How Much Does Residency Pay? A Detailed Look At Resident Salaries

Deciding whether or not to pursue a medical residency is a big decision. One of the major factors that goes into this decision is salary and compensation. If you’re wondering how much residency pays, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a quick answer: The average salary for first year residents is between $55,000 and $65,000 per year. However, there is wide variation based on factors like geographic location, specialty, residency program prestige, and more.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide a detailed overview of resident compensation. We will cover factors that impact salary, break down average pay by specialty and year of training, and provide tips for managing finances during residency.

Factors That Impact Resident Salaries

Geographic Location

The geographic location of a residency program plays a significant role in determining the salaries of residents. Generally, metropolitan areas tend to offer higher salaries compared to rural areas. The cost of living in cities is typically higher, which is reflected in the higher salaries offered to residents.

For example, a resident working in New York City might earn a higher salary compared to a resident working in a smaller town in the Midwest.


The specialty chosen by a resident also has a significant impact on their salary. Some medical specialties, such as neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery, are known to offer higher salaries compared to others. This is due to the complexity and demand for these specialties.

On the other hand, primary care specialties may have lower salaries in comparison. It is important to note that salaries can vary within each specialty based on factors such as experience and location.

Year of Training

The year of training can also influence a resident’s salary. As residents progress through their training, their salaries typically increase. This is often referred to as a “salary ladder” where each year of training corresponds to a higher salary.

For instance, a first-year resident may earn a lower salary compared to a third-year resident in the same program.

Program Prestige

The prestige and reputation of a residency program can impact the salaries offered to residents. Residency programs with a strong reputation and high rankings may attract more competitive candidates. To attract top talent, these programs may offer higher salaries as part of their recruitment package.

However, it is important to consider other factors, such as the quality of training and mentorship, when evaluating a residency program.


While negotiation may not always be possible, it can be a factor that impacts resident salaries. Some programs may have more flexibility in terms of salary negotiation, allowing residents to advocate for a higher salary based on their qualifications and experience.

However, it is important for residents to approach negotiation with caution and be aware of the norms and expectations within their respective fields.

It is important to note that the information provided here is a general overview and can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each resident and program. For more detailed and up-to-date information, it is recommended to visit reputable websites such as or that provide comprehensive data on resident salaries and other related factors.

Average Resident Salaries by Specialty

Internal Medicine

Internal medicine is a popular specialty among medical residents. On average, internal medicine residents earn a respectable salary. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the median salary for internal medicine residents is around $57,000 per year.

However, it’s important to note that salaries can vary based on factors such as location and years of experience.

General Surgery

General surgery is known for its demanding nature and long hours, but it also offers a higher salary compared to some other specialties. According to data from the AAMC, the median salary for general surgery residents is approximately $62,000 per year.

This higher salary can be attributed to the extensive training and expertise required in this field.


Pediatrics is a specialty that focuses on the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents. While the salary for pediatric residents may not be as high as some other specialties, it is still respectable. On average, pediatric residents earn around $56,000 per year, according to the AAMC.

The rewarding nature of working with children and making a positive impact on their lives is often a driving factor for those choosing this specialty.


Psychiatry is a field that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. The demand for psychiatrists is on the rise, and so is the average salary for psychiatry residents. According to the AAMC, the median salary for psychiatry residents is approximately $59,000 per year.

The growing recognition of mental health and the need for specialized care in this area contribute to the higher salaries in this field.


Radiology is a specialty that involves the use of medical imaging to diagnose and treat diseases. It is known for its high earning potential. According to the AAMC, the median salary for radiology residents is around $63,000 per year.

The advanced technology and specialized skills required in this field contribute to the higher salaries.

Other Specialties

There are numerous other specialties that residents can choose from, and their salaries can vary widely. Some specialties, such as dermatology or orthopedic surgery, are known for their high earning potential, while others may have lower salaries.

It’s important to research and consider various factors, such as job satisfaction, lifestyle, and career goals, when choosing a specialty.

Keep in mind that these salary figures are averages and can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the specific institution. It’s also important to note that residency salaries are typically lower than those of practicing physicians, as residents are still in training.

Managing Finances During Residency

Residency is a crucial stage in a medical professional’s career, but it can also be financially challenging. With long hours, high stress levels, and limited time for additional work, residents often need to be resourceful in managing their finances.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the financial aspect of residency:

Create a Budget

One of the first steps in managing your finances during residency is creating a budget. A budget allows you to track your income and expenses, giving you a clear picture of where your money is going. Start by listing your essential expenses such as rent, utilities, and groceries.

Then, allocate a portion of your income towards savings and debt repayment. By sticking to a budget, you can ensure that you are living within your means and avoiding unnecessary financial stress.

Look for Loan Repayment Programs

Medical school loans can be a significant financial burden for residents. However, there are loan repayment programs available that can help alleviate some of this stress. Research and explore options such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program or loan repayment assistance programs offered by hospitals or healthcare organizations.

These programs can provide financial support and potentially reduce the overall amount of debt you need to repay.

Consider a Side Hustle

While it may be challenging to find additional work during residency due to time constraints, considering a side hustle can provide you with some extra income. Look for opportunities that allow for flexibility, such as freelance medical writing, tutoring, or telemedicine consultations.

These side gigs can not only help boost your income but also provide valuable experience and networking opportunities.

Live Frugally

Living frugally is essential during residency to make the most of your limited income. Consider cutting back on non-essential expenses such as dining out, entertainment, and luxury purchases. Opt for cost-effective alternatives like meal prepping, exploring free or low-cost activities, and shopping for essentials in bulk.

By adopting a frugal lifestyle, you can stretch your income further and build a solid financial foundation for the future.

Remember, residency is a temporary phase, and by effectively managing your finances, you can set yourself up for long-term financial success. Seek advice from financial experts, read reputable sources like The White Coat Investor, and stay proactive in finding ways to optimize your financial situation.

With careful planning and smart financial choices, you can navigate the financial challenges of residency and build a strong financial future.


The salaries for medical residencies can vary widely, but generally fall in the range of $55,000-$65,000 for first year residents. While the pay is lower than a practicing physician, residency salaries are livable.

Factors like geography, specialty choice, prestige of the program, and negotiation can impact your compensation. Review average salaries by specialty and create a budget to manage your finances during training.

Though residency requires financial sacrifices, focus on gaining knowledge and experience. Your hard work will pay off down the line as you launch your medical career!

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