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The Best-Paying In-Demand Jobs For Doctors In 2015 – Forbes.com

Healthcare practitioners are usually perceived as among the best-compensated professionals working today. But within their ranks, salaries and demand can vary greatly, particularly as the industry works to respond to rapid change.

Listed here are the best-paying jobs for doctors in the most in-demand specialties right now, according to medical search and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a company of AMN Healthcare.

The data here is based on more than 3,100 search assignments for permanent physician and advanced practitioners in which Merritt Hawkins and other AMN Healthcare staffing companies engaged between April 1, 2014 and March 1, 2015. The compensation information listed here reflects base salaries, as opposed to total annual compensation figures that might include bonuses or benefits. As such, the list provides a picture of the incentives offered to medical professionals during the recruiting process.

Of the top 20 most recruited specialties this year, invasive cardiologists command the heftiest average base salary. These professionals can expect offers of $525,000 while being recruited, with some of the top earners bringing in as much as $650,000 in base salary alone. Orthopedic surgeons, often at the top of lists like this one, also fared well, commanding average base salaries of $497,000, with top-tier earners garnering annual paychecks of as much as $800,000.

“This is what the active market is having to guarantee to get someone to come do this job,” said Travis Singleton, senior vice president at Merritt Hawkins. “This is an accurate reflection of demand and supply.”

In pictures: The 15 Best-Paying Medical Specialties

Merritt Hawkins’ report takes note this year of demand for psychiatrists, characterizing the need for this specialty as reaching “an all-time high.”

“It’s quite possibly the scariest section for us,” said Singleton. “It’s one of, if not the oldest specialty in the market. They’re retiring at rates we haven’t seen, and we’re not replacing them.”

The greatest need for psychiatrists, said Singleton, is in inpatient treatment facilities and in rural areas, where access to mental health resources is often lowest. But younger professionals often favor urban settings and outpatient facilities, which often offer psychiatrists better incomes and higher quality of life. Despite the heightened demand for their services, psychiatrists can expect average base salaries of $226,000–far from the top earnings rungs of this list.

At the other end of the earnings spectrum, family practice physicians, though among the top 20 most requested specialties, take in average base salaries of just $198,000 — healthy compensation to be sure, but paltry wages when compared with those of other medical specialists.

Singleton cites the varying salaries of invasive and non-invasive cardiologists as reflective of the general state of compensation for medical professionals.

“Diagnostic cardiologists went down 34% year over year, versus your invasive cardiologists went up 16% year over year,” said Singleton. “At the end of the day, our system still heavily values procedural-based medicine much more than diagnostic medicine.”