Where to find publicly listed salaries as a job-hunting resident

By Jules Murtha | Fact-checked by Barbara Bekiesz
Published January 1, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Some institutions publicly list their employees’ salaries on their website. Residents may also find publicly listed salaries through other sources, such as local newspapers and public pay databases.

  • Regardless of the specialty you choose or which job you take, you are on the path to earn at least three times the national average income.

  • As a resident, you must also consider other factors when job hunting, including whether you'll have adequate support and a solid mentor, if it follows your desired career trajectory, and its overall compatibility with your life plan.

As a resident, you’re no stranger to research. You likely spent more than a few minutes learning about different residency programs, which, according to a 2018 article published by the AMA, pay a starting average salary of $52,000 in the US.[]

As you near the end of this chapter of training, it’s time to start thinking about your first post-residency job—and what kind of pay you can expect.

In order to give you an idea of what your salary might look like at different institutions, you may find publicly listed salaries through the institutions themselves, as well as through various databases.

Job-hunting online

So, residency is winding down, and the job hunt is picking up. How can you find specific salary information at any given institution?

The answer depends on where you’re looking.

Some institutions, such as the University of California (UC), offer a searchable database of payroll data “as part of its commitment to transparency and public accountability,” according to their website.[]

Related: Introducing Money Matters Rx: Your financial prescription for a successful future

UC’s employee pay database allows you to identify individual UC employee pay information, or a group of employees who may share the same title. You may search by inputting names (first and/or last), calendar year, job title, and gross pay range. UC also publishes its employee data for each calendar year. The 2021 report, which includes a summary of payroll data, can be found here.

Another way to search for public payroll information in California is through a searchable database known as Transparent California, which allows you to see salary records by agency type (cities, counties, university systems, etc.) as well as pension records. 

What about other institutions that may not make it so easy to locate their employee payroll information?

If you can’t go through the institution’s website itself, see what you can find in the local press.

The Asbury Park Press, for example, houses Data Universe.[] Similar to Transparent California, Data Universe allows you to search public employee salaries in the state of New Jersey, including those at Rutgers University.

Using this tool, you can easily locate what an MD and an associate professor earned at a specific campus in 2021.

For example, Ira Goldstein, MD, associate professor of clinical neurosurgery, earned a total of $1,632,060 at the Newark campus at Rutgers in 2021. Boris Paskhover, MD, associate professor of clinical otolaryngology earned $1,569,890 at the same campus in the same year.

All in all, a little research goes a long way. If you can’t find specific numbers online, remember that you can always reach out directly to the institution to ask what they’re willing to share.

In addition to salary, there are a few other important boxes to check when searching for that first position out of residency.

Related: 12 compensation types beyond salary to negotiate in your contract

According to a 2021 article published by the AMA,[] residents who are applying to jobs should look for the following:

Institutional support

When interviewing for jobs, be sure to ask about how each institution may support you. For example, are you in charge of your own marketing? How does the referral process work?

These are questions that Brandi Ring, MD, OB/GYN, associate medical director of the Center for Children and Women Southwest in Houston, encourages residents to ask their potential employers.

In addition to marketing and the referral process, Dr. Ring highly recommends that you ask if you’ll have guidance when learning how to navigate billing.

“It takes a year or two to figure out how you are getting paid and why you are getting paid what you are getting paid,” Dr. Ring told the AMA. “If there’s no support, nothing will ever change and you’ll never be able to get that information.”

Finding a mentor 

On top of institutional support, as a new doctor, you may need a bit of one-on-one guidance from someone who’s been in your shoes.

“One of the most important things is a mentor at your primary practice location, someone you feel comfortable going to with the stupidest question you can imagine,” Dr. Ring told the AMA.

Be sure to look for a mentor figure in the interview process—someone who would, if need be, step into the exam room to be an extra set of eyes.

Related: 8 residents on the benefits of mentorship during residency

Career trajectory

Are you interested in research? What about academia? According to Dr. Ring, it’s important to know what your long-term goals are, and to communicate them to your potential employer.

“I tell residents when they are starting to look for their first job that they should write up a cover letter that tells their employer who they are, where they want to be in 5 years, where they want to be in 10 years, and what their life is going to look like,” Dr. Ring said.

If you and your employer are on the same page about what you want down the line, you can make decisions now that better support those dreams.

Life-plan compatibility

Lastly, does this job support a healthy, fulfilling life outside of the exam room? You may want to consider how much time you expect to spend with family in the off-hours, according to Dr. Ring.

“If you have those family commitments and you’ve thought about them prior to accepting a job, it’s easier to negotiate in child care, dependent care and what you are looking at in your benefit package,” Dr. Ring told the AMA.

What this means for you

As you gear up to take on that first position out of residency, you may want to check out the salaries of doctors in your specialty or at your preferred institution. You can find publicly listed salaries online through a number of databases, such as Transparent California and Data Universe. Remember, however, that along with compensation, it’s important to consider the other forms of support, such as career direction and mentoring, that are valuable in a new post-residency position, as well as down the line in fulfilling your professional and personal life goals.

Read Next: Physician compensation 2023: The good, the bad, and the ugly
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