Physiatrist Salary: Your Guide to Compensation in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is such an essential aspect of medicine. Whether disabilities stem from a disorder, an illness, or a severe injury, patients need continued support as they navigate this issue and begin to focus on promoting greater function of the affected areas so they can achieve independence and a greater quality of life. As a physiatrist, whether you’re a doctor of osteopathic medicine or a medical doctor in PM&R, you deserve to receive a proper salary for your dedication to patient rehabilitation and wellness.

But with all this in mind as you approach this career path, what can you expect in terms of annual salary in physical medicine & rehabilitation? What do you need to know in order to navigate salary negotiations, and how can you make sure that the money you do make further supports and protects your earnings?

This article will provide greater insights into the average PM&R salary, factors that can affect your earnings, and other important information you’ll undoubtedly need as you begin to utilize your medical education.

Average PM&R Salary

While overall salary estimates will vary depending upon the source, most sources show that physiatrists can expect to earn a salary in the low-to-mid six figures.

The 2023 MGMA Compensation & Production Report (which is compiled based on 2022 data) estimates that the average PM&R salary is around $325,429. This estimate is on the higher end of the spectrum in comparison to other sources. reports that the average physiatrist salary is $256,500, although they do offer a range of $232,100 and $286,000 to show that the amount fluctuates based on numerous factors.

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation offers an average salary estimate of $306,000, and Zippia provides a higher figure of $305,616.

If you’re more interested in a state-by-state breakdown to see how much you could make based on where you decide to practice, ZipRecruiter estimates that Arkansas physiatrists sit at the lowest end of the pay spectrum with an average salary of $184,641, while New York physiatrists make the most at $291,655.

Read this: How to Start Your own Medical Practice

Factors That Can Affect PM&R Salary

It’s important to be mindful that salary averages are naturally going to be affected by the available data, and multiple factors are at play that can determine what you might be able to ask for when you finally decide where you want to practice. A few of the key factors include:


As demonstrated above, where you are located is going to play a major role in how much you receive. Arkansas physiatrists earn the least, while New York physiatrists earn the most. Figure out where you want to settle down and practice before you launch your career.

Type of Practice

Do you plan on working under someone as a community physiatrist or an academic physiatrist? Or, alternatively, are you looking to open up your own private practice (this can come with its own unique challenges that physiatrists should consider prior to pursuing the traditional private practice route)? Consider what your next steps are and where they may take you.

Personal Qualifications

Leveraging your degree, experience, certifications, and other qualifications is important in contract negotiations. Make sure you’re properly valuing yourself and asking for what you deserve based on what you have to offer.

Gender Pay Gaps

Unfortunately, the ever-pervasive gender pay gap exists within the field of PM&R as well. According to data from Zippia, women make up approximately 46.3% of physiatrists, while men account for 53.7%, with the number having risen consistently on a yearly basis. While this isn’t a major imbalance, the pay gap still occurs. In fact, women make 84 cents for every $1 earned by men.

Physiatrist Shortage

An aging population (one that’s working as well), a growing number of people with disabilities, and a general physician shortage mean that there aren’t enough physiatrists to go around. Being in a specialty with a shortage could provide you with some leverage during salary negotiations.

Do you believe this: MYTH: Contract Negotiation Can’t Be Done?

Physiatry Subspecialty Salary Estimates

Because PM&R takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation, many physiatrists have a subspecialty, which could have an impact on salary as well. Some of the subspecialties worth noting in physiatry include:

  • Brain Injury Medicine: estimates that the average brain injury specialist salary in the United States is $274,607.
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine: estimates that a physician in palliative medicine can expect to make around $217,107.
  • Neuromuscular Medicine: Glassdoor estimates that the average salary for a neuromuscular specialist is around $134,840, although this may be much lower than you can expect to get paid.
  • Pain Medicine: Pain medicine physicians actually get paid quite well (for those looking to boost their PM&R salary), with the national average reported by being $376,218.
  • Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine: ZipRecruiter has reported $250,000 as the national average for a pediatric physiatrist.
  • Spinal Cord Injury Medicine: Payscale estimates that doctors specializing in spinal cord injury medicine can make an average of $226,000 annually.
  • Sports Medicine: estimates that sports medicine physicians can expect an average annual salary of $255,048.

Managing Your Student Loans As a Physiatrist

There’s no available data regarding average student loan debt as a physiatrist, but it’s undoubtedly a factor that will impact how much you make when you’re paying back loans on a physiatrist’s salary. While loans can be daunting, there’s a wide range of choices you have to pay them off, including student loan forgiveness, refinancing, and beyond. In fact, we offer special discount rates for refinancing that you can take advantage of if you need the support.

Related: How Moving Can Help Pay Off Student Loans

How to Increase Your PM&R Salary

Whereas many others in the medical industry have the option to start their own private practice and make more money that way, physiatrists may find that private practices aren’t as lucrative or as common in their specialty, unless they specialize in a specific area where many patients will be coming in constantly and they can form a team that can consistently care for those patients. But that doesn’t mean professionals in PM&R don’t have the opportunity to boost their salary by other means. Consider some of the following strategies if you’re looking to earn more.

  • Relocate to a state that pays considerably better. You may even be able to negotiate a relocation bonus, which can help you afford your living costs as well as support you while you go through the licensing process in your chosen state.
  • Ask for other bonuses like signing bonuses to receive extra money for agreeing to work with certain organizations.
  • Go for a sub-specialty that pays more than what you might make in your state as a general physiatrist. Some of the recommendations above illustrate where the average salary is higher when you decide to go into PM&R, so consider those as you do your research into various sub-specialties you can pursue.

How to Build a Retirement

You should leverage your salary as a physiatrist to help you grow wealth both now and in the future. Retirement is something that should be a priority, especially since you’ll be able to contribute more in your current career path, helping you get a much earlier start.

The first step to building a retirement with your salary is to start saving. We recommend using the 50/30/20 rule, which is broken down as follows:

Living Expenses: Account for 50% of Your Income

Allocate half of your post-tax income to living expenses. This should cover basic necessities such as housing, food, and clothing as well as other living costs like student debt payments, personal hygiene and grooming purchases, and beyond. Avoid luxury purchases if they exceed this 50% limit.

Savings: Account for 30% of Your Income

30% of your income should be put into savings, investments, or retirement accounts. Do not tap into these savings if you don’t have to. You should also work towards developing an emergency fund for unexpected expenses so you’re not constantly pulling money out of other savings accounts when you need it most.

Discretionary Expenses: Account for 20% of Your Income

After covering essential bills and savings, the remaining fifth of your income is discretionary. This means it’s for you to spend as you see fit. While it’s wise to invest further in your retirement or pay down debt, don’t be afraid to treat yourself now and again for all of your hard work.

Of course, the above begs the question, where should you be putting your money? Some accounts worth looking into include:

  • Employed Doctors: Physicians working in hospitals or medical groups can take advantage of employer-sponsored accounts and pension plans like the 457b, 403b, 401k, and 401a. The 457b is notable for its flexibility, but it lacks the protective measures of other plans. There are also cash balance pension plans and profit-sharing pension plans that may be available to you.
  • Self-Employed Doctors: For those who operate their own practice and are the employer, retirement account options include the SEP IRA, individual (solo) 401k, and pension plans.
  • Other Investments: You’re not limited to retirement accounts when you’re building your wealth. These other investment types can include bonds, mutual funds, low-cost index funds, and stocks, just to name a few.

Keep Reading: The Physician’s Guide to Backdoor Roth IRAs

Thinking About Tax Planning

Being smart about your taxes can make all the difference in how much of your salary you hold onto as a physiatrist. Take, for example, working as a 1099 employee instead of becoming a W2. Making this change allows you to take advantage of a host of tax deductions that can reduce how much you owe the IRS come tax season.

Some of the other considerations you should have when tax planning include the following:

  • 529 Plans: Planning on sending your children to college? You can invest in 529 plans. These plans allow you to save up to cover primary, secondary, and college tuition costs, all while taking advantage of future tax-free withdrawals for educational expenses and potential state tax credits or deductions.
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): HSAs (for those with high-cost insurance) offer three key benefits: untaxed contributions, tax-free interest accumulation, and tax-free withdrawals for qualifying healthcare expenses. Just make sure that you consistently check IRS guidelines around HSAs as they’re always subject to change.
  • Charitable Contributions: You can use some of your income to make charitable donations that also benefit you in the form of a tax deduction. While the IRS is fickle about what counts, they offer specific guidelines for claiming deductions for different types of contributions, which will help you understand which charitable acts they see as both generous and financially beneficial.

Negotiating Your PM&R Salary

Negotiating your salary is one of the most important steps toward receiving the compensation that you’ve been spending years and years on schooling to achieve. While one might assume that emplouers set contracts in stone, you wield significant power, especially when you understand what you’re doing. You can negotiate a wide range of contractual terms beyond salary as well, including student loan repayments, employee benefits, and even incentives.

Know how much you’re worth based on some of the factors we discussed earlier in this article, and always work with a professional as they can help you successfully navigate the negotiation process so you have amenable terms you’re willing to sign for. Having a licensed attorney to do a full contract review can be an invaluable resource to have on your side. A full contract review will offer unlimited consultations, comprehensive consultation audits, and a two to three-day turnaround.

Read this: Can You Negotiate Physician Contracts?

Your Salary and Disability Insurance

Every physiatrist can protect their salary by making sure to invest in disability insurance. Disability insurance is designed to support you during times of injury or illness, providing you with access to the funds you need to help you manage your daily expenses. Two types of disability insurance at your disposal are individual and group policies.

Doctors often see group insurance as more affordable and desirable because employers subsidize the cost. That being said, they often come with several disadvantages. Group insurance policies may exclude certain disabilities, aren’t portable, only cover base income as well as offer partial disability benefits, and may be taxable.

Meanwhile, individual Insurance policies are portable, covering you between jobs and offering customization based on personal needs. They typically cover all sources of income, won’t require you to pay taxes on your benefits, offer steady premiums, and support additional riders. Overall, individual policies tend to be the best fit for most physicians, even if they do cost a little bit more than their group policy counterparts.

The decision to become a physiatrist can be both rewarding and lucrative, but only if you know how to navigate contract negotiations, go where the money is, and make decisions that will support your career over time. If you’ve either gotten your degree or are planning on getting your degree and figuring out all of the details now, use the guide above to review everything you need to know as you move forward with your PM&R career.

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