By Editor Updated Dec 17, 2019
Locum tenens recruiters often
talk about the many
career benefits that come with locum tenens work. From the opportunity
to work a flexible, customized schedule, to the chance to build experience in
practice settings of all shapes and sizes nationwide, these benefits are well
to physicians, physician assistants and advance practice nurses who work
But locums pay is another factor crucial to those considering
locum tenens work.
Medical job seekers want to know: how does a locum tenens salary
compare to regular practice, and how do physicians and practitioners manage the
sometimes complicated world of locum tenens finance?
Overview of Locum
Tenens Salary & Finance
Locum tenens work can be richly
rewarding, giving you the chance to help out healthcare facilities facing
personnel shortages. And, thanks in no small part to the nation's ongoing physician shortage, working locum
tenens assignments can also include a significant financial reward.
In fact, due to supply and
demand, it's now possible in some specialties for locum tenens physicians to
earn more than working in a permanent practice.
Here's the basic scenario
regarding locum tenens compensation.
When physicians or advanced
practitioners accept assignments with a locum tenens staffing company like Staff Care, they will
earn a per diem salary, in addition to extra compensation
for overtime, on-call and weekend work. Some pay rates may be open for
negotiation, but must be finalized by contract before an assignment begins.
As far as compensation for locum tenens physicians, the hourly
or daily rate varies by medical specialty, just as pay rates vary for permanent
positions. In fact, our recent data shows that locums pay can range from
several hundred dollars per day to over $2,000 per day.
Primary care physicians — who are among the most in-demand locum
tenens physicians — typically have an hourly rate of about $90 to $100, though some
contracts offer more.
"A primary care physician
working as a locum tenens full-time can easily generate $180,000- $200,000 a
year in income, and with overtime shifts they can earn considerably more," according
to Jeff Decker, president of Staff Care.
Decker added that a locum tenens practitioner should never pay a
fee to an agency.
Locum Tenens Pay Ranges for Some Key Specialties
Family medicine physician: $90-$125 per hour
Hospitalist: $140-$180 per hour
Critical care physician: $190-$265 per hour
Emergency medicine physician: $160-$245 per hour
Psychiatrist: $145-$180 per hour
Radiologist: $175-$245 per hour
The pay rates for advanced practitioners and physician
specialists can vary significantly, with some specialized surgeons earning more
than $300 per hour. Check
current locum jobs in your specialty
for the latest compensation
Does Locum Pay Rank Among Job Benefits?
In Staff Care’s 2017 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, 50 percent of
all respondents — MDs, PAs and NPs — ranked locum tenens salary rate as the
second-most desirable benefit of locums work.
By comparison, the first benefit was
"freedom/flexibility," which 89 percent of respondents cited as their
favorite benefit. Lack of politics, the ability to travel, and professional
development opportunities ranked third, fourth and fifth on the list.
When choosing specific assignments, two-thirds (67 percent) of
the providers surveyed admitted that the locum tenens pay offered is a key
factor in their decision-making.
Locum tenens salary rates are also dependent upon how often
physicians are working locum tenens assignments, which can also vary based on
specialty. Although some assignments last just a couple of weeks, some can last
up to a year.
According to Decker, “Some locations have a hard time finding
permanent doctors and rely on locum tenens doctors until they can find one,
which can take some time."
Part-time locum assignments are also available for candidates
who want to earn
extra income on their days off from their permanent job.
Locum Tenens Finance:
Insurance & Tax Advantages
Locum tenens physicians and practitioners are paid by their
staffing agency, but income taxes, Medicare and Social Security payments are
not withheld from their paychecks. As independent contractors, they are also required
to provide their own insurance, benefits and retirement savings. Most locums,
however, receive some tax
advantages as they are able to claim more work-related expenses than
employees, including travel, housing, meals and equipment.
Experienced locums recommend working with a tax professional and
financial planner to help take full advantage of the opportunities available to
A locums staffing agency will also provide practitioners with medical
malpractice coverage, travel expenses, free housing, and state licensure and
privileging assistance — all of which are extremely convenient, and can save practitioners
significant time and money. An added benefit of working with a locum tenens
staffing agency is that they consistently monitor malpractice policies to make
sure there aren’t any complications.
Financial gains vary for each locum tenens physician or advanced
practitioner based on a list of factors including medical specialty, experience,
skill set and assignment location.
Regardless of the specifics, however, there are clear benefits
for every locum tenens clinician, including competitive compensation rates and
flexible options that make working locum tenens jobs an attractive opportunity.
Much Could You Earn as a Locum Tenens?
you’re a physician or advanced practitioner interested in locum tenens career
opportunities, we invite you to search available locum tenens jobs.
Contact a Recruiter Now