A family and general practitioner, also called a primary care doctor, diagnoses and treats common diseases and illnesses. The average family and general practitioner salary is $211,780 per year, which works out to $101.82 per hour. The median salary is $201,100 or $96.68 per year.
Continue reading to learn how the average family and general practitioner salary varies based on where you work and how much experience you have. At the end of the article, we’ll bring everything together to help you decide if becoming a family and general practitioner is worth it.
Unless otherwise noted, all data in this article comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018.
Average General Practitioner Salary by Industry
The industries a general practitioner might work in likely won’t surprise you. What might surprise you though is the pay variation. Let’s look at the highest- and lowest-paying industries for this occupation. Remember, the average annual salary for family and general practitioners is $211,780.
Average General Practitioner Salary in the Top-Paying Industries
- Residential Mental Health and Substance Abuse Facilities: $249,180
- Management of Companies and Enterprises: $241,360
- Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services: $241,360
- Outpatient Care Centers: $219,460
- Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories: $218,370
Average General Practitioner Salary in the Lowest-Paying Industries
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools: $149,020
- Religious, Grantmaking, Civic, Professional, and Similar Organizations: $159,900
- Social Assistance: $174,390
- State Government: $175,990
- Nursing Care Facilities: $183,250
Average General Practitioner Salary in the Most Popular Industry
Unsurprisingly, most family and general practitioners work in the offices of physicians. Of the 114,130 GPs employed in 2018, an estimated 76,480 of them worked in a physician’s office. These professionals earn an annual mean wage of $214,820, which works out to $103.28 per hour.
Average General Practitioner Salary by Experience Level
Just as it is with most career paths, the amount of money you earn as a general practitioner increases as you gain more experience. Payscale* reports that family and general practitioners earn the following based on their years of experience:
- Less than 1 year: $173,000
- 1 to 4 years: $173,000
- 5 to 9 years: $187,000
- 10 to 19 years: $192,000
- 20 or more years: $190,000
*Payscale’s data comes from a very small sample size of employees whereas the BLS gathers information directly from U.S. employers. This leads to some significant variation between BLS data and Payscale’s data. For example, Payscale lists the average salary for a family or general practitioner at $182,744, which is much less than the $211,780 that the BLS reports.
Average General Practitioner Salary by State and City
Due to differing laws and differing costs of living, the geographic location that you work in influences how much you’ll earn. And, just because you’ll earn more in one state over another, it doesn’t mean you’ll have extra cash to put on your student loans or to build up your savings.
Oftentimes states with a high cost of living report higher salaries. That means your “extra” income will need to go toward housing, utility, transportation, and food expenses. Keep this in mind as you think about where you’ll live and work after medical school.
Top-Paying States for Family and General Practitioners
- New Hampshire: $264,470
- Wisconsin: $249,110
- Iowa: $246,670
- Nebraska: $237,320
- South Carolina: $235,790
Lowest-Paying States & Territories for Family and General Practitioners
- Puerto Rico: $86,970
- Washington D.C.: $162,830
- Rhode Island: $175,250
- New Mexico: $176,120
- Guam: $186,760
Top-Paying Cities for Family and General Practitioners
- Sheboygan, WI: $288,770
- Appleton, WI: $287,050
- Lafayette, IA: $285,350
- Jacksonville, C: $282,770
- Rockford, IL: $281,470
Top-Paying Rural Areas for Family and General Practitioners
- Northeast Nebraska: $276,350
- West Central-Southwest New Hampshire: $276,270
- South Georgia: $273,740
- Alaska: $271,120
- Northeast Iowa: $270,150
General Practitioner Salary vs. Other Medical Careers
General practitioners are some of the highest-earning medical professionals. Only a handful of specialties out-earn a GP on average. These include:
- Anesthesiologist: $267,020
- Surgeon: $255,110
- Ob/Gyn: $238,320
- Orthodontist: $225,760
- Psychiatrist: $211,780
View this list of the Top 15 Highest Paying Medical Jobs to see other high-paying options.
How to Become a Family and General Practitioner
If you’re set on becoming a family and general practitioner, prepare yourself for the time commitment involved. Aspiring GPs need to complete a bachelor’s degree, pass the MCATs, get accepted into medical school, completed four years of medical school, complete a three-year residency program and pass required licensing and Board exams.
All-in-all, that’s 11 or more years until you become a fully-fledged family and general practitioner.
Average Cost of Becoming a General Practitioner
Becoming a doctor has great advantages like high earnings, but it does come at a high monetary cost.
College Board reports the following average yearly expenses for a single year of undergraduate education:
- Public (in-state): $10,440
- Public (out-of-state): $26,820
- Private: $36,880
The American Medical Association (AMA) reports that a single year of tuition, fees, and health insurance costs:
- Public (resident): $37,556
- Public (non-resident): $62,194
- Private (resident): $60,665
- Private (non-resident): $62,111
In total, four years of undergrad plus four years of medical school costs anywhere from $191,984 to $396,296 on average. This does not include room and board, which at the undergraduate-level costs upwards of $10,000 per year.
Average Medical School Debt
It’s unlikely for a student to pay sticker price at any college or university. However, the average student, especially a medical school student, does end up taking on a lot of debt to complete his or her education. The average cost of medical school has been steadily increasing year after year.
The AMA found that 75% of all medical students in the class of 2018 graduated with debt. Their average medical school debt (not including undergrad) was $196,520. Add that to the average debt held by the indebted class of 2019 graduates, and the total debt jumps up by $29,900 to $226,420.
Is Becoming a Family or General Practitioner Worth It?
Family and general practitioners have a high earning potential, but it takes a lot of time and money to become one. Is that time and an average of $226,420 in student loans worth it?
For many doctors, yes, it is.
Being a general practitioner offers financial security and a lot of flexibility if you own your own practice. It’s also a worthwhile field that many aspiring doctors feel passionate about. Just make sure that if you pursue this career, you follow through. Paying off medical school debt without a medical school degree or access to healthcare-related forgiveness programs will prove difficult.
Make smart financial decisions as you work your way through college and then through paying off student debt to make becoming a family and general practitioner truly worth it. Try out some or all of the following tips:
- Prioritize undergraduate college options that will look impressive on your medical school applications without causing you to take on too much debt
- Live at home during college to save on rising room and board costs
- Borrow only the minimum amount of money needed to cover mandatory educational costs
- Exhaust all federal borrowing options before taking out any private student loans so that you benefit from federal protections like loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans
- Refinance your private student loans as soon as you’re able to secure a better rate, better terms, or more manageable monthly payment
- Make at least interest-only payments during periods of educational deferment to keep your loan balance down
- Negotiate a signing bonus when applying for jobs and then use it to pay down your student loan balance
- Apply for a healthcare loan repayment programs like the National Health Service Corps, VA Education Debt Reduction Program, or a State Loan Repayment Program to have part of your loan balance repaid in exchange for a service commitment.
- Pursue a medical career in the public sector to earn federal student loan forgiveness after 10 years of eligible payments through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness
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