The UK vs the USA

Let us compare working in the UK vs working in the USA for junior doctors.


1. Entry into the System

As I mentioned in my article PLAB vs USMLE, it is very easy to pass PLAB and enter the UK’s healthcare system for doctors. However, passing USMLE requires a lot of hard work, serious dedication, a lot of time, money, energy and patience. Also, keep in mind that there are pathways other than PLAB for entering the UK’s system.

The UK: very easy to enter the system.

The USA: requires hard work and serious dedication.


2. Entry into Training

Our first job in the USA is always a training job; our first job in the UK is almost never a training job. In the UK, we have to work at a non-training post for a few months before we can find a training post. Most doctors in the UK find a training job within a year (or two) after they start working in the UK.

The UK: first job is a non-training job.

The USA: direct entry into training.


3. Training Quality

The US arguably has better training than the UK. There are no facts to back this up.

The UK: great training.

The USA: arguably the best training.


4. Training Duration

Training duration varies widely in both the countries.

The UK: 3 years (GP ST) to 8 years (Medicine and Surgery).

The USA: 3 years (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics) to 5 years (Surgery) to 8 years (Neurosurgery).


5. Working Hours

Junior doctors in the USA work twice as much per week as they do in the UK.

The UK 40 to 48 hours per week.

The USA 80 to 110 hours per week.


6. Starting Salary

Starting salary in the UK and the USA is almost the same.

The UK: £2,700 ($3,500)

The USA: $3,200 (£2,500)

This is the take-home pay per month, after tax-deduction.

(The above values are only reference ranges and actual starting salary might vary 5 to 10 percent)


7. Consultants’ Salary

Consultants in the USA earn roughly the double as compared to consultants in the UK.

The UK: £75,000 – £100,000

The USA: $150,000 – $400,000

This is the salary per year, before tax-deduction.

(The above values are only reference ranges and actual salary might vary)


8. A Welfare State

A welfare state looks after its people; among other things it provides free healthcare and education to everyone.

The UK: a welfare state.

The USA: not a welfare state.



UK vs USA 2

Useful Links


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should I work in the UK or should I work in the USA?

This is a personal choice based on individual circumstances. However, the above-mentioned information might help you in making your decision.

2.If the road to the UK is so easy, why do most doctors prefer the USA over the UK?

Choosing where you want to work is a personal decision. However, most people choose the USA over the UK for the following reasons:

  • Lack of awareness about the UK pathway
  • Peer-following
  • The USA looks more attractive
  • Better pay for consultants in the USA
  • Arguably better training in the USA
  • Direct entry into training in the USA
  • Shorter training duration in the USA

3. If the USA has so many benefits, why should I work in the UK?

Again, choosing where you want to work is a personal decision. However, I and most of my friends chose the UK for the following reasons:

  • PLAB is an easy exam to pass.
  • PLAB takes less time, effort and money.
  • Easy entry into the system.
  • Training is easy to find.
  • One of the best training systems in the world.
  • Working hours are very easy.
  • Starting salary is the same as the UK.
  • The UK is a welfare state.

4. What is the difference between the pay scales in the UK and the USA?

Starting salary in the UK and the USA is almost the same for junior doctors.

  • The UK: £2,700 ($3,500)
  • The USA: $3,200 (£2,500)

(this is the take-home pay, after tax-deduction)

5. How much pay is enough in the UK?

It depends on your lifestyle, location, number of dependents and a few other factors. But the following might give you a general idea:

£1,900/month can be more than enough for a single person and just enough for a couple.

£2,700/month can be more than enough for a couple.

6. Would I be able to save money in the UK?

Again, it depends on the factors mentioned above. So savings can be different for every individual.

I have seen people save £1,000/month for a whole year and I have seen people not save anything even after a couple of years. So it depends on each individual and how they live.

7. How much tax would I have to pay in the UK?

The numbers mentioned in this article are exclusive of tax. These are the take-home salaries, after tax deduction. However, to learn more about pay scales and taxation in the UK, you can click here.

8. What is the difference between a training and a non-training job?

A training job is one in which there is career progression. In a non-training job, there is no career progression. Our internship (also known as House Job in Pakistan) and specialty training jobs (also knows as Residency in Pakistan) are training jobs.

Published on 17 June 2017.
Last updated on 13 January 2019.

42 thoughts on “The UK vs the USA

  1. I also thing your choice of specialty has a role to play also in choosing. For example, if you are non British and You desire cardiology then you stand No chance in the UK until you become British by any of the available routes. But in the US although its challenging to get cardiology, but you stand a chance without being a us citizen.

    1. You are partly right. The thing is, it is not impossible, but it is difficult, to get cardiology in the UK for non-UK/EEA nationals.

  2. Hi. Is it easy for foriegn students to be induced in a surgical field in the UK? I have heard it is very difficult in the USA

    1. It is difficult, but not impossible in the UK. Kindly visit my Facebook page and check my post about surgical training.

  3. I am a single parent of 5 years old boy, would that be convenient to take a child along at UK during the training programme?

    1. I am sorry but I don’t know much about this. If I find any information, I will definitely share.

      If you feel comfortable, you can post this question on the PLAB Facebook group and someone else might be able to guide you.

  4. I’m an Irish national what do you suggest I do? Currently studying in karachi. Dad says bypass plab by giving mrcs part 1

    1. Since you are an Irish National, you might not need to give PLAB. You should email the GMC to confirm this. Taking MRCS without any clinical experience in the UK is not a good idea.

  5. Non training jobs are paid?…can u give comparison of money used in plab and usmle…and when should plab be taken

    1. Non-training jobs are paid. All jobs in the UK are paid jobs.

      PLAB should be taken as soon as one graduates. But even if you graduated a while ago, you can easily take and pass PLAB in quick time.

      This will help you in comparing PLAB with the USMLE (including the difference in expenditure on both):

      This will give you a detailed idea for PLAB expenditure:

  6. 80- 110 hours a week?? how come? that means 11 to 15 hours 7 days a week!! could that be possible

    1. Working hours are not same every day. Total working hours are around 80-110 because of long on-call/night duties twice or thrice a week.

  7. Hello Sir really Informative your article is. I wanted to ask whether they pay the doctor in non training jobs?

  8. i prefer going to USA and work than UK because to me i think this medical job or profession were meant to be for those who dedicated their lives to hard work. And according to this article those who work in USA are in much more stress than those in UK since the training duration of both the countries are almost the same.

  9. Naseer..
    If i get my masters in surgery or medicine in my native country… then i get a fellowship in the uk, after the fellowship…can i practise in the UK?

  10. Does salary for uk that written in comparision table includes extra working hours over 40 hours pw? So if it does, maybe you should change weekly working hours for uk in table?

    1. It includes extra working hours and the compensatory offs. So the weekly working hours are usually 44 hours per week. So the table is accurate.

      I hope this reply helps. 😊

      1. The weekly working hours are never 44 hours a week. Its always 48 hours a week if its band A (as you describe).
        Now, the reality is its more than 48 hours a week as you never finish your shift on time.

        Some jobs (haematology, psychiatry) are 40 hours a week without on calls but you get paid accordingly (30k a year) which is comparable to a salary of a 23 years old office receptionist. You wont be able to buy a decent house in a good location with such salary.

      2. That is not true. I myself am working at £3,050 per month (after all deductions – equal to Band A posting) at an average of 44 hours per week.

  11. Naseer Khan, nice to read your writings.
    I hope you’ll help me in this
    I am a dentistry student and I would like to know the difference between US and UK ragarding specalists like dentists.
    Best wishes

  12. Thank you Dr.Naseer for useful information
    I want to know when I able to have a UK nationality or uk passport ?

    1. Unfortunately, you can not work in Australia purely on the basis of PLAB.

      But I hear the doors to Australia do open with a few years of UK experience. You should check AMC’s official website for this.

      Good luck! 🙂

  13. The starting salary in UK is 2,700 per month ??
    The consultant’s salary is 75,000 – 100,000 per year ??

  14. If I matched in a non-training or a training job in the UK, Can I have another job in UK, at the same time as a doctor or researcher to improve my income ?

  15. Dr, I’m currently into Anaesthesiology residency training here Nigeria. Can I possibly get anaesthesia training job after passing all the exams? I would really want to practise anaesthesia in the UK.

  16. Hi Nasser, I am a F2 trust doctor in East kent and and have always found your blog to be grrreeeaat help because of its brevity and “to-the-pointedness”. You mentioned that “health and education are free in the UK for you, your spouse and children”, because we pay taxes in uk. Just want to clarify,if my wife wants to do a degree here, would we be given discount/free education , considering that she is my dependent and we pay taxes.

  17. What is the status of Gynae and Obs jobs in UK?Is it difficult to get these or not?

  18. I want to ask you about non training jobs weither at the end can i get the specialist degree or not ??

    1. That is possible through the CESR pathway. But the traditional way of becoming a consultant is through training.

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