The best places in the US for physician salaries

By Alistair Gardiner
Published February 17, 2021

Key Takeaways

Ever wonder which cities or states pay doctors the highest salaries? Wonder no more: US News & World Report has the answers, with a new guide based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Before we get to the cities and states with the highest potential payouts, the data show that some healthcare workers are in a pretty sweet spot when it comes to salaries. According to US News & World Report, the top 10 highest-paying jobs in the United States are all in the medical field. Here are the positions, followed by salary at the national average:

  1. Anesthesiologists at $208,000

  2. Surgeons at $208,000

  3. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons at $208,000

  4. OB-GYNs at $208,000

  5. Orthodontists at $208,000

  6. Prosthodontists at $208,000

  7. Psychiatrists at $208,000

  8. General physicians at $206,500

  9. Pediatricians at $175,300

  10. Nurse anesthetists at $174,800

The data show that for general physicians, such as OB-GYNs, ER doctors, dermatologists, primary care providers, neurologists, and cardiologists, salaries have increased slightly, up from $203,450 in 2019. But these are national averages—in some parts of the country, you can do much better financially. Here are some of the highest-paying cities and states for doctors, based on average physician salary for each area, as determined by US News & World Report.

Best-paying cities for physicians

Janesville, WI

Janesville WI 2

Janesville is a small city that had a population of only 64,600 people in 2019, but boasts an average physician salary of $284,720, placing it at the top of the list of highest-paying cities for physicians, according to US News & World Report

The estimated median household income in Janesville was $59,569 in 2019, which is lower than the statewide average of $64,168. For physicians, its housing market is markedly affordable, with the median house or condo value estimated at $158,680 in 2019. Cost of living is relatively low—14% lower than the national average for the same year, according to Forbes.

While Janesville has many perks, including various music venues and breweries, its main attraction is a striking 68 public parks, which give the city its moniker: “Wisconsin's Park Place.”  This includes the award-winning 20-acre Rotary Botanical Gardens, which features over 4,000 plant varieties.

Laredo, TX


In Laredo, the average physician salary is $282,730, according to US News & World Report. If the size of Janesville was off-putting, this mid-sized city might be more your speed; in 2019, its population was 262,500.

Like Janesville, Laredo is an affordable place to live as a physician. In 2019, its median household income was estimated at $57,468 (lower than the statewide average of $64,034) and the estimated median price of a house or condo was $148,100 (far lower than the statewide average of $200,400). Likewise, the cost of living in Laredo falls roughly 10% below the national average, according to Forbes.

Laredo features an abundance of city parks (82 in total), as well as a number of museums, which provide all kinds of tidbits about the city’s complex history. These include the Border Heritage Museum and the Republic of the Rio Grande Museum. Situated right on the US/Mexico border, Laredo will delight lovers of Tex-Mex cuisine, with food staples like chili con carne and fried chicken. Referred to as “The City Under Seven Flags," Laredo is also known for its vibrant arts scene and nightlife.

Salinas, CA


Salinas is third on the list, with an average physician salary of $282,640, according to US News & World Report. Its population of 155,465 in 2019 places it between Laredo and Janesville, size-wise. When it comes to cost of living, however, Salinas stands out. In 2019, its estimated median household income was roughly $69,000; meanwhile, the estimated median price of a house or condo stood at $478,800. Salinas’ cost of living is about 28% above the national average, noted Forbes.

However, if you can handle paying a little more, there are many reasons people love living in Salinas. The city is known as the “Salad Bowl of the World,” due to its agriculture industry—some 80% of the lettuce eaten in America is grown in Salinas. It also boasts a fledgling and ever-growing art scene, as well as a cultural heritage as the hometown of John Steinbeck, author of classics like Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, and Grapes of Wrath. It also boosts significantly more hiking opportunities than either Laredo or Janesville, with 28 trails available to explore.

Best-paying states for physicians

If none of the cities above tickles your fancy, you may have better luck zooming out a bit. Here are some of the best states for physician salaries.



In “The Last Frontier,” the average physician salary is $258,550, according to US News & World Report.

The cost of living in Alaska is quite high, but this can be offset with a little creativity. For example, while food prices are up to a third more expensive than the national average, many residents like to practice a “subsistence lifestyle” due to the abundant opportunities to hunt for game, fish, and gather berries and other plants, according to

Likewise, utility bills are about a third higher than the national average, and the price for a gallon of gas is the sixth highest in the nation, noted SmartAsset. On the other hand, Alaska has no state income tax. And, every year, residents receive a one-off payment which comes from the earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund, created as a way to share the wealth produced by oil. The value of this payment fluctuates yearly, but has been as high as $2,000 in the recent past. 

The biggest perk of life in Alaska is the beautiful scenery and wide range of outdoor activities. From hiking up mountains and skiing, to ice-fishing and dog-sledding, you won’t want to waste a minute of your free time—especially considering the fact that the sun only stays up for a few hours per day in most parts of the state during winter.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire

This state has an average physician salary of $257,220, according to US News & World Report. While the cost of living may not be quite as steep as Alaska, it is slightly higher than the national average, brought up primarily by high housing and utility costs, according to The average home in New Hampshire costs $274,300, while its average utility costs are estimated to be the sixth highest in the United States, at roughly $477 per month. 

However, while the average wage is low (at roughly $51,000 per year) and the cost of living is high, New Hampshire doesn’t have a sales tax and boosts some of the highest standards of living across the country. Like Alaska, New Hampshire offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, like skiing, snowmobiling, and hunting. It also features a very low crime rate and hosts attractions like the annual Exeter UFO Festival and the Lincoln Ice Castles.



Third up is Maine, with an average physician salary of $251,930. The eastern-most state is known for its beautiful forests and coastline and a cost of living that’s a little lower than the US average. This is due in part to cheaper transportation costs, including a cheaper-than-average price per gallon of gas.

It’s hard to pinpoint housing costs in Maine. While the state average is roughly on par with the national average, the median cost of a home varies from city to city; in Portland, ME, the average house value is $346,500, whereas in Lewiston, ME, home prices stand at around $153,000. Utilities in Maine are the cheapest of any state in New England, and among the lowest in the country. On the other hand, groceries can be very expensive. Research conducted in 2018 found that, compared to a national index of 100, food prices in Maine got a rating of 117.7, the sixth highest in the country. The state also features the country’s 10th highest state income tax. 

If none of that deters you, living in Maine will allow you to visit Acadia National Park or the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. There are beaches, harbors, and Baxter Peak, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. And, of course, don’t forget all the fresh and readily available lobster.

Share with emailShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to Twitter