The path to becoming a medical doctor is not so full of roses; students need to go through premed, get accepted to medical school, pass the licensure exam, complete their residency, and do any other things required.
Looking on the bright side, doctors are well compensated and respected in most places worldwide. In this article, we review some of the best highest-paying countries for doctors.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Highest paying countries for doctors in 2024
Below are some of the best countries in the world for doctors to earn money.
1. The USA
The United States is one of the best countries for doctors to earn money; an average doctor makes about $132,499. The more specialized you are, the better it gets. For example, plastic surgeons make no less than $356,489 annually.
Becoming a licensed medical doctor in the US is not easy, especially if you are a non-citizen. Medical graduates must pass the US Medical Licensing Exams (USMLE), do residency programs, and pass the final licensure exam.
Doctors in Canada are well paid, and the entry barrier for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) is not as tough as that of the US. Junior doctors can expect to start earning as much as $84,382 annually.
Specialists such as Cardiologists, Neuro Surgeons, etc., earn more than family physicians in Canada. Also, your province is an important factor here; doctors working in British Columbia are likely to make more money than those in Ontario.
Australia is one of the countries most doctors would want to work in. Average doctors in the country earn about $110,000 per year before tax, and those with decades of experience in the job can earn more than $296,400 annually.
While this sounds like a lot of money for the average Joe, remember to factor in the 30% total tax and Australia’s high cost of living. Unlike in the US, securing a medical job in Australia is not herculean.
Even though Belgium has an overload of physicians, its doctors are not underpaid. According to Salary Explorer, Belgium doctors make an average of $176,781 annually. Don’t think about working here as an IMG; their medical licensure process for immigrants is almost non-existent.
This means that Belgium has strict standards for practicing medicine in the country. These high salaries show that Belgium highly values medical professionals. However, it may not be easy for international medical graduates (IMGs) to practice medicine in Belgium, as obtaining a medical license is quite stringent and nearly impossible.
Foreign doctors must pass language proficiency tests, validate their medical degree, apply for an equivalence certificate for foreign qualifications, observe medical activities in a teaching hospital, pass several exams, and register with their respective professional associations.
5. New Zealand
According to the Medical Council of New Zealand, about 40% of registered physicians in the nation studied abroad from over 100 countries across the globe. Apart from hiring many foreign doctors, New Zealand also pays well.
General practitioners earn around $62,419 – $91,793, whereas specialists’ annual salary starts from $183,586. The country has been experiencing a shortage of GPs, and by 2032, half of New Zealand’s family doctors will be retired.
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Austria is perfect if you are a culture lover and want to enjoy a healthy work-life balance while working as a physician in Europe. According to the Economic Research Institute, Austrian doctors earn an average annual salary of $113,747 before tax.
Immigrants who are non-EU citizens may find it hard to work as licensed physicians in Austria due to the language and medical licensure barrier.
The Austrian healthcare system is well-respected worldwide for its high standards of care and innovative approach to medicine. It provides a supportive work environment that values continued training, professional development, and a balanced approach to work and life.
The average doctor in Luxembourg earns about $179,360 per year before tax. Specialists make the most money, and surgeons can earn more than $265,521 annually.
Due to language restrictions and licensure requirements, working in Luxembourg as a foreign doctor is tough. To get the license to practice, you must be proficient in French, German, and/or Luxembourgish.
8. The Netherlands
Regardless of profession, people in the Netherlands are not allowed to work more than 60 hours per week. This equates to having more time for family and friends while taking home a lot of money.
Dutch doctors earn an average of $65,073 pre-tax, including monthly and yearly bonuses. Foreign medical graduates intending to work here must be proficient in Dutch, apply for professional recognition, and pass the language and medical licensure exams.
Irish doctors earn an average salary of $75,946 before tax per year. Consultants can earn up to $258,502 or more annually, depending on their specialty.
The problem, however, is that the working conditions for doctors in the country are unfavorable, with some physicians working more than 70 hours/per week. An exception to this is General Practitioners, who earn about $136,138 while maintaining a work-life balance.
Even though it’s a small European country, doctors in Switzerland are among the top earners in the nation. Physicians over there earn an average of $85,354. annually.
Experienced doctors can take home $120k or more after tax which is more than the country’s average. Working in Switzerland as a foreign medical graduate is impossible unless you are a Swiss/EU citizen. Apart from understanding their languages, you must work for at least three years to establish residency.
While the salaries in Switzerland may seem exorbitantly high, so is the cost of living. With some of the world’s most expensive cities, everything from food to housing can cost much more than what one is used to in their home country.
Most doctors in Germany are considered among the upper-middle class, and the ROI for earning a medical degree there is unbelievable. Assistant doctors can earn up to $65,084 annually at stage 6, while specialists earn about $90,034 annually.
Considering the low cost of living in the country, most physicians live an above-average lifestyle, making Germany one of the highest-paying countries for doctors in Europe.
Furthermore, Germany’s healthcare system is ranked as one of the best in the world. The quality of medical education and infrastructure is excellent, which makes Germany an attractive destination for medical professionals. The government’s substantial investment in the healthcare sector has also bolstered doctors’ salaries.
In addition, there are plenty of opportunities for growth in the medical profession. In Germany, doctors are not limited to specialized fields and can move up the ranks depending on their skills and experience.
Top Countries to Immigrate for Doctors
Below are some of the counties in need of more doctors to hire in 2024.
1. The United Kingdom: The UK produces less than 8,000 medical graduates annually, which has led to the NHS hiring doctors from other countries like Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, etc. Also, the country has 2.8 doctors per 1,000 population, which puts it well below the European Union (EU) average (3.4/1,000).
2. Spain: The country had its highest demand for doctors during the pandemic in 2019, and that has not changed since then. While the salary is nothing to write about, Spain needs 1000s doctors to maintain its healthcare sector.
3. Malaysia: Like other Asian countries, Malaysia has a moderate physician demand. While the Malaysian government is the largest employer of doctors, you can earn more money working in private hospitals.
4. Italy: Italy has experienced a shortage of healthcare workers over the past few years. If you plan to immigrate to this country to work as a doctor, you may find it hard even after having all the required educational qualifications.
5. Sweden: Sweden is one of the countries with the highest demand for doctors, midwives, and nurses. To work there as a foreign doctor, you must be fluent in Swedish and obtain a license to practice.
6. India: With over 1.3 billion people in the country, shortages of professional workers are expected. The Indian medical system has been experiencing a growing demand for quality doctors due to most medical graduates emigrating to developed countries.
7. Israel: The Ministry of Health predicted a shortage of doctors in the nation in the next 15 years due to the growing population and lack of enough medical schools. Israel has more than 30,000 active doctors and 3.19 doctors per thousand people.
8. Norway: The Scandinavian country has a high demand for specialist doctors; this is an opportunity for anyone willing to immigrate. Just be ready to learn Norwegian, get authorized, and convert your specialty.
9. United Arab Emirates: To cope with its rising population, the UAE hires a lot of doctors annually. Junior foreign doctors can expect to earn at least $4k monthly while getting other benefits.
10. South Africa: South Africa is among the African countries with high doctor demand. Most young doctors in SA prefer to work abroad due to salary differences. It has about 0.31 doctors per 1,000 patients.
While working as a physician worldwide doesn’t make you a billionaire, most doctors earn enough regardless of work hours. We reviewed some of the highest-paying countries for licensed physicians in 2024.
Remember, these figures can vary depending on a doctor’s specialization, level of experience, and work hours. Additionally, while high salaries can be enticing, it’s also crucial to consider the cost of living and taxation in each country when deciding where to practice.
Is there any country we missed, or do you have other suggestions? Feel free to use the comments section below. Don’t forget to share this post with others 🙂
Sam is a brilliant young Nigerian biochemistry student and an aspiring entrepreneur. Despite facing many challenges, he has never lost his passion for learning and drive to make a difference in the world. Read more about him here.