ER Physician Salary

The actual salary for an ER physician depends on several factors such their geographic location, the number of years of experience, and their employer. They can earn an average annual salary of $175,000 to $225,000 plus benefits.

How much does an ER Physician make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected increase was 18% between 2012 and 2022. The overall employment prospects for emergency physicians look great in the coming years. As a full-time ER physician, they can earn an average annual salary of $175,000 to $225,000 plus benefits. The highest average annual salary was $260,079 for an ER physician working for a nonprofit organization while those who work for a federal government agency earned an average annual salary of $172,952. On average, an ER physician is one of the highest paying emergency room jobs. An entry-level position as an ER physician has an average annual salary of $100,841 to $183,126. The best paying state is New York with an average annual salary of $229,000 followed by California at $218,000. Rounding out the top 4 states is Washington at $212,000 and Texas at $200,000.

In addition to the exceptional wages there are also the benefits packages that can include:

  • Paid vacation and sick days along with paid holidays
  • Medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, maybe even for their families
  • Maternity leave
  • Pension
  • 401k
  • Profit sharing
  • Short and long term disability
  • Cell phone reimbursement when on-call and they leave the emergency room for a few minutes to go outside to get fresh air or something like that. If they have specialized in a field such as pediatric emergency medicine they may be on-call in case an emergency involving a child comes in and they are not on duty they might need a cell phone
  • Continuing education reimbursement
  • Bonuses quarterly or yearly
  • Paid premiums on their malpractice insurance

There may other benefits that they will receive, but it will depend on their place of employment.

Salary of an ER Physician in 2017

As the need increases for ER physicians, the higher their average annual salary will increase. In 2017, the lower 25% were earning an average annual salary of $225,054 while the top 75% were earning $305,398 with an average median salary of $260,739. These are just average figures that could be higher or lower depending on your employer, geographical location, your years of experience, and if you have a specialty field.

ER Physician Salary in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom

In the UK, an ER physician has an average annual salary of £20,932 to £69,028 plus an average yearly bonus of £15,205. In Canada, the average annual salary of an ER physician is C$60,402 to C$202,575 with an average annual bonus of C$1,208 to C$24,832.

In Australia, the average annual salary of an ER physician working in a private practice full time can earn AU$150,000. They also have bonuses of discounts on their Medicare yearly premiums and monetary bonuses. When employed full time in a public hospital their average annual salary is AU$250,000 to AU$400,000.

ER Physician Career

This is the physician that treats patients that either do not have a primary physician or cannot go to their primary physician because it is after hours of their primary physician. This is a physician who is trained to perform life-saving techniques and treat severe wounds in situations where immediate care is needed. They are trained to respond quickly to illnesses and injuries of all kinds. They can be the physician that provides the difference between life and death.

Job Description of an ER Physician

When working as an ER physician you have to be ready for any type of injury or illness. When a patient either walks into the emergency room or is brought in by ambulance or someone else normally the charge nurse will triage them to determine the extent of their injury or illness and if they need to be seen immediately or can wait a little while to be seen. When seeing patients in an emergency room, the ER physician must be prepared to treat a wide range of injuries and illnesses along with delegating authority to the support staff and nurses. Many times they will also be in charge of supervising residents and interns as they do their rotation in the emergency room.

An ER physician may treat everything from the common cold to a life-threatening stab wound, bullet wound, or accident. Today many hospitals have a policy that no one will be turned away from receiving emergency services. This means that on many nights an ER physician will see patients that really do not have an emergency. They could just be an uninsured patient, someone that is addicted to street drugs and is trying to score some free narcotics by pretending to have an emergency illness or injury, or a parent that is overly concerned about their sick child and does not want to wait until their primary physician is in the office. If there is not a registered charge nurse, or one that triages the patients, it will be up to the ER physician to determine who can wait and who needs immediate treatment.

Unlike a regular physician or specialist who treats a particular area of medicine, an ER physician must have a good working knowledge of every area of medicine. They need to know enough to take care of the patient and to know if they need to be referred to a specialist or not. In addition to being a physician, an ER physician must also know how to delegate authority, prioritize patients as to how they need to be seen, and be able to work with a variety of different staff who work in the emergency room department. For example, after examining a patient and determining that they do not have a life-threatening emergency they may have a nurse take over their care or have them or a technician complete diagnostic tests. Tests are such as having blood drawn, urine samples taken, setting up x-rays or other diagnostic testing, having someone take the patient to have the test done, and more. They will also be in charge of residents and interns instructing them on how to do different procedures along with monitoring what they are doing. No day or night is the same in an emergency room, so an ER physician has to be prepared for anything.

Being an ER physician you need to have:

  • Great managerial skills as you will manage several exam rooms and patients at the same time
  • Great communication skills with the patients and staff of the emergency room
  • The ability to delegate jobs to other medical staff in the emergency room
  • The ability to teach and guide new interns and residents
  • The ability to distinguish between real emergencies that need to be seen immediately and those that can wait just by quickly accessing the patient
  • The ability to work quickly and efficiently

How to Become an ER Physician?

To become an ER physician requires you to complete a substantial amount of undergraduate and graduate education relating to medicine and science. This includes a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. During your training you will have both clinical rotations and theoretical training. If you agree that you want to become an ER physician then you should take as many science related classes as you can in high school along with any other classes that will help you with communication and time management.

Getting your Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) it involves an intensive study of many subjects including immunology, embryology, and pharmacology. It takes approximately 4 years to complete medical school if you go full time, but there are some that attempt to try only going part time. There are certain programs that do allow you some flexibility. You will also go through a residency programs that includes clinical experience in the emergency room. During this residency program, you will be able to familiarize yourself with real-world practices and techniques in the emergency room. A residency program can be completed in another 3-4 years of education and clinical experience.

Before you can even apply to medical school, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Although there is no specific major, it must be in it is important that you complete some science-related courses. You should take courses in mathematics, physics, English along with science related courses like human physiology, organic chemistry, and cellular biology. Getting into medical school is competitive, so it would help your chances if you volunteer in a medical facility and can put on your application that you have some experience working in a clinic or hospital. Once you have your bachelor’s degree, you have to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This examination will assess your readiness for medical school. A medical school will use the scores from this examination to determine if you have the writing, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills that are necessary to succeed in medical school. On the examination, you will find topics in biological sciences, verbal writing and reasoning, and physical science.

In your first 2 years of medical school, you will focus on laboratory experiences and coursework. The last 2 years will offer you a chance to participate in clinical rotations that involve cardiology, orthopedics, psychology, emergency medicine, and more. At this time, you will begin to work with patients completing basic procedures and taking medical histories under the supervision of experienced physicians. Before you start your fourth year of medical school, you can participate in an internship with an emergency department to give you experience and to help you with your residency application. During medical school, you will have to complete classes in patient care, histology, pathology, surgery, physical diagnosis, psychiatry, obstetrics, and gynecology, human and brain behavior, and more along with hands-on labs and clinical experience. After completing medical school, you will need to obtain a license from the state where you are going to practice. To earn this license you have to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). It is a 3-part examination that will test you on your ability to work in a medical emergency setting and to care for patients.

Now that you have your medical license you will need to do an emergency medicine residency, which is 3 years. The residency consists of clinical simulations, conferences, and lab work. In the conferences, you will cover topics that cover specific areas of emergency medicine such as pulmonary or cardiovascular treatment. In the labs, you will be trained in specific skills like repairing of wounds, orthopedics, or airway management. The clinical simulations will have you working on manikins that are put into simulated situations that an ER physician might face on a day-to-day basis. While in the residency program you may also attend seminars, have peer reviews, and eventually will do supervised clinical training in an emergency room.

Once you become an ER physician, you can also specialize in the field by participating in a fellowship program that will equip you with the training in a sub-specialty. These can include pain management, disaster medicine, medical toxicology, or pediatric emergency medicine.

Work Environment and Schedule

As their title suggests, they work in the emergency rooms of hospitals. Around the world, almost every hospital has an emergency room where patients receive medical treatment because they cannot wait for a scheduled appointment with their primary physician. When working in the hospital emergency room you may be the only physician there along with other nurses, technicians, interns, and residents. It is one of the most stressful professions in which to be a physician because there is no way to tell beforehand just what type of illness or injury will come through that emergency room door. Emergency rooms are accessible 24 hours per day, and 7 days a week so if a patient cannot get in to see their primary physician they come to the emergency room, even if it is not an emergency. There are also auto accident victims, shooting and stabbing victims, domestic and child abuse patients, burn victims, and more that come into the emergency room. Being an ER physician, you may have a very busy night while other times it may be an easy night. The type of night is also affected by where the hospital is located such as in a large metropolitan area or rural area, if there is more than one hospital in the city, if the city is known for its violence, etc. Many times working as an ER physician you work on-call shifts that could be 24 or 36 hours long. When you are on-call you will stay at the hospital and if you have time to sleep you would stay in the hospital on-call room.

If the night is particularly busy, you may work 12 or more hours straight before you even have a chance to try to grab a few hours, or minutes of sleep or to even eat. When you are in the on-call room if an emergency comes in they will page you or call the on-call room. You serve days, evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. An ER physician may work 24 or 36 hours and then be off that many hours. Sometimes they are scheduled to work 12 hours but find themselves working over due to an emergency that your replacing ER physician cannot handle because it was a 12 car pileup with multiple victims or some other type of huge emergency, and then you have to report back to work in another 12 hours.

Pros and Cons of Being an ER Physician

Plainly put, being an ER physician may pay great and sound like a great title to have attached to your name but it is one of the most stressful physician jobs in the medical field. When listing the pros and cons of being an ER physician most people will have a much longer list of cons than they do pros because there are many things that are not likable about being an ER physician but if that is the case then why do so many choose to be an ER physician.


  • It is a profession where you sometimes make a difference between life and death. That means that once you begin saving lives, you will feel that you have a special purpose, and that all things start to make sense on new levels.
  • A decent salary of 6 figures, even at an entry-level position. This obviously means that you can have a dream job, a dream career that truly offers you enough money to live your dreams. Of course, this also means hard work.
  • A prestigious title in front of your name. Not any professional can become an ER Physician. Such a job is of great impact, and also one that is always in demand, even now and projected over the next decade too (while we can’t know what happens in 2-3 decades, it’s most probably the same – this job will be required)
  • Being in charge of the nurses, residents, interns, technicians and other staff in an emergency room. As a leader, you work with people and you also coordinate them. It’s a responsibility, but it’s also nice to feel the team spirit.
  • Helping to guide new residents and interns as they do their rotation in the emergency room and help them to become physicians. Helping others is always good, because years ago you needed help too and then not only that you feel good, but you will also make a significant difference in other people’s lives.
  • The job as ER physician can be exciting and rewarding, especially when you find yourself saving the life of a patient who came to the emergency room hovering near death. The happiness when such a patient will recover cannot even be described by words. You will feel honored, happy and satisfied, both as a simple human, but also as a professional. Of course, this will contribute to get you a good name among many experts.


  • Long hours. You need to resist and have patience with an ER Physician career.
  • Sleep deprivation. You won’t always have enough time to sleep. While this can affect you in certain ways, you can try consuming more fruits, drinking a couple of cups of coffee daily (not too much to avoid overdose) and get some time to do exercises as well. All in all, if you get used to these things, you can resist.
  • Extremely busy nights, many of them. This also means that you need to be very focused even under pressure, when you are the most tired and would dearly enjoy a nap. You can’t think of anything else than the patient’s needs and mostly the patient’s life, which is many times at stake.
  • Regularly on your feet and on the move going from one patient to another
  • Dealing with drug addicts wanting free narcotics and if they are denied they can become violent
  • Dealing with irrational patients who insist that they are seriously injured or ill and need to be seen immediately
  • Dealing with family members when one of their family has died despite all of your efforts
  • No set schedule
  • Working a variety of hours including weekends and holidays
  • Not having much time with your family
  • Having to catch a few hours of sleep when you can when working 24 to 36 hour shifts
  • Losing a patient to death in spite of doing all you could
  • Dealing with depression because of the long hours, little if any sleep, and dealing with death on a daily basis.
  • You will have to earn a bachelor’s degree that can take 4 years plus another 4 years of medical school along with another 3-4 years for a residency program and maybe a fellowship program in which you specialize in a field, which can equal huge student loans and educational expenses.

Conclusion on ER Physician Salary

When looking at the average annual salary of an ER physician their hourly wage seems to be approximately $200, which in some people’s cases is what they bring home in a week. What the actual average salary would be per year or hour depends on where they are working, geographical location and the years of experience plus if they did a fellowship and have a specialty. Unless they are lucky, most ER physicians have student loans that they must pay back so that can take away from some of their salary but an ER physician can still make a good living. It is also one field that you can take an entry-level position and still have a good chance starting out with a 6-figure income. The projected growth rate is 18%, so this shows that there is going to be a need for ER physicians in the future.

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