The medical field provides opportunities to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives as well as the potential to earn a six-figure income. Typically, the highest-paying medical jobs require specialization and extensive education, which means they are also in high demand. Most high-paying medical jobs require a bachelor’s degree, medical doctor degree, and residency. However, some positions only require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

If you are interested in a career in healthcare, you may enjoy working in fields such as math, biology, and anatomy. This field requires emotional stability and the ability to work well under pressure. Read on to learn about the best medical jobs to pursue.

In this article, we list 26 of the highest-paid medical specialties, their salaries and primary responsibilities.

Why Seek High-Paying Medical Jobs?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare workers earned a median income of $75,040 in May 2021. However, this profession offers other benefits in addition to a high salary, such as:

  • Any extra disposable income can be used to beef up your retirement savings, which may be matched by your employer.
  • You can gain useful medical knowledge to assist family and friends in emergencies.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare positions are projected to grow by 16% between 2020 and 2030, which is about double the growth rate of 8% for all other occupations.
  • You get the chance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of sick and injured patients.

What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs in the Medical Field?

1. Anesthesiologist

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $331,190
  • Job Outlook: -1%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with an anesthesiology specialization, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

Anesthesiologists are responsible for the care of patients before, during and after surgery. They assess the patient pre-operatively and create an anesthetic plan tailored to the surgery. This plan often includes general anesthesia or regional nerve blocks for post-operative pain control.

During surgery, anesthesiologists monitor the patient’s vitals and administer anesthesia. They also monitor the patient after the surgery until the anesthesia wears off. Occasionally, anesthesiologists work with patients to manage chronic pain outside of surgery or pain during childbirth. These professionals must have strong observational skills and calculation skills for dosage purposes.

2. Surgeon

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $297,800
  • Job Outlook: -3%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with a surgical specialization, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries such as broken bones, diseases, and birth defects. They perform exams to diagnose illnesses and discuss surgical interventions. They also conduct follow-up visits to monitor the surgical results. To be successful in this field, surgeons must be able to perform accurately under pressure and have strong interpersonal communication skills. They must also think analytically and make quick decisions.

Common surgeon specializations include:

  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Colon and rectal surgery
  • Brain surgery

3. Physician

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $231,500
  • Job Outlook: 5%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with a general medicine specialization or a doctor of osteopathic medicine, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

Physicians analyze patients’ symptoms and make recommendations for treatments, as well as offer preventative care options. They take into account patients’ concerns and personal/family medical history when making decisions. Physicians also write prescriptions and order/interpret routine tests. They may also need to refer patients to specialists. Important skills for physicians include empathy, critical thinking, and strong communication abilities.

These professionals often specialize. Types of specialized physicians include:

  • Family physicians
  • Internists
  • Emergency physicians

4. Obstetrician and Gynecologist

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $239,120
  • Job Outlook: -2%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with an obstetrics and gynecology specialization, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

Obstetricians and gynecologists specialize in diagnosing and treating issues related to the female reproductive system. This includes cancers and cysts of the ovaries, menopause symptoms, and irregular periods. Gynecologists often perform pap tests and fertility tests. Obstetricians provide care during pregnancy and are present for the delivery of babies.

However, many gynecologists also receive training and licensure for obstetrics. These professionals need excellent active listening and interpersonal communication skills. They often communicate sensitive information to patients, so they must be very empathetic.

5. Nurse Anesthetist

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $202,470
  • Job Outlook: 13%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in nursing, master of science in nursing with an anesthesiology specialization
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the National Certification Examination from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
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Nurse anesthetists work closely with anesthesiologists in order to provide preliminary screenings and administer anesthesia as necessary. This ensures that patients are properly cared for before and during surgery.

Nurse anesthetists are responsible for monitoring patients after surgery and identifying any issues that may arise. This role requires strong observational skills and the ability to effectively communicate with doctors. Nurse anesthetists typically work in hospitals and surgical centers.

6. Pediatrician

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $198,420
  • Job Outlook: -2%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with a pediatrics specialization, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

These doctors provide care to children by specializing in diagnosing and treating childhood ailments, such as diabetes, genetic disorders, and congenital disabilities. They also connect parents with specialists for specific issues and conduct physical examinations to ensure children meet developmental benchmarks.

Pediatricians often see children when they have viruses, colds, or allergies. They write prescriptions for antibiotics and antivirals as needed. They also make recommendations on nutrition and vitamins for children based on each individual case.

7. Dentist

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $163,220
  • Job Outlook: 8%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med program, doctor of dental surgery or doctor of medicine in dentistry
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the National Board Dental Examinations

Dentists examine and care for teeth that have been damaged. By examining X-rays and the patient’s teeth, they are able to identify cavities and decay. They also remove decay and fill cavities. If a patient needs a procedure like wisdom tooth removal or a root canal, the dentist will refer them to an ortho surgeon. Dentists also perform cosmetic and preventative procedures, such as whitening teeth and applying sealants.

During dental procedures, dentists apply local anesthetics and write antibiotic prescriptions. They also discuss dental hygiene best practices with their patients. To be successful, dentists need an eye for detail and strong interpersonal communication skills.

Specialized types of dentists include:

  • Endodontists
  • Orthodontists
  • Dental anesthesiologists
  • Oral pathologists
  • Periodontists

8. Podiatrist

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $145,840
  • Job Outlook: 2%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field, doctor of podiatric medicine, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam

Podiatrists can also do surgery on feet and ankles.

Podiatrists are responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions that affect the foot, ankle and lower extremity. This includes managing sprains and fractures, heel pain as well as nerve issues. Additionally, podiatrists work with patients who suffer from various conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. In some cases, surgery on the foot or ankle may be required.

Podiatrists perform physical exams and ask patients questions about their concerns. They also recommend and perform surgery and coordinate care plans with physical therapists. Some podiatrists start their own private practice, which requires basic business skills. People with good attention to detail and a compassionate nature often perform well in this role.

9. Chief Nursing Officer

  • Average Salary (August 2022): $134,900
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in nursing, master of science in nursing
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a National Council Licensure Examination

Chief nursing officers serve as lead nurses and oversee registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nursing assistants. In some cases, they may coordinate work schedules and find backup care when a nurse cannot attend their shift.

Chief nursing officers are responsible for maintaining patients’ safety and health. They typically intervene in serious health issues and provide guidance to patients’ families. To be successful in this role, chief nursing officers need strong leadership, management, and communication skills.

10. Pharmacist

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $128,570
  • Job Outlook: -2%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field, doctor of pharmacy
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam

As a pharmacist, it is your responsibility to fill medical prescriptions and communicate with customers about dosage instructions and possible side effects. You may also be called upon to make recommendations about over-the-counter medications. In some cases, you may need to communicate with physicians to verify the correct instructions and dosages.

Additionally, pharmacists must collaborate with insurance companies to guarantee the most cost-effective option for patients. Oftentimes, pharmacists are responsible for managing a team of pharmacy technicians. In the majority of states, pharmacists are legally allowed to administer vaccines. To be successful in this role, pharmacists need to be detail-oriented, have strong leadership skills, and be competent in calculations.

11. Optometrist

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $124,300
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Required Education: ​​Bachelor’s degree in a pre-med field, doctor of optometry
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry

Optometrists are responsible for managing their patients’ eye health. This includes conducting vision tests, analyzing the results, and making adjustments to contact and eyeglass prescriptions as necessary. Additionally, optometrists must examine their patients during check-ups for any potential eye diseases.

Optometrists can also conduct minor surgeries to treat vision issues. They advise patients on maintaining optimal eye health and refer them to specialists as needed. To succeed when working with patients, optometrists need strong decision-making skills and communication skills.

12. Nurse Practitioner

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $120,680
  • Job Outlook: 52%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in nursing, master of science in nursing
  • Licenses/Certifications: Certification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board or the American Nurses Credentialing Center
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family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, and women’s health.

Nurse practitioners have more autonomy than registered nurses. Their abilities vary by state, but most states allow them to write prescriptions, order laboratory tests, and perform physical exams. Nurse practitioners often work independently or in collaboration with a physician. Just like doctors, nurse practitioners can choose a specialization. Common specializations include: family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, and women’s health.

  • Family and general care
  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s health
  • Adult-gerontology

These professionals must be able to work independently and have strong communication skills.

13. Nurse Midwife

  • Median Salary: $112,830
  • Job Outlook: 11%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in nursing, master of science in nursing
  • Licenses/Certifications: Certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board

Nurse midwives provide care for female reproductive health, conducting gynecological exams and offering family planning services. However, their primary focus is on prenatal care and delivering babies. If an emergency arises during labor, they immediately contact a surgeon or doctor.

Nurse midwives are primary care providers for low-risk pregnancies and often make recommendations on nutrition and aftercare. They sometimes provide care to their patients’ partners if they experience reproductive health problems. Nurse midwives must have the ability to make decisions under pressure and perform well in a crisis.

14. Health Services Manager

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $101,340
  • Job Outlook: 32%
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration
  • Licenses/Certifications: N/A

A health services manager is responsible for the business operations of healthcare providers. This includes managing finances, working with insurance companies and collection agencies, and overseeing administrative staff.

Healthcare professionals are responsible for maintaining safety and sanitation regulations in clinics and hospitals, as well as ways to improve the quality of care. Strong leadership and organizational skills are essential for health service managers.

15. Emergency medicine

National average salary: $188,418 per year

Primary duties:

Emergency medicine physicians are responsible for the care of patients with urgent medical conditions or injuries. They must be able to assess patients quickly and make decisions that could potentially save a patient’s life.

Emergency medicine specialists typically work in high-pressure environments, where they must be able to make quick decisions and provide stabilization care for patients with serious injuries or illnesses. These specialists must have a wide range of medical skills and knowledge, as well as several years of clinical experience.

16. Pulmonology

National average salary: $191,904 per year

Primary duties:

Pulmonologists are doctors who deal with disorders of the respiratory system. They use X-rays, CT scans, blood tests, and airway scopes to diagnose conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and various lung diseases. Often a patient’s regular doctor will refer him or her to a pulmonologist if he or she shows symptoms of long-term or serious lung problems.

Pulmonologists may further specialize in certain patient demographics, such as children or the elderly. They might also work closely with cardiologists because many heart problems also cause breathing issues.

17. General surgery

National average salary: $214,339 per year

Primary duties:

As a general surgeon, you will have a significant amount of medical knowledge and be able to operate on patients with a variety of injuries and conditions. You will assess patients, diagnose their conditions, prepare them for surgery, operate on them and manage their post-operative care. General surgeons commonly operate on skin conditions, the abdomen, soft tissues and other body parts.

If a patient has a neurologic, cardiac or other complex condition, they are typically referred to a specialty surgeon by their primary care physician. General surgeons must have good decision-making skills and a thorough understanding of anatomy, pathology, immunology and healing in order to successfully treat patients with various conditions.

18. Oncology

National average salary: $218,126 per year

Primary duties:

Oncologists are specialized physicians who treat cancer patients. They explain each patient’s diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options. They work with patients throughout their treatment, helping them manage symptoms of the disease and radiation therapy. Oncologists might further specialize in medical, surgical, radiation, pediatric, gynecologic or hematologic oncology.

19. Orthopedic surgery

National average salary: $229,379 per year

Primary duties:

Orthopedic surgeons diagnose, treat and prevent injuries and conditions related to the bones, joints, muscles and soft tissues. Some orthopedic surgeons treat all types of musculoskeletal issues, while others may specialize in certain body parts, such as the hips, knees, feet, ankles, spine, shoulders, elbows or hands. Orthopedic surgeons often encounter traumatic injuries, birth defects, cancers or infections in their patients. In addition to diagnosing these conditions, orthopedic surgeons may also repair broken bones, damaged or arthritic joints, and injured tendons or ligaments.

20. Plastic surgery

National average salary: $245,601 per year

Primary duties:

Plastic surgeons are medical professionals who specialize in repairing or reconstructing external body parts. This may be done for cosmetic reasons, or to improve the function of a body part that has been damaged by an injury, burn, disease, or congenital deformity.

Some of the techniques that plastic surgeons might use include skin grafts, facelifts, liposuction, breast implants and tissue transfers. Some plastic surgeons focus on one particular area of the body, such as the face, or they might specialize in treating specific conditions, such as burns.

21. Invasive Cardiology

If you are looking for a medical specialty that is both top-paying and rewarding, you may want to consider cardiology. According to Forbes, doctors who practice invasive cardiology earn an average base salary of $525,000 per year. If you are interested in heart health but not necessarily the high-stress invasive aspect of the specialty, cardiology more generally is still a rewarding choice. CBS News rated the specialty of cardiology second-highest, bringing in $376,000 in annually for patient care.

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Cardiologists specialize in heart health and are able to assess heart function and cardiovascular health through indicators such as blood flow and blood pressure.


  • order diagnostic tests
  • perform procedures
  • prescribe medication to improve suboptimal heart health

Invasive cardiologists work with patients in the advanced stages of heart failure, as well as those who need transplants. Invasive cardiologists are surgeons who perform procedures such as repairing damaged heart valves, inserting pacemakers or defibrillators, and performing heart bypass operations.

What They Do: Heart health and surgery

Annual Earnings: $525,000

Training: 1 year of subspecialty training on top of 3 years of general cardiology training

22. Gastroenterology

According to Forbes, gastroenterology is the fourth highest paying specialty in medicine, with a base salary of $455,000 per year. Medscape also rated the specialty equally highly, though it listed annual earnings of $370,000.

Gastroenterologists treat disorders in the digestive system, from the esophagus through the stomach and even the bowels. This includes organs like the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and others within the abdominal cavity. Gastroenterology is a part of the specialty of internal medicine that focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions.

  • heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • acid reflux
  • ulcers
  • pain

Gastroenterologists play an important role in preventing and diagnosing digestive cancers such as esophageal and colon cancer. They are skilled in performing minimally invasive procedures and diagnostic tests, including endoscopies, which provide detailed images of the gastrointestinal organs.

What They Do: Digestive health

Annual Earnings: $455,000

Training: 3 years of subspecialty training on top of 3 years of internal medicine training

23. Radiology

Radiology is the use of nuclear radiation for medical purposes, ranging from diagnostic tests to radiation treatments. Radiologists typically earn an average salary of $414,090, as reported by Radiologists typically work in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Diagnostic radiologists read and interpret diagnostic imaging tests such as:

  •  X-rays
  • ultrasounds
  • computed tomography (CT) scans
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs)

Radiologists can serve interventional roles, such as taking part in image guided therapy and administering radiation to cancer patients. Radiologists often specialize in imaging different regions of the body, like chest and cardiac imaging, abdominal imaging and performing mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

What They Do: Diagnostic testing and radiation treatments

Annual Earnings: $414,090

Training: 5 years

24. Urology

Urologists’ annual salaries averaged $412,000, according to Forbes. Medscape’s survey ranked the specialty lower, with earnings averaging $344,000 per year; nevertheless, urology was still among the 10 highest-earning specialties.

Urology is the medical specialty that focuses on the health of the urinary tract and reproductive system of both genders. Urologists diagnose and treat several organs and structures, including the bladder, kidney, prostate, and urethra as well as male genitals.

  • urinary tract and bladder infections
  • difficulty urinating
  • incontinence
  • kidney stones
  • enlarged prostate
  • male infertility

What They Do: Urinary tract

Annual Earnings: $412,000

Training: 5 years

25. Dermatology

As the largest organ on the human body, it is not surprising that skin has its own specialist. According to Forbes, the base annual salary for dermatologists is $412,000, while Medscape reports earnings of $339,000.

Dermatologists diagnose and treat skin disorders of all kinds, from acne to cancer. They may perform routine skin examinations to screen for signs of melanoma or other forms of skin cancer, tracking any changes in the appearance or location of moles. Diagnostic tests like biopsies may be performed on unusual skin conditions and changes. Allergies, infections, eczema and other conditions are also often treated by dermatologists.

Dermatologists often times perform cosmetic procedures such as laser surgery, excisions, liposuction, chemical peels, and injections of dermal fillers.

What They Do: Skin health

Annual Earnings: $412,000

Training: 4 years

26. Plastic/ Reconstructive Surgery

The average annual salary for a plastic surgeon is $393,073, as reported by This figure has seen a consistent increase over the past 10 years. As physicians who devote their careers to medical aesthetics and reconstruction, plastic surgeons play an important role in the medical field.

Plastic surgery encompasses a wide range of procedures that aim to improve both the function and appearance of different body parts. Procedures can be performed on virtually any body part, from the skin to the breasts, limbs, and external reproductive structures. While the main goal of cosmetic surgery is to improve the patient’s appearance, some procedures are also performed for reconstructive purposes, such as repairing damage caused by an injury or congenital defects.

Plastic surgeons often use skin grafts, implants, liposuction techniques, tissue transfers and other methods to achieve the appearance improvements desired by their patients. As with other specialties, plastic surgery includes subspecialties like surgery on the head and face (craniofacial surgery), the hand and serious burns.

 What They Do: Cosmetic procedures

Annual Earnings: $393, 073

Training: 2 years