Rheumatologist Salary Data By Averages, State & More

Every year, Medscape surveys physicians to find out which subspecialties are the happiest and unhappiest outside of work.

In 2012, rheumatologists were satisfied with their average salary. Unfortunately, in 2023, they’re the second unhappiest specialty, right behind the infectious diseases department.

Why is that?

Well, in 2022, only 60% of rheumatologists feel fairly compensated, which can certainly affect a physician’s feelings toward their medical specialty.

Further, according to Medscape’s 2023 report, the average rheumatologist salary is among the lowest in all specialties.

So, how much does a rheumatologist make per year? This article will answer this question and a lot more.

Key Takeaways

  • The latest data shows that rheumatologists are the second-unhappiest medical specialty, and only 60% of rheumatologists feel fairly compensated.
  • The average rheumatologist salary in 2024 is around $290,000 per year.
  • Top-paying states for rheumatologists include Alaska, Oregon, and Massachusetts.
  • Lower-paying states are Louisiana, Florida, and Hawaii.
  • Bonuses can significantly supplement income, with potential bonuses between $125,000 and $234,000 per year.

What Is the Average Rheumatologist’s Salary?

The average rheumatologist’s salary in 2024 is around $290,000 per year.

This average is based on four different sources: Medscape, Salary.com, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter.

Medscape’s 2023 Compensation Report lists the average salary of rheumatologists as $281,000 per year, which is even less than 2022’s average by $8,000.

Medscape is a reputable source for up-to-date compensation data.

However, it’s always good to look at several different sources for a more comprehensive market view. Here are a few extra sources for reference:

Factors that Affect the Rheumatology Salary

Several factors affect the going rate, one of which is the type of practice in which the average physician works.

Below, we’ll discuss the many other factors that will affect the annual salary of rheumatologists (or other healthcare practitioners jobs).

1. Years of Experience

As in any profession, as you gather experience, you gain valuable knowledge and practice in your field.

A rheumatologist can expect to earn more money as they gain experience.

Starting in residency, a rheumatologist can earn up to $67,400, according to Medscape’s 2023 Resident Salary & Debt Report.

As a future physician progresses through residency, their annual salary increases from year to year, starting with $56,500 in the first year and ending with $67,400 in the final year.

Once they’re done with residency and enter into practice, they will begin to gain even more experience. As they do, their expected pay increases.

2. Location

Another factor that can greatly increase or decrease a rheumatologist’s market value is the location in which they practice.

For example, according to the 2023 Young Physician Compensation Report, compensation for young physicians in the West is increasing by 17%.

In comparison, the increase is only 7% in the north, which is less than half.

Two aspects that will determine their expected annual salary in any given state:

  1. Cost of living
  2. Demand/open positions for rheumatology

If the cost of living is high in the area, companies will offer a higher salary to compensate.

Furthermore, if there is a high demand for rheumatologists in the area, hiring companies will offer more to draw qualified applicants to fill their positions.

According to ZipRecruiter, the top-paying states for full-time positions in rheumatology are Alaska, Oregon, and Massachusetts.

Zippia has different states that rank the highest: Alaska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Considering that these states don’t have particularly high living costs, this is probably due to a lack of physicians in that location, which raises the demand.

Accordingly, Louisiana, Florida, and Hawaii are the states that offer less than the national average base salary for rheumatologists.

3. Type of Practice

Many physicians consider private practice the Holy Grail of internal medicine jobs.

Depending on whether a physician goes into solo practice, a partnership, or a multi-specialty group, this could certainly be true.

However, there is much more to consider than possible compensation.

Solo Practice

A solo practice involves one person managing the practice and managing risk, which can be demanding and expensive.

If not done correctly, this may affect the appropriate course of treatment.

Solo practices rely on a solid patient base, so it’s best for those who have already built a rapport with years of experience and established patient lists.

Group Practices

Partnerships and multi-specialty groups distribute the work, responsibilities, and cost among two or more physicians, making for an easier job.

There is plenty of opportunity to earn more as your practice progresses, which may be why private practice is reported to deliver the highest satisfaction for physicians in this subspecialty.


Working in a hospital setting is possibly the most lucrative opportunity for new rheumatologists.

There is a higher demand and easier placement as a hospital employee.

For-profit hospitals have much deeper pockets than most and can offer a higher salary, along with a hefty signing bonus and even annual bonuses in some cases.

In these positions, rheumatologists work alongside internists and help with oncology.

They see a wide range of patients and conduct a wider range of tasks.

Academic Work

Academic positions in rheumatology tend to offer the lowest salary.

Other Ways to Increase Your Income as a Rheumatologist


If you are in private practice, you have a great opportunity to earn extra income if you own your building.

Not only will you save yourself the cost of rent, but you can make money by renting out the other offices.

Those in private practice may also take advantage of physician assistants and nurse practitioners in order to see more patients each day.

They can take care of the simple cases while you focus on more difficult patients.

As an employed rheumatologist, you can increase your income through the earning of your entire available bonus.

According to Glassdoor, rheumatologists have the potential to earn bonuses between $125,000 and $234,000 per year.

Read about the average salary of other subspecialties in our Salary and Compensation library.

Other Elements to Consider for Your Financial Future

Negotiating Your Employment Contract

You should feel comfortable negotiating your contract offers to ensure your salary matches your skills.

Before you can negotiate, it is important to research the market value of your job title.

You should also research the company itself to learn what they can offer and what things they are not able to budge on due to policy.

You can do this research with the help of a knowledgeable recruiter who has dealt with this company in the past or by talking to some of the physicians who work there.

What to Look for in Your Employment Contract

Any valid employment contract will have defined a list of employment terms. These include how much compensation and benefits you are offered.

Both numbers are negotiable. If the prospective employer doesn’t increase the annual salary offer, you may be able to negotiate a better benefits package to make up for it.

An employment contract should also:

  • Explain the possibilities of partnership and ownership agreements.
  • List the beginning and ending dates of said contract.
  • Define the insurance requirements.

Nonetheless, watch out for restrictive covenants.

If you plan to pursue private practice, you will want to ensure that your contract does not conflict with those plans.

Lastly, your employment contract should provide details on the termination.

When Should You Have a Contract Review?

Most physicians would enlist the help of a physician contract lawyer when entering or renewing their employment contract.

However, you should also have a contract review when:

  • Your compensation package changes.
  • Renegotiating or exiting a contract.
  • Transitioning from an employee to a partnership structure.

If a contract is to be modified in any way, it is in your best interest to have the contract reviewed before you sign anything.

We offer contract review services to help doctors get fair compensation for their work.

Student Loan Debt Repayment

Like most other physicians, rheumatologists carry a significant amount of debt due to the cost of medical school.

This debt can greatly affect their budget and cause a lot of financial stress.

There are ways to manage the weight of this debt, and we at Physicians Thrive can help.

Looking deeper into your student loan repayment options may reveal ways to save money or at least reduce your monthly payment.

Read more about your options by reading our comprehensive article. We also offer special discounts on student loan consolidation from top financing companies.

Disability Insurance to Protect Your Salary

Once you have successfully acquired your desired annual salary, you need to learn how to protect it.

One of the most important ways to do so is by purchasing a comprehensive disability insurance policy that meets your needs.

When it comes to long-term disability insurance, not every policy is created equal.

Policies differ in the benefits they offer, the benefit period they cover, and even in how they define “disability.”

Therefore, the goal is to find a policy that will help you when it counts.

Shopping for long-term disability insurance can be confusing, but we are here to help.

Contact our team of specialists to discuss your options and get a free quote from the best and most trusted insurance companies.

Final Words

There is a severe shortage of physicians who subspecialize in rheumatology nationwide.

To attract rheumatologists to their healthcare centers, many employers are offering salaries higher than the market average.

In fact, there has already been a significant increase in average rheumatologist salaries over the last few years, with an expectation of more to come.

Therefore, as your income increases, it’s more and more important to protect and invest your earnings.

Our financial planning team is happy to be there every step of the way.

We are dedicated to helping you save money and plan for retirement throughout your career.

Also, our team of advisors can review your tax return for free and look for potential errors, point out missed deductions, and assess your audit risk.

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