17 Medical Salaries, Adjusted for ‘Quality-of-Living’

by Tera Tuten on March 31, 2014

According to labor statistics, some nurses can make north of $100,000 a year. Meanwhile, according to the documentary “The Vanishing Oath,” a full-time physician in the U.S. can take home as little as $28/hr before taxes.

These are two extremes, but it brings up an interesting topic I’ve been thinking about for a while now: How much does the pay you get out of a medical job actually give you?

We often hear of 60, 70, even 80-hour work-weeks debasing the currency of some medical salaries, while overall satisfaction for other healthcare jobs is among the highest in any industry…So what does it all work out to when it comes to the quality-of-life your job lets you have?

To find out, I did some basic math with the most recent available salary, hourly pay, average weekly hours worked, and overtime data, as well as average time needed to complete training, job satisfaction, and other elements from a variety of sources.

The results were surprising, on several levels:

‘Apples-to-oranges’ (er, ‘LPNs to radiologists’)

Interestingly enough, using the numbers below, RNs have a higher quality-of-living than physical therapists (even though physical therapists ranked #3 in “happiest” jobs out there by Forbes…note the difference in terminology, though – “quality of life” doesn’t necessarily mean exactly the same as “happiest.”)

Meanwhile, pediatricians on average seem to have a better quality-of-life (7/10) than urologists (5/10), despite pulling-in barely 1/3 the salary ($189,000/year on-average, compared to $461,000.)

While some specialists earn more, on average, orthopedic surgeons seem to make the highest average salary of any type of physician ($519,000/year) and have the highest equivalent-hourly-pay, though their salary works out to $357,900 when adjusted to reflect non-paid overtime (beyond a 40-hour-work-week).

Medical lifestyle highs-and-lows

In theory, and according to the data below,  a neurologist (6/10) has it easier on-average than an anaesthesiologist (4/10), but not as much so as a psychiatrist (7/10).

And none of those occupations have the quality-of-life of an average RN (10/10 on our scale), though nursing administrators (9/10) and midwives (8.5/10) come close.

While it would be nice to say that the notoriously-low-pay/high-stress of paramedics is compensated for by something else (such as modest hours) that just isn’t the case.

However, paramedics didn’t rank lowest in terms of overall quality-of-life (they actually managed a decent 7/10.) That distinction was shared between general surgeons and anesthesiologists, who both scored 4/10.

Full results:

Wondering about the details of one of the professions mentioned above (or one that wasn’t)?

Here are the stats compiled to arrive at the “Overall quality-of-living” number below for each of 17 different medical jobs, starting with a variety of physicians, as well as a few nursing and other (EMT, physical therapist, etc…) careers.

Each entry ends with a score out of 10, based on salary, amount of time and money needed for schooling to get the salary, weekly hours, and surveyed job-satisfaction:


Family physician

Average salary: $189,000

Average hours of work per-week: 53

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $68.58

Years of graduate medical education required: 3

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 46%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 6

Anesthesiologist

Average salary: $335,000

Average hours of work per-week: 61

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $105.61

Years of graduate medical education required: 4

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 47%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 4

Emergency physician

Average salary: $264,000

Average hours of work per-week: 46

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $110.37

Years of graduate medical education required: 4

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 51%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 7

Psychiatrist

Average salary: $189,000

Average hours of work per-week: 48

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $75.72

Years of graduate medical education required: 4

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 52%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 7

Neurologist

Average salary: $280,000

Average hours of work per-week: 56

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $96.15

Years of graduate medical education required: 4

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 44%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 6

Orthopedic surgeon

Average salary: $519,000

Average hours of work per-week: 58

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $172.08

Years of graduate medical education required: 5

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 44%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 7

Pediatrician

Average salary: $189,000

Average hours of work per-week: 54

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $67.31

Years of graduate medical education required: 3

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 51%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 7

Radiologist

Average salary: $358,000

Average hours of work per-week: 58

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $118.70

Years of graduate medical education required: 4

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 47%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 6

Surgeon (general)

Average salary: $343,000

Average hours of work per-week: 60

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $109.94

Years of graduate medical education required: 5

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 43%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 4

Urologist

Average salary: $461,000

Average hours of work per-week: 61

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $145.33

Years of graduate medical education required: 5

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $170,000

Job satisfaction: 51%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 5

Midwife

Average salary: $84,000

Average hours of work per-week: 38

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $42.51

Years of graduate medical education required: 1-2

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $60,000

Job satisfaction: varies wildly, little data – between 49 and 91%, grossly averaged to 75%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 8.5

Advanced practice RN  

Average salary (average yearly pay from base hourly rate, plus average time-and-a-half overtime, assuming paid vacation and holidays): $87,890

Average hours of work per-week (base-40-hours, plus overtime): 45

Average hourly rate (including overtime hours): $37.56

Years of graduate medical education required: 1-2

Start-to-finish cost to finish education (including all post-secondary training):

Job satisfaction: little data – between 49 and 98% grossly averaged to 75%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 8.5

Registered Nurse (RN)

Average salary (average yearly pay from base hourly rate, plus average time-and-a-half overtime, assuming paid vacation and holidays): $69,865

Average hours of work per-week (includes overtime): 45

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $29.78

Years of graduate medical education required: 0

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $30-65,000

Job satisfaction: 78%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 10

Nurse administrator

Average salary: $72,000

Average hours of work per-week: 50

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $27.69

Years of graduate medical education required: 0-2

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $30-75,000

Job satisfaction 72%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 9

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Average salary: $39,000

Average hours of work per-week: 30

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $25.01

Years of graduate medical education required: 0

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $10-15,000

Job satisfaction: 74% (based on anecdotal evidence and subjective rankings from national surveys [i.e. ‘high’, very good’, etc…])

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 7

Paramedic

Average salary (average yearly pay from base hourly rate, plus average time-and-a-half overtime, assuming paid vacation and holidays): $34,091

Average hours of work per-week (includes overtime): 50

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $13.11

Years of graduate medical education required: 0

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: $10-15,000

Job satisfaction: 51-60% (despite much lower %s for specific aspects of their jobs)

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 7

Physical therapist

Average salary: $78,000

Average hours of work per-week: 40

Hourly rate (salary, divided by average hours): $37.50

Years of graduate medical education required: 2-3

Average start-to-finish cost to finish medical education: up to $75,000

Job satisfaction: 78%

Overall quality-of-living score (out of 10): 9

Can we quantify quality-of-life between medical careers?

So can we really compare an orthopedic surgeon to a physical therapist…and a physical therapist to an EMT?

The above overview is riding on the backs of much more comprehensive surveys here to try and quasi-methodically look at overall quality-of-life for different medical professionals.

Take it with a grain of salt, somewhere between entertainment and worthwhile food-for-thought.

As far as we know, this has never been done before (at least, not across such a variety of medical jobs.)

What do you think? Are the rankings above accurate in your experience? Any other job paths we should have included?

 

Sources: JAMA, NIH, AAMC, Forbes, US News & World Report, medscape.com, payscale.com, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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