Secure the Highest Nephrologist Salary Possible

As a nephrologist, you would be a physician who helps patients with problems of the kidneys. This role works to diagnose and treat disorders and diseases impacting these organs and their functioning. Once you complete medical school and specialization, you can earn a good nephrologist salary. This article shows you salary ranges for this role, factors impacting it and how to make the most of your physician’s salary.


Average Nephrologist Salary

Nationally, the median nephrologist salary is $364,932, according to the 2022 MGMA Compensation & Production Report. The median salary refers to the point at which half of the salaries in the field fall below this rate while the rest are above. The nephrologist salary falls into a range of approximately $220k in the 10th percentile to $630k in the 90th percentile.

That said, you’ll find discrepancies in average salary across different sources. There are many reasons for this, notably a difference in data used. For instance, some websites collect salary information from a small number of physicians who provide it to the site, some carry out surveys, while others may collect broader data from the medical field. Data may also come from varying time periods.

In addition, some resources include only base pay, while others include bonuses, benefits and other components of total compensation. There may also be discrepancies in data due to numerous factors that impact salary, which we break down into further detail throughout this article.

Here is average salary for nephrology from various sources:

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Factors That Affect Salary

You can expect a range of salaries within the nephrologist role, which is due to a variety of factors.

Years of Experience

As in any role, physicians tend to make less when they are starting out and grow their income over time as they gain years of experience and additional skill. Payscale notes that entry-level nephrology physicians make 15% less, while those in their mid career make seven percent more. Experienced ones make 12% more than the average.

Gender Pay Gap

You may have to account for a nephrologist gender wage gap in regards to average salary. In the 2017 Early Career Nephrologists survey, women in nephrology made a mean of $31,000 less annually.

Career Demand

There have been fewer applicants for nephrology in the National Residency Match Program over time and signs of limited job opportunities in this area. However, there is expected to be more and continued demand for specific kidney care due to factors like the aging population and higher rates of kidney disease and injury.

Area

The MGMA data shows that salary is impacted by the region of the country in which you work in this field. In this case, the median salary is the same in the Midwest and South. You could expect to make less working in the West. and the lowest rate is in the Eastern region.

We can also look at how the size of the area impacts the pay rate, which is not necessarily how you might expect. For this field, those working in non-metro areas with a population size of 20,000 to 49,999 make the most. The next highest is the salary for metro areas of 50,000 to 249,999. Then the median salary continues to fall in metro areas of 250,000 to 999,999 and in metro areas with a population of at least one million people.

There may also be certain cities that provide higher compensation, yet you need to weigh this out with the cost of living in each location. For instance, Comparably notes that nephrologists in San Francisco have the highest average salary at $328,224. Nonetheless, this city also has the highest cost of living in the nation. ZipRecruiter shows that 10 cities have an average nephrologist salary higher than the national average. Most are found in California. The top three are:

  • Atkinson, NE: $394,061
  • Bridgehampton, NY: $340,950
  • San Mateo, CA: $336,121

Practice Type

Another factor is the type of practice. MGMA data shows that those working in multispecialty practices make more than those working in single specialty practices.

In addition, the median salary is highest for nephrologists working in hospitals, though other majority-owned practices are close. The salary is much lower at physician-owned practices.

Qualifications

Nephrologists can expect pay variations due to education, skills and certifications. Salary.com and ZipRecruiter note that these qualifications can be factors contributing to large salary ranges within the field. Payscale notes skills connected to above-average pay compared to its listed average base salary of $215,319. These include:

  • Critical Care: $232,500
  • Renal: $223,632
  • Dialysis: $215,371

Total Compensation

Much of the average nephrologist salary information covers base pay. Then, there is often additional compensation that can increase your take-home pay and overall financial wellness. For instance, many nephrologists make bonuses in addition to their salaries. Comparably says the average bonus for this role is $16,025, while Salary.com lists it as $13,369.

On top of the bonus, you can consider the value of benefits, such as a 401K account, pension and paid time off. Salary.com notes that the median base salary for this role of $264,226 goes up to $365,914 in total compensation when you account for additional sources of compensation like bonuses and benefits. Payscale notes that the bonus for this role can range from $5,000 to $142,000. It also lists profit sharing as a source of additional compensation, which it notes can go up to $115,000.

Subspecialties

ZipRecruiter found that subspecialties pay less than the average nephrologist salary of $285,214, with salaries of:

  • Interventional nephrologist: $212,122
  • Transplant nephrologist: $187,354
  • Pediatric nephrologist: $175,691

Average Loan Debt for Physicians in Nephrology

To become a nephrologist, you need to go through a significant amount of schooling and, in most cases, will accumulate associated loan debt. Student Loan Planner explains that the average amount of medical school debt is about $200,000. This is the same for all physicians, as specialization then occurs during fellowships and residencies.

Paying back the student loans cuts into your take-home pay once you become a physician in this field. Because loans come with interest rates, repayment amounts to more than the cost of the loan. This depends on the amount of debt and the associated interest rate(s).

A student loan forgiveness program may be a possibility, but these programs often come with restrictions. If you don’t realize and disqualify yourself, you will need to repay the loans. Even if you do qualify for the program, you will likely need to repay some of the debt and you may need to take a lower paying position, such as one in a non-profit.

Another option for reducing your student debt burden is refinancing, which can provide a better interest rate. This cuts down on the total cost of repayment. We offer special discounts for refinancing. Compare our rates to your current one to see if you could save on repayment.

Related Reading: The Full Breakdown to Medical School Loans


How to Increase Nephrologist Salary

There are many ways to take control of your salary once you become a nephrologist. These may vary by your situation, but let’s discuss a few key options that apply to this case.

One way is to relocate. You can see from the average salary for nephrologists in different locations, some regions and cities pay better than others. In general, the Midwest and South pay better, yet Atkinson, NE; Bridgehampton, NY; and San Mateo, CA are the highest paying cities for this role. Your best bet is to compare the average salary in your area to other places to see if you could increase your pay this way.

Further, if you’re not currently working in one, you may find that a hospital will pay the best for this role. Hospitals may also offer good compensation packages, including bonuses.

Speaking of that, it’s likely that you can increase your pay by negotiating a bonus, whether it’s a sign-on bonus, production bonus or both, or even a relocation bonus. Additional compensation like this can make a big difference.


Ways to Manage Money

To make the most in this role, you wouldn’t likely be working for yourself or starting a practice with other physicians, as the data shows physician-owned practices have the lowest median salaries for nephrologists. Instead, you’d likely be looking for an employer, ideally a hospital.

When you have an employer, consider benefits packages as a way to maximize your money. You could take advantage of an employer-offered retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan. Your employer sponsors the plan, automatically takes money from your paycheck to go toward it and/or contributes to the account. You could also set up your own retirement plan, such as an IRA, separate from your employer.

In addition to retirement planning, tax planning is another part of managing your salary and wealth. Proper tax planning provides analysis and a plan that allows you to pay the lowest amount in taxes, which helps you maximize your salary.

You can also work with a financial planner to guide investments. Your planner can guide you on making the best choices of stocks, bonds, bank products and other types of investments, which can help you make more from the money you have.

Further, disability insurance provides a way to protect the income you have worked so hard to earn. This type of insurance steps in if something occurs that gets in the way of your ability to carry out your nephrology work. In this type of situation, you could continue to receive money through disability insurance to make up for at least part of your lost salary. A qualified advisor can help you decide which is the best company to work with, discuss the difference between group and individual policies and even help you submit a claim should the need arise.

Related: The Ultimate Retirement Planning Checklist for New Physicians


Why Salary Negotiations Matter

Negotiating your salary is one of the most important steps you can take for increasing your salary over the course of your career. By negotiating smartly from the get-go, you can secure the best available pay from the beginning, only increasing it from there. Then, it’s smart to renegotiate over time as you gain skills and experience, or as other factors change. You also need to negotiate any time you switch employers.

Negotiating a contract is not only about the base salary. A contract review should also focus on the benefits package and aim to get you extra compensation through bonuses, profit sharing and any other available methods. It may also be possible to negotiate things like your job duties.

It’s helpful to have an expert who can provide their expertise on contract review and negotiations. Through expert services, you can learn about typical compensation within your role, helping you secure the right amount of pay suited to your situation. An expert can also help you negotiate the best total compensation and renegotiate as needed to continuously ensure you are getting as much as possible. Reach out to us for an expert contract review.


Protect Your Income

As mentioned briefly, one additional way to protect your nephrologist salary is by securing disability insurance. This insurance helps you pay bills and expenses if you are injured or unable to perform your work, so it helps to protect your salary. You may assume that the group policy offered through your employer is adequate.. However, it’s best not to rely on this policy by itself, as it may not be enough to make up for your lost salary. You could obtain an individual policy as well, which is better than a group policy.

Group policies may not cover you at all. They have strict guidelines that you need to have total disability limiting your ability to perform any work, so the benefits are taken away if you are able to perform a different type of job. These policies also tend to exclude pre-existing conditions and mental health/behavioral problems. Further, group plans stop coverage if you switch employers. You also have to pay taxes on the amount your employer pays for the policy. If you are covered under the plan, it will generally only compensate approximately 60 percent of your base salary.

Individual disability insurance plans are often superior because they can include a broader idea of disability, are not tied to a specific job/workplace and can often provide partial or residual coverage. They are non-taxable, and you can determine the amount of the maximum payout, while keeping in mind that you’ll pay a higher premium for higher payouts. They can also cover income beyond base salary. These plans also exclude pre-existing conditions but you can add mental health and substance concerns.


Conclusion

In conclusion, a nephrologist has many options in their career that determine how much they earn. Where you work and in what type of setting can have an impact on the amount you earn.

Each type of practice can offer different pay but also a different lifestyle. When deciding where your career will lead you, think about what you want your typical day to look like.

Finally, whether you’re just starting out or have an established nephrology career, we can help you negotiate your salary and benefits, as well as help you plan for your financial future. Contact Physicians Thrive today to learn more.

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