Family practice physicians and general practitioners can expect to make an annual income of about $177,330, on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and its Occupational Employment and Wages report for May 2012.

A family practice salary may range from $73,150 on the low end and up to $249,950 on the top end, according to the report. But pay can vary dramatically by geographical region.

According to Medscape’s report on physician compensation, the average family practice salary runs about $158,000 per year, which is up 2 percent since 2010. Medscape’s study included 24,216 physicians practicing in the United States across 25 specialty areas.

When searching for family practice jobs, keep an eye on the average pay for particular geographical regions. Your salary will be determined by many factors, but pay scales are often set by median figures.

And locum tenens positions will often set base pay scale on the national average income. The pay can be adjusted by local cost-of-living difference from the national average.

Family practice salary for women vs. men

Worth noting is the gender pay gap that persists. Male physicians in family practice and primary care earned 23 percent more than women, according to the Medscape study. Across all specialties, men earned about 40 percent more than female physicians.

Family practice salary can be a negative for some MDs in training, as mountains of debt and the widening gap between primary care pay and specialty salaries forces many to rethink their decisions. The relatively lower pay for family practitioners is creating a shortage in primary care physicians, and predictions are dire. “The trend away from family practice is already producing shortages in rural areas and could produce a national doctor crisis in just a few years,” writes Time magazine.

In evaluating physician jobs, it is useful to know the average pay for a given specialty. Independent of locum tenens positions, the national average of physician salaries in different specialties is often used as a target: a physician who generates the average patient income for the specialty receives the average. Bonuses are often pegged to the amount of income generated above the average.

The average physician salary for an internist (see Internal Medicine Survey) can be used as a benchmark for comparison with other medical specialities.

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