Physicians vs Engineers: A Financial Analysis
Educational: Physician vs Engineer salary – who makes more money?

Selecting your major and unsure which path to select?

Worry not!

We’re here to guide you. 

If you look for high-paying professions, medicine is at the top, with an emergency medicine salary starting from $354,000. But engineering is also lucrative and rewarding.

Let’s look at what both career paths hold so you can make a better decision.

Who Earns More: A Physician or An Engineer? 

Most people think that doctors earn more than engineers.

But that’s a myth.

This financial analysis will compare physicians and engineers, their educational requirements, salaries, and average debt after quitting school. 

Breakdown of Finances

Medical education expenses comprise two parts: general care and specialization.

To become a general practitioner, you must complete four years of undergraduate study and then four years of medical school at an average debt of $200,000. 

You must also complete three to four years of residency before receiving your starting salary of about $260,000.

The competition to become a specialist like a dermatologist or plastic surgeon is so fierce that many students spend an additional year researching to strengthen their residency application.

Although residency is longer, you should expect to finish with an average debt of around $200,000.

Depending on the type of specialization you are doing, it will take: 

  • 7 years for neurology
  • 6 years for plastic surgery
  • 5 years for orthopedic surgery 
  • 6 years for cardiology surgery

On the engineering side, the story is different.

As an engineer, you can expect to begin working as soon as you graduate college, with a starting income of roughly $100,000.

However, this is below average for an engineer in cities like San Francisco. 

Additionally, interest on student loans is 6%, yearly returns on investments will be 7%, and salary growth will be 3.5%.

The growth rate typically ranges between 1% and 2% annually.

And promotions and other variables may cause earnings to rise regularly throughout your career.

Average Salaries

Educational: Physician vs Engineer salary.
Educational: Physician vs Engineer salary – Who makes more money?

Another significant distinction is the potential earnings of engineers and physicians.

The latter makes $246,142 a year on average.

Cardiologists, for example, have an average salary of $284,694 per year. 

On the other hand, the national average engineer’s yearly income is $68,746. Specialization also comes into play here.

For instance, the average annual wage for an aeronautical engineer in the United States is $104,248.

And you earn more with advanced education and experience.

Financial Analysis In A Nutshell

While the medical profession may offer a higher earning potential, it is because despite earning more than three times as much as engineers after graduating from medical school, specialists don’t make more in terms of lifetime earnings, till they are 43 years old.

In other words, engineers have a better financial status than even specialty doctors between the ages of 22 and 42.

Primary care doctors exceed engineers at 43.

While medical residents and students put in a lot of study time, engineers may start with a six-figure wage.


Liam Hayden 

I have an MBA in Financial Management. 

With 5+ years of experience in the finance industry, I am passionate about topics such as budgeting, investing, insurance, credit, and taxes. 

Hobbies: Meditation, and painting.