ENT Salary: What Otolaryngologists Earn & How to Negotiate More

ENT physicians spend years training in order to practice this type of medicine. They have knowledge and skills that other medical providers haven’t acquired, and thus are singularly qualified to provide medical care for advanced head and neck issues patients have. On account of their training and expertise, otolaryngologists should expect to be paid a handsome ENT salary.

The ENT salaries that otolaryngologists earn are among the highest of most physicians. They’re extremely well paid compared to average physician salaries, and have above-average compensation when compared to surgical specialties.

Not all otolaryngologists earn the same salary, however. There are substantial discrepancies in what otolaryngologists make, as ENT salary data shows variances among employer size, geographic area, years of experience, and other factors.

If you’re an otolaryngologist, knowing what ENTs earn and why will empower you to become a top earner in the field.


Average ENT Salary for Otolaryngologists

ENT salary data is available from multiple sources. Some are authoritative healthcare surveyors, and others are anonymous online salary aggregators. Here’s what the various sources show that otolaryngologists earn (hint: they all show high salaries).

MGMA Salary Data for ENTs

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) is one of the most credible healthcare industry salary surveyors. The association specifically focuses on the healthcare industry, and physicians in particular. All specialties, including ENTs, are covered.

According to the MGMA the median salary for ENTs in the United States is approximately $470,000. This i the median which means half of all the doctors in this specialty earn more than this, and half earn less.

Since this is only the average numbers for ENTs across the United States, location, experience, and specialization can have substantial impacts on the lowest and highest earners. Read on for more specifics.

MGMA ENT Salary Data Accuracy

MGMA’s salary data can be slightly higher than what some others report. While it’s highly credible and accurate, the association focuses mostly on smaller medical practices (6 or fewer physicians). The focus on smaller medical practices can skew MGMA’s data slightly higher than what some larger healthcare organizations, which have higher overhead costs, typically pay.

Other Sources for ENT Salary Data

The ENT salary data published by MGMA is roughly corroborated by a number of other physician compensation surveyors. Some other surveyors are lower, but this can be for a few different reasons:

  • Surveyors may include data from more providers, including ones that pay less
  • Surveyors may only report base salary, and not bonuses or other compensation
  • Surveyors may have anonymous or otherwise less accurate data

Other surveyors that have salary data for head and neck ENT surgeons include the following:


As another well-respected reporter of physician salary information, Doximity places the median ENT salary at $472,273. This serves as an authoritative corroboration of MGMA’s $472,710 average, and it places ENTs among the highest-paid surgeons (12th according to Dominity.

Economic Research Institute

The Economic Research Institute (ERI) is within the approximate range of MGMA’s data, although the ERI’s estimates aren’t quite as high. The average U.S. ENT salary is $392,790 per the ERI, and salaries range from $254,135 to $522,018. The slightly lower salary estimates may be reflective of both small and large healthcare provider pay, with larger providers bringing the pay down a little.

The ERI reports average hourly pay for ENTs at $189 per hour, basing this on the average annual salary of $392,790 and a full-time work schedule. As many otolaryngologists know, however, surgeons rarely work a standard 40-hour workweek. The average hourly rate is likely lower than the ERI’s calculations.


Salary.com reports somewhat lower salaries, with median ENT pay pegged at $397,900. The 25th percentile is $337,600, and the 75th percentile is $462,900. The data includes employers of all sizes, so larger employers may pay less and thus be bringing down the reported average compared to MGMA’s. Salary.com’s data is largely anonymous, however, and shouldn’t be viewed as highly as MGMA’s.


The estimation for ENT salaries from Payscale is similar to Salary.com. Payscale places the average salary of otolaryngologists at $327,277, with a range of $202,000 to $451,000. It’s probably not a coincidence that Payscale also uses anonymous surveys akin to Salary.com’s methodology.


Comparably has an average base salary estimate of $425,000 for ENTs. The range is between $340,000 and $510,000, but this again is only base salary. Additional compensation would probably place the numbers closer to MGMA’s.

Read this: Experts Weigh in on the Future of Healthcare in the Next 30 Years

Factors That Affect a Head and Neck Surgeon’s Salary

While all ENTs generally command sizeable salaries, the above ranges show just how much parity there is among head and neck surgeon pay. Understanding the factors that impact salaries can help you appreciate why you’re paid your current salary — and potentially find or negotiate more pay.

Years of Experience

Experience affects pay in almost every field, but especially so in surgical fields that have high salaries and require skilled hands.

According to the ERI, new ENTs working entry-level positions earn salaries as low as $254,135. Experienced ENTs with senior-level positions can bring in $522,018. That’s more than doubling annual pay, and demonstrates just how important experience is.

Even if otolaryngologists don’t go from one extreme to the other, they can still expect substantial salary increases as they move up the professional ladder. Exactly how much pay increases depends partly on the type of practice and location.

Of course, even the entry-level salary is much greater than the $61,000 to $74,000 that schools such as Upstate Medical University pay residents.


When considering how pay correlates to location, cost of living must also be kept in mind.

For example, ENTs working in major cities tend to make substantially more than their colleagues in rural settings. The cost of living in major cities is also much higher. The difference in pay might exceed the cost of living difference, but the real pay difference isn’t exactly the salary difference.

Nevertheless, breaking salary data down by where otolaryngologists work can be informative.

ENT Salary by City Size

Data doesn’t actually show major differences in pay for ENTs working in rural settings versus those working in small or medium cities.

For instance, MGMA data waffles between the upper $400k and the lower $500k for populations between 2,500 and 999,999. There’s not a linear correlation between population size and salary in these communities.

MGMA data does show a major salary increase for ENTs working in cities that have 1 million or more residents. In major cities, ENTs earn a whopping 46% more than the national median. It’s also in the major cities that salaries for the highest earners can exceed $1 million.

ENT Salary by State

ENT salaries can vary substantially by state, with otolaryngologists in top-paying states earning over 33 percent more than colleagues in the lowest-paying states.

According to ZipRecruiter, the top-paying states for ENTs are Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, Tennessee and Indiana. The lowest-paying states are Illinois, West Virginia, Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

Type of Practice

The type of practice that ENTs work in can have a minor impact on their salaries, but the impact isn’t straightforward according to MGMA data.

In general, otolaryngologists who work at multispecialty practices earn more than those at single specialty practices. New otolaryngologists earn much less if they’re at a single specialty practice. The difference diminishes as pay (and presumably experience) increases, but it remains through the 75th percentile.

The highest earners make substantially more working in single specialty practices rather than multispecialty practices. This probably isn’t indicative of how well various practices pay, but rather that the most financially successful otolaryngologists perfect one particular aspect of head and neck surgery.

Otolaryngologists and Their Student Loan Debt

The high salaries that ENTs command come only after extensive academic training, and the training required isn’t cheap. Otolaryngologists not only frequently graduate with extensive student loan debt (possibly $200,000 to $300,000). Additionally, the long residency required for head and neck surgery delays when otolaryngologists can begin making substantial payments against their student loan debt.

The combination of high debt and long residency makes otolaryngology one of the five most indebted medical specialties. Despite their high salaries, 28% of practicing ENTs are currently making student loan payments.

For a more detailed guide on medical school student debt, reference The Full Breakdown to Medical School Student Loans. The guide explains the various types of loans and post-graduation financing options. Additional guides on medical student loan forgiveness, refinancing medical school debt and medical school loan repayment options are also available.

Should you decide that refinancing makes the best financial sense for your situation, we have refinancing options with discounted rates.

How to Increase Your Salary as an ENT

There’s a great disparity between the lowest-earning and highest-earning ENTs. As you progress through your medical career, use the below tactics to further increase your income.

Start a Private Practice

Private practice can be intimidating, but running your own medical practice is one of the best ways to substantially boost your income. You’ll be earning as a surgeon and as a small business owner. If you need help starting a private practice, we have extensive medical practice startup services.

Purchase an Office Building

If you already have a private practice established, consider purchasing an office building rather than leasing your office space. You’ll never see money that’s paid for leases again, but you will build up equity when making mortgage payments. You also may be able to lease other parts of your building, for further revenue and income.

Hire Other Providers

Maximize your income by hiring mid-level providers to do the less intense patient care tasks. Having just a small team of physician assistants and nurse practitioners can make a big increase to your income.


As MGMA data showed, the highest-earning otolaryngologists work in single specialty practices. They’re usually the best in the city for one particular type of head or neck surgical care.

It’ll take time to specialize in a particular area of head and neck surgery, but your income could be much greater once you establish yourself as the best in the region.

Additional Certifications

If you’re trying to specialize as a means of growing your income, obtaining additional certifications can help establish yourself as a specialist.


The MGMA’s ENT salary data doesn’t really support moving to a moderately sized city to increase income. Otolaryngologists in small and medium cities don’t necessarily make more than their colleagues in less populated areas.

If you move to a major city with 1+ million people, though, you could increase your income by a six-figure sum. The gains will be even more pronounced if you’re already established as a leader in a specialized type of head and neck surgery.

To help with any relocation expenses, learn how to negotiate a relocation bonus.

Related: How Moving Can Help Physiians Pay Off Student Loans

Locum Tenens

Working locum tenens positions allows you to follow the money, and you usually can get moving and housing expenses covered too. You might even be able to use a locum tenens position to advance your career at home (once the locum tenens contract is complete).

If you take a locum tenens position, make sure you have insurance in order.


Academics tend to make less than those who are full-time in clinical care, but sometimes research and development can be highly profitable. If you’re involved with a major advancement in care, your income could extend far beyond what your salary pays for rendering clinical care.

Making the Most of Your Income as an ENT

Max Out Retirement Accounts

Tax-advantaged retirement accounts can provide large tax benefits over the course of decades. There are several retirement accounts, and you should be able to max out each with an ENT’s salary. The main accounts are a 401(k), Roth IRA (use a backdoor Roth), and HSA (for medical expenses). The Complete Guide to Physician Retirement Planning has more details on these accounts. You can even tailor your investments to your beliefs, if that’s something that interests you.

Utilize Tax Deductions (If Allowed)

If you work a locum tenens position, you’ll likely be paid via 1099 rather than a W2. You’re working as an independent contractor, and this allows you to take advantage of tax write-offs. Check out the Beginner’s Guide to Physician Tax Planning for examples of potential write-offs.

Related reading: Can Physicians Have Cool Cars and Still Retire Early?

Successfully Negotiate Your Salary

When you understand the ranges of ENT salaries and what impacts them, you have the information needed to negotiate your own salary. Keep your negotiations grounded in facts, and ask for good yet realistic compensation.

Additionally, make sure you have a professional contract review of any offer before you accept it. Our contract review services include full legal and financial reviews.

Protect Your Income With Disability Insurance

Finally, make sure you protect the income that you’ve worked so hard (and probably taken on debt) to attain. Your employer may provide group disability insurance, but this is usually generalized coverage that might not meet your full needs. Look into getting individual disability insurance that specifically meets your personal needs.

You should also consider life insurance to protect your loved ones in the event tragedy strikes and you are no longer around to provide for your family. Both are important!


In conclusion, ENT physicians have a solid earning potential, with an average salary that is on par with, or above, other medical specialties. However, there are ways to increase your salary through negotiation, taking advantage of retirement plans, and protecting your income through insurance and other financial strategies. By being informed and proactive, ENT physicians can make the most of their earning potential and achieve financial stability and security.

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