Podiatrist Salary Report: Compared by Region, Practice, and Subspecialty

Podiatry plays an important role in the medical field, as the feet are essential to the stability and movement of the entire body.

These trained doctors and surgeons can help when you have problems with your feet, ankles or lower leg. They are specialists who diagnose and treat problems in these areas.

A doctor of podiatric medicine, or DPM, goes through four years of podiatric medical school, followed by a hospital residency for three years. There is also the option to continue learning with a fellowship training program. A DPM has a comparable educational path to that of other types of doctors. With this level of schooling and training, it makes sense for them to earn more than many occupations while being on par with other physician specialists.

There are also many sub-specializations within the specialty of podiatry. These specializations may impact the salary by contributing to the salary range that’s to be expected within this career choice. Other factors add to this salary range as well, including years of experience and more that you’ll read about below.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) explains that this specialty is expected to have approximately 900 openings each year, so this creates opportunities for podiatrists to gain employment and negotiate their salaries.

This article will cover a podiatrist’s expected salary range and the job market in this field. In addition, it will discuss how to care for the wealth you earn as a high-level professional like this.

Average Podiatrist Salary

The BLS gives $134,300 as the median annual pay for 2020 in this field. This breaks down to $64.57 on an hourly basis. It’s important to note that this is median pay, at which half in the field earn less and half earn more than this number. Nonetheless, this number is much higher than the median annual wage BLS gave for all workers in 2020, which came to $41,950.

When you consider the average salary rather than the median, the average annual wage in podiatry is $151,110, which comes out to $72.65 per hour. According to 2020 BLS data, the lowest 10% of podiatrists had an annual salary below $55,230, while the top 10% made more than $208,000.

You’ll find different amounts when you look at other sources. For example, Salary.com gives a median salary of $213,890 for podiatrists, with its information based on HR-reported data. It gives a range of $143,012 in the lowest 10% up to $346,284 in the highest 90%.

Factors That Affect a Podiatrist’s Salary

There are numerous factors that impact salary, which makes it possible to gain a higher earning potential. The following are main factors that come into play for this type of physician.

Years of Experience

You have to get started somewhere, so you can expect to earn less in the beginning as a DPM until you gain years of experience. Then, it’s expected that you could negotiate higher salaries and/or switch positions over time to earn more based on increased experience. Payscale.com explains that, including bonuses and overtime, entry level podiatry physicians make $112,253 on average, compared to an experienced podiatrist with 10 to 19 years of experience, who makes $149,775 on average.

Location

The location where you practice in the podiatry field makes a difference in terms of your salary, which is true of any occupation. Certain states offer higher pay, and the wage may vary by area such as city compared to rural practices. Discrepancies are often impacted by cost of living differences.

Highest-Paying States

The state that currently pays the highest for this profession is Maine, with an annual mean wage of $214,960. Other states with an annual income around $200,000 include:

  • Nebraska: $206,050
  • New Hampshire: $192,130
  • Oklahoma: $187,420
  • North Carolina: $186,100

Lowest-Paying States

States on the lower end pay an annual mean wage of about $100,000 to $125,000. These include:

  • Colorado: $129,000
  • Oregon: $128,370
  • Alabama: $127,050
  • Arkansas: $123,760
  • Iowa: $123,200
  • California: $123,130
  • Indiana: $117,520
  • Rhode Island: $112,070
  • Kentucky: $109,710

Metro Areas

You’ll also find variations within states and in citified areas, as mentioned. Metropolitan areas with the highest pay for podiatry include the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area of Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News area of Virginia and North Carolina, and the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia area of North Carolina and South Carolina. These all pay approximately $225,000 as the annual average.

Type of Practice

The setting and type of practice where a podiatrist works play a role in their salary. The BLS helps to break down this information. The following information focuses on mean annual wage, so that is the average in the field.

Outpatient Care Centers

Podiatrists make the highest annual income by far working in outpatient care centers, where they make $181,470 per year. Nonetheless, only a very small number of podiatrists currently work in this setting, so it may be difficult to get into but could provide an opportunity for growth.

Physicians’ Offices

Podiatrists who work in the practices of other physicians make less than those working in outpatient care centers but more than those working for other healthcare offices or hospitals. In this setting, the mean annual salary is $164,300, which is significantly higher than many other settings.

Hospitals

Podiatrists perform residencies in hospitals, and they can also work as specialists in this setting. Here, podiatrists make a comparable average annual salary to working in the office of another health practitioner, at $147,530. The hospital could be a good place to gain experience before seeking employment through a physician’s office or outpatient care center.

Health Practitioner Offices

Most podiatrists work in the offices of health practitioners other than physicians. However, these podiatrists make less than working in physicians’ offices or outpatient care center settings. The pay is comparable to hospitals, with the mean annual salary falling at $147,490.

Federal Government

Podiatrists make the lowest average salary in federal government settings. The annual mean salary for working in this setting is $143,850.

Self-Employed

Many podiatrists are self-employed rather than working for an employer in any setting. This option provides the opportunity to have more control over your salary.

Number of Patients Treated

The podiatry field offers the opportunity for flexibility and life-work balance. It’s possible to work different numbers of hours each week and see varying amounts of patients. The American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM) explains that some in this profession work less than 40 hours per week, while others work more than 50. The number of hours worked and number of patients seen in a week will impact income.

Credentials

Not all DPMs have the same credentials, so this may impact salary. You could potentially earn more based on factors like increased education, such as a fellowship, additional skills and subspecialties, and certifications.

Subspecialties in Podiatry

The type of subspecialty of podiatry you practice may also have an impact on your salary. A podiatrist may specialize in sports medicine, diabetic care, surgery, wound care, dermatology, radiology, geriatrics or pediatrics. In addition, you can choose a specialty area such as orthopedics, surgery or public health.

Subspecialties that give the highest increase in salary are medicine/surgery and surgery. Payscale.com notes that specializing in medicine/surgery gives a 27% increase in salary and an average base salary of $153,746. A surgery specialization gives an 18% increase in salary with an average base salary of $141,753. A general podiatrist’s average base salary given is $134,566. Some sub specializations make less, with an orthotics podiatrist salary at $128,408 and a diabetes podiatrist at $121,221.

Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) data shows that a general podiatrist with a single specialty earns a median salary of $230,357, while one with a multispecialty practice type earns $270,263. However, a podiatry surgeon makes more with a single specialty, with the median at $304,474 compared to the multispecialty of $286,201.

Podiatrists and Their Student Loan Debt

Like many people in modern times, specialized physicians tend to carry student loan debt as they enter their careers. Their debt may be higher than many other fields, as their specialties require extra schooling.

Student Loan Planner explains that the average podiatrist graduate has about $300,000 in student loan debt. During the three years of residency following graduation, they only make about $50,000 to $60,000, which makes paying off the loans difficult. Once they begin to make regular salaries, they need to balance student loans with other living expenses, especially if they decide to purchase a home and start a family.

In addition, they tend to have limited loan forgiveness options because most work in practices. It may make sense to work for a health system in the beginning, as these employers tend to help you manage a good portion of your debt through benefits of an employment contract.

Finding a better way to pay down this debt can do much in the way of relieving financial and emotional stress. 

Read our guide on medical student loans for tips on managing debt and paying it back..

How to Increase Your Income as a Podiatrist

The previous sections show ways to make more money in the podiatry field. Simply by working in the field and gaining experience, you are likely to increase your salary over time. Nonetheless, there are other steps within your control toward earning more.

You may want to consider moving to a state or metro area that tends to pay more for this type of physician. However, it’s important to weigh the cost of living in each area with the anticipated income.

You could also consider adding credentials that command a higher salary and increasing the number of hours you work and patients you see per week, which increases billable income.

Overall, here are two of the main ways to get to a higher income level:

Change Your Career Setting

There is a significant difference in income in the podiatry field simply by the setting where you work. If you currently work in a lower-paying setting, such as a federal government setting, a health practitioner’s office or a hospital, you have potential to gain a significant income increase by switching to a physician’s office or an outpatient care center. This is especially worth noting since most podiatrists work in a health practitioner’s office, so there is considerable room for growth from there. If you work in a hospital, consider how bonuses could increase your income in this setting.

Another option is to become self-employed and start your own practice, which gives you control over your income potential. Our private practice advisers can guide you on making this move and taking the right steps to make the most income. For example, some steps that can increase private practice income include:

  • Purchasing a medical building rather than renting
  • Following a subspecialty
  • Hiring physician assistants
  • Making side-income by working on-call at a hospital

Negotiate Your Contract

Negotiating your employment contract is a source for making extra income as a DPM. Nonetheless, this process is easier said than done, and many professionals find it challenging. Keep in mind that doing it right can provide you with extra income throughout your career.

In addition to the income laid out in the contract, consider the duties that are necessary to earn this base income. See if you can negotiate cutting back on extra work, such as paperwork. This can make you feel better about the compensation in relation to the workload. Plus, you can free up time to potentially take on more work, such as seeing more patients at your practice or working on-call at a hospital. Private practice negotiations need to lay out partnership and ownership agreements.

Beyond base compensation, consider extras such as cash incentives and benefits. These aspects can make a large difference to your overall income in a year.

One bonus that many physicians miss out on is the signing bonus. You can negotiate a signing bonus to be included in your employment contract, and we show you how here: How to Ask for a Signing Bonus on Your Physician Contract.

Further, make sure your employment contract includes important aspects such as insurance requirements and who is responsible, beginning and end dates, termination information and restrictive covenants.

Needless to say, employment contracts are lengthy documents that can be difficult to process. That’s why many physicians hire a professional to review their contract before they agree to the terms. This course of action is definitely a wise one. Contact our team of professional legal and financial advisors to review your employment contract and protect yourself from any terms that are not in your best interest.

How to Negotiate Your Contract

Certain tips can help you ensure the most income as you negotiate your podiatry contract. Before the negotiation process begins, perform research on your employer as well as competition in the field. This will help you speak from a position of knowledge and passion about the field and the business side of things.

Start negotiations by asking for a higher amount than your goal. This gives room for your employer to come down and meet you at your true desired rate. However, wait for your employer to make an offer first, which creates a basepoint from which you can counteroffer, which they expect. It helps to offer reasoning behind the desired amount. For example, show why you think you are worth that amount. Your reasoning may involve factors like salaries for podiatrists in the area, years of experience, specialization and so on. However, you should not lie or make exaggerations.

Be sure to review your contract each time there is a change to your work situation. For example, it’s important to carry out a review to renew a contract, renegotiate, switch to a partnership agreement and so on.

Our compensation specialists are able to help DPMs make sure they have the correct protective language in their contracts while you make career moves to improve your financial situation. That’s where we come in — contact Physicians Thrive today for help with managing every aspect of your financial journey.

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