It's no secret that doctors get paid very well. Surgeons, in particular, can attract seriously big pay cheques, but when you take into account the difficulty of getting into medical school, the eight-plus years of very expensive education and, well, the countless lives they save on a daily basis, nobody can begrudge them such sizeable salaries.
Where can doctors find the biggest bang for their skillset, though? Much has been made of the high doctor salaries in the US, for example, but how do they compare to the rest of the world?
To answer your questions – and perhaps surprise you in the process – we've compiled the most recent available data from the OECD.
Here are the top 10 countries with the highest salaries for doctors.
10. New Zealand
When it comes to high paying salaries, Australia might traditionally have had the edge on its close neighbour, yet when it comes to medicine, New Zealand is clearly the place to be. While there are no available figures for average GP salaries, specialists in the country can expect to earn an average take home of $138,261, which is certainly nothing to be sniffed at. Operating a mixed public/private healthcare system, New Zealand is a popular immigration destination for English-speaking doctors, so if you're thinking of making the move, then your bank balance might appreciate it.
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As a country that prioritises public service and the development of pioneering technologies (Tel Aviv, for instance, is one of the world's premier tech hubs), it's perhaps little surprise that Israel has such an advanced healthcare system. In order to attract and retain the best medical minds, hospitals and clinics are willing to dish out the big bucks, too, with GPs earning an average of $74,920 per annum and specialists looking at around $147,421.
As Europe's modern economic powerhouse, Germany is well placed to offer attractive salaries, and doctors are no exception. The average yearly take home for specialists sits at around $149,990, funded in the majority by a complex, multi-payer health system, so if your German is up to scratch then why not consider heading to the land of Goethe, sauerkraut and chemical-free beer.
7. The Netherlands
Just across the border from Germany lies the Netherlands, where doctors can expect to find significant recompense for their exploits; the average salary for a GP is $112,530, while specialists of all types are looking at a potential take home of $171,928. According to the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI), the Netherlands boasts the best healthcare system in Europe, so not only could you be enjoy lucrative financial benefits, but professional ones, too.
6. United Kingdom
Since the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948, the United Kingdom has always prided itself on its free-to-access healthcare system and its quality of delivery. Despite the uncertainty around Brexit, repeated attempts to privatise aspects of the service, and serious recent contract disputes over working hours (including unprecedented strike action), the UK continues to pay doctors a very healthy salary. GPs earn an average of $85,250, while specialists are looking at around $174,068 per year.
5. Republic of Ireland
Another potentially lucrative destination for English-speaking doctors, Ireland has transformed itself from a traditionally agricultural nation into a tech-driven economic tiger in recent decades. The country already maintains a government-funded public health system, with the private sector also rapidly growing; the average salary for a specialist - particularly in larger urban areas such as Dublin and Cork - comes in at $186,863.
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There's more to the 'land of ice and fire' than dark winters, Game of Thrones tourism and salmon exporting; much like other Nordic governments, Iceland boasts a high-quality, government-funded healthcare system that is the envy of many other nations. In a country where salaries are among the highest in the world, it's no surprise that there is plenty of tax income left for doctors: GPs receive an average of $181,981 per year, while specialists can attract $202,034.
3. United States of America
As already mentioned, doctors are well paid in the US - this doesn't necessarily mean that they are the best paid in the world, though. Many pioneering procedures, surgeries and study take place in the States, making it a highly attractive destination for professional reasons; teaching hospitals such as Johns Hopkins, meanwhile, are among the most revered in the world. GPs - known as family physicians - can attract a yearly income of around $208,560, while specialists (accurate figures are not available) can earn far, far more.
Compile any global salary list and it's likely that Switzerland will make an appearance on it; as one of the most stable economies in the world, salaries across many of the country's sectors are notably high. Unsurprisingly, this attracts many medics, although, in reality, you'll need a decent working knowledge of either French, German or Italian to make the move successfully; it'll be worth it, though, with average yearly salaries of $237,106 for GPs and $258,000 for specialists.
Like Switzerland, much of Luxembourg's wealth is derived from its lucrative financial sector; it's not only bankers and accountants who have access to the big bucks, though. According to the OECD, doctors earn a whopping average take home of $357,336, although due to its small population (Luxembourg has a population of just over half a million people), you might face stiff competition for jobs.
Clearly, life as a doctor in these countries is well worth all the stress, hard work and education, so if you're considering going into the profession - or if you're already qualified - then why not consider taking your skills overseas?
Where would you want to call home if you decided to go into medicine? Let us know in the comments below.
All salary figures are converted into USD using the OECD's 2017 average conversion rate figures, except for Switzerland, which uses the conversion rate given on 28 February 2019 by XE.com.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 12 December 2016.