How Long It Take To Become a Doctor (For Every Specialty) - Prep For Med School

How Long It Take To Become a Doctor (For Every Specialty)

How Long Does It Take to Become a Doctor-

So you want to be a doctor? Watching enough Grey’s Anatomy or House can get you hyped to become a doctor. It seems scrubs and white coats have never been more attractive. But before you can be on the floor running to coding patients, you have to slough through years of training, practicing on cadavers and mannequins first.

Just how long does it take to be a doctor? Well, “doctor” is pretty broad. Depending on what specialty you want to practice, the amount of training you go through can vary. The general path in the U.S. includes:

A Snapshot of Physician Training
Training Years Exams
Undergraduate School 4 MCAT
Medical School 4 Step 1, Step 2, Shelfs
Residency 3 – 7 Step 3, Inservice Exam, Board Certification
Fellowship 1 – 3 Board Certification

Time spent in undergraduate and medical school is consistent (already 8 years in total). The difference in time lies in the residency and fellowship, which varies by specialty. The total amount of time it’ll take to become a doctor ranges from 11 years to 18 years, depending on the specialty. This is the time from college until you are completely done with training. 

In this article, we’re going to dissect what this decade long journey consists of–by specialty! Each specialty comes with its own subspecialties as well, so we’re going to cover all that here.

If you are in a hurry, we have quickly compiled all the necessary and relevant information for each specialty in this neat chart below.

Length to Become a Doctor Chart With Median Salary And Hours Worked Information


Average Length of Training

Average Hours/Weeks

Average Weeks/Year

Median Salary

Anesthesiology 4 years 61 hrs 45.50 weeks $404,000 – $414,000
Adult cardiothoracic anesthesiology 5 years      
Critical care medicine 5 years      
Pain medicine 5 years      
Pediatric anesthesiology 5 years      
Child Neurology 3 years  –  – $189,,000 – $281,000 
Dermatology 4 years  45.40 hrs 45.70 weeks  $299,000 – $420,000 
Dermatopathology 5 years      
Procedural dermatology 5 years      
Emergency Medicine 3 years  46.40 hrs 47.70 weeks  $290,000 – $382,000 
Medical toxicology fellowship 5 years      
Pediatric emergency medicine fellowship 5 years      
Sports medicine fellowship 4 years      
Undersea and hyperbaric medicine fellowship 4 years      
Family Medicine 3 years 52.60 hrs  47.60 weeks  $207,000 – $239,000 
Geriatric medicine fellowship (FM) 4 years      
Hospice and palliative medicine fellowship 4 years      
Obstetrics fellowship: (not yet accredited) 4 years      
Sports medicine fellowship (FM) 4 years      
Urgent care fellowship 4 years      
Internal Medicine 3 years  54.90 hrs 47.70 weeks  $218,000 – $264,000 
Allergy and immunology fellowship 5 years      
Cardiovascular disease fellowship 6 years      
Clinical cardiac electrophysiology fellowship 4 years      
Critical care medicine fellowship 5 years      
Endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism fellowship 5 years      
Gastroenterology fellowship 6 years      
Geriatric medicine fellowship 4 years      
Hematology fellowship 5 years      
Hematology and oncology fellowship 6 years      
Infectious disease fellowship 5 years      
Interventional cardiology fellowship 4 years      
Nephrology fellowship 5 years      
Oncology fellowship 5 years      
Pulmonary disease fellowship 5 years      
Pulmonary disease and critical care medicine fellowship 6 years      
Rheumatology fellowship 5 years      
Sleep medicine fellowship 4 years      
Transplant hepatology fellowship 4 years      
Medical Genetics 2 years  – –  $161,000 – $221,000 
Molecular genetic pathology fellowship 3 years      
Molecular genetic pathology fellowship 3 years      
Neurological Surgery 7 yrs 58.2 hrs   – $569,000 – $700,000 
Endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellowship 8 years      
Neurology 4 years  50.8 hrs 45.90 weeks  $217,000 – $317,000 
Child neurophysiology fellowship 9 years      
Clinical neurophysiology 5 years      
Endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellowship 5 years      
Neuromuscular medicine fellowship 5 years      
Pain medicine fellowship 5 years      
Nuclear Medicine 3 years  –  – $312,000 – $369,000 
Obstetrics and Gynecology 4 years  58 hrs  47 weeks $265,000 – $318,000 
Ophthalmology 3 years  51 hrs 47 weeks  $263,000 – $349,000 
Ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery fellowship 5 years      
Orthopaedic Surgery 5 years  57 hrs  47 weeks $464,000 – $612,000 
Adult reconstructive orthopaedics fellowship 6 years      
Foot and ankle orthopaedics fellowship 6 years      
Hand surgery fellowship 6 years      
Musculoskeletal oncology 6 years      
Orthopaedic sports medicine fellowship 6 years      
Orthopaedic surgery of the spine 6 years      
Orthopaedic trauma 6 years      
Pediatric orthopaedics 6 years      
Otolaryngology 5 years  53.1 hrs  48 weeks $335,000 – $450,000 
Neurotology fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric fellowship 7 years      
Pathology (Anatomic and Clinical) 4 years  – 47.10 weeks  $223,000 – $297,000 
Blood banking/transfusion medicine fellowship 5 years      
Bone and soft tissue pathology fellowship 5 years      
Breast and gynecologic pathology fellowship 5 years      
Chemical pathology fellowship 5 years      
Cytopathology fellowship 5 years      
Forensic pathology fellowship 5 years      
Gastrointestinal and hepatic pathology fellowship 5 years      
Hematopathology fellowship 5 years      
Medical microbiology fellowship 5 years      
Neuropathology fellowship 6 years      
Pediatric Pathology fellowship 5 years      
Renal pathology fellowship 5 years      
Surgical pathology fellowship 5 years      
Pediatrics 4 years  61 hrs 45.50 weeks  $404,000 – $414,000 
Adolescent medicine fellowship 7 years      
Allergy and immunology fellowship 6 years      
Child abuse pediatrics fellowship 7 years      
Developmental-behavioral pediatrics 7 years      
Neonatal-perinatal medicine fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric cardiology 7 years      
Pediatric critical care medicine fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric emergency medicine fellowship 6 years      
Pediatric endocrinology fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric gastroenterology fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric infectious disease fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric nephrology fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric pulmonology fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric rheumatology fellowship 7 years      
Pediatric sports medicine fellowship 5  years      
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 4 years  45.4 hrs –  $226,000 – $259,000 
Pediatric rehabilitation fellowship 5  years      
Spinal cord injury medicine fellowship 5  years      
Sports medicine fellowship 5  years      
Plastic Surgery 4 years  52 hrs  – $378,000 – $550,000 
Craniofacial surgery fellowship 5  years      
Hand surgery 5  years      
Preventive Medicine 2 years  45.1 hrs –  $192,000 – $226,000 
Medical toxicology fellowship 4 years      
Psychiatry 4 years  46.5 hrs 47.10 weeks  $217,000 – $273,000 
Addiction psychiatry fellowship 5 years      
Child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship 6 years      
Forensic psychiatry fellowship 5 years      
Geriatric psychiatry fellowship 5 years      
Psychosomatic medicine fellowship 5 years      
Radiation Oncology 5 years  51.8 hrs  – $379,000 – $481,000 
Radiology-Diagnostic (Diagnostic Radiology) Residency 5 years  58 hrs  44.20 weeks $377,000 – $420,000 
Abdominal radiology fellowship 6 years      
Endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellowship 6 years      
Musculoskeletal radiology fellowship 6 years      
Neuroradiology fellowship 6 years      
Nuclear radiology fellowship 6 years      
Pediatric radiology fellowship 6 years      
Vascular and interventional radiology fellowship 6 years      
Surgery (General Surgery) 5 years  59.4 hrs  47.70 weeks $344,000 – $435,000 
Colon and rectal surgery fellowship 6 years      
Hand surgery fellowship 6 years      
Pediatric surgery fellowship 6 years      
Surgical critical care fellowship 6 years      
Thoracic surgery fellowship 7 years      
Vascular surgery fellowship 7 years      
Thoracic Surgery Integrated Residency 2 years  62.8 hrs  – $465,000 – $675,000 
Congenital cardiac surgery fellowship 3 years      
Vascular Surgery Integrated Residency 5 years  71.1 hrs –  $336,000 – $456,000 
Urology Residency 5 years 58.1 hrs   46 weeks $362,000 – $464,000 
Pediatric urology fellowship 6 years      

First Stop: College

Having a bachelor’s degree is one of the requirements for applying to medical school, so college is a no-brainer first step. The good thing, though, is that you can major in anything you want. That is as long as you take a series of classes that medical school applications require. 

Typically, colleges offer a “pre-med track,” which already fulfills most requirements. Consulting with your college’s pre-health office if you’re interested in pursuing medical school would be helpful!

Generally, the minimum requirements include completing: one year of biology, one year of physics, one year of English, and two years of chemistry (including organic chemistry). Other schools may require courses like genetic or behavioral science on top of the minimum, but that can all be found on school-specific websites.

Besides coursework, letters of recommendation are required. How many and from whom you can get them from all depend on which medical schools you want to apply to. 

Arguably the most important component of your med school app: the MCAT score. There may be a minimum score requirement depending on the school, but from my experience, anything in the 90th percentile and above should help (the specific cut-offs vary each year). Definitely, the higher your MCAT score, the better.

Must Read: See how Prep For Med School writer Alexa Smith scored in the 99th percentile on her MCAT!

College is also the perfect time to figure out whether or not medicine is for you by gaining clinical experience, through scribing, for instance! 

At the end of college (or perhaps a gap year or two afterward), you undergo the rigorous (sometimes expensive) process of applying to medical school.

Along For The Ride: Medical School

Once you’ve decided that you want to do medicine and apply to medical school, it’s time for another four years of schooling! But don’t worry, medical school isn’t four years of textbook learning and cramming random details into your head. This is also when you get your first taste of clinical work.

Preclinical Years

The first two years (MS1 and MS2), dubbed the “preclinical years,” primarily consist of building your medical knowledge and learning basic clinical skills, such as patient interviewing or physical exams and maneuvers.

You will most likely be taking the most important exam for your residency application at the end of MS2: Step 1. Some schools may have students take Step 1 during their third year instead. (It’s becoming Pass/Fail in 2022!)

Clinical Years

The last two years (MS3 and MS4) are the clinical years, when medical students rotate in different specialty-based electives and sometimes, between different hospitals as well. Unfortunately, your studying doesn’t stop now even though you’re on the floors! Throughout your third and fourth years, you’ll be taking national exams such as shelf exams (taken after specific rotations) and Step 2.

MS4 is also the time when you start applying for residency! Everything you’ve done in medical school from exams to community service to research all count. Applying to residency is pretty much a throwback to applying to medical school—with some changes.

The Final Hurdle: Medical Training (Residency and Fellowship)

After graduating with your M.D., your next step is residency–training in a specialty. Although you’re gaining heavy hands-on training now, standardized exams aren’t a thing of the past yet. During residency, you will have to take Step 3 (the last of the United States Medical Licensing Examination), a yearly in-service exam, and finish with board certification exams. 

Your residency can last anywhere from three to seven years (or more)!

Depending on what you choose to specialize in, you might want to pursue further training even after residency. A fellowship would allow you to focus on a subspecialty area in education, research, or clinical practice. The typical fellowship is usually one to three years long.

All in all, certain specialties can take up to 10 years of additional postgraduate training!

If you’re curious, read on to find out more about some specialties and how much longer training may take!

The average hours, length of training, and salary data is collected from AAMC. Therefore, some of the data may be different than other sources. Also, if the data is not available with AAMC, we have kept it blank in this article.


Anesthesiologists’ main job is to provide pain relief and management during and after a procedure, whether that’s a surgery, obstetric, or diagnostic procedure. It’s more than just injecting a numbing agent and waiting for a patient to wake up.

 Anesthesiologists have to evaluate and tailor a plan best fit to each patient’s overall health, assess potential complications, provide life support when patients are under, and consider a plan in case problems arise (i.e., cardiac or respiratory resuscitation). A typical anesthesiology residency averages to about four years, and a starting salary begins at around $300,000.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$404,000 – $414,000
Average Hrs/Wk61 hrs
Average Wks/Yr45.50 weeks
Anesthesiology SubspecialtyAdditional Training
Adult cardiothoracic anesthesiology1-year fellowship
Critical care medicine1-year fellowship
Pain medicine1-year fellowship
Pediatric anesthesiology1-year fellowship

Child Neurology

Also known as pediatric neurology, child neurologists specialize in managing neurologic conditions for patients in the neonatal (just born) period, infancy, early childhood, and teenage years. They might see patients sparingly or work with them on a long-term basis for managing chronic neurological conditions. 

Some conditions they deal with include autism, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or mental retardation. Many times, this specialty requires the ability to work with patients with limited or nonexistent verbal skills.

Training requires successful completion of 

  • 2 years of pediatrics residency training
  • 1 year of pediatrics residency and 1 year of family medicine residency
  • 1 year of pediatrics residency and 1 year of neuroscience research
Average Length of Training3 yrs
Median Salary$189,,000 – $281,000
Average Hrs/Wk
Average Wks/Yr


One of the most competitive specialties, dermatology is a specialty well known for its nice work-life balance. 

Dermatologists diagnose, treat, and manage pediatric and adult cases involving the skin, mouth, external genitalia, hair and nails, and certain sexually transmitted diseases. 

They can practice in anything from dermatopathology (skin diseases) to surgical and cosmetic procedures. The average residency lasts for 4 years, and a dermatology salary can get as high as $700,000.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$299,000 – $420,000
Average Hrs/Wk45.40 hrs
Average Wks/Yr45.70 weeks
Dermatology SubspecialtyAdditional Training
Dermatopathology1-year fellowship
Procedural dermatology1-year fellowship

Emergency Medicine

Emergency medicine physicians work in high-pressure, fast-paced, and diverse environments. 

They must make immediate decisions and actions to stabilize patients and prevent their deaths (or otherwise worsening conditions).

 Emergency medicine doctors see cases across a spectrum of physical and behavioral conditions. They primarily practice in hospitals as opposed to clinics.

Average Length of Training3 yrs
Median Salary$290,000 – $382,000
Average Hrs/Wk46.40 hrs
Average Wks/Yr47.70 weeks
Emergency Medicine SubspecialtyAdditional Training
Medical toxicology fellowship2-year fellowship
Pediatric emergency medicine fellowship2-year fellowship
Sports medicine fellowship1-year fellowship
Undersea and hyperbaric medicine fellowship1-year fellowship

Family Medicine

A specialty that covers a broader spectrum of health conditions, family medicine involves the total health care of an individual and a family. 

Family medicine physicians train in a broad range of topics, including internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, psychiatry, and geriatrics. 

They also serve as a patient’s advocate in many health matters, take into account social and behavioral sciences, and provide comprehensive healthcare and preventive services.

Average Length of Training3 yrs
Median Salary$207,000 – $239,000
Average Hrs/Wk52.60 hrs
Average Wks/Yr47.60 weeks
Family Medicine SubspecialtyAdditional Training
Geriatric medicine fellowship (FM)1-year fellowship
Hospice and palliative medicine fellowship1-year fellowship
Obstetrics fellowship: (not yet accredited)1-year fellowship
Sports medicine fellowship (FM)1-year fellowship
Urgent care fellowship1-year fellowship

Internal Medicine

Physicians who practice internal medicine are known as internists. They provide long-term comprehensive medical care in both hospital and clinic settings and may address a wide variety of health conditions. Their patients primarily include adolescents, adults, and the elderly. 

Internists receive training in dealing with areas involving the heart, blood, kidneys, joints, digestive, respiratory, and vascular systems, and other systems. Usually, physicians pursue additional training to specialize in specific systems such as cardiology, rheumatology, or critical care.

Average Length of Training3 yrs
Median Salary$218,000 – $264,000
Average Hrs/Wk54.90 hrs
Average Wks/Yr47.70 weeks
Internal Medicine SubspecialtyAdditional Training
Allergy and immunology fellowship2-year fellowship
Cardiovascular disease fellowship3-year fellowship
Clinical cardiac electrophysiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Critical care medicine fellowship2-year fellowship
Endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism fellowship2-year fellowship
Gastroenterology fellowship3-year fellowship
Geriatric medicine fellowship1-year fellowship
Hematology fellowship2-year fellowship
Hematology and oncology fellowship3-year fellowship
Infectious disease fellowship2-year fellowship
Interventional cardiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Nephrology fellowship2-year fellowship
Oncology fellowship2-year fellowship
Pulmonary disease fellowship2-year fellowship
Pulmonary disease and critical care medicine fellowship3-year fellowship
Rheumatology fellowship2-year fellowship
Sleep medicine fellowship1-year fellowship
Transplant hepatology fellowship1-year fellowship

Medical Genetics

Medical geneticists not only care for patients (perhaps on a long-term basis) but also carry out the translational work to expand our current knowledge of genetic disorders and congenital disabilities. 

Their work largely varies. Some provide genetic counseling, therapeutic interventions, or prenatal diagnosis for prevention. Some may plan and coordinate large scale screening programs for genetic disorders. Others may work with patients more often, especially infants and children.

 Sometimes, physicians trained in other specialties, such as ophthalmologists or dermatologists, can also become a medical geneticist to advance our understanding of genetic diseases or available technology.

Average Length of Training2 yrs
Median Salary$161,000 – $221,000
Average Hrs/Wk
Average Wks/Yr
Medical Genetics ResidencyAdditional Training
Molecular genetic pathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Molecular genetic pathology fellowship1-year fellowship

Neurological Surgery

A neurological surgeon manages operative and nonoperative neurological disorders that involve the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems. 

Their work can range from pain management to diagnosis and treatment to managing supporting structures and vascular supply of a neurological disorder. They must be incredibly skilled surgeons (i.e., manual dexterity and incredible concentration). 

Many neurological surgeons also conduct research in addition to operations. In some cases, a neurological surgeon’s salary can be as high as $931,000

Average Length of Training7 yrs
Median Salary$569,000 – $700,000
Average Hrs/Wk58.2 hrs
Average Wks/Yr
Neurological Surgery ResidencyAdditional Training
Endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellowship1-year fellowship


Neurologists treat a variety of neurological and related disorders. 

They may deal with chronic and acute diseases or impair functions of the brain, spine, peripheral nerves, muscles, autonomic nervous system, and any of these systems’ support structures. 

Some disorders of interest include multiple sclerosis, strokes, seizure disorders, Parkinson’s Hungtington’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Training typically requires a preliminary year in general internal medicine.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$217,000 – $317,000
Average Hrs/Wk50.8 hrs
Average Wks/Yr45.90 weeks
Neurology ResidencyAdditional Training
Child neurophysiology fellowship5-year fellowship
Clinical neurophysiology1-year fellowship
Endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Neuromuscular medicine fellowship1-year fellowship
Pain medicine fellowship1-year fellowship

Nuclear Medicine

Physicians specialized in nuclear medicine use radiation detection and imaging modalities to diagnose and treat diseases, and to conduct research.

 They have special knowledge in understanding the biologic effects of radiation exposure, and physical sciences and their principles.

Training typically requires completion of a transitional year program or one year in internal medicine.

Average Length of Training3 yrs
Median Salary$312,000 – $369,000
Average Hrs/Wk
Average Wks/Yr

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Obstetrics and gynecology (sometimes shortened to Ob-Gyn) combines two specialties related to women’s health.

 Obstetrics focuses on the medical and surgical care of women before, during, and after childbirth. 

Gynecology focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders related to the female reproductive system, breasts, and related disorders. Ob-Gyns may work with patients on a long-term basis or as consultants to other doctors. Given the breadth of work they do, Ob-Gyns have the ability to use a variety of skills, including surgery, preventive medicine, or endocrinology.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$265,000 – $318,000
Average Hrs/Wk58 hrs
Average Wks/Yr47 weeks


Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat disorders related to the eye and the visual systems. In addition to the eye itself, this may include the eyelids, the orbit, or visual pathways. Their training involves medical, surgical, and rehabilitative services.

 Prior to residency, candidates are typically required to successfully complete one year in emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, or a transitional year.

Average Length of Training3 yrs
Median Salary$263,000 – $349,000
Average Hrs/Wk51 hrs
Average Wks/Yr47 weeks
Ophthalmology ResidencyAdditional training
Ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery fellowship2-year fellowship

Orthopaedic Surgery

Orthopaedic surgeons manage injuries, infections, or disorders involving the musculoskeletal system, including the spine, hands, feet, knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow.

Often, they will employ medical, surgical, and physical means to manage a case.

Orthopaedic surgeons see patients of all ages, and typically on a short-term basis. Additionally, they can practice in many focused subspecialties such as hand surgery or sports medicine.

Average Length of Training5 yrs
Median Salary$464,000 – $612,000
Average Hrs/Wk57 hrs
Average Wks/Yr47 weeks
Orthopaedic Surgery ResidencyAdditional training
Adult reconstructive orthopaedics fellowship1-year fellowship
Foot and ankle orthopaedics fellowship1-year fellowship
Hand surgery fellowship1-year fellowship
Musculoskeletal oncology1-year fellowship
Orthopaedic sports medicine fellowship1-year fellowship
Orthopaedic surgery of the spine1-year fellowship
Orthopaedic trauma1-year fellowship
Pediatric orthopaedics1-year fellowship


Otolaryngologists are also surgeons who diagnose and treat comprehensively diseases and disorders involving the head and neck (i.e., ears, nose, throat), the upper respiratory system, and other related structures. 

There is an exception of eye-related disorders and brain-related disorders as those fall in other specialties themselves. They also have an understanding of endocrinology, neurology, and communication sciences such as audiology and speech and language pathology.

Average Length of Training5 yrs
Median Salary$335,000 – $450,000
Average Hrs/Wk53.1 hrs
Average Wks/Yr48 wks
Otolaryngology ResidencyAdditional Training
Neurotology fellowship2-year fellowship
Pediatric fellowship2-year fellowship

Pathology (Anatomic and Clinical)

Pathologists are known as “the doctors’ doctors” because they deal with a discipline that is the basis of any other medical specialty.

 They investigate and help diagnose by working with information gathered from microscopic and clinical laboratory examinations of tissue specimens, cells, body fluids. 

Most of a pathologist’s time is spent researching and contributing new knowledge. Typically, pathologists work in hospitals and academic institutions where tools are more accessible to contribute to the latest advances in the biological sciences.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$223,000 – $297,000
Average Hrs/Wk
Average Wks/Yr47.10 weeks
Pathology-Anatomic and Clinical ResidencyAdditional Training
Blood banking/transfusion medicine fellowship1-year fellowship
Bone and soft tissue pathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Breast and gynecologic pathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Chemical pathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Cytopathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Forensic pathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Gastrointestinal and hepatic pathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Hematopathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Medical microbiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Neuropathology fellowship2-year fellowship
Pediatric Pathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Renal pathology fellowship1-year fellowship
Surgical pathology fellowship1-year fellowship


Pediatricians manage the physical, emotional, and social health of children from their birth to young adulthood. 

Often, pediatricians are critical in helping to detect, prevent, and manage functional social, developmental, and behavioral problems as well. They work closely with parents/guardians to manage their children’s normal health and growth, acute and/or chronic conditions.

 Pediatricians also can be active at a community level as a public advocate for children’s causes, whether it’s fostering healthier lifestyles or controlling infectious diseases.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$404,000 – $414,000
Average Hrs/Wk61 hrs
Average Wks/Yr45.50 weeks
Pediatrics ResidencyAdditional Training
Adolescent medicine fellowship3-year fellowship
Allergy and immunology fellowship2-year fellowship
Child abuse pediatrics fellowship3-year fellowship
Developmental-behavioral pediatrics3-year fellowship
Neonatal-perinatal medicine fellowship3-year fellowship
Pediatric cardiology3-year fellowship
Pediatric critical care medicine fellowship3-year fellowship
Pediatric emergency medicine fellowship2-year fellowship
Pediatric endocrinology fellowship3-year fellowship
Pediatric gastroenterology fellowship3-year fellowship
Pediatric infectious disease fellowship3-year fellowship
Pediatric nephrology fellowship3-year fellowship
Pediatric pulmonology fellowship3-year fellowship
Pediatric rheumatology fellowship3-year fellowship
Pediatric sports medicine fellowship1-year fellowship

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Sometimes known as rehabilitation medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation deals with diagnosing, evaluating, and treating physical disabilities. 

Physiatrists deal with a range of issues, from congenital disabilities to sports injuries to stroke, and any painful conditions that affect patients’ movements. They also take a holistic approach to managing their patients’ conditions and often have to coordinate with physicians in other specialties to do so.

 Some parts of a psychiatrist’s job include pain management, therapeutic exercise, prosthetics, and mechanical and electrical devices. Training requires the completion of a preliminary year prior to beginning residency.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$226,000 – $259,000
Average Hrs/Wk45.4 hrs
Average Wks/Yr
Physical Medicine and Rehab ResidencyAdditional Training
Pediatric rehabilitation fellowship1-year fellowship
Spinal cord injury medicine fellowship1-year fellowship
Sports medicine fellowship1-year fellowship

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgeons handle the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of physical defects involving a variety of systems, such as the skin, musculoskeletal system, or head. 

Their work also includes cosmetic enhancement. Thus, plastic surgeons need to have competence in a variety of surgical skills, good aesthetic sense, ability to think in three dimensions, manual dexterity, and attention for detail. They often spearhead the development of innovative surgical techniques.

The median salary range listed below is based on available academic positions, as salaries may increase in private practice.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$378,000 – $550,000
Average Hrs/Wk52 hrs
Average Wks/Yr
Plastic Surgery ResidencyAdditional Training
Craniofacial surgery fellowship1-year fellowship
Hand surgery1-year fellowship

Preventive Medicine

As the title suggests, preventive medicine specialists protect, promote, and maintain the health of individuals and specific populations, with a focus on preventing premature death and disease.

 Some distinct aspects of preventive medicine include epidemiology (especially for population-based medicine and research), health services management and administration (e.g., policy-making), occupational health and management, environmental management and health effects, and so forth. 

They work with patients of a variety of ages and backgrounds, including armed forces, hospitals, or international health agencies.

Training requires successfully completing a preliminary year.

Average Length of Training2 yrs
Median Salary$192,000 – $226,000
Average Hrs/Wk45.1 hrs
Average Wks/Yr
Preventive Medicine ResidencyAdditional Training
Medical toxicology fellowship2-year fellowship


Psychiatrists work with patients to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental, behavioral, addictive, and emotional disorders. 

They do so with an understanding of biological, psychological, and social aspects to an issue, and thus use a holistic approach to treatment. In addition to pharmacological treatments, psychiatrists may use forms of discussion to manage issues.

Average Length of Training4 yrs
Median Salary$217,000 – $273,000
Average Hrs/Wk46.5 hrs
Average Wks/Yr47.10 wks
Psychiatry ResidencyAdditional Training
Addiction psychiatry fellowship1-year fellowship
Child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship2-year fellowship
Forensic psychiatry fellowship1-year fellowship
Geriatric psychiatry fellowship1-year fellowship
Psychosomatic medicine fellowship1-year fellowship

Radiation Oncology

Radiation oncologists diagnose, treat, and manage cancer with treatment modalities involving ionizing radiation. They work with a wide range of patients with different cancers, age, or gender. Radiation therapy can be used as a curative or palliative form of cancer treatment.

Radiation Oncology

Average Length of Training5 yrs
Median Salary$379,000 – $481,000
Average Hrs/Wk51.8 hrs
Average Wks/Yr

Radiology-Diagnostic (Diagnostic Radiology) Residency

Diagnostic radiologists use radiologic methods to diagnose and treat diseases. This may include using image-guided therapeutic techniques for nuclear radiology, diagnostic ultrasound, magnetic resonance, or interventional procedures. 

They primarily work in hospitals, and can further specialize in a variety of focuses such as neuroimaging and intervention, pediatric imaging, or mammography. In essence, their job usually is to help a primary care physician diagnose and treat diseases.

The first year of residency (PGY-1, Intern Year) must include training in internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, ob-gyn, neurology, family practice, emergency medicine, or a combination (or an accredited transitional year).

Average Length of Training5 yrs
Median Salary$377,000 – $420,000
Average Hrs/Wk58 hrs
Average Wks/Yr44.20 weeks
Radiology-Diagnostic ResidencyAdditional Training
Abdominal radiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Musculoskeletal radiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Neuroradiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Nuclear radiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Pediatric radiology fellowship1-year fellowship
Vascular and interventional radiology fellowship1-year fellowship

Surgery (General Surgery)

General surgeons have a foundation that’s applicable to all surgical specialties, including anatomy, physiology, metabolism, immunology, shock and resuscitation, intensive care, and neoplasia.

They are trained to handle a wide range of injuries and diseases and provide comprehensive care for patients (diagnosis, preoperative, operative, and postoperative care). They need to have manual dexterity and rapid decision-making skills.

Average Length of Training5 yrs
Median Salary$344,000 – $435,000
Average Hrs/Wk59.4 hrs
Average Wks/Yr47.70 weeks
SurgeryAdditional Training
Colon and rectal surgery fellowship1-year fellowship
Hand surgery fellowship1-year fellowship
Pediatric surgery fellowship1-year fellowship
Surgical critical care fellowship1-year fellowship
Thoracic surgery fellowship2-year fellowship
Vascular surgery fellowship2-year fellowship

Thoracic Surgery Integrated Residency

Thoracic surgeons are trained to provide patients with operative, perioperative, and critical care. 

They deal with conditions and diseases involving the chest, including coronary artery disease, lung cancers, esophagus and chest wall, tracheal abnormalities, congenital anomalies, mediastinal tumors, and diaphragm-related diseases. 

These surgeons have special training in cardiorespiratory physiology and oncology, respiratory support systems, use of heart assist devices, and other techniques. 

A general surgery residency must be successfully completed prior to this specialty training.

Average Length of Training2 yrs
Median Salary$465,000 – $675,000
Average Hrs/Wk62.8 hrs
Average Wks/Yr
Thoracic Surgery Integrated ResidencyAdditional Training
Congenital cardiac surgery fellowship1-year fellowship

*6 years of clinical thoracic surgery education with a minimum of 24 months and a maximum of 36 months of core surgical education.

Vascular Surgery Integrated Residency

A subspecialty of general surgery, vascular surgeons deal with disorders of the vascular tree, which includes any part of the circulatory system. This may include arteries, veins, lymphatic vessels, but exclude the heart and the vessels within the cranial cavity (skull).

 They are experts in performing and reading diagnostic studies like ultrasound and angiography and minimally invasive treatments. 

Typically, candidates are required to pursue a minimum of 2 years of general surgery training as a prerequisite, but it depends on the program. This residency can last from 5 to 7 years, depending on the training route.

Average Length of Training5 yrs
Median Salary$336,000 – $456,000
Average Hrs/Wk71.1 hrs
Average Wks/Yr

Urology Residency

Urologists diagnose and medically and surgically treat disorders related to the male genitourinary system, female urinary tract, and the adrenal gland.

They work with other doctors like nephrologists to coordinate care (e.g., kidney transplantations or kidney disease). Urologists work with patients of any age and gender and may work in hospital and clinic settings. Important skills they must have to include surgical skills, manual dexterity, and good hand-eye coordination.

Prior to urology residency, candidates are required to spend a PGY-1 year in general surgery.

Average Length of Training5 yrs
Median Salary$362,000 – $464,000
Average Hrs/Wk58.1 hrs
Average Wks/Yr46 weeks
Urology ResidencyAdditional Training
Pediatric urology fellowship1-year fellowship

Conclusion: The Last Stop?

Training to become a physician is a marathon, so pace yourself. Given the amount of investment–financial, emotional, or time-wise–it’s good to get a glimpse of how long your path may take! 

All schooling after high school and training considered; it takes more than a decade to become the physician of your dreams. But if it’s something you love, it won’t be a great opportunity to explore rather than a chore. As they say, a doctor is also a life-long learner.

Does this change your mind about pursuing medicine? Let us know in the comments, and share this article with your friends, peers, and family! What specialty are you looking forward to the most?

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