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11 Highest Paying Countries For Doctors (Top Salaries Revealed)

11 Highest Paying Countries For Doctors (Top Salaries Revealed)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

The highest paying countries for doctors are not only able to attract top medical talent from across the globe but, crucially, retain it.

In order to put together this list of the 11 highest paying countries for doctors I delved in OECD data regarding physician earnings around the world.

This analysis focuses on hospital specialists, as opposed to GPs (a.k.a. family doctors), who work in hospitals rather than the community.

Due to patchy data coupled with limitations inherent to comparing salaries between countries, this list should by no means be taken as gospel, but hopefully it will give you a rough idea of where doctors are paid best.

1. Luxembourg

Purchasing power£173,215
Pay, exchanged into pounds£187,767
Multiple of average wage4.2x

Luxembourg is a small, landlocked country in Western Europe, known for its strong economy and high quality of life.

The healthcare system in Luxembourg is a compulsory, publicly funded system that offers comprehensive coverage to all residents.

This well-developed system is characterised by the high level of investment and resources available to medical professionals, which in turn contributes to Luxembourg being one of the highest-paying countries for doctors.

The healthcare in Luxembourg is a mix of private and public institutions, ensuring that patients always have access to quality medical care.

Medical practitioners in Luxembourg enjoy competitive salaries, making it an attractive destination for professionals seeking to enhance their careers.

The level of remuneration for doctors is closely linked to the nation’s economic success, which provides support for the healthcare system and allows for sufficient investment into medical services and equipment.

Luxembourg’s attractive medical salaries directly result from the financial investments made into the healthcare system and a strong demand for skilled medical professionals.

2. Korea

Purchasing power£150,344
Pay, exchanged into pounds£125,102
Multiple of average wage4.4x

Korea, specifically South Korea, has an advanced healthcare system and is known for its high-quality medical services.

The country has one of the highest life expectancies among OECD member countries, with an average of 83.5 years in 2020.

This is largely due to the efficient and well-structured healthcare system in place, which has contributed to the high demand for skilled medical professionals.

South Korea’s healthcare system is a mix of public and private providers, with the government heavily subsidising medical costs to ensure affordability and accessibility for all citizens.

A doctor stops to speak to a patient in a wheelchair
South Korea is one of the highest paying countries for doctors

This comprehensive system, coupled with the country’s strong economic position, allows doctors and other healthcare professionals to receive competitive salaries compared to their counterparts in other countries.

In terms of earnings, South Korean doctors are among the highest paid within the 28 OECD member countries that have provided relevant data.

The high salaries offered to medical professionals in Korea are a reflection of the country’s commitment to maintaining an exceptional healthcare system, as well as the recognition of the skill, expertise, and dedication of healthcare providers.

It is important to note, however, that working in the healthcare sector in South Korea can be highly demanding and often requires long working hours, which may impact work-life balance for some doctors.

3. Netherlands

Purchasing power£139,789
Pay, exchanged into pounds£140,499
Multiple of average wage3.2x

The Netherlands, situated in northwestern Europe, is well-known for its well-developed infrastructure, strong economy, and high quality of life.

The Dutch healthcare system is impressive, with solid labour laws protecting workers, including doctors, from long hours and excessive overtime.

This excellent healthcare system rivals some of the world’s top countries, contributing to why the Netherlands is one of the highest-paying countries for doctors.

The competitive wages draw many healthcare professionals to the region. The salaries are not only appealing but also well-earned, as there is a strong emphasis on providing high-quality healthcare to the citizens of the Netherlands.

The high salaries are also complemented by great working conditions and shorter work hours.

A major contributing factor to the attractive nature of the Dutch healthcare system is the ample holidays offered, allowing doctors to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

The healthcare system outperforms several other high-income countries, often ranking within the top three in European comparison studies.

4. Ireland

Purchasing power£137,182
Pay, exchanged into pounds£150,840
Multiple of average wage3.33x

Ireland is a country known for its rich history, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture.

The healthcare system in Ireland is a mix of public and private sectors, with the Health Service Executive (HSE) responsible for providing public healthcare services.

The public health system is funded through general taxation and offers a wide range of services free of charge to Irish residents.

There is also a strong private healthcare sector, which operates alongside the public system, providing additional options for patients.

The healthcare system in Ireland is well-regarded, and the country invests a significant amount of resources into it.

This investment enables Ireland to attract and retain medical professionals by offering competitive salaries.

The attractive salaries in Ireland are complemented by the relatively high standard of living and the variety of opportunities available for professional growth.

Doctors in Ireland work with diverse patient populations, and the widespread availability of public and private healthcare ensures that there is a continuous demand for their services.

Furthermore, Ireland’s location within the European Union allows for a strong network of medical professionals and access to innovative research opportunities.

This international perspective benefits doctors seeking to expand their knowledge and skills while working in a rewarding and well-paying environment.

5. Germany

Purchasing power£136,796
Pay, exchanged into pounds£127,613
Multiple of average wage3.4x

Germany is widely recognised for its efficient healthcare system, which provides high-quality medical care to its citizens.

This well-organised system offers a desirable working environment for medical staff, particularly doctors, contributing to the country’s reputation as one of the highest-paying nations for medical professionals.

The healthcare system in Germany is a combination of statutory health insurance and private health insurance, ensuring comprehensive coverage for both citizens and residents alike.

As a result, there is a strong demand for highly skilled doctors, which translates into impressive salary packages.

In addition to their competitive salaries, German doctors can also expect excellent working conditions, with a well-structured career progression path and an emphasis on continuous learning and development of skills.

6. England

Purchasing power£121,226
Pay, exchanged into pounds£121,498
Multiple of average wage3.33x

England is known for its well-established National Health Service (NHS), offering comprehensive healthcare coverage to its residents.

The NHS is funded through general taxation and provides a wide range of services, including primary care, hospital services, and specialist treatments.

England stands out as one of the highest-paying countries for doctors due to its strong economy and commitment to maintaining a high standard of healthcare.

The competitive salaries in England reflect the government’s commitment to attract and retain skilled medical professionals, ensuring that patients receive high-quality care.

Doctors in England can expect varying salaries depending on their level of experience and specialty. 

Junior doctors, for instance, may earn between £27,000 and £31,000 during the early stages of their careers, but as they progress through their training their salaries increase.

Experienced consultants in England can earn up to £100,000 or more, depending on their area of expertise and years of practice.

Further, performance-related pay may also be implemented, giving doctors the opportunity to earn more based on their work quality, contribution, and patient outcomes.

7. New Zealand

Purchasing power£115,471
Pay, exchanged into pounds£116,150
Multiple of average wage2.81x

New Zealand is a beautiful island nation in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, known for its stunning landscapes, friendly people, and high quality of life.

As one of the top destinations for highly skilled doctors, New Zealand offers attractive salaries and working conditions for medical professionals.

The healthcare system in New Zealand is funded primarily through taxation and is accessible to all citizens and permanent residents.

It focuses on providing essential medical services at low or no cost, ensuring that everyone receives the care they need.

Additionally, private healthcare is available for those who prefer or require non-emergency services not covered by the public system.

In both public and private settings, doctors play a critical role in delivering quality care, which is reflected in their remuneration.

New Zealand ranks among the highest-paying countries for doctors, offering competitive salaries that are in line with its high standards of living and strong economy.

While pay scales may vary depending on specialisation and experience, doctors in New Zealand can expect to earn a comfortable income that allows them to enjoy the country’s many benefits.

8. Denmark

Purchasing power£109,896
Pay, exchanged into pounds£136,132
Multiple of average wage2.54x

Denmark is a Scandinavian country with an excellent healthcare system, focused on both primary and specialty care.

The emphasis on preventative measures and healthy living contributes to the high demand for primary care doctors in the region.

The Danish healthcare system provides quality services to its citizens, making it one of the highest-paying countries for doctors.

Interestingly, the average general practitioner (GP) in Denmark earns slightly more than their specialist colleagues.

This can be attributed to the government’s efforts to encourage GP training, addressing the shortage of primary care doctors in the country.

Additionally, the higher average earnings of GPs may be influenced by the larger number of self-employed doctors in comparison to salaried specialists.

9. Chile

Purchasing power£108,920
Pay, exchanged into pounds£62,985
Multiple of average wage4.4x

Chile is a beautiful country located in the southwestern part of South America, with a vibrant culture and growing economy.

Its healthcare system is a mix of both public and private sectors, providing medical services to its population.

The Chilean healthcare system is comprised of two main elements: FONASA, the national public health insurance scheme, and ISAPREs, private health insurance institutions.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

While the public sector strives to provide comprehensive and accessible healthcare services, private institutions often boast higher quality care and better equipped facilities, making it appealing for patients who can afford the additional costs.

The country has made significant strides in recent years to expand health coverage, but it still faces a number of challenges.

Among OECD countries, Chile has the fifth-highest out-of-pocket payment rate and growing levels of inequality in access to care.

However, the demand for medical professionals remains strong, especially in rural areas, providing a lucrative environment for doctors who are willing to venture outside of major cities.

10. Iceland

Purchasing power£107,706
Pay, exchanged into pounds£141,341
Multiple of average wage2.14x

Iceland is a Nordic island nation known for its stunning landscapes and natural beauty.

The country’s healthcare system is state-centred, publicly funded, and provides universal coverage to its entire population.

In recent years, the number of private healthcare providers in Iceland has increased, but the majority of healthcare services continue to be financed by taxes (84%) and service fees (16%).

The Icelandic healthcare system’s focus on providing high-quality care to all its citizens has made it one of the highest-paying countries for doctors.

The high salary levels in Iceland can be attributed to various factors, such as the country’s economic prosperity and the government’s commitment to investing in public healthcare.

Moreover, the demand for skilled medical professionals in Iceland remains strong due to the country’s ageing population and the need to maintain a high level of healthcare services for its citizens.

11. Belgium

Purchasing power£102,872
Pay, exchanged into pounds£100,742
Multiple of average wage2.42x

Belgium is a small, densely populated country located in Western Europe.

It has a high standard of living and a strong economy, with its healthcare system being one of the most comprehensive and well-funded in the world.

The Belgian healthcare system operates under a social security model, with mandatory health insurance coverage for all citizens, ensuring that everyone has access to quality healthcare services.

In Belgium, doctors are paid relatively high salaries compared to other countries.

This competitive remuneration not only reflects the importance of doctors in the Belgian society but also helps in attracting and retaining highly qualified medical professionals within the country.

The Limitations Of Comparing Doctors’ Salaries Between Countries

Looking at the different countries on this list, it’s important to note that there are several key limitations when comparing doctors’ salaries between countries.

First and foremost, the purchasing power of a currency varies from country to country, leading to different living standards for doctors in each nation.

Therefore, a higher salary in one country may not necessarily translate to a better quality of life for a doctor compared to another country with a lower salary but higher purchasing power.

You can find a few of the countries with the lowest salaries for doctors here.

Another limitation is the variation in taxation and deductions from a doctor’s salary.

Some countries have significant taxes and social security contributions, which can drastically reduce the take-home pay.

Moreover, the compensation structure for doctors often differs significantly between countries.

Some nations employ a fee-for-service model, while others employ a salary-based model.

Comparing salaries between these models can be misleading, as fee-for-service models may allow for higher earnings depending on the volume of work.

In addition, the local cost of living and the availability of public services, such as housing and education, are crucial factors in determining doctors’ real income and overall well-being.

Comparing salaries without considering these aspects can paint an incomplete picture of the financial benefits doctors receive in different countries.

Final Thoughts

An appealing salary is not the only factor that attracts medical professionals to a country; the quality of life, work-life balance, and the local healthcare system are all important aspects to consider.

However, understanding the potential earnings of a doctor can provide valuable insight for those considering a career in medicine or relocation to another country.

As healthcare systems and the need for qualified professionals continue to expand, it’s essential for doctors to weigh their options and make informed decisions about their careers.

By examining these highest paying countries for doctors, I’ve hopefully provided a useful resource if you’re considering your options.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.