Top 10 paying residencies

If you have finished your 4-year stint at medical school, it is time to put all that knowledge into action! This phase is called ‘residency’. Residency is an intensive practical phase, where you gain in-depth training in a specific medical specialty with a hospital or clinic. Residency programs last anywhere from 3 years for general medicine to almost 6 years for specialisation.

In the first year of residency, also known as PGY-1 (postgraduate year one), you will be called interns. As interns, you have very little practical experience and do not have a license to practice medicine. From the 2nd year onwards, you will become a resident. Even as a resident, you are not revenue-generating for the hospital, and your work is almost always overseen by an attending physician. 

However, owing to the heavy financial investment and possibly student loans in pursuing medicine, you may wonder what are the highest-paying residencies you can aim for? 

Here is a list of the 10 highest-paid residency programs (in no particular order):

  1. Medical geneticists: A field that deals with the research of genetic disorders. You will get trained in internal medicine, paediatrics, and obstetrics. Residency is 2 – 3 years.
  2. Invasive cardiology: A field that deals with the surgery of cardiovascular disorders, including angioplasty and other modalities for treatment. You could also super-specialise in related fields like paediatrics. Residency is 6 – 8 years.
  3. Specialized surgery/ Neurosurgery: A field that deals with the treatment and surgery of the brain, spine, or nervous system. Residency is 7 years.
  4. Allergy and immunology: A field that deals with the treatment and management of disorders related to the immune system. You will need to be trained in internal medicine. Residency is 2-5 years, including internal medicine.
  5. HIV/infectious diseases: A field that deals with the treatment, management, and prevention of HIV/AIDS. A residency in internal medicine is compulsory before you specialise in this. Residency only in this field is 2 years.  
  6. Plastic/Reconstructive surgery: A field that involves restoration, reconstruction, or alteration of any part of the human body. Residency is 2 years of general surgery and 4 years of plastic surgery.
  7. Emergency medicine: A field that involves the treatment of critical and fatal diseases and injuries that need immediate medical attention. Residency is 3 — 4 years. 
  8. Ophthalmology: A field that focuses on the health of the eyes and the treatment of diseases affecting the eyes. You could also get trained in neurology. Some residencies need you to complete a one-year internship in internal medicine, paediatrics, or general surgery. Residency is 4 – 5 years.
  9. Anaesthesiology: A field that practices the safe use of drugs for perioperative care of patients before, during, or after surgery or treatment, especially for pain management. Residency is 4 years.    
  10. Radiation Oncology: A field that deals with the treatment of cancer using radiation. It is used in connection with chemotherapy and surgery. Residency is 4 – 5 years. 

Are they more highly paid residencies? Yes, definitely!

Many other residencies are highly paid like preventive diseases, orthopaedics, family medicine, etc. The average annual pay for a resident in the United States is between $57,000 to $67,000. In India, you can earn on average of Rs. 0.6 lakhs to Rs. 15 lakhs, depending on the number of years of experience. 

Some workplaces may offer perks like paid leave, health insurance, and services like cafeteria, parking, fitness, book fund, etc. Many of these specialised programs also lay a foundation for sub-specialties for fellowship.    


Remember that as a resident, you are compensated as per the year regardless of your speciality. As you gain more tenure in your residency and your fellowship (if chosen), you will earn more. 

You can surely choose your residency based on your passion or interest. But surely other factors like a financial investment in the course, location of the residency, and work-life balance need to be taken into consideration. Although it may seem that a residency program asks a lot from you, remember that apart from your salary, you gain much-needed experience.