The median pulmonologist salary in the United States is reported to be about $235,000 per year or about $113 per hour. The lowest 10th percentile of the people employed in this profession earns about $175,000 or less per year which is about $84 or less per hour. The highest 10th percentile of people employed in this field earns about $328,000 or more per year which is about $158 or more per hour. The salary of the middle 50 percent of the workforce in this profession is reported to be between $203,000 and $284,000 per year or between $98 and $137 per hour.
As with any other profession, the salary of pulmonologists is affected by many different factors. Factors such as type of practice, size of establishment, geographical location, work experience and skills level all determine how much a pulmonologist will earn.
Pulmonologists are also entitled to bonuses and other benefits. Benefits such as social security, paid time off, pensions, healthcare benefits, 401K and bonuses can bring the total compensation package of a pulmonologist to a median of about $318,000 per year.
Job description of a pulmonologist
Pulmonologists are primarily specialist physicians that specialize in the prevention, diagnoses and treatment of diseases that affect the lungs and bronchial tubes. They basically deal with the respiratory system.
The deal with diseases and illnesses such as pneumonia, emphysema, asthma, tuberculosis and other chest infections. They inspect the nose, throat and pharynx during diagnosis.
Are pulmonologists surgeons? Major surgeries on the respiratory system are performed by thoracic surgeons. But pulmonologists perform minor surgical procedures to obtain samples and diagnose pulmonary diseases. This may include the insertion of fiber optic cameras into the lungs to inspect the linens of the lungs.
The often work on patients on life support or those who need artificial respiratory aid. Pulmonologists use different techniques for diagnosing respiratory related diseases and illnesses. These include laboratory analysis, spirometry, bronchoscopy, Chest x-rays, CT scans, Polysomnography and positron emission tomography.
How to become a pulmonologist
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Pulmonologist are basically physicians with a specialist training. As such they must complete an accredited medical program and obtain medical degree. The journey to become a pulmonologist is a long one.
First you must obtain a four bachelor’s degree in order to be accepted into medical school. Acceptance into medical school requires at least 3 years of undergraduate college studies. But in reality, you will unlikely be accepted into medical school without a bachelor’s degree. There are no requirements concerning majors but a major in a science field such as chemistry, biology and biochemistry might improve your chances of getting accepted.
The next step after your bachelor’s degree program is to enter medical school. Medical school admission requires a bachelor’s degree, writing and passing the Medical School Admission Test (MSAT), letters of recommendation and admission interviews. It is a tough and competitive process. Medical school will last for 4 years. The first two will mostly be spent in laboratory and classroom work. And the last 2 years will mostly be spent visiting clinics to observe medical practices.
After completing medical school, your next step will be 3 years of residency training in internal medicine. Pulmonary medicine is a subspecialty of internal medicine hence residency in internal medicine is a requirement to become a pulmonologist.
After successfully completing residency training in internal medicine, you will be required to take up at least 2 more years of fellowship training in pulmonology. This is where you specialize to become a pulmonologist. When you finish with this fellowship, you will need to become board certified by taking and passing the board certification examination in pulmonary medicine.
These are pulmonologists that also have pediatric specialization. Pediatric pulmonologists typically complete medical school followed by residency training in pediatrics and an additional fellowship training in pulmonology.
Pulmonologist salary in other countries (UK, Australia and Canada)
In the UK, pulmonologists are referred to as respiratory physicians. The average salary in the UK is reported to be between £74,000 and £117,000.
They are also known officially as respiratory physicians in Australian. Pulmonologist salary in Australia ranges from AU$45,000 (for interns) to about AU$200,000 (Consultant specialists). The salary can increase by up to 20% when benefits are added.
In Canada, they are called respirologists. The average pay in Canada is about CA$112,000. The range is between CA$73,000 and CA$166,000 per year.
Verdict on pulmonologist salary
The figures given above are for base salaries. When bonuses and overtime pay are added, the figures will increase. Also, there are many factors what affect the salary of a pulmonologist. This means two people with the same qualification and work experience might earn different income.