What Medical Doctor Specialties Require the Most and Least Training?

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Surgical specialties in the medical profession require residencies of about eight years, while a specialty such as dermatology typically requires a shorter residency. All medical doctor specialties require a four-year bachelor's degree, a four-year medical degree, and three to eight years in medical residencies. Some specialties also require one to three years in a medical fellowship.

The intensity of the work week for medical doctors can vary greatly depending on which specialty they practice. Doctors who practice dermatology are typically not on call and often have close to a 40-hour work week, even though they still receive high compensation. By contrast, a doctor who specializes in general surgery can be on call much of the time and is required to commit to a very long work week. However, she also receives higher compensation than less strenuous medical specialties. Doctors who practice ophthalmology often receive very high compensation while still enjoying a more relaxed work week and almost no on call hours.

On average, a physician in the United States earns $210,000 annually. The average salary for a surgical specialization is close to $400,000 annually, while the average salary for a doctor specializing in family medicine or internal medicine is $140,000.