At minimum, doctors need eight years of postsecondary schooling and three years of training and residency before they can legally practice. Specialists usually need several more years of training and residency. As a result, physicians -- in California and elsewhere -- tend to be well-compensated. The expected income for physicians depends on their area of specialty.
General physicians, sometimes called general or family practitioners, serve as primary care providers to most patients. Those practicing in California reported an average annual salary of $182,200 per year to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012. This is slightly more than the national average for general physicians, $180,850.
General practitioners of internal medicine, sometimes called internists, reported an average annual pay of $191,520 throughout the United States in 2012, according to the BLS. California's practitioners of internal medicine fared somewhat better, earning an average of $201,140 per year.
Surgeons in California reported an average annual salary of $209,880 per year in 2012. While this salary is higher than that of many other types of physicians, California's surgeons are somewhat underpaid compared to other states, according to the BLS. The national average pay for surgeons across the United States was $230,540.
Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Obstetricians and gynecologists, sometimes called OBGYN doctors, specialize in women's reproductive health and health during pregnancy. Obstetricians and gynecologists practicing in California reported an average salary of $220,940 per year to the BLS in 2012. This was slightly higher than the national average salary for OBGYN doctors, $216,760 per year.
Pediatricians are doctors who primarily treat children. As of 2012, general pediatricians working in California earned an average salary of $167,650, lower than most other types of physicians. This rate of pay was nearly identical to the national average of $167,640 per year.
Women vs. Men
According to the California Health Care Almanac, about 30 percent of California physicians are female, which is just a little higher than the 29 percent for physicians in the United States as a whole. However, women still tend to make less than men. In 2012, Medscape reported that female primary care physicians nationwide earned 81 percent of what male primary physicians earned. The gender gap was even worse for specialists, with women earning just 71 percent of what men earned.
- California Health Care Almanac: California Physician Facts and Figures 2010
- Medscape: Physician Compensation Report 2012
- The Press-Enterprise: Gender Gap in Pay Narrows in California
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for California
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Pediatricians, General
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Surgeons
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Internists, General
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Family and General Practitioners