any and all bonuses, which other sites may be reporting base salary only. reports an average salary for a Mohs surgeon in the U.S. as $100,000, stating that these types of specialists can make as much as $450,000 per year.

Meanwhile, reports an average salary of around $187,200, with the top 75% earning around $224,640. This salary may be lower as it is lumping Mohs Surgeons and General Dermatology together.

ZipRecruiter’s report breaking down the average state reports that the lowest average salary is in Arkansas, with Mohs surgeons earning an average of $279,590. Meanwhile, Moh’s surgeons in New York could expect to be making as much as $341,500.

Related Reading: The Definitive Guide to wRVU Physician Compensation

Factors Affecting Salary

There’s a wide range of factors in this specialty that can either lend themselves to a higher salary or prevent you from receiving the compensation that you deserve.

The gender pay gap, even within this specialty, may play a role in determining your compensation, especially if you’re a woman. One study in PubMed found that women accounted for 31.5% of the 2,581 surgeons who performed MMS in 2018. Concerningly, they were paid significantly less than their male counterparts, earning only $0.64 cents for every dollar male mohs surgeons were paid. Knowing how to navigate this can make all the difference in compensation when you reach the negotiation table. Women can counteract the gender pay gap by doing their research to understand what they should get paid and getting a contract review, being transparent about salary, and asking for a raise if they believe they aren’t being paid properly in their current role.

Another factor worth considering that can actually lend itself to your current salary potential is the ongoing physician shortage. The medical field (and several individual states) has been experiencing a general shortage, with the American Academy of Dermatology Association estimating that there will be a shortage of 3,800 to 13,400 physicians by 2034. Knowing this may allow you to ask for more as you fill this shortage and provide necessary, specialized care for those who need it.

Student Loan Debt and You

Student loans can greatly impact the specialty you go into as well as whether you’re able to enjoy your salary both now and down the road. While data surrounding Mohs surgeons is lacking, there is data available on how much student loan debt dermatologists tend to walk away with once they graduate. Nitro, a Sallie Mae publication, estimates that dermatologists had around $153,827 in student debt in 2016. Of course, this number may fluctuate wildly depending on your unique situation, especially given your choice of specialty.

While student loan debt can often be a major source of stress and a barrier for some, taking the time to evaluate various student debt management strategies can help you figure out how you’ll be able to clear them and make the most of your salary moving forward, regardless of whether you choose forgiveness, refinancing, repayment, or beyond. Here at Physicians Thrive, we offer special discount rates for refinancing that can help you save thousands and lower your interest rate for better student loan management.

Read this: How Moving Can Help Pay Off Student Loans

How to Increase Your Salary As a Mohs Surgeon

If you’re unhappy with some of the salary estimates in your area, remember that you have more control than you may think. There are several strategies that you can employ in order to increase your salary and earn what you deserve. But what are these? Let’s take a look at a few strategies that can give you the extra boost you need.

  • Establish Your Own Practice: Approximately 75% of dermatologists have their own solo private practice or group practice, and for good reason. Self-employed income can be as much as 75% higher than employed income in dermatology. If you haven’t already, consider a plan to start your own practice.
  • Invest and Hire Support: If you go the route of establishing a private practice, it’s important to think strategically. Investing in real estate and hiring NPs and other professionals to manage other elements of your practice so you can focus on more essential aspects of your career can help you generate more income over the long term.
  • Value Yourself: Getting paid what you think you deserve is important as a Mohs surgeon. Negotiate your contract, learn how to negotiate a signing bonus, and improve your resume with certifications and other elements that will make you more appealing to employers when you first begin your career.

How to Work Toward Retirement With a Mohs Surgeon’s Salary

Asking for the right salary is important, but what you do with that money is equally important as you navigate your career. One thing that you should be focusing on almost immediately is retirement. Working toward retirement is certainly what you should be doing throughout adulthood, and there are multiple elements of retirement planning to prioritize.

Employer-Offered Retirement Plans

Taking advantage of what your employer has to offer can help you save more towards retirement quickly and effectively. Some options you have at your disposal include:

  • 401(k) Plans: Physicians working in for-profit healthcare institutions or those who are self-employed have the option of 401(k) plans. They can set aside up to $18,500 annually, or $24,500 if they’re 50 or older. The money grows without immediate tax implications, but withdrawals are taxed as regular income. Taking money out before turning 60 (59½, specifically) may result in a 10% penalty.
  • 403(b) Plans: These function much like 401(k) plans but are available to those in government and nonprofit healthcare roles.
  • 457(b) Government Plans: Doctors in state and local government healthcare roles can defer income into 457(b) plans, which is on top of any contributions to 403(b) plans. If they decide to change jobs, they might be able to move these funds into an IRA or another employer’s retirement plan.
  • 401(a) or Money Purchase Plans: Nonprofits sometimes offer these. Contributions might be mandatory and based on a set amount or salary percentage.Later on, you can move these funds to an IRA or another retirement setup.

You may also consider the following if you’re self-employed:

  • SEP-IRA: Self-employed doctors can establish a SEP-IRA. This structure allows for bigger contributions than a typical Traditional IRA. A physician can deposit $55,000 or 25% of their salary, whichever is less. You can then transfer these funds to other retirement setups.
  • Solo 401(k): Functions like the regular 401(k) but doesn’t require certain tests for fairness. If you have under $250,000 by the end of the year, you also have less paperwork to do.

Additional Retirement Plans and Strategies

You should never put all of your eggs in one basket, which is why it’s essential to focus on other types of retirement plans and strategies as well. Some key plans include:

  • Stocks: Historically, stocks yield an average return of 10% annually. You can buy individual stocks and develop a portfolio that continues to offer returns and dividends, growing your wealth through careful research and consideration.
  • Mutual Funds: These are funds that offer diversification by pooling resources from several investors. Managed by professional investment firms, mutual funds allow investors to buy into multiple companies simultaneously, making them ideal if you’re not too knowledgeable about the stock market and don’t want to conduct independent research.
  • Bonds: Bonds guarantee fixed returns and are typically safer than stocks. Keep in mind that they’re also sensitive to interest rate fluctuations; when rates rise, bond values fall, and vice versa. There are a host to choose from, including corporate, junk, and U.S. Treasury bonds.

Read our Beginners Guide to Tax Planning

Why You Need Malpractice Insurance

Your salary as a Mohs surgeon won’t offer much if you find yourself embroiled in legal battles due to medical malpractice. This is why having malpractice insurance is of the utmost importance as a physician.

Medical malpractice insurance is a type of professional liability insurance designed specifically for medical professionals, which offers protection against liability from services leading to a patient’s harm or death. Most doctors will encounter at least one malpractice lawsuit in their lifetime, which is a low number, but still detrimental. Medical professionals often require medical malpractice insurance, which is another reason to have it, but you should still purchase a policy even if no one demands it of you.

Keeping all this in mind, it’s equally important to consider the fact that not all policies are created equal. Taking the time to carefully research different types of insurance policies and providers can help you stay fully covered. For example, you have two different types of policies to choose from: claims-made or occurrence-based. Claims-made insurance covers a doctor only if the same insurance carrier is active during both the alleged malpractice event and the lawsuit. If a physician changes insurers in between these events, they won’t be covered unless they have tail coverage, which is often acquired during job transitions. Meanwhile, occurrence-based insurance covers any event as long as the carrier was active during the alleged malpractice incident, irrespective of who the insurer is at the lawsuit time.

Even if you don’t believe you need tail coverage, you should proactively acquire it to maintain your peace of mind and to safeguard yourself in the event of a lawsuit.We here at Physicians Thrive can help you better understand your options and help you find a policy that works best for your needs.

Negotiating Salary As a Mohs Surgeon

Negotiating your salary can feel daunting, but it’s important if you want to ensure fair compensation and set yourself up for success throughout your career.  Accepting a contract without reading the terms or failing to ask for what you want puts you in a precarious position. Here are a few key points surrounding negotiation to help you get the pay and benefits you desire.

  • Learn how to negotiate before you get to the negotiation table. Conduct your research to understand what your position commonly offers, review your resume to see what you can leverage in negotiations, and give the process time so each party can feel like they have room to think about it and leverage a proper counter-offer (while taking advantage of the space and pressure that comes with mulling a contract over).
  • Negotiate some of the most important areas of your contract and don’t forget to include things like insurance, paid leave, and even additional income.
  • Work with a professional. We cannot understate the importance of expert support, especially when it comes to contract reviews. Here at Physicians Thrive, we offer Contract Review services, offering benefits and crucial support like a full attorney review and recommendations, future compensation audits, and a rapid 2-3 day turnaround time.

Reach out to us today to get the support and compensation that you deserve as a Mohs surgeon

Keep Reading: Myth: Contract Negotiation Can’t Be Done.

Protecting Your Salary With Disability Insurance

Your salary is not just at threat from malpractice, but disability as well. A Mohs surgeon salary only goes so far until you find yourself ill or injured and unable to do your job. This is why disability insurance is critical for all physicians to have. The right policy will protect your livelihood and ensure you have access to the funds you need in order to support yourself, regardless of whether your situation is temporary or long-term.

One of the biggest considerations to have when shopping for policies is group insurance versus individual insurance. Employers typically tie group disability insurance to their company, and it requires you to prove total disability and demonstrate that you’re unable to perform any job, not just your specialized profession. Group plans are often cheaper, but they’re not portable, require you to pay taxes if your employer is covering the policy, and don’t typically cover partial or residual disability. They’ll also only cover around 60% of your base salary, and your coverage is subject to offsets from worker’s compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Individual disability insurance, on the other hand, is typically more expensive. However, it offers more flexibility in the form of defining disabilities within the context of your profession, being portable, non-taxable, and covering more than just your salary. They can also offer partial or residual disability coverage, either as a standard feature or through additional riders.

Overall, you should choose individual disability insurance if you really want to get the most out of your policy and protect your income.

Prepare for the Future With Physicians Thrive

The data and insights provided above give you everything you need to know about the average Mohs surgeon salary, how to protect your salary, and how to make your money work for you. This will give you everything you need to plan ahead as you work toward becoming a Mohs surgeon.

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