What is a General Practitioner

A general practitioner (also known as a Family Practitioner, Family Doctor, Family Physician, or simply GP) is a physician who diagnoses and treats acute or chronic illnesses, as well as providing preventative care and health education to his or her patients. They typically focus on a holistic (or whole-body) approach to medicine, including both the corporeal and the mental health and wellbeing of their patients. They are concerned with the early detection of diseases, referring patients to specialized care, and occasionally perform low-complexity surgeries.  For more information on what a GP does, please visit our general practitioner job description page.

Work Environment

General practitioners often work in clinics or private practices, or in hospitals. They are exposed to the diseases and illnesses of their patients on a daily basis, and some of these may be communicable; early in their work, GPs will have a high incidence of minor illnesses, however as their immune system adjusts, they often develop a stronger resilience.

Work Schedule

General practitioners tend to have a fairly standard schedule, often with forty to fifty hours per week, during regular business hours. This can be quite variable, however; patients may need to be seen outside of standard business hours, and in some instances may require emergency care. In an urban setting, this can be handled by hospitals, however, in some rural setting especially, the GP may be required to provide care at all hours. Often they will also work in a community hospital, providing after-hours care, especially in the emergency room.

Mean Annual General Practitioner Salary

The average annual general practitioner salary is $183,940. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $76,560 and the top 10% makes well over $260,000.

General Practitioner Salary: Quick Summary

2013 Mean Salary$183,940 per year
$88.43 per hour
Top 10% Salary$260,000 per year
$125.00 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$76,560 per year
$36.81 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2013120,860

General Practitioner Job Outlook and Prospects

The job outlook for general practitioners is quite promising, with an expected 18 percent growth between 2012 and 2022. This is higher than the average for all occupations, and about on average for physicians. This growth is due primarily to a growth in population, as well as to the increased demand for healthcare services expected to come with recent changes in national health insurance schemes.

What Affects General Practitioner Salary

As of 2013, the mean annual wage for general practitioners is $183,940, spanning from $76,560 for the lowest paid to more than $260,000 for the highest paid. These wages are affected by the industry in which the GP works, with those working in a private office earning close to the average, while other industries offer significantly more. Geographic location is also a dominant factor, along with experience.

Education and Specialization 

General practitioners are required to complete a bachelor’s degree followed by a medical degree. This will then be followed by a residency of three to four years with a focus on family medicine.

Education itself does not offer great gains in general practitioner salary. While some minor changes can be had through a more prestigious program or residency, few will see notable improvements through this method.

There are various sub-specialties for general practitioners to consider; gynecology, pediatrics, and clinic neurophysiology are some of the many focuses one can pursue to achieve salary improvements.

Experience and Position 

Experience is one of the primary factors affecting general practitioner salary. GPs who have worked in the field for a longer period, and who have developed a large clientele, will have a higher wage than those just beginning their career. The trust and support offered to one’s patients is paramount to the success and wage of the general practitioner, and these are skills that come primarily through experience.

Position is a minor consideration for general practitioners. With experience and prestige, one can expect to head a department in a hospital or clinic, however many general practitioners have their own private practice. A GP can be offered a teaching position alongside their practice, which will bring salary improvements.


The industry worked can have a significant impact on general practitioner salary; the average wage for those with their own office or working with other physicians is $184,630. Those managing a larger practice, however, can expect wages around $213,320. The highest general practitioner wages are in medical and diagnostic laboratories, which offer an average of $238,270.


The geographic location is another significant area for general practitioner salary, with wages ranging from $72,030 in Puerto Rico, to a high of $214,080 in Arkansas. Higher demand will lead to higher wages for general practitioners, and often this means less populous states will pay better; Iowa has the second highest average wages at $213,600, followed by Rhode Island at $205,280.

Looking at the metropolitan level can be much more lucrative, with averages reaching about $230,000. In Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA, one can earn $244,180, while Portsmouth, NH-ME brings $243,400. Steubenville-Weirton, OH-WV holds the third highest position, at $242,170.

General Practitioner Salary State By State