Are you thinking of pursuing a career as a doctor? Becoming a doctor typically requires eight to ten years of post-secondary education. Is the pay worth the wait, though?
If you’re reading this, you’re likely wondering, “How much do doctors make in Canada?”
The average medical doctor in Canada earns a median salary of $216,833 per year, according to the Canadian Job Bank.
However, salaries can vary significantly, depending on the doctor’s area of specialization, years of experience, and other factors. Below, I’ll outline some average doctor salaries by specialization and explain some of the key factors that influence a doctor’s salary.
If you ask most university professors what the highest paid professions in the country are, they’ll likely tell you, “Doctors, lawyers, and executive management.”
All three are great career fields that offer opportunities for advancement and allow you to earn enough to contribute to a healthy retirement pension.
Money shouldn’t be your only reason for choosing one of these fields, though. A career as a doctor can be as challenging as it is rewarding, which means you should have enough passion for your field of study to put up with the years of education and hard work that’s required to become a doctor.
The specialization a doctor chooses affects greatly how much money they will earn.
For example, a non-specialized family physician in Canada can expect to earn an average salary of $154,729 per year, according to Payscale.
Assuming that they finish medical school and their residency, they can expect to start their career sometime between age 30 and 35. This puts them in the 99th income percentile based on their age.
Although some doctors earn less than this, there’s also the potential to earn a lot more. One of the biggest factors that determines a doctor’s salary is their specialization.
Here’s a list of the average salaries a doctor can earn in Canada, based on specialization:
|Doctor Specialization||Average Salary|
Note that this is user-submitted data from Payscale, which won’t be as accurate as the Job Bank figure above, but it gives us an idea of how much more one specialization can earn as compared to another one)
Top Factors That Affect Doctor Salaries In Canada
Now, that you have an idea of what you can expect to earn as a doctor, let’s take a closer look at some of the key factors that determine a doctor’s salary in Canada.
As you can see from the table above, how much a doctor earns in Canada is largely dependent on their area of specialization. As a general rule, higher-stress specializations such as surgery typically come with higher pay.
Compared to family practitioners or psychiatrists, surgeons often experience more life-or-death situations and may be required to work grueling long hours to complete emergency surgeries.
Family practitioners and psychiatrists, on the other hand, typically work a standard 9-to-5 shift and don’t have to respond to emergency situations as often.
Medical students all start on the same learning path. Most take pre-med classes in university that give them a basic understanding of human biology.
Once they’re accepted into medical school, they’ll continue on the general knowledge path as they complete their clinical rotations.
Clinical rotations require students to participate as members of a medical team in various fields, which gives them a better idea of which area they want to specialize in.
Towards their final years of medical school, students will choose an area of specialization, and take specific classes designed to hone their skills in that area. Some specializations, such as advanced surgery, may require additional years of training that the average family physician won’t have to go through.
The extra time required to become proficient in these areas of specialization often correlates with the higher salaries that these doctors earn.
While starting salaries for almost all doctors can be considered “good,” there’s always room for further growth. As a doctor works their way up in their field, develops a good reputation, and gains experience, they can expect to earn more.
After years of experience in their field, doctors may also be given the opportunity to take on leadership roles within their hospital.
As a leading partner, you’ll often be given the responsibility of managing a wing of the hospital or providing vital training to newer doctors who are completing their residency, which most med school graduates must complete before they’re allowed to practice medicine independently.
Where you live in Canada often determines your overall cost of living. Where you work as a doctor in Canada can also play a role in your salary and determine your growth opportunities.
In general, there’s a higher-demand for doctors and surgeons in major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary, compared to smaller cities and rural towns.
The increased demand for skilled medical professionals in these cities can often come with a higher pay. Additionally, the higher cost of living in major cities can play a factor in a doctor’s salary.
This isn’t always the case, though.
In some cases, doctors may be offered bonuses or additional pay if they’re willing to serve remote areas, such as the Northern Territories and other underserved communities.
Around 70% of Canada is serviced by public healthcare, while 30% is serviced by private healthcare facilities, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
There is a higher demand for doctors in the public healthcare sector, which is where many med school graduates find their first jobs. While these jobs offer competitive pay for doctors, it may not be as much as they’d earn in the private sector.
However, there’s also a demand for skilled and experienced doctors in the private sector, which is where many doctors gravitate to once they have more experience and specialized training.
Working the private healthcare sector may come with more pay, as patients pay higher premiums and fees to receive private healthcare services.
In addition to their full-time careers, many doctors take on additional opportunities to earn money and advance in their field. Here are some of the ways that doctors can make extra money or branch into non-practicing areas after their time in the field.
After years of experience working in the field, some doctors choose to branch off into teaching. Some may take an opportunity as a professor in a pre-med program, while others may teach at a medical university.
Medical school professors are typically paid very well, and the work tends to be less stressful compared to working in a hospital. There’s also the satisfaction and reward of knowing that you’re helping to educate the next generation of medical professionals.
- Related Reading: How Much Are University Professors Paid In Canada?
Doctors with a mind for curiosity and discovery often pursue work as medical researchers. They work in labs developing cutting-edge medical technology, perform studies to learn more about new drugs, medical tech, and may perform experimental research to cure diseases and viruses.
As a doctor, managing a healthy work-life balance can be difficult. Doctors who offer (or are required) to be on-call or come in to perform emergency services are often paid a higher hourly rate or receive bonuses for the extra work.
Last but not least, some doctors choose to open their own private practice. Like starting any business, this requires a significant amount of capital, which means you may have to apply for a business loan.
There’s also the risk that your practice could fail or go under.
If you’re successful, though, you may earn more than employed doctors, and you’ll be able to create new jobs for other doctors.
Often, two or more doctors will partner to open a private practice together. This allows the doctors to split the investment and managing responsibilities, which can reduce the stress of opening a new practice.
Pursuing a career as a doctor can be a long and grueling process. Many doctors don’t start their full-time careers until they’re at least 30, and may be required to work long hours and late nights early in their careers.
However, the majority of doctors are above the 99th income percentile in the country, which means it’s a very lucrative career. Given the work required to become a doctor, their pay is more than justified. Just be sure that you’re prepared to put in the work.
Want to learn more about other high-paying careers in Canada?
Keep on reading to see the 13 highest-paid jobs in Canada!