Fellowship Doctor Salary Trends For 2024 [Analysis & Findings]

ZipRecruiter reports that as of June 3, 2024, fellowship doctors who have completed their medical school and residency training program and have chosen to pursue further specialized training in a subspecialty earn an average of $275,549 a year.

Below, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive view of your future prospects as a fellowship doctor by revealing salaries across different areas of expertise and geographical locations and guiding you toward financial well-being.

Key Takeaways

  • Medical fellowship salaries are among the highest in the U.S., ranging between $116,000 and $400,000 on average.
  • Medical fellowships range greatly in salary depending on the location and specialty, with regions like West North Central and East South Central, and specialties such as orthopedics and plastic surgery being the most lucrative.
  • Male practitioners earn significantly more than female practitioners: $435,000 on average for male specialists and $333,000 for females.
  • Fellowship doctors enjoy a range of bonuses, the most significant being sign-up bonuses and loan repayment plans.
  • To achieve financial well-being, fellowship doctors should consider which fellowship opportunities to pursue and emphasize careful tax planning, smart loan repayment, early investment, and going private.

How Much Do Fellowship Doctors Make?

ZipRecruiter reports that the average annual salary for doctors in this position is $275,549, which translates to about $132 per hour. Glassdoor reports similar statistics, revealing that the total pay range for fellowship doctors ranges between $189,000 and $352,000, with the median pay being $251,485. It further reports that their bonuses can range from $47,000 to $87,000.

However, despite these lucrative salaries, the consensus is that an alarming number of doctors in the U.S. are discontent with their jobs.

Medscape’s 2024 Physician Compensation Report reveals that 61% of Americans believe that physicians are underpaid, while 51% of doctors think they are not paid fairly, given their work demands. Specifically, experts in infectious diseases and endocrinologists were the least satisfied with their compensation.

Fellowship Doctor Salaries by City

According to Medscape’s 2024 report, the highest-paying U.S. regions are:

Rank Region Annual Salary
1 West North Central  $404,000
2 East South Central $375,000
3 East North Central $367,000
4 West $363,000
5 South Atlantic $362,000
6 West South Central $361,000
7 Pacific (Alaska & Hawaii inc.) $357,000
8 New England $355,000
9 Mid-Atlantic $351,000

These differences in annual salaries can be explained by the number of doctors per capita; the lack of competition drives up pay in rural areas. ZipRecruiter provides us with a list of the top ten highest-paying cities:

Rank City Annual Salary Hourly Wage
1 Berkeley, California $263,253 $126.56
2 Burien, Washington $256,580 $123.36
3 New York City, New York $253,130 $121.70
4 Renton, Washington $252,371 $121.33
5 Santa Monica, California $250,709 $120.53
6 Bend, Oregon $250,404 $120.39
7 Daly City, California $249,132 $119.78
8 Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia $248,042 $119.78
9 Auburn, Washington $245,122 $117.85
10 Brea, California $244,406 $117.50

Salaries between cities vary by little, so the best factor to keep in mind when considering the location and salary for a fellowship doctor is the possibility of a lower cost of living.

Is There a Gender Pay Gap Between Fellowship Doctors?

According to the World Economic Forum, male fellows earn over $2,000,000 more than their female counterparts over a 40-year career. This gap remains noticeable even when factors such as specialty, total number of hours worked, location, and experience are factored in.

Moreover, a report conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) found that female physicians of all races and ethnicities make substantially less than their male counterparts. This report builds on another conducted back in 2019, which found that women were paid between $0.72 and $0.96 per $1 paid to men.

Similarly, in 2024, Medscape reported that the average salary of male specialists is $435,000, while that of female specialists is $333,000.

Medical Fellowship Subspecialties Average Salaries

Earnings across medical specialties can vary depending on the required skills, length of fellowship training, supply and demand, overhead costs, and more. As explored by Medscape’s 2024 report, the average salaries of fellowship doctor subspecialties are:

# Subspecialty Salary # Subspecialty Salary
1 Orthopedics* $558,000 16 Pathology $366,000
2 Plastic Surgery $536,000 17 Ob/Gyn $352,000
3 Cardiology $525,000 18 Neurology $343,000
4 Urology $515,000 19 Nephrology $341,000
5 Gastroenterology $512,000 20 Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation $341,000
6 Radiology $498,000 21 Psychiatry $323,00
7 Dermatology $479,000 22 Allergy & Immunology $307,000
8 Anesthesiology $472,000 23 Rheumatology $286,000
9 Oncology** $464,000 24 Internal Medicine $282,000
10 Otolaryngology $459,000 25 Family Medicine $272,000
11 General Surgery $423,000 26 Public Health & Preventive Medicine $263,000
12 Ophtalmology $409,000 27 Infectious Diseases $261,000
13 Critical Care $401,000 28 Pediatrics $260,000
14 Pulmonary Medicine $397,000 29 Diabetes & Endocrinology $256,000
15 Emergency Medicine $379,000

*Includes orthopedic surgery

**Includes hematology and oncology

What Bonuses Do Fellowship Doctors Get?

A fellowship doctor’s largest bonuses come in the form of signing-up bonuses and loan repayment assistance.

Signing-Up Bonuses

The American Medical Association (AMA) explains that more than 90% of physician job searches conducted in 2021 by Merrit Hawkins included a signing bonus. The average signing bonus was $31,000. However, in high-demand specialties, they can reach over $100,000.

Loan Repayment

Medical school debt is a huge burden for many physicians, as it can easily exceed $200,000. Some employers offer programs to help with loan repayment.

Some federal initiatives, like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), provide loan forgiveness to physicians, including medical fellows, who complete 120 qualifying payments on their student loans while working for a public sector or nonprofit entity.

How Can Fellowship Doctors Achieve Financial Wellbeing?

It is very easy for fellowship-trained doctors to end up overspending, especially while transitioning from medical residency to attendance, or after receiving a large sign-up bonus. Following the strategies below can open up the door to a stress-free, financially stable life.

1. Address Student Loan Debt

Your medical school debt will be a major stressor, as most medical schools will set you back by around $200,000.

Some fellowship programs and healthcare systems offer loan repayment assistance; you should pay attention to their terms during the application and interview processes. Federal programs, such as the PSLF, are also ready to offer income-based repayment plans that can assist you while you are still in training. You can learn more about them on the Department of Education’s website.

2. Review Your Contract

After your fellowship, have your contract reviewed by a lawyer specializing in physician contracts.

Depending on your location and specialty, you will notice a large difference in compensation and benefits across employers. You want to make the most of that by negotiating for better base pay or loan repayment terms.

3. Invest Early

Consult a financial advisor, research investing, and develop a personalized investment plan. While residency and fellowship training may limit your free time, the effort and sacrifices you have endured to achieve such a position will award you with a high enough income to start investing early and seek out passive income sources.

4. Plan Your Taxes

Consider maximizing contributions to your retirement accounts, such as your 401(a), taking advantage of deductions specific to medical professionals, and getting involved with Health Saving Accounts (HSAs).

For the best results, consult a financial advisor who specializes in working with physicians; these advisors can help you maximize your retirement savings.

Make The Most Out of Your Fellowship

Your fellowship program is a step towards becoming an expert in your chosen medical field and achieving more ambitious professional goals, but you must be aware of the pros and cons of your selected location and specialty of interest, particularly the slower start you will experience in oversaturated markets.

Locations such as the West North Central and specialties like orthopedics or urology are highly attractive due to their pay, but one common concern plagues every doctor: staying committed to careful planning and management of finances and future prospects.

At PhysiciansThrive, our dedicated team is here to guide you toward making informed financial decisions that secure your future. Contact us today, and let us help you thrive in every aspect of your journey as a doctor or surgeon!

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