How Much Can You Make in Neurology?

Although most neurologists would agree that they aren’t in it for the money, most would also agree that they are willing to take steps to ensure that they earn a fair salary.

The business of medicine is difficult to navigate at times, with so many different factors weighing in. And neurologists don’t typically take business classes.

To earn a higher salary, you must educate yourself on the value that you bring as a neurologist and some possible changes that you can make to increase your value.

To maximize your earnings in your unique situation, you need to know how you can set yourself up for the best possible opportunities.

After reading this article, you’ll understand how to leverage your practice for the most earning potential. Additionally, you’ll also learn how to protect that income and make it sustainable so that you are in good financial standing for the rest of your life.


Average Neurologist Salary

According to Medscape’s 2020 Compensation Report, a neurologist’s average salary in the United States is $280,000. Only 53% of neurologists consider this a fair compensation amount.

Of the physicians surveyed in this report, 27% of neurologists wouldn’t choose medicine again if they could start all over. But of those who would remain in medicine, 86% would choose the same specialty.

Merritt Hawkins’s data is a little different in numbers. According to their review, the starting salary for a neurologist is $255, 000.

The middle tier of neurologists brings home about $295,000 while the high earning neurology physicians can make an annual salary of up to $450,000.

Don’t sign a contract without having a legal professional review it first. Learn how our contract review services can help you protect your income.


Factors That Affect a Neurologist’s Salary

Several factors can affect how much a neurologist’s total compensation is. A neurologist looking to earn more than the national average can use these factors to their advantage.

Years of Experience

Medscape reports that neurologist residents earn $64,600 in their first year of training, with an increase in pay expected each year.

After completing their training, a neurologist’s pay increases with experience but depends on the type of healthcare practice they work in.

An entry-level neurologist earns about $250,000. When a neurologist reaches mid-level experience, their salary boosts by $10,000. With over ten years of experience gained, a neurologist can earn over $300,000.

When a neurologist has been practicing for over twenty years, their average salary begins to drop.

Location

When choosing which area to start a career in neurology, remember to consider the cost of living compared to the increase or decrease of pay.

According to ZipRecruiter, the top-paying states for neurologist jobs are New York, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. However, five of the top paying cities are in California. These cities are San Jose, Oakland, Hayward, Vallejo, and Concord. Surprisingly, Los Angeles is not on this list.

The other highest paying cities were all in Alaska, and one city in Connecticut, and one in Wyoming.

Illinois, Texas, Missouri, and North Carolina offer the lowest average annual salary for neurologists.

Type of Practice

The type of healthcare facility in which a neurologist practices will significantly affect the compensation they can expect to receive.

The Rosman Search, Inc. did an excellent job of explaining in detail the varying practices and how well they compensate their neurologist.

Here is a breakdown of their findings:

Hospital

Hospitals have the most significant demand for neurologists, which gives candidates easier placement in a position they desire.

Hospitals have more resources and tend to offer the highest starting salaries to new neurologists, especially in certain high demand areas. They can provide better long term salaries as well.

However, the amount they can offer one candidate is capped by law at the fair market value. This doesn’t mean that they can’t offer additional bonuses and benefits to sweeten the deal.

Private Practice

Although most private practices can’t offer a neurologist a higher starting salary, there are some opportunities that a neurologist can take advantage of if this is their healthcare facility of choice.

Whether a neurologist works in a multi-specialty, single-specialty, or solo practice, much of their potential compensation comes from smart business methods and the ability to supplement their income with their free time.

Most neurologists in private practice can dictate their hours, whether full-time or part-time and have a more laid back work schedule to allow for this.

Outpatient Clinic

An outpatient clinic can pay their neurologists a salary similar to those of the hospital, however, probably won’t be able to afford paying quite as much.

Academic

As in most specialties in the medical field, any academic position in neurology will offer the lowest salary. Academic positions typically offer around $200,000 in annual wages.

Locum Tenens

Although Locum Tenens may not be for everyone since a lot of relocating is involved, this very fact makes it one of the highest possibilities of compensation for physicians of all kinds, including neurologists.

Learn more about the opportunities presented with locum tenens jobs by reading this article.

Incentives and Bonuses

According to Medscape’s 2020 compensation report, more than half of neurologists receive annual incentives averaging $35, 000. That is a significant fraction of their total compensation.

Neurologists can also earn production bonuses. These differ depending on the type of incentive programs their healthcare system uses for its employees.

These include bonuses based on RVUs, net collections, gross billing, quality, and patient encounters. The most common type of bonus a physician will encounter includes RVU’s and those that are quality based.

Signing bonuses can be an added bonus for those entering a new physician employment contract with an average of almost $28,000 on the table up front.

See also: What Physicians Need to Know About CPT Codes


Neurologist and Their Student Loan Debt

Neurologist student loan debt
Like most other physicians, neurologists spend a significant number of years in school and rack up a large amount of student loan debt. Managing this debt can significantly improve the financial situation of neurologists.

Each physician has several options that may fit their personal situation. To learn more about these options, read our full breakdown to medical student loans.

Don’t forget the possibility of having your employer take some of that burden off of you as well. When negotiating your contract, ask for student loan forgiveness.

According to the Merritt Hawkins 2020 incentive review, in point 27, physicians can receive anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000 in student loan forgiveness. The average amount that a physician received in student loan forgiveness was $101,590.

Considering this debt can be a significant burden to bear for neurologists and other physicians alike, it is worth trying for student loan forgiveness.

Related: A Physician’s Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness


Subspecialties for Neurology

The in-demand subspecialties in neurology vary from year to year, and some can earn more money based on a sudden shortage of specialists.

Benchmarking data for subspecialties can be hard to find, and you may need to discuss with recruiters or peers in the health system what the going rate is before you search out a new position.

Roman Search, Inc. has compiled data on a few neurology subspecialties.

Interventional Neurology

Interventional neurologists are one of the highest paying neurology jobs. These neurologists can earn $350,000 or more, making this subspecialty a financially worthwhile path to consider.

Neurocritical Care

Another high paying neurology subspecialties is neurocritical care.

Also earning $350,000 or more, this job description includes the intense treatment of critical illnesses of the nervous system and infections of the spinal cord, as well as serious brain injuries.

Neurohospitalists

Neurohospitalists who deal with inpatient cases can earn a higher base salary but generally earn less productivity bonus, totaling about $300,000 per year.

Neurohospitalist dealing with outpatients can earn this salary in the less popular locations that need the extra income to draw candidates to the area.

Pediatric Neurology

The job description of this neurological subspecialty is a no-brainer. However, the pay is not as fulfilling. This job title earns the lowest average neurology compensation.

These physicians encounter many children who have epilepsy and other neurological disorders.


Additional Ways to Increase Your Income as a Neurologist

Neurologist income
There are some additional steps that a neurologist could take that might increase their annual neurologist compensation.

Many neurologists take advantage of staffing PAs and NPs to see more patients when their production bonuses rely on the number of patients seen and gross billings.

Some have developed a niche or subspecialize to earn a higher income. It is also essential for neurologists to stay up to date and learn new procedures to attract more patients and increase gross billing.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a very relevant skill to develop in the year 2020 for effective patient care is teletherapy. This type of healthcare can bridge time and distance to allow for more in-home patient care.

This option is perfect for those with a concussion, suffering from Parkinson’s, or any other medical condition that makes it difficult to travel to a doctor’s office or hospital.


How to Negotiate Your Neurology Employment Contract

No matter your worth and the fair market value, if you don’t negotiate for what you believe yourself to be worth, you won’t get it. That is why a physician must hold their own in contract negotiations.

A neurologist needs to be aware of what items should be addressed in a clear and concise language in the employment contract so that nothing is left to chance and taken advantage of later.

Consider this short list of topics to include:

  • Compensation and benefits
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Partnership and ownership agreements
  • Begin and end dates
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Termination details
  • Insurance requirements

Here is a more thorough checklist for you to learn before entering negotiations or to check off as you read through a proposed contract.

Tips for Negotiation

While it’s vital that you be professional and respectful when entering negotiations, in no way should you be complacent.

You should be confident about your worth and ask as many questions as you need to complete the negotiation. It would also be best if you came ready with those questions to have as few back and forths with paperwork as possible.

You should also make concessions for the employer to let them know that you aren’t challenging to deal with and justify your requests. A positive attitude cannot be understated, while a demanding attitude could kill your chances.

A physician should be careful before signing any paperwork, including a contract that could significantly affect the next decade or so of their financial health by having a contract review in any of these situations:

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

Our team of compensation specialists can ensure your contract is fair and mutually beneficial for a long and happy professional relationship between your employer and yourself.


Disability Insurance to Protect Your Salary

A crucial part of providing lifelong financial stability for you and your family involves acquiring wealth and paying off your debts, and also protecting that income.

The best way to ensure that tragedy won’t leave you in a financial crisis is by investing in disability insurance. There are many different carriers and policies to consider.

No doubt, you have concerns and questions. We’ve already addressed many of the common questions we’ve been asked in this article if you’d like to take a look, and always reach out to our team.

Similar: Disability Insurance Guide and How to Submit a Disability Claim for Physicians


Building a Retirement From Your Annual Salary

If you noticed, the average annual salary for a neurologist begins to drop when you have been practicing for more than twenty years. For this reason, you should be planning for retirement before you reach this milestone.

Again, there are many different plans to take advantage of. And the options are different for neurologists depending on the type of practice in which they work.

If you work at a hospital, clinic, or academic facility, you should have already enrolled in a 401k. If the company or facility you work for is not-for-profit, you would enroll in a 403B.

If you are in private practice, you can still enroll in a 401k plan through your business and other options determined by the owners collectively.

Both employed and self-employed neurologists can benefit from a Roth IRA as an additional retirement fund.


Effective Tax Planning

A neurologist should be aware that effective tax planning can save thousands of dollars each year in taxes owed to the government.

A professional can help you check for tax deductions and credits and help you find opportunities that you can take advantage of to save even more money by the time tax season rolls around.


Neurologist jobs are forecasted to be in great demand for the next decade due to the baby boomer generation’s aging.

This generation will be reaching the age of neurodegeneration and a higher occurrence of stroke, solidifying the need for neurological specialists.

As a neurologist, you have adequate job security, but you should ensure that you get just compensation. Knowledge of these above factors can help you gain valuable leverage, but it can be hard to track all of these on your own.

Our team of compensation specialists can help take some of the load off of you and help set you up for financial security. Contact us today.

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