How much do medical graduates earn?

17 May 2021

What will you be paid during your postgraduate residency years? It’s a question that many medical students have.

Are you interested in studying at an Australian medical school?

Does it vary within the same country based on state or province? Does it make a difference what year of postgraduate training you’re in? Does one specialization pay more than another?

The answer depends on if you choose to stay in Australia, return to Canada to become a licensed doctor, or move to the United States.

Residency in Australia

If you’re going to make Australia your home for postgraduate training, your salary will be dependent upon three factors: the region in which you live, what year of training you’re in, and your specialization.

As of 2019, starting annual salaries for Australian postgraduate medical interns averaged between $67,950 to $78,479 AUD, with variation by state. Keep in mind, these salaries were for full-time positions without the additional overtime hours that many residents choose to take on.

Australian State 2019 PGY-1 Intern Annual Starting Salary

($AUD per annum)

New South Wales $67,950
Australian Capital Territory $68,094
Tasmania $68,936
Northern Territory $71,350
Queensland $73,306
South Australia $73,370
Victoria $74,639
Western Australia $78,479


It may not sound like a lot right now, but you won’t be a newbie forever. Annual base salaries for Australian doctors who have completed their postgraduate training start around $100,000 and increase to $400,000 AUD based on location, experience, and specialization.

Residency in Canada

In Canada, resident salaries are determined by the year of residency and the province in which you live. Unlike in Australia, salaries do not vary by specialization during resident years.

Starting out, gross annual salary for first year residents in 2020 averaged $48,292 (Quebec) to $66,154 CAD (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island). Year 7 resident salaries ranged from $73,292 (Quebec) to $98,350 CAD (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island).

Canadian Province 2020 PGY-1 Residency Annual Starting Salary

($CAD per annum)

Quebec $48,292
British Columbia $57,065
Alberta $57,200
Saskatchewan $59,234
Ontario $60,398
Manitoba $60,404
Newfoundland and Labrador $60,795
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island $66,154


Additional benefits like call premiums, vacation, sick leave, and health insurance also vary by province. CaRMS provides a full breakdown of Canadian residency salaries and benefits.

Following residency, salaries can vastly differ depending on the doctor’s area of specialty. In 2020, emergency room and intensive care unit doctors averaged $390,195/year, psychiatric doctors averaged $311,000/year, and general surgeons averaged $490,000/year.

Residency in the United States

If you’re considering doing your residency in the United States, salaries also vary by the year of your postgraduate training, your state, and your specialization.

According to a 2020 report by Medscape which surveyed over 1600 residents in over 30 specialties, annual resident salaries averaged $63,400 USD. While the average salaries increased by $11,400 from Year 1 to Years 6-8 of residency, the biggest difference in salary was due to specialization, as per the chart below.

Specialty 2020 Average Residency Annual Salary

($USD per annum)

Allergy & Immunology, Hematology, Plastic Surgery/Aesthetic Medicine, Rheumatology, Surgery Specialized $69,500
Cardiology $68,600
Critical Care, Diabetes, Endocrinology, HIV/Infectious Diseases, Gastroenterology, Oncology, Pathology, Pulmonary Medicine $66,500
Orthopaedic Surgery $64,800
Otolaryngology, Radiology, Neurology, Urology, Orthopaedics $64,600
Anaesthesiology, Dermatology, Paediatrics, Nephrology, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation $63,300
Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Emergency Medicine, Ophthalmology, Public Health & Preventative Medicine, Surgery General, Internal Medicine $61,500
Family Medicine $58,500


This difference in salary based on specialty continues after residency. Another 2020 Medscape survey found that primary care physicians earned an average salary of $243,000 while orthopaedic physicians had the highest average salary at $511,000. There was also variation by state, with Kentucky boasting the top earning physicians, followed by Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, and Utah.

Questions about residency?

So, there you have it. Like so many things, the answer to “how much will I make” may not be as straight forward as you initially thought, but if you keep location, experience, and specialization in mind, you can get a good idea of what your salary may be after you graduate.

Of course, money isn’t everything and there are other factors that you should keep in mind as you navigate your own pathway to becoming a doctor.

To learn more about the medical licensing and postgraduate residency pathways and processes, we can help! Keep an eye on our events for our monthly medical licensing webinars in which we explore various pathways, chat with alumni, and review the latest statistics and information.


Do you need help with your medical school application? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer at