What Is the Highest Starting Salary in the Medical Field?

A medical worker's level of education and training has a direct impact on wages.
A medical worker's level of education and training has a direct impact on wages. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

It is commonly known that the medical field is not only one of the largest and fastest growing industries, but also one of the highest paying for many of its encompassing occupations. While obtaining the credentials for higher paying medical careers is difficult, starting salaries for some positions in health care may be higher than the highest wages of other professions. The highest starting wages within the field are typically associated with the most skilled health care providers as well as those in medical management and administration positions.


General doctors and family practitioners are possibly the most commonly known workers in the medical field, but they are still some of the highest paid. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 2009 salary survey, even general physicians in the bottom 25th percentile, likely including less experienced doctors making starting salaries, earned up to $122,070 a year. Allied Physicians estimated that family practitioners with only one to two years of experience still made $161,000 a year on average.


There are dozens of areas of specialization that doctors can pursue, and specialists almost always make significantly more money the general practitioners. Anesthesiologist are often known to make the highest wages of any specialist, and according to the bureau, all but the bottom 10th percentile of anesthesiologists made more than $166,400 a year, and those at the bottom still earned up to $115,470 a year. In the Allied Physicians survey, general anesthesiologists with little experience earned $207,000 a year on average, and those specializing in pediatrics made $283,000 with only one to two years in the field. Gastroenterologists also made high wages with little experience, averaging $265,000 annually.


Surgeons are often the highest paid health care providers in the nation. The bureau states that as of 2009, even the bottom 10th percentile of surgeons made up to $121,830 a year. General surgeons with one to two years of experience reported an average of $226,000 a year according to the Allied Physicians report, but those specializing in cardiovascular surgery made an average wage of $336,000 a year starting out in their careers. The highest paid starting surgeons in the report were neurological surgeons, averaging $354,000 a year in the first two years in the field.

Health Care Management

Doctors are not the only professionals in the health care industry that garner high starting salaries. Some people are not medical providers at all but maintain the business side of health care. Medical and health service managers and administrators made a median salary of $81,850 a year, but even those in the bottom 25th percentile had the chance to earn $63,700 a year, according to the 2009 bureau report. These figures are also likely to be higher for managers working in facilities with larger numbers of providers and technicians.

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