How Much Can You Make in Emergency Medicine?

Many medical specialties are stressful, but none quite as much as emergency medicine. That’s why physicians working in this specialty earn one of the highest average hourly rates in the medical field.

With that being said, there are some strategic actions that an emergency medicine doctor can take to ensure that they are receiving the best possible compensation package.

In this article, we’ll discuss the factors that can affect an emergency physician’s salary and what you can do to increase your earning potential. We’ll also talk about some vital steps you can take to protect your wealth and save for retirement.


Average Emergency Medicine Physician Salaries

Medscape’s latest Physician Compensation Report shows the average salary for emergency physicians to be $354,000 per year.

This report also lists that emergency physicians earn an average incentive bonus of $44,000 per year. Since only 23% of the participants got less than 75% of their bonus, this is income that you can depend on.

A couple of other sources showed similar numbers:

ZipRecruiter shows the average emergency medicine doctor earning  $346,222 per year. Those who earn in the 75th percentile can earn $400,000 or more.

Salary.com listed the national average salary for emergency medicine to be slightly lower, at $295,200 per year.


Factors That Affect an Emergency Medicine Salary

Physician with arms crossed

62% of the doctors in this field feel fairly compensated, but what about the other 38%?

Let’s discuss some ways that those pursuing emergency medicine full-time can improve their earning potential.

Years of Experience

According to Medscape, a resident can expect to earn about $64,000 per year with a slight increase in pay each year of residency.

An emergency medicine physician will earn more money as they accumulate years of experience, but the exact amount depends on the type of practice in which the doctor works.

According to Payscale, the average income for an entry-level emergency physician is $234,965 per year. The average base salary for a mid-career physician is $249,358 per year.

An experienced emergency medicine physician can earn $256,288, and one in their late career can expect to earn $288,603 per year.

Location

In any profession, salary ranges are at least partially determined by the cost of living and demand in the area.

In some states, emergency medicine physician jobs pay higher than the national average because there’s a high demand or cost of living.

Top-Paying States

When determining where to practice for the best income, physicians need to know what the job market looks like across the country.

Two varying sources tell two very different stories:

ACEP Now completed an emergency physician compensation report, which used surveys and job opening listings to determine how much money emergency physicians make around the country.

The report says that physicians working in the southeastern region of the United States (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, and TN) earn the highest salaries on average.

Did you mean to include Alaska in the south eastern region?

But overall, the three highest-paying states are Idaho, New Mexico, and Georgia.

Interestingly, ACEP Now ranks New York right in the middle, but ZipRecruiter lists it as the highest-paying state, along with New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, and Maine.

Top-Paying Cities

The highest-paying cities for this job title include Austin, Texas, Miami, Florida, and Fort Wayne, IN.

Payscale’s compensation data shows New York City as one of the worst places to be an emergency physician (at least in terms of salary). Their data shows that specialists in NYC earn 9.5% less than the national average.

Related: 10 Best States to Practice Medicine

Type of Practice

There are several different types of practice that employ emergency physicians, and they offer varying potential salaries.

Private

According to Medscape’s 2020 Physician Compensation Report, physicians earn 20% more overall when they are self-employed or run a private practice.

It may be difficult to imagine how an emergency medicine doctor would own an emergency room. Although it is possible to have part ownership of an ER, this is hard to obtain.

Urgent care settings are the most popular choice of private practice for this specialty.

Hospital

Hospital ERs have the highest demand for emergency physicians. According to InSync Healthcare Solutions, a high income in this setting is almost a guarantee.

However, InSync offers a warning in regards to hospital salaries, stating:

While the initial financial compensation may seem stellar, hospitals can — and do — change their production-based formulas. The security of an offer upon employment is something that should be legally and firmly agreed upon.

Not sure about a contract offer you received? Our contract review specialists make sure you’re getting (and continue to get) the salary you deserve.

Academic

Academic hospitals offer emergency physicians state-of-the-art technology and time to delve into their studies.

But according to EMRA, emergency physicians working in academia earn less than those working in other settings.

However, you do get a more stable job, and if you love to teach, this is the right path for you.


Emergency Medicine Subspecialties

There are many subspecialties within the field of emergency medicine. Some can earn more than others.

Here are six of the most popular career paths in the emergency medicine field, along with their average income:

Emergency Medical Services

Surgeons working in an emergency room

This isn’t really a subspecialty as it relates to an emergency medicine physician. I don’t mind having the Contin in here but it shouldn’t fall under “subspecialty.” What else can we do with it so that way it is not confusing?

Working as an EMT or paramedic is a stressful job, but you are doing lifesaving work. Unfortunately, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the annual income for this position is between $34,000 and $38,000.

However, there are many different avenues for EMTs and paramedics with degrees, and some better opportunities are out there. Read more about that here.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Is this not more of a subspecialty of internal medicine? What source did you use to get this?

This job involves caring for those who suffer from an illness that limits their quality of life.

Your responsibility is to improve their life through pain management and stress management, as well as some physical and occupational therapy.

According to Salary.com, the average annual income for this position is $204,380.

Critical Care Medicine

This subspecialty is usually from the pathway of pulmonology. Did you find a source that links it to emergency medicine?

Critical care specialists, also known as intensivists, often work under the umbrella of emergency medicine.

According to Medscape, the average annual salary for a physician in critical care is $355,000.

Medical Toxicology

At times, a person may report to the emergency room due to poisoning. A medical toxicologist would be the one to help cure this patient.

According to Comparably, a job in this subspecialty can earn you around $250,000 per year.

Please check the source on this again because I don’t really recall that this is a sub specialty of emergency medicine

Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Emergency medicine seems to be one of the only specialties where working in pediatrics will increase your income.

According to Salary.com, pediatric emergency medicine physicians earn an average of $364,899 per year.

Related: Where Do Pediatric Surgeons Make the Most Money?

Neurocritical Care

Neurocritical care involves treating patients that have suffered a neurological disorder, such as a stroke, brain injury, or seizure.

Same thing with the specialty. This doesn’t seem to be a link from emergency medicine but I could be wrong

According to Comparably, this subspecialty can earn a physician around $282,500 per year.

Related: How Much Can You Make in Neurology?


Emergency Medicine Physicians and Their Student Loan Debt

According to Medscape, 60% of medical students carry over $150,000 in medical student loan debt, and 24% have double that amount.

This debt can definitely begin to wear on the financial and emotional integrity of a doctor over the years.

The best option is to pay that debt off as soon as you can. This will save you money through accumulated interest, but it can also help you feel more liberated and save more for retirement.

With any large debt, the biggest challenge is identifying the best strategy for paying it off. Our debt consolidation program is designed to help you find the best repayment option for your situation.

How to Negotiate Your Emergency Medicine Employment Contract

Once you decide what type of job you want and how much you want to make, you will need to conduct a job search and apply for those that fit your criteria.

If an employer offers you a position, the next steps can be intimidating. You will need to negotiate the terms of your employment contract with your new employer.

Your contract will outline your responsibilities and compensation. It will also lay out any restrictive covenants and insurance requirements that come with your new position and the details of termination should that happen.

The contract will also have a beginning and end date with any partnership or ownership agreements included.

With all this important information and complicated legal language, it is wise to seek professional legal and financial advice as you go through this negotiation process.

Our contract review services will provide you access to both a licensed attorney and a financial advisor.

You should be sure to have a professional contract review when any changes are made to your employment contract, no matter how small.

Here are some situations where having a professional contract review would make sense:

  • Changing compensation packages
  • Entering or renewing a contract
  • Renegotiating contract
  • Exiting a contract
  • Transitioning from employee to partnership

Learn more about our physician contract review and negotiation assistance services.


Disability Insurance to Protect Your Salary

Many physicians question whether disability insurance is really worth the investment.

But can you survive without it?

Accidents and injuries happen without warning. Some can leave a doctor unable to work. But without the ability to earn an income, where does that leave you?

A comprehensive disability insurance policy will replace much of your income and allow you to continue to pay your bills while you recover.

Of course, not all disability insurance policies are equal. There are several different factors to look into before purchasing a policy.

Many employers offer short-term disability as an employment benefit. But that will only cover you for a few months. Therefore, it is wise to purchase your own long-term disability insurance policy on top of the short-term one your employer offers.

Make sure that your long-term disability insurance policy has a true own-occupation definition of disability and that it will cover you as long as you need it to.

We help physicians find the best rates on disability insurance from the nation’s top providers, and we want to do the same for you.


Building a Retirement From Your Annual Salary

If you wait until you are ready to retire to start planning for it, you won’t ever be ready to retire. That’s why we advise all our clients to start planning for retirement from the moment they begin practicing.

As physicians age, they may not be able to work as much, which can lead to a loss of income. It is in your best interest to be ready to hang up the white coat before this happens.

You can use several different retirement plans to set yourself up for a healthy financial future:

For the Employed

Emergency medicine physicians who are employed by a hospital or some other for-profit healthcare organization can enroll in a 401k plan.

Those who work for a non-profit company can enroll in a 403b plan.

For Private Practice

Emergency physicians who run their own practice can also enroll in a 401k retirement plan.

They have additional options, as well:

Money purchase retirement plans are an option. A percentage of the physician’s income would go directly into a retirement fund.

Profit-sharing is also one of these options. In this type of retirement plan, a portion of the yearly profits from the practice goes toward a retirement fund.

Defined benefit plans are also a popular option. Instead of a portion of the profit going into a retirement fund, a predetermined amount of money goes into the fund, regardless of the physician’s salary.

For Both

Whether employed or self-employed, emergency medicine physicians can take advantage of traditional and Roth IRA accounts to bolster their retirement plans.

If you need help navigating and planning your finances for retirement, we’ll be glad to help you. Read our Complete Guide to Physician Retirement Planning for more information on the different ways to save for retirement and how much you should set aside.

Effective Tax Planning

Any physician can tell you that tax season is not fun. The average doctor spends about a third of their annual income on taxes.

Needless to say, if you can find a way to cut this number, it is well worth the effort.

Effective financial planning can reduce your tax burden and save you thousands. Tools such as HSA savings accounts and 529 plans can help you save for important life events while lowering your tax liability.

The tax code is complicated and changes every year. As a busy physician, keeping up with all the ins and outs of your tax preparation can be a daunting task.

Our team of financial advisors can help you find the best ways to save on your taxes.


Yes, emergency medicine has its drawbacks. The hours most physicians in this specialty work don’t align with regular working hours.

That’s why you deserve a generous salary, income protection, and a secure financial future for yourself and your family.

If you’re looking for help with contract reviews, disability insurance, or retirement planning, contact us today. We’ve negotiated over $2.4 billion in compensation, and we want you to earn what you deserve.

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