How Much Do Residents Make in 2024? [Income Amounts Analyzed]

How much do residents actually make? Does it matter where you do your residency?

Is specialty a factor? Do you get a raise or an increase for every year you’re in training?

Whether you’re about to start medical school or are already starting to interview for residency programs, here’s our medical resident salary compensation guide for new physicians.

Key Takeaways

  • The average resident salary is around $64,000 per year.
  • Residents earn significantly less than licensed primary care physicians ($243,000) and specialists ($346,000).
  • Resident salaries rise each year of training, with an additional $2,000-$5,000 for each subsequent year.
  • The top 10 highest-paying states for physicians include Kentucky ($346k) and Tennessee ($338k).
  • Resident salaries are not solely determined by the cost of living but by supply and demand.
  • The highest specialty earners among residents include medical geneticists ($67,500) and allergists ($66,500); the lowest include family medicine ($57,400).
  • A gender pay gap exists, even among residents, with female residents earning roughly 1% less than male residents.
  • Top-paying specializations post-residency include neurosurgeons ($645k) and cardiovascular surgeons ($608k).

How Much Do Residents Make?

According to a 2021 Medscape report, the average resident salary is $64,000 per year.

This figure has increased by approximately 3% year over year since 2015.

But we all know that physicians make significantly more than the average pay.

In 2020, primary care physicians earned an average of $243,000. Specialists earn an average of $346,000 per year.

At $63,400 per year, residents earn only 26% of what licensed PCPs earn and just 18% of what licensed specialists make per year.

Residents in higher-paying specialties require even more years of training. They’ll have to endure earning a meager salary for a little longer.

But there is some good news:

Resident salary is based primarily on your level of training and experience.

You’ll make more in your second year of training than in your first, but not by much. For every year of training, residents receive at least $2000-$5,000 extra.

A first-year resident in PGY1 earns the least, while PGY2 residents earn more, and PGY3 residents earn slightly more than that.

For instance, the resident earnings can improve across the year like this:

Resident Job Level Average Salary
PGY1 Residents $63,009
PGY2 Residents $66,092
PGY3 Residents $69,136
PGY4 Residents $71,979
PGY5 Residents $74,786
PGY6 Residents $77,276

Expected Salaries by Location

If your goal is to do your medical residency program in a hospital that you’d like to continue working in, here are the top ten highest-paying states for physicians:

States Average Annual Salary
Kentucky $346k
Tennessee $338k
Florida $333k
Alabama $332k
Utah $328k
Ohio $326k
Oklahoma $326k
Indiana $326k
North Carolina $325k
Georgia $323k

For most people in most lines of work, their salary depends on the cost of living in their geographic region.

This is not so for medical residents (or even for physicians).

Resident salaries are based on the concept of supply and demand.

While residents in underserved areas can earn more, those in major metro cities where skilled physicians are in abundance may earn less.

Expected Salaries by Specialty

Here’s a classification of residents in specialties with the highest and lowest annual salaries

Highest Earners Annual Salary Expectation Lowest Earners Annual Salary Expectation
Medical geneticists $67,500 Family medicine $57,400
Allergy and Immunology $66,500 Emergency medicine $57,800
HIV/Infectious diseases $66,500 Internal medicine $58,600
Surgery $65,700 Ophthalmology $59,000
Plastic surgery/aesthetic medicine $65,600 Public health and preventative medicine $60,000

Small differences in residency salaries aren’t usually enough to sway a resident to focus on one area of medicine over another.

However, the compensation you can earn once you’re licensed and certified to practice is a factor many medical students consider when choosing a specialty.

Are you interested in the salaries of common physician specialties?

See The FMV of Radiation Oncologists | How to Make the Most of a Dermatologist’s Salary | How to Make the Most of a Pathology Salary | Our Salary and Compensation library.

Expected Salaries by Gender


Largest Gender Wage Gap Salary Gap In % Smallest Gender Wage Gap Salary Gap In %
Pediatric pulmonology women earn 23% less Hematology  women earn 4% less
ENT women earn 22% less Rheumatology women earn 8% less
Urology women earn 22% less Radiation oncology women earn 9% less
Radiology women earn 21% less Thoracic surgery women earn 11% less
Pediatrics women earn 20% less Plastic surgery women earn 11% less

Generally, there is a gender pay or wage gap for physicians — and it’s a sizable one.

Female physicians earn approximately 25% less than their male counterparts in the same field.

These gaps become considerably smaller for residents.

Female medical residents earn an average of $63,000 per year, while male residents earn $63,700, which is approximately 1%.

Post-Residency Salaries

Resident salaries vary a few thousand dollars here and there, depending on specialty. But
post-residency, some specialists have the potential to earn tens of thousands of dollars more than other physicians.

The Top Five Highest-Paying Specialties in Medicine:

These Specialists Earn the Least Per Year:

  • Urgent care physicians: $185k per year
  • Geriatric physicians: $199k per year
  • Pediatricians: $244k per year
  • Nephrologists: $329k per year

In general, surgeons are the highest-paid doctors. Pulmonologists, hematologists, anesthesiologists, and urologists also fare well, with salaries ranging from $305k to $460k per year.

Do Residents Get Other Job Benefits?

Residency programs may pay a less-than-ideal salary, but they offer some other benefits as well.

Besides your annual salary, you’ll also receive paid time off, health insurance, and a complete benefits package, including life insurance and contribution eligibility to a retirement plan.

You may even receive travel allowances for conferences, small stipends to cover additional expenses, or the option to participate in a group disability insurance plan.

Just be aware that, as a young physician, group disability insurance plans have lots of limitations.

It’s always better to seek out your own individual disability insurance policy.

This is the best way to protect your future income and ensure that you’ll continue to receive a salary even if you become too ill or injured to work.

Also, you don’t have to wait to become a resident to get disability insurance.

The ideal time to get it is when you’re in your last year of medical school.

Can Residents Negotiate for a Higher Salary?

In the healthcare industry, you can always
negotiate your employment contract for a higher salary and a better benefits package.

Residents, unfortunately, don’t have that luxury.

As a resident, you simply don’t have the bargaining power because you don’t have the experience yet.

However, it is the perfect time to educate yourself on the benefits of hiring a contract review lawyer.

For experienced physicians, a contract review specialist can help negotiate better terms or a better salary on your behalf.

If they’ve worked with physicians employed by your hospital before, even better!

The more experience they’ve had with your employer, the more data they’ll have for comparison and the more bargaining power they’ll have.

For a resident, salary negotiation usually isn’t an option.

However, knowing that a contract review specialist can negotiate on your behalf in the future is a valuable tip to get early on in your career.

Planning Better As a Resident

If you’re looking to build wealth and financial security, residency is the ideal time to start putting some of these strategies into place.

Contract Review

Contract review specialists don’t just review your salary and benefits package. They review every aspect and every term of your contract.

This includes termination clauses, bonus and incentive plans, insurance offerings, and retirement planning options.

Learning the importance of contract review as a resident will benefit you later in your career.

Disability insurance

Whether you intend to become an ophthalmologist, open a primary care practice, or practice cardiology, every physician in every field of medicine needs disability insurance for income protection.

Disability insurance is the best way to protect your future income.

Should you become injured or too sick to work, you can still collect a portion of your salary through an individual disability insurance policy.

Just be sure to select the proper definition of disability.

In order to collect the most benefits, you’ll need the true own-occupation definition.

If your policy doesn’t include this definition, you may not be able to collect anything at all.

Residents and young physicians should also add the Student Loan Repayment Rider and the Future Increase Option (FIO).

The Student Loan Rider will pay your loans off even if you are unable to work and collect your regular salary.

The FIO also allows you to increase coverage as your salary increases. This is key to ensuring that your coverage is comparable with your current salary.

Retirement Planning

As a resident, you won’t earn as much as a physician, but you can still begin researching and contributing to retirement plans such as the 401k and 457b.

Residency is also the perfect time to start looking into other investments, such as stocks and real estate.

The younger you are when you create a retirement plan, the better.

Work With Physicians Thrive

While the residency salary might not be great, you can use your time more effectively to improve your financial situation.

Instead of focusing on how much you’ll earn, immerse yourself in training.

Work on arming yourself with the knowledge you’ll need to build a stable financial future.

And don’t worry about what your peers in other fields are earning.

In a few years and the right steps, you’ll be making as much.

For more information on disability insurance or retirement planning, contact Physicians Thrive now.

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