Who Makes More: Lawyers or Doctors?

Salaries of lawyers and doctorsMany when they consider engaging in a professional career debate whether they should be a doctor and lawyer. These professions are two that many look at when they decide their path in life.  There is something about medical or law school that attracts many individuals to contemplate one career or the other.

Obviously, the decision is relatively easy for many individuals.  Some are scientifically or medically minded such that medical school is the easy choice. Others might not be scientifically minded at all, but they enjoy the law, and so law school is an easy choice.

But for some individuals, they might have an affinity for both. They might reasonably have the ability to be a good doctor or a good lawyer. But for various reasons, they end up choosing a legal path versus the medical path.

One interesting question that many have is what industry pays better?  Do doctors make more on average? Or do lawyers make more on average? Many do not realize that there is a stark difference when one looks at the averages.

For those weighing medical school or law school, they ought to at least consider the averages. Certainly, every lawyer or doctor is probably in a unique situation where the pay scale can vary. It is true as well that different medical and legal fields can have their own unique averages.

However, on average, the data shows that doctors make more than lawyers. To the surprise of some, the reality is that the discrepancy is not even close. Specifically, the average doctor makes $208,000 per year, while the average lawyer makes $118,160. These average numbers take doctors and lawyers who are in the peak of their careers — meaning that those just starting do not take this amount.

Further, the data shows that the bottom 10% of lawyers only make a salary of $56,910. Those in this bottom 10% are likely first-year lawyers or those who work in small towns un business for themselves.

How can this impact law firm practice management?  The reality is that many who have weighed medical school or law school are upset with their decision after the fact.  They might not have looked at the data on average salaries before making this decision.

Student loan debt is also another significant issue for law school graduates. The average new lawyer now comes out with an average student loan debt of $84,000 to $122,158 according to the American Bar Association.

Thus, if the average lawyer is making $118,160 a year (and many do not make close this amount early in their career), but they have an almost equal amount in student loan debt, many lawyers can end up in a difficult financial decision. This can result in them jumping from law firm job to another in the hopes of finding a greener pasture that might not exist.

In the end, many still opt to enter the legal field because they have an interest in the law, they want to help individuals through a difficult time in their life, or for other noble reasons. If these are the reasons an individual chooses law school over medical school, most individuals will not regret it. However, if the decision is one based on finances, the statistics show that many lawyers will be disappointed.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.



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