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Average Hourly Locum Tenens Pay Rate for Physicians, by Specialty

Locums work is a popular side hustle for physicians across many specialties. It can even be a career option, long or short term. Alongside our doctor salary by specialty series, we wanted to dive  into salary trends for our most popular physician side gigs, including looking at the average locums physician salary. We had previously reported average locums compensation statistics for physicians across all specialties, but here we want to do a deeper dive into average hourly locums rates by specialty. Below, we analyzed individual data points from our locums database by specialty to provide anonymous aggregate specialty data based on what those in our locums database report asking for and receiving. Salary transparency helps everyone, and we hope this will help our physician members know their worth when assessing and negotiating pay for locum tenens opportunities. We hope the insights below will help you as you explore this potential side gig or career.

As always with our salary and compensation data, if you are a member of our physician communities, access the individual datapoints to make sure you're comparing apples to apples in terms of the locums gigs people are reporting their hourly rates from, as locums opportunities can vary significantly in terms of location, type of work, after hours responsibilities, hours, and more.

Disclaimers/Disclosures: This information is derived from our physician salary and compensation databases, but is subject to self-reporting errors and availability of relevant data points from our online communities. This information is provided for educational purposes only, and is aimed at advocating for individual physicians. It is not intended to be used for collective bargaining; please see additional disclosures and disclaimers on the physician salary data pages. Please also do your own research before making any decisions based on the information provided. We are not formal financial, legal, or tax professionals and do not provide individualized advice. You should consult these as appropriate. We highly recommend having your physician employment agreement reviewed by a physician contract review attorney to ensure you have the most up to date and relevant information for your specific situation.

Quick stats on locums rates for physicians

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What locums rates do doctors make?

Locum tenens work is often paid by an hourly rate, as there is a high degree of flexibility with this work. For example, locums physicians may:

  • Do part-time locums work along with their main clinical gig

  • Do primarily locums with short-term contracts and travel throughout the year, taking time off

  • Focus on long-term locum tenens contracts for a higher degree of stability

As such, we felt that knowing the average locums hourly rates by specialty was a good starting point for determining how much locum tenens doctors make a year based on how much locums work a doctor intended to do.

Locum tenens physician hourly rates

Across our locum tenens compensation database, the average hourly locums rate was around $215/hour. This depends widely based on specialty, so we look at the average locum tenens salary by specialty below.

A few additional insights into locums rates:

  • Pediatrics generally reported the lowest hourly rates

  • Gastroenterology and heme/onc reported the highest hourly rates

  • Rates varied from $60/hr to $500/hour

Please see our average locums compensation statistics for physicians across all specialties for more high level data on locums compensation and contracts irrespective of specialty.

How locums rates are determined for physicians

With the flexibility available, pay structures that determine an annual salary differed. Here are some of the structures we noticed when analyzing our database.

Multiple hourly rates. Some doctors noted that their hourly locums rate differed, depending on the schedule. For example, they had a:

  • Rate for weekday work (lowest)

  • Rate for weekend or week night work (middle)

  • Rate for weekend or holiday nights (highest)

  • Flat rate for a determined minimum number of hours per day, then a higher rate for additional hours

Others mentioned the potential for double pay shifts, so while they had an average hourly rate, they had opportunities to make significantly more.

Call versus hours worked. Some locums physicians mentioned they had a minimum flat rate for a set call period (such as 24 hours). They also had an average hourly rate for the hours they worked while on call. For on call responsibility, some doctors reported one hourly rate for on call work they completed offsite, as well as a higher on call rate for call required onsite.

Locums versus moonlighting. Some of our locum tenens doctors do both locums work and moonlighting. These physicians reported one hourly rate for scheduled locums shifts and another for moonlighting opportunities.

Daily rate. Some locums physicians have a negotiated rate per day versus an average hourly rate. For many reporting daily rates, they also noted an average hourly rate for callback.

Guaranteed minimum. Locums doctors can get paid an hourly rate, but can also have a guaranteed minimum number of hours for their scheduled shifts. We saw reports of around 5-8 hour minimums, but don’t have enough data to dig further into this area of locums compensation.

How much do locums doctors make by specialization?

For specialties where we have enough relevant data points, we looked at the average locums hourly rate our doctors reported. If you would like to see your specialty featured, please take a few minutes to contribute to our locums compensation database if you haven’t already for this calendar year.

Locums rates doctors get paid, by specialty

  • Anesthesiology: $292/hour

  • Cardiology: $272/hour

  • Emergency medicine: $258/hour

  • Family medicine: $140/hour

  • Gastroenterology: $367/hour

  • Hospitalist: $175/hour

  • Hospitalist, internal medicine: $180/hour

  • Internal medicine: $173/hour

  • OB/GYN: 155/hour

  • Otolaryngology (ENT): $250/hour

  • Pediatrics, general: $108/hour

  • Pediatrics, neonatology: $150/hour

  • Pediatrics, other specialty: $182/hour (not enough data to break down further)

  • Psychiatry: $223/hour

  • Pulmonary and critical care: $288/hour

  • Radiology: $289/hour

  • Surgery, general: $193/hour

  • Surgery, specialized: $209/hour (not enough data to break down further)

Please note that the sample size in some of these specialties was smaller than we'd like, so we are hoping to update these numbers soon if we receive more data. Along these lines, in many speicalties the average rate from our datapoints can be signficantly below whath we see people get if they ask for higher rates, so make sure that you advocate for yourself in locums contract negotiations. These datapoints are merely meant to show you a ballpark amount of what physicians have reported, but in our experience, physicians tend to undervalue themselves in the locums marketplace. Please look at the individual datapoints on the locum tenens database to get a better sense for what rates can be and use them to motivate yourself to know your worth.

Average locums physician salary by specialty

Along with the average hourly rate locum tenens doctors make, members could also specify in our locums compensation database how many days a year they typically work, along with the average salary earnings to give a better idea of how much side gig or full time income you may be able to make as a locums physician.

As a reminder, shift lengths under average days worked a year can vary significantly by specialty, which is another reason to compare your situation to relevant data points from the database versus looking at just the aggregate numbers.

Locum tenens salary by specialty for physicians

  • Anesthesiology: $163,000 for 78 days a year

  • Emergency medicine: $272,000 for 85 days a year

  • Family medicine: $139,000 for 100 days a year

  • Hospitalists: $182,000 for 97 days a year

  • Internal medicine: $151,000 for 88 days a year

  • OB/GYN: $89,000 for 38 days a year

  • Pediatrics, general: $77,000 for 85 days a year

  • Psychiatry: $278,000 for 162 days a year

  • Surgery, specialized: $193,000 for 67 days a year

Please note, these numbers are not the average full-time salary income earnings for each specialty, as many members performed locums as a side gig and others who reported their average hourly rates did not include both their days worked and salary amount, so they could not be included for assessment in this section. This is simply to give you an idea of the salary range with the data we currently have. We look forward to looking into this more in the future as more data comes in.

Our primary care physicians such as OB/GYNs and pediatricians reported some of the lowest average salaries of what doctors make doing locums work. OB/GYNs also reported by far the least number of average days worked a year, which suggested these physicians likely tend to pick up locums as a physician side gig versus as their main clinical job.

Of the specialties where we have enough data, surgeons reported the smallest average of days worked a year, suggesting that locums can be a great side gig opportunity here as well.

Psychiatrists and emergency medicine physicians reported the highest locums salaries, with emergency medicine physicians reporting significantly less days worked, though they likely had much longer shift requirements each day than the psychiatrists.

Additional career resources for locums doctors

Explore our related articles and resources on doctor compensation and salaries: 

If you haven’t recently, please take a few minutes to contribute! The data provided is used only for the purpose of our database to help physicians like yourself negotiate better compensation by helping provide salary transparency with relevant data. The data is completely anonymous and is only available to members of our Physician Side Gigs Facebook group. Contribution links can be found on our compensation data for physicians page.

Looking to learn more about locum tenens as a career or side gig? Explore our physician’s guide to locum tenens.

If you need guidance on negotiating your next contract for the best possible deal, check out:

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