The average anesthesiologist salary grew 7% in 2021, according to Medscape’s 2022 Anesthesiologist Compensation Report. After experiencing a nearly $20,000 decline in average pay in 2020 from 2019, the jump in earnings is especially encouraging. Bonuses, too, are increasing. The report also found that despite frustrations such as long hours and dealing with burdensome rules and regulations, overall anesthesiologists are happy at work.
Average income for anesthesiologists
As of 2021, the average anesthesiologist salary was the 11th highest among the specialties surveyed, with an average annual income of $405,000. This amounts to a pay increase of roughly $27,000, on average, from 2020’s average anesthesiologist salary of $378,000.
The rise in overall income falls in the middle compared to the other 29 specialties surveyed by Medscape. On average, the compensation of medical anesthesiologist’s rose about 7% year over year compared to the prior year report.
Note that despite the rise in relative salary, the United States experienced higher than normal inflation rates in 2021. Costs of goods and services rose an average of 4.7% in the United States, diminishing the purchasing power of a salary increase.
Lingering pandemic effects on anesthesiologist salaries
That said, not every anesthesiologist saw an increase in income in 2021. Among all physicians, about 20% reported that their earnings shrank last year. Of the survey respondents who had lower take-home pay in 2021, over two-thirds declared the COVID-19 pandemic and related fall out — such as job loss or reductions in hours and patient volume — were primary contributors to salary decline. Factors that were unrelated to the pandemic were at stake, too, affecting the take-home pay for 49% of survey respondents whose income declined.
Average incentive bonus for anesthesiologists
Over half of physicians surveyed said they received an incentive bonus in 2021 (57%). The average incentive bonus for anesthesiologists was $68,000 in 2021, up 24% from $55,000 the year prior. These types of bonuses are typically based on productivity and tied to patient satisfaction, clinical processes, and other goals. In 2021, bonuses made up nearly 17% of overall anesthesiology salaries.
Effects of competition on anesthesiologist income
A full 60% of anesthesiologists do not feel like their practice is threatened by competition. That said, 40% of anesthesiologists do worry about losing business to other providers. Most are concerned with competition from nonphysician practitioners such as CRNAs. This aligns with physicians overall, who also cited nonphysician practitioners as their biggest source of competition in the survey.
How many anesthesiologists work extra to supplement their income
Around 33% of anesthesiologists take on extra work to supplement their income — similar to the rate of physicians in general, which sits at 36%. Of those who pursue side hustles, three areas are nearly tied as popular outlets for additional work and income:
- Additional hours at their primary job as a physician (12%).
- Other medical-related work (11%).
- Medical moonlighting, including working locum tenens (11%).
Only 6% of respondents who pursue side hustles do so with non-medical-related work.
Working extra has its perks. In some cases, you can earn more hourly from your second job than your day job. This is often the case for physicians who work locum tenens, as many organizations pay generously to fill last-minute openings.
“Physicians are fortunate to have a huge array of potential side gigs available to them,” says Sylvie Stacy, MD, MPH, author of 50 Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians. “Supplemental income that pays well is not difficult to find.”
Most anesthesiologists feel fairly compensated
Just over half of the anesthesiologists surveyed believe they are fairly compensated (53%), landing them in the middle of the pack compared to the 29 specialties surveyed. This number represents a 5% decrease across respondents from the 2021 survey.
Anesthesiologists rank in the middle third among physicians in terms of loving their specialty. If given the chance, 86% of anesthesiologists say they would choose the same specialty again. This is an 11% jump compared to 2021 results, which sat at 75%.
Time spent on paperwork and administration
While the average physician reported spending 15.5 hours per week handling paperwork and administration, anesthesiologists surveyed say they spend 10 hours a week on such tasks — the lowest among all specialties surveyed. By way of comparison, infectious disease doctors reported spending 19.8 hours per week on paperwork and administration — nearly double that of anesthesiologists.
What anesthesiologists find most challenging
Although anesthesiologists find several areas of their work rewarding and personally fulfilling, the job still comes with its challenges. Having to work long hours was the chief concern for 25% of anesthesiologists in 2021. The fact that a quarter of anesthesiologists share in this frustration is troubling; working too many extra hours for too long can lead to physical and mental health problems, injuries on the job or at home, decreased productivity, and discontentment.
Other challenges cited include managing the varying rules and regulations, getting fair reimbursements from insurers, managing difficult patients, and nervousness about litigation.
Notably, the fear associated with the dangers and risks associated with treating COVID-19 patients dropped by just over half since the 2020 report (from 13% to 6%).
What anesthesiologists find most rewarding
Anesthesiologists still find a lot to love about their jobs, even considering the challenges highlighted above. High satisfaction is derived from the sense of being very good at their jobs — 27% of respondents enjoy finding answers and making diagnoses. Twenty-one percent of respondents, meanwhile, find high value in the experience of making good money at a job they like and knowing that they’re making the world a better place. Sixteen percent say they value developing positive relationships with their patients.
Consider taking your specialty on the road. Anesthesiologists are in high demand as locum tenens physicians. Give us a call at 954.343.3050 to learn more or view today’s locum tenens anesthesiologists job opportunities.
Chart images from Medscape.com