What’s the best medical or dental specialty out there? In many ways your best bet is dental school. After four years you can be ready to practice as a general dentist – making money instead of racking up more debt. All physicians must go through at least three more years of residency. And all medical and dental specialties require another two to seven years additional training.
Money, Love and Change
Recent surveys and healthcare statistics vary widely about salary, depending on the factors considered and calculation methods. And for most folks there’s more to life than money – those things we call lifestyle and job satisfaction. So if you’re still choosing a specialty, ask yourself:
- How many years of schooling are required?
- How passionate am I about this field? In most cases you can’t just switch specialties later on without more years of schooling.
- Will I be able to control how many hours I work, and when? That dictates how much predictable personal time you’ll have for family or play.
- How stressful is the job?
And if money is your driving interest after all, consider this: the more hours you work, the less you’re making per hour. If your specialty averages $250,000 per year but you typically have to work 61 hours per week, that’s $78.81 an hour. But if your specialty averages 20% less -- $200,000 per year – yet you only have to work 45 hours per week, you’re making $85.47 per hour. Hmmmm. . .
The Number 1 Best Job in 2013?
Of their 100 Best Jobs for 2013, US News ranks dentist at #1 and physician at #5, based on a composite score of salary, employment opportunity, work-life balance and job security.
There’s no doubt that “best” is in the eye of the beholder. Or the job-holder. We’ve compiled our own Top 10 list of medical specialties. Bear in mind that the salary ranges noted here are just averages. Top surgical specialties such as cardio, neuro and oral/maxillofacial can earn well over a half-million dollars annually.
Here’s our Top 10:
1. Orthodontist. Salaries average $166-204,000. You need two or three years of additional training after dental school, then you'll have good control over working hours and low stress. .
2. General dentist. Salaries average $142-162,000. You have moderate control over your hours and, there’s no additional schooling necessary beyond the four years of dental school.
3. Radiologist. Salaries average about $391,000. You need four additional years of schooling, but you have good control over working hours. This is considered among the least stressful specialties.
4. Dermatologist. Salaries average $297,000. You need four additional years of training, but dermatologists can control their hours and often work a much shorter week. This is considered one of the least stressful specialties, and it’s ranked very high in job satisfaction.
5. Anesthesiologist. Salaries average $220-344,000. You need four additional years of schooling and you’ll probably have to work longer hours, but you’ll have better control. This is considered one of the least stressful specialties. And if you don’t particularly like people, this one’s for you – there’s virtually no patient interaction.
6. Ophthalmologist. Salaries average about $295,000. You need four additional years of training but you’ll have good control over working hours and very little stress. This specialty is ranked high in job satisfaction.
7. Family practice. Along with pediatrics, this specialty is considered least desirable from a financial standpoint and because you have poor control over your hours. Salaries average $174-189,000, but you only need three additional years of schooling, and family practice is ranked very high in job satisfaction.
8. Pediatrics. Salaries average about $189,000. You need three additional years of schooling, and as noted above you won’t have much control over your hours. But peds is ranked very high in job satisfaction.
9. Psychiatrist. Salaries average $167-189,000. You need four additional years of training. You’ll likely have a shorter work week than other specialties and not much stress. This specialty is typically ranked high in job satisfaction.
10. Surgeon. Depending on your exact specialty, salaries average $214-321,000. You need between five and seven years additional training, working hours are uncontrollable and the job is considered very stressful. Nonetheless, it’s ranked high in job satisfaction.
And we’d give Honorable Mention to:
11. OB/GYN. Salaries average $210-268,000. You need four additional years of training, the hours are especially long and uncontrollable, the work is stressful and the liability is high. And yet obstetrics is ranked high in job satisfaction.
12. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Salaries average $166-217,000 but can go much higher. This specialty has the longest schooling requirement since you’re both a dentist and a medical surgeon. You can count on little control over your hours.
Do you agree? How would you rank your specialty?
Photo credit: Cristiano Betta