How to Become an Emergency Room Doctor

Emergency Room Doctor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $280,800
Avg. Pay / hour $135.00
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 7%

An Emergency Room Doctor is a physician that is responsible for providing immediate medical attention to patients seeking health care services in an emergency room.

These professionals are experienced in working under pressure and treat, diagnose, assess a patient’s health, recommend a treatment, order tests and prescribe medications to the many patients they may see in the emergency room (ER).

Individuals who want to become an Emergency Room Doctor will need to be able to handle the intense demands required from working in a fast paced environment, have the ability to work under pressure as well as be able to focus on providing health care in this type of environment.

Education Requirements to Become an Emergency Room Doctor

Individuals who want to become an Emergency Room Doctor will need an extensive educational background, several years of experience working in an emergency room and a Medical License in order to enter this profession.

In order to become an Emergency Room Doctor, individuals must first secure a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college.

Individuals may pursue a science related track such as biology, organic chemistry, cellular biology, human physiology, or pre-med.

A bachelor’s degree also includes a comprehensive educational track that includes classes in mathematics, physics and English.

After completing a bachelor’s in a science related field, individuals will need to pass the Medical College Admission Test MCAT in order to apply for medical school.

Once an individual has been accepted into a medical school, they will begin a rigorous program that includes in depth knowledge on health and the human body.

Medical programs typically start the first two years with a curriculum that focuses on coursework and gaining some basic laboratory experience.

Some typical courses during the first two years of medical school that individuals take in order to become an Emergency Room Doctor include the following:

  • Immunology
  • Physiology
  • Medical Ethics
  • Pharmacology
  • Anatomy
  • Microbiology

These classes and coursework are then followed up by a more hands on learning environment in the form of clinical rotations.

Some common types of clinical rotations include the following:

  • Orthopedics
  • Psychology
  • Gynecology
  • Cardiology
  • Emergency medicine

During these clinical rotations, medical students will gain experience in working directly with patients to take medical histories as well as performing common procedures under the direct supervision of experience and licensed physicians.

To increase the prospects of securing a job, individuals also have the option to complete an internship within an emergency department before graduating from medical school.

This will give individuals the necessary experience that is required in working in an emergency room full time.

After completing medical school, individuals will need to seek licensure in order to practice medicine.

Individuals may visit the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) website to learn more information about licensure.

In addition, individuals must complete a 3 year residency in emergency medicine.

Emergency Room Doctor Job Description

Emergency Room Doctors are responsible for treating and diagnosing individuals who have been admitted to because of an urgent medical reason.

Some scenarios include life and death situations which require Emergency Room Doctors to work under pressure to diagnose and provide a treatment to save a patient’s life.

Emergency Room Doctors also see a variety of urgent health care issues including heart problems, poisonings, a variety of injuries due to accidents and a variety of other maladies.

This requires Emergency Room Doctors to have thorough knowledge in medicine.

Emergency Room Doctor Salary and Career Path

The median annual income for Physicians and Surgeons, which includes Emergency Room Doctors, was approximately $220,942.

Exact wages will depend on the years of experience, industry and specialization.

Emergency Room Doctors can make upwards to $363,000 per year according to figures from 2012.

The job outlook for Physicians and Surgeons as a whole looks promising because employment opportunities are expected to increase by 18 percent through the year 2022.

This job growth is considered faster than average and is attributed to the expansion of health care related sectors and the aging baby boomer population that results in a demand for health care services.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Arkansas- NA -
District of Columbia$162,650
New Hampshire$304,000
New Jersey$243,590
New Mexico$314,760
New York$182,040
North Carolina$303,230
Rhode Island$279,640
South Carolina$290,010
South Dakota$308,160
West Virginia$158,250
Puerto Rico$71,660

The top earning state in the field is Missouri, where the average salary is $340,150.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Missouri - $340,150
Oklahoma - $327,540
Wisconsin - $314,820
New Mexico - $314,760
Minnesota - $308,190
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for General Internal Medicine Physicians, OCC Code 29-1216, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an emergency room doctor?

Emergency room doctors treat patients that are admitted to an emergency room.

ER doctors have the responsibility of assessing the patients’ condition, ordering tests and beginning treatment.

Emergency room patients usually need immediate attention.

Doctors who respond to emergencies need the ability to keep calm under pressure and in the presence of patients that have severe injuries.

Emergency room doctors often have to take decisions and act quickly in order to save a patient’s life, for this reason, they need great decision-making skills.

How much does an emergeny room doctor make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for doctors, in general, is equal to or greater than $208,000 as of May 2018.

Salaries in the medical field can vary depending on the employer, the region and the physician’s education and level of experience.

How much does it cost to become an emergency room doctor?

If you want to become an emergency room doctor you will need a bachelor’s degree, a doctor of medicine degree and three years of residency in emergency medicine.

Bachelor’s degree programs that get you ready for medical school will cost you, on average, around $40,000 a year.

Four years of medical school can cost anywhere between less than $150,000 and $250,000 at a public school and even more at a private college.

What is the demand for emergency room doctors?

Employment for physicians and surgeons, in general, is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, according to BLS.

However, the number of job opportunities available to physicians varies depending on the specialty and the region.

Emergency room doctors will continue to be needed in the future to help patients who need immediate care.

How long does it take to become an emergency room doctor?

If you want to become an emergency room doctor, you should be ready for at least 11 years of training beyond high school.

The first step is to complete a four-year undergraduate program and to get your bachelor’s degree.

In order to be able to enroll at a medical school, you will need to obtain a passing score at the Medical College Admission Test.

During the last year of medical school, you may also have the chance of completing an internship in an emergency department where you will gain experience in this field.

Medical school graduates who want to become ER doctors need to complete at least three years of residency in emergency medicine.

During residency, you will receive clinical and laboratory training in trauma surgery, emergency medicine, and intensive care.

If you want to obtain training in a subspecialty of emergency medicine, such as pediatric emergency medicine or pain management, you will need to complete a fellowship program, which means another 2-3 years of training.

In order to be able to practice, those who have completed a residency need to obtain a state license, which means that they have to pass the three-step United States Medical Licensing Examination.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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