Intensivist Salary Guide and Career Outlook

Intensivists, also known as critical care physicians, treat patients facing terminally ill or other serious health conditions. Most of these professionals staff intensive care and critical care units.

In the United States, intensivists make on a mean basis $309,878. The mean pay stands at C$273,075 ($217,684 USD) in Canada, 144,518 ($195,285 USD) in the United Kingdom and AU$377,216 ($297,975 USD) in Australia.

New Zealand’s intensivists earn on a mean basis NZD$316,740 ($227,920 USD) . The figure reaches INR16,69,560 (INR1,669,560 in Western form) ($26,196 USD) in India and R1,658,620 ($133,496 USD) in South Africa.

intensivist salary

How Much Does an Intensivist Make per Year by State?

Intensivist Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Pay $149 C$131 69 £69 AU$181 NZD$152 INR803 R797
Annual Pay $309,878 C$273,075 £144,518 AU$377,216 NZD$316,740 INR16,69,460 R1,658,620

Intensivist Salary Influencing Factors

With intensivists working mostly in hospitals, the city or region of the hospital has a major role in setting expected pay. These specialists can enhance pay prospects through more experience and assuming senior roles. Private sector hospitals generally can offer higher salaries than those operated or run by governmental health care systems.

1. Location

Medscape’s 2017 survey on intensivists’ pay in the United States showed the highest earnings in the North Central states, at $383,000. Intensivists in the West region ranked second, at $355,000, followed by those in the Great Lakes area at $330,000. The lowest average resided among the Mid-Atlantic states, at $303,000.

According to SalaryExpert, a critical care physician in Toronto earns C$294,647, more than C$20,000 above the Canadian mean. In Winnipeg, salaries on average fall below the mean, at C$258,313, while the figure for critical care physicians in Calgary rise to C$298,224.

London’s critical care physicians earn on average 180,860, while those in Liverpool, United Kingdom fetch 132,076 on a mean basis.

In Brisbane, intensivists’ pay rests below the Australian mean at AU$343,327. These physicians garner average salaries of AU$401,348 in Sydney and AU$383,875 in Melbourne, Australia. In Blenheim, New Zealand, the pay dips slightly below the national average at NZD$314,867. Intevinists in Wellington achieve mean earnings of NZD$317,601.

Intensivists in New Delhi, India find themselves well above the national mean for India, at INR17,36,236, while those in Mumbai also earn more than the national mean at INR17,86,321. Pretoria’s intensivists see mean pay at R2,211,225, above the South African mean. In Cape Town, the mean rests closer to, but still above, the national average at R1,796,558.

How Much Does a Intensivist Make in the US?

Intensivist Salary US Per Year Per Hour
Minimum $205,236 $98.67
Maximum $413,940 $199.01
Bonus $20,298 $9.76
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay $205,236 to $434,238

How Much Does a Intensivist Make in Canada?

Intensivist Salary Canada Per Year Per Hour
Minimum C$182,239 C$87.61
Maximum C$360,590 C$173.36
Bonus C$18,409 C$8.85
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay C$182,239 to C$378,999

How Much Does a Intensivist Make in the UK?

Intensivist Salary UK Per Year Per Hour
Minimum £96,446 £46.37
Maximum £190,834 £91.75
Bonus £8,917 £4.29
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay £96,446 to £199,751

How Much Does a Intensivist Make in Australia?

Intensivist Salary Australia Per Year Per Hour
Minimum AU$252,149 AU$121.23
Maximum AU$498,917 AU$239.86
Bonus AU$23,274 AU$11.19
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay AU$252,149 to AU$522,191

How Much Does a Intensivist Make in New Zealand?

Intensivist Salary New Zealand Per Year Per Hour
Minimum NZD$155,000 NZD$74.52
Maximum NZD$418,597 NZD$201.25
Bonus NZD$19,543 NZD$9.40
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay NZD$155,000 to NZD$438,140

How Much Does a Intensivist Make in India?

Intensivist Salary India Per Year Per Hour
Minimum INR11,31,322 INR543.90
Maximum INR22,38,501 INR1,076.21
Bonus INR1,03,006 INR49.52
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay INR11,31,322 to INR23,41,507

How Much Does a Intensivist Make in South Africa?

Intensivist Salary South Africa Per Year Per Hour
Minimum R1,116,427 R536.74
Maximum R2,209,029 R1,062.03
Bonus R102,337 R49.20
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay IR1,116,427 to R2,311,366

2. Experience

SalaryExpert reports the entry-level mean for critical care physicians in the United States at $205,236 and the senior-level average at $413,940. In Canada, those with one to three years of experience earn an average of C$182,239, while eight years in practice results in a mean of C$360,590.

Intensivists in the United Kingdom see entry-level salaries of 96,446. With eight or more years of experience, an intensivist in the United Kingdom can expect a mean of 190,834. SalaryExpert places salaries based on entry-level and senior-level status in Australia at AU$252,149 and AU$498,917.

For intensivists overall in New Zealand, the entry-level mean stands at NZD$211,556 and the pay for those with eight or more years in practice registers at NZD$418,597. In India, earnings for entry-level and senior-level intensivists are INR11,31,322 and INR22,38,501 respectively. The mean in South Africa stands at R1,116,427 for those with one to three years of experience, while the pay increases to R2,209,029 for intensivists.

3. Industry

According to Medscape’s 2017 survey, the mean for intensivists, or critical care physicians, in the United States stood at $324,000. This figure ranked 14th out of 27 medical specialties studied by Medscape.

Being self-employed can generate higher pay. Medscape shows the mean for self-employed intensivists at $368,000, while those in the employ of others made $314,000 in 2017.

For intensivists in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, the pay at the specialty level below consultants ranges from 76,761 to 103,490.

Intensive care physicians in one of New Zealand’s district health boards make between NZD$155,000 and NZD$219,000, based on figures presented by the New Zealand Government’s career page. The site reports that private sector physicians, which include intensivists, can earn up to NZD$600,000.

Military agencies employ intensivists for medical centers. For example, the United States Army offers critical care physician positions with pay ranging from $101,967 to $400,000 per year.

Schedule & Working Hours

Critical care units in hospitals operate around the clock. As intensivists practice mainly in hospitals and these units, work schedules often cover nights, weekends and holidays as well as weekdays and day times. Shifts can run 12 hours or more at a time.

Work weeks for intensivists last in excess of 40 hours in most cases. A 2015 survey reported in the Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine states that intensivists in India worked over 62 hours per week and spent almost 58 hours per week in intensive care units. Some hospitals may limit the intensivists to daytime shifts. Though full-time work is common, intensivists in rural or small hospitals may work part-time.

Bonuses & Benefits

As a general rule, intensivists can expect to earn bonuses and enjoy benefits such as healthcare benefits, pensions and incentives. Bonuses can result from performance or serve as recruitment tools. Intensivists can expect assistance with relocation.

PayScale reports that 96 percent of pediatric critical care physicians in the United States have medical coverage. For dental benefits, the coverage rate stands at 84 percent. Nearly three out of four pediatric critical care physicians enjoy vision care.

Career Outlook

As hospitals increase critical care services, demand will grow for physicians to staff these units.

A higher number of intensivists suggests a lower rate of mortality among critical care patients. A survey reported by The ACP Hospitalist asserts that the lowest mortality rates in the United Kingdom occurred in areas where the patient-to-intensivist ratio was 7.5 to 1. Where the lowest patient-to-intensivists ratios occurred, the mortality rate reached 22 percent.

The National Health Service reports that England had 508 consultant physicians in the intensive care specialty in 2016.

Demand for intensivists and opportunities for jobs may abound especially in urban areas and within larger hospitals and academic-based hospitals. According to an article in Critical Care Medicine, teaching hospitals saw major growth in beds in intensive care units in the United States at 13,471. This represented 72 percent of all of the increases of ICU beds.
In hospitals with 250 or more beds, the increase reached18,327, or nearly 92 percent of the total growth.

Places such as India must overcome having too few intensivists. As reported in Reuters, 8,350 critical care doctors practice in India, less than one-fifth of the 50,000 or more needed in the country.


Intensivists earn high salaries as medical specialists. With hospitals employing most of these professionals, the type and location of the facility will factor strongly in salaries. Intensivists should also find a significant demand for their services with health care systems and providers offering more critical care and shortages of these professionals.

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