What is a Neurologist

A neurologist is a physician who specializes in disorders of the brain and nervous system, including the spinal cord and peripheral nerves. These can include disease with symptoms such as headaches, mobility impairment, or uncontrolled mood swings. They diagnose the root of such disorders and develop a plan of care, which may involve surgery (including a neurosurgeon) or other less invasive treatments. For more on job duties, please visit our neurologist job description page.

Work Environment

Neurologists can work in different milieus, though most tend to work either in hospitals or in a small practice. Working in a solo practice can involve a great deal of work building a patient base and developing the necessary reputation, but the overall working space will be up to the individual.

Working in a hospital, though more steady, will require a work environment more beholden to the wants and demands of the organization. While this may be an enjoyable environment, it could also be more challenging; it depends entirely on the people with whom the neurologist works.

Working in a larger, non-hospital practice offers a good balance between the two. One will be working with other subspecialists, and have much of the more menial work taken care of by administrators, while still having a strong voice within the group, and a say in the overall environment.

Work Schedule

A neurologist work schedule is also quite dependent on the organization. In a private practice, some extra leg work is required, however the potential for more work can be beneficial salary-wise; the ability to work greater, more flexible hours can  mean a greater number of patients treated, and thus a higher overall salary. In a hospital or larger practice, a neurologist will have a more regular schedule, often working with a team of neurologists; on call hours will be shared, as will emergency care duties.

Mean Annual Neurologist Salary

Neurologist typically make an average of $226,137 a year. The lowest-paid in the field took home less than $169,514, while the best-paid made upward of $302,169.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for neurologists is quite promising in the coming years; expansions in health care, along with an aging population, indicate that the likelihood of growth in the industry is strong, and will outpace standard employment prospects. Further to that, overall population in the United States is expected to grow in the coming decade, adding a further increase in demand for neurologist expertise.

Salary Analysis

The main factors affecting a neurologist’s salary are those that commonly affect medical professionals, namely experience, type of practice, and their geographic location. Specializations can also aid in increasing neurologist salary, as a subspecialty in an already specialized field adds to demand for the doctor.

Considering all of these factors, the average neurologist can make between $150,000 and $350,000, with the overall mean across the country balanced in the $226,137 range.

Education and Specialization 

The education required in becoming a neurologist is a long one, involving upwards of twelve years of post-secondary schooling and residency. While the residency and fellowship can have a minor impact on a salary, of greater interest is the area of specialization.

Some neurologists specialize in neurosurgery, becoming neurosurgeons as well as a more generalized neurologist. Vascular neurology, neurorehabilitation, and specialization in particular disorders (such as epilepsy) are further areas of focus that can bring salary increases.

Experience and Position 

Experience will greatly impact salaries, regardless of where he or she works. Be they in a hospital, a larger clinic, or in a private practice, the greater the knowledge base and skill, the greater the salary.

Position as a means of salary increase, however, is an area mainly open to those employed in hospitals or, on occasion, group practices. A hospital, with a team of neurologists, will have a position as head of neurology, a position that will bring a salary increase commensurate with the added responsibility and work.

In a private practice, there are fewer position-related possibilities. Being involved in a national organization related to the field, such as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, however, offers some potential in this respect.


Hospitals and clinics can offer greater commission pay, however non-profit organizations may offer superior compensation packages (these non-profits generally require the specialized services for aiding in relief efforts and humanitarian projects).

Research is another area with great salary benefits; working for a research company involves developing new treatments for particular disorders, and may be rewarding both monetarily and mentally. 


The cost of living can greatly impact on neurologist salary; states with higher costs of living will have a higher salary to balance this.

The range of salary is highly variable even within states; in Illinois, for example, the salary can range from $147,000 to $512,000. Florida salaries range from $180,000 to $500,000, while California ranges between $150,000 and $460,000. These three offer the highest average rates, with obvious wide ranges therein.