Top Physician Earners Are Specialists With Business Income

Top-earning physicians rely heavily on non-W2 income sources and training to set them apart

  • The highest-earning physicians make money from businesses more than from wages.
  • Physician earnings show a relationship to work hours, where specialties with longer average hours (like neurosurgeons and cardiac surgeons) have higher income. Ten extra hours per week in that context is associated with $195,000 higher annual income.
  • Length of training is correlated with earnings, where each extra year of training is associated with $143,000 extra annual income.


Gottlieb JD, Polyakova M, Rinz K, Shiplett H, Udalova V. Who Values Human Capitalists' Human Capital? The Earnings and Labor Supply of U.S. Physicians. NBER. Accessed October 16, 2023.