Physician Resources

Top 10 highest-paying states for physicians in 2023

List of highest-paying states for physicians

Are you thinking about relocating to a new state or making a career move that will increase your earning potential? Or maybe you’re wondering where to go on your next locum tenens assignment. Regardless of your personal situation, knowing which are the highest-paying states for physicians will help you get the pay you deserve. According to Medscape’s 2023 physician compensation report, the average income for physicians nationwide is $352,000, up nearly 4% from $339,000 last year. If you want to earn more, here are 10 states where physicians can earn above-average pay in 2023.

10. Michigan – $356K

#10 highest paying state for physicians - Michigan

Number 10 on this year’s list is Michigan. Here, doctors earned an average of $356,000 last year — and that’s not counting bonuses and other financial incentives.

Healthcare is currently the largest private sector employer in the state, and compensation for healthcare workers continues to rise. This is due to increasing demand from the state’s aging population — over the past five years, Medicare beneficiaries in Michigan increased by more than 8%.

Is the pay in Michigan out of this world? At only $4,000 higher than the national average, maybe not quite. But thanks to its affordability and outdoor recreation offerings, living there just might be. If you’re thinking about a locum tenens assignment in Michigan, pack your gloves (nay, mittens) — the Mitten State still pays above the average pay for locum physicians, and Michigan needs more healthcare workers now more than ever.

9. California – $358K

#9 highest paying state for physicians - California

California isn’t exactly known for being inexpensive. Regarding the cost of living, it often ranks low relative to other states. But for natural scenery and access to outdoor adventure — not to mention cultural variety — it’s undoubtedly one of the most spectacular states in the lower 48. It’s no surprise, then, that California ranks 18th in Medscape’s list of Best & Worst Places to Practice in 2023.

Physicians in the Golden State are currently making an average of $358,000 per year — a bit above average for physicians. And if you relocate to California, you’ll be in good company, because healthcare sector employees represent over 7% of the state’s total employment.

With low malpractice premiums and a state-enforced minimum nurse-to-patient ratio — which translates to better support and more manageable caseloads for physicians — practicing in California has some surprising benefits. And with five million residents obtaining insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, paired with the state’s aging population, there’s no shortage in demand for physicians.

8. Florida – $359K

#8 highest-paying state for physicians - Florida

Consider Florida, where doctors earned an average of $359,000 last year — up from $346,000 in 2021, according to Medscape. 

Florida’s status as a retirement mecca has led to high demand for physicians and handsome compensation to match. According to WalletHub’s 2022 retirement report, Florida is the number one destination for people in their golden years thanks to its affordability and quality of life. The demand for physicians is only expected to increase.

Coming in at number 13 on the list of best states for physicians to practice in, Florida didn’t earn its Sunshine State nickname by accident. The state gets, on average, 230 days of sunshine a year. So, when you’re not helping heal your community, you can enjoy a healthy dose of Vitamin D while pursuing your activity of choice — be it golfing, swimming, riding roller coasters, or musing at the manatees.

7. South Carolina – $360K

#7 highest-paying state for physicians - South Carolina

In South Carolina, which is technically tied with New Jersey for this ranking, local physicians earned an average of $360,000 last year — a full $8,000 more than the national average.

If you’re wondering what difference a couple of thousand dollars would make, the cost of living in South Carolina is relatively low; it’s ranked 22nd in the country according to U.S. News and World Report’s latest data.

Physicians can also make a big difference in their patients’ lives in this southern state. According to America’s Health Rankings 2022 Annual Report from the United Health Foundation, South Carolina is ranked 41st in the country for overall health. Its low ranking is attributed largely to its high premature death rate, high prevalence of frequent mental distress, and high percentage of household food insecurity. In short: There’s a lot of opportunity for physicians to not only make a difference but to be paid well to share their expertise with South Carolinians.

Beyond the attractive pay, reasons to live and work as a physician in South Carolina include charming coastal cities like Beaufort, booming entrepreneurial cities like Greenville, and plentiful historical sites in old city Charleston.

6. New Jersey – $360K

#6 highest-paying state for physicians - New Jersey

In 2022, New Jersey paid its doctors an average of $360,000 — a tie with South Carolina. In addition to the pay, the state’s location at the center of the Northeast megalopolis that runs between Boston and Washington, D.C. is the perfect place for those who want to explore the East Coast. And for big city living, New York City is just a short drive away.

Choose New Jersey, a nonprofit economic development organization, found that the healthcare industry contributes nearly $40 billion to New Jersey’s economy every year and that healthcare employment has increased every year since 1990. Today, nearly 488,000 people are employed in New Jersey’s healthcare industry. In addition, New Jersey healthcare includes nationally ranked hospitals, robust healthcare systems, and world-class universities, medical schools, and research institutions.

Whether you’re looking forward to weekends on the Jersey Shore, discovering historical sites of the American Revolution, or teeing up for a game of golf, the Garden State has a lot to offer physicians.

5. Missouri – $361K

#5 highest-paying state for physicians - Missouri

Physicians in Missouri earned an average of $361,000 in 2022, up $4,000 from 2021. This puts it squarely in position number five for top-paying states for physicians — down one spot from last year. Those hard-earned dollars will take you far, too. The cost of living in Missouri is relatively low, which makes that pay feel like even more.

Job opportunities in the Show Me state are expected to grow due to its aging population and shortage of physicians. According to a 2021 report from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, a higher proportion of Missouri counties have a primary care provider shortage area than other states. The state’s population-to-provider ratio falls below national averages too, particularly in rural areas. This lends itself to a strong, healthy job market for physicians — and high salaries to attract workers with these types of skills and credentials, too.

Missouri is home to two of the most successful franchises in professional sports: the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Cardinals. Furthermore, living in Missouri puts you, at any given moment of the day, within reach of some of the best barbecue in the world. Good pay, good food, good pro sports. And if you need any more convincing, it’s also one of the highest-paying states for locum physicians.

4. Connecticut – $362K

#4 highest-paying state for physicians - Connecticut

Doctors based in Connecticut earned $16,000 more last year than the year prior, bringing in an average of $362,000. And according to the U.S. News & World Report, Connecticut is a top 10 state for healthcare, public education, and low crime rates.

Connecticut is thriving as a top option for practicing physicians. The state is home to three medical schools: Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and Yale School of Medicine. Last year, in an effort to retain physicians, the Connecticut state government allocated $1.6 million of the funds appropriated for state loan repayment to be used for repayment of physician loans.

While still expensive, Connecticut is a more affordable option compared to its neighbors Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. If you want access to all the big events that New England has to offer — Broadway, big-time sports, culture, and arts — without getting on a plane to fly there, living and practicing medicine in Connecticut might be your best option.

3. Georgia – $363K

#3 highest-paying state for physicians - Georgia

If you’re considering relocating to Georgia, you’ll likely see a sizable bump in your income. In terms of annual pay, we’re nearly at the top of the list here: physicians earned an average of $363,000 last year.

Medscape ranks Georgia as the 20th best place to practice, with specific shoutouts to the state’s affordability (it’s the fifth least-costly state in the country) and its great schools, shops, and parks. It is also the 21st best state to live in, according to U.S. News and World Report, in large part due to its booming local economy.

WalletHub’s annual rankings favor Georgia even higher, ranking it as the 14th best state for doctors to practice medicine. This annual survey takes into account factors such as the state’s medical environment as a whole, as well as general opportunities and competition for healthcare providers. The state is also seen as a leader in health promotion across the nation since it’s home to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Things are as peachy as they seem in Georgia. Winters are mild, neighbors are friendly, and the cost of living is lower than in many other states.

2. Indiana – $372K

#2 highest-paying state for physicians - Indiana

In Indiana, physicians earned an average of $372,000 last year, up a whopping $22,000 from the year prior. The Hoosier State is also the 15th cheapest state to live in — right there towards the top of the list. In Indiana, $372,000 will go a long way. In addition to good pay and low cost of living (particularly when it comes to buying a home), there’s a lot of open space for escaping the crowds and communing with nature.

According to Medscape, Indiana is the 19th best state to practice medicine. The state’s attractiveness is boosted thanks to its low rates of adverse and malpractice actions, not to mention relatively low corporate and individual taxes. Another indicator of high healthcare provider satisfaction is the fact that two-thirds of medical residents in the state decide to remain in-state. Indiana is included in WalletHub’s top 10 list of the best states for doctors, largely due to factors like the quality of its public hospital system, as well as its number of physician assistants per capita, and its total malpractice award payout amount per capita.

From the sweeping sand dunes along the Lake Michigan coast in the north to the rolling hills of Brown County’s “Little Smokies,” Indiana is more than meets the eye. Conclusion: keep track of Indiana. It’s a great state for doctors. 

1. Wisconsin – $397K

#1 highest-paying state for physicians - Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, doctors earned an average of $397,000 in 2022 — edging ever closer to the $400,000 mark. It’s a great place to pursue a career, whether you want to work in a bustling city or a quiet, rural area.

It’s also a top place to practice medicine, coming in at number four on Medscape’s list of the best and worst places to practice in 2023. Why? The state has had the smallest number of malpractice filings and the second-lowest malpractice premiums over the past 10 years. What’s more, most Wisconsin residents are insured, and the capital city, Madison, is one of the Midwest’s best-kept secrets. Wisconsin ranks among the best places for physicians to live in the areas of quality of life, burnout rate, and quality of healthcare, according to Physicians Thrive, a financial advisory group for doctors and surgeons.

There’s so much to like about the Badger State, with a notable mention of cheese curds, the Great Lakes, and supper clubs. Wisconsin has lots to do, and whether you want to become an expert in lake life or take in the urban amenities of Milwaukee or nearby Chicago, an above-average income could come in handy.

Ready to earn more by working in one of the highest-paying states for physicians? We can help you see what it’s like to practice there with a locum tenens assignment. To learn more, give us a call at 954.343.3050 or view today’s locum tenens job opportunities.

About the author

Alisa Tank

Alisa Tank is a content specialist at CHG Healthcare. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and exploring Utah’s desert landscapes.