There was no doubt regarding the shortage of qualified nurses and doctors in the United States, given that there were already official figures to support that claim. However, never in recent history was the shortage felt more direly than it was in 2020. Not only did it hamper patient care immensely in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, but it also overworked the healthcare workers beyond what was already considered by many to be impossible hours. With the US holding the top position as having both the highest number of recorded infections and the highest number of deaths due to covid, it remains a sad reminder of many facts. One of those many sad reminders is, of course, the lack of sufficient healthcare workers within the industry.
Now that things seem to slowly be getting under relative control, especially with new vaccines becoming more and more available, 2021 will see multiple changes taking place within the healthcare industry in US. Out of the multiple effects that we already have seen, a hike in the salary of emergency healthcare workers at the highest risk of direct exposure (surgeons, nurses, first responders and the like) has been quite noticeable, along with an even more significant hike in their employment rates. This presents students, as well as working professionals, with the opportunity to become a part of the effort to rebuild the nation’s healthcare infrastructure, as well as to decide on more prospective career choices. Keeping some of the recent changes in mind, let us now take a look at the highest paid healthcare jobs next.
No other profession within the healthcare sector can match up to the salaries being paid to doctors, and neither can any other skill-based profession in the entire nation! As long as we are only counting proper, hard skill-based jobs, doctors get paid more on an average than any other employee across all industries. However, the categorization “doctor” is very broad, and cannot be cited as being definitive. There are several types of doctors, and depending on their specialization, experience and reputation, the salary structures are extremely diverse. However, taking notes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Salary.Com, the following mean salaries can be attributed to the top five, highest-paid specializations for doctors:
- Surgeons – The most in-demand and highest paid professionals in the US earn $399,500/year on an average, although it was roughly 252,040/year in 2019
- Anesthesiologist – Now earning over $394,500/year on an average, after seeing a post-covid jump from $267,020/year in 2019
- Obstetricians and Gynecologists – $290,500/year, whereas the national average pay for obstetricians and gynecologists was $233,610/year in 2019
- Psychiatrists – They were earning an average of $220,430/year in 2019, and the pay rate has since grown to roughly $232,000/year now
- Internal Medicine Specialists, aka Internists – An understandable boost to roughly $223,000/year now has been seen in the pay rate on an average, from being paid $198,370/year in 2019.
There are subcategories here as well, and every qualified specialist in the vast field of dental sciences is at the very least, a qualified dentist first. The highest paid dentists would be the following (some of whom might get paid more than even doctors):
- Maxillofacial and Oral Surgeons – With an annual salary of $237,570 in 2019 and approximately $290,000 now, they are among the highest paid professionals in the USA today
- Orthodontists – Orthodontists earn about $230,830/year (2019) on an average, but some of the recent data suggests that it might have gone down to $145,000/year, post-covid
- Prosthodontists – $220,840 was a prosthodontist’s average income in 2019, but both PayScale and Salary.Com report the average to have come down significantly ($151,000 – $181,000/year).
Out of the three primary professions in healthcare that we discussed today, no other profession is in more need of qualified workers than the field of nursing. In 2021, big changes are expected in pay, autonomy and rate of recruitment for nurses. To get a better understanding of what is to come in the following months, check out the hot topics in nursing here. It discusses the upcoming changes and trends, in addition to pointing out how the present nursing force can start training themselves right now to make the most out of those trends soon. As for the highest paid nursing jobs in the field, they are:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – The highest paid nurses were earning $181,040/year in 2019, and $188,400 now, approximately
- Nurse Practitioners (NP) – the only nurses with the authority to run an autonomous practice (in select states only), it is difficult to estimate the NP’s average salary now, but back in 2019, it stood at $115,800/year
- Certified Nurse Midwife – Midwives have received a boost recently, as their average income went up to $112,000/year post-covid from $91,300 – $101,450 per year, even in 2020
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNP) – Roughly $108,300/year right now, with insufficient past data to prepare a comparison.
The data presented here should be useful for not just students, but professionals as well. Most of the best career boosting opportunities can only be taken advantage of after gaining experience and completing the higher educational qualifications as deemed necessary within that specific segment of healthcare.
As is true for everything else in life, when there is a significant difference between demand and supply, the prices will also fluctuate in response. Given that there is a shortage of qualified medical professionals in fields of direct-exposure, you can expect to earn a heftier salary even if you do not belong to the three prime categories of healthcare workers discussed here. Fresh high school graduates will notice that it is easier to get trained and acquire an entry level job this year in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers, as well as in the years to come. For example, the average salary of first responders such as EMTs and paramedics has grown from only about $34,000 – $45,000/year on an average to $54,800+ annually now. When accompanied by timely part-time or online education on the side, their combination of training, experience and proper education can help them build a highly coveted career in healthcare.
Image credits: Freepik/drobotdean