How Much Does a Senior Physician Earn?

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Do you want to know what a senior doctor earns? If you are considering a career in the medical profession, there are certain factors you should take into account before setting out on your path.

In this article, you can read about what salary you can expect as a senior physician, which specialist areas bring more bang for the buck, other factors that affect what you earn and how you can influence yourself if you want a bigger salary envelope.

Briefly About what a Senior Physician is

A senior physician is a doctor who specialized, gained experience and then applied for a position as a senior physician. The chief physician is the head of, for example, a department within his specialist field. In short, a senior doctor is a specialist doctor with personnel responsibility.

This is basically the highest position you can have as a doctor and the road to get there is long. This is what it looks like:

Step 1 – Read the medical program and become a completed doctor.

Step 2 – Specialize by attending specialist training.

Step 3 – Work as a specialist and gather even more knowledge and experience.

Step 4 – Apply for and get a position as a senior physician.

What is the Salary of a Senior Physician?

If you are considering a career in the medical professions and aim to one day become a chief medical officer, you may want to know what you can expect in terms of salary?

In the United States area, a Senior Physician typically earns an estimated total pay of $235,851 annually, with an average salary of $204,107 per year. These figures are based on data collected from our users and calculated using our proprietary Total Pay Estimate model, with the median serving as the midpoint. Additionally, an estimated $31,744 per year may be received as additional pay, which could encompass cash bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing. The ‘Most Likely Range’ reflects values falling within the 25th and 75th percentile of all available pay data for this role.

Salary data is taken from the source indicated and reflects the data available at the time of writing. The salary may vary depending on the employer and geographical location as well as the applicant’s experience and educational background.

Factors Affecting Salary

Before you take the step into your medical career, it can be good to know which different factors can affect your future salary. In addition to being a sharp salary negotiator, there are three other important factors you should keep in mind – what specialist area you work in, what region you operate in and whether you work in the private or public sector.

Specialist competence

Since the 2nd step to becoming a senior doctor is to specialize, it may be useful to know that the salary can differ significantly between the different specialist areas.

The salary is markedly higher in the specialist skills in which there is a shortage, and the reason why there is a shortage of doctors in certain specialist areas is because fewer choose certain specialisations. Some specialist areas are simply less popular. It is also due to the fact that certain specialist skills are needed to a greater extent and that there are not enough people with that orientation to cover the need.

If you want a high salary as a senior physician, you should invest in specializing in one of the following ten specialist areas.

1. Clinical Pathology

Specialists in this specialization diagnose diseases and health conditions by analyzing samples and conducting autopsies.

2. Neuroradiology

Specialists with this specialization work in a highly specialized X-ray department and examine the brain, spinal cord and areas of the head and neck.

3. Forensic Psychiatry

Specialists with this focus examine the mental state of criminal suspects.

4. Nuclear Medicine

Specialists in this specialization look at how the body’s various organs and tissues function with the help of radioactive drugs and a gamma or PET camera.

5. Hand Surgery

Specialists with this orientation treat injuries and diseases of tissues, nerves, vessels, tendons, muscles and bones in the arm and hand.

6. Clinical Genetics

Specialists in this specialization treat various congenital genetic diseases and syndromes as well as hereditary cancers.

7. Psychiatry

Specialists in this specialization diagnose and treat mental illnesses and conditions.

8. General Medicine

Specialists in this direction take care of patients at health centers and other doctors’ offices in, for example, primary care.

9. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Specialists in this direction work with children’s mental health, for example by carrying out investigations related to ADHD and other conditions.

10. Pain relief

Specialists in this direction investigate pain patients and review medication and suggest treatments that can provide relief.

Biggest shortage, highest salary

The shortage is greatest in clinical pathology. This means that you can expect the highest salary in that specialist field. You get the lowest salary if you specialize as a paediatrician, which is a popular specialization where there is no shortage of doctors at the moment.


Half of all doctors are active in the metropolitan regions as well as in Uppsala, Lund, Linköping and Umeå. In places far away from these cities and in sparsely populated areas, it is most difficult to recruit, which means that salaries are often higher there to attract competence. This also applies to chief medical officers and chief medical officers’ salaries.

Public or private sector

Senior doctors have a higher salary in the public sector than in the private sector. This is not so surprising since the public sector is by far the largest employer of senior doctors. In addition, wage growth is better in the public sector compared to the private sector.

How to raise your salary – some tips

Here we have collected some tips on how to increase your chief medical officer’s salary further.

On Call and Preparedness

If you work inconvenient hours, i.e. evenings, weekends and public holidays, and take on-call shifts, you can increase your salary significantly. The compensation for passes at inconvenient times and on-call is added to your basic salary and there can be thousands of kroner extra in the pay envelope.

Relay Doctor

A relay doctor, or temporary doctor as it is also called, is a doctor or senior doctor who works in several different places. You are hired where reinforcement is temporarily needed. This may mean that you work at several different hospitals in your region, or at different hospitals around the country.

As a relay doctor, you are either self-employed and participate in procurement yourself, or you work for a staffing company that handles the procurement. Different staffing companies have different agreements with the regions, which in turn determine how big a salary increase you get. In general, you can get between 50 and 100 percent more in salary.

Salary Negotiation like a Pro

It is always good to prepare for the salary negotiation by thinking about what you did well during the year, what qualifications you have or have acquired, how much responsibility you have taken or other things that are of value to the employer. It is also a good idea to keep track of the wage situation in the region.

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Change Region

The majority of all regions have problems recruiting specialists and senior doctors because there is a severe shortage of such doctors throughout the country. It is particularly difficult in sparsely populated areas. If you want to increase your salary significantly, you can therefore think about whether you want to take the step and move to a smaller place.

Change Employer

A trick that many people use is to change employers at regular intervals. It is a good opportunity to quickly raise the salary a few notches. It can be a good habit to occasionally check which jobs are out there on  in your specialist area.

The next step in your career

As a senior physician, you have reached the absolute top in your profession. If you still want to take another step up in your career, operations manager is close at hand. As operations manager, you are responsible for the entire operation, delegate tasks and ensure that patients get what they need.

Future Prospects

We have a rapidly growing population and care needs are growing in line with it. Today, and probably also in the future, there is a great shortage of specialists and senior doctors. This means that you can look forward to a bright career and a high salary regardless of the specialist skills you are aiming for. However, remember to take a closer look at the ten specialist specializations that we have listed above to secure a really high salary.

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