How to Become a

Family Medicine Doctor

The complete career guide to be a Family Medicine Doctor: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $192,120
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 10.2%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Growing Industry
    Career Attribute

Family medicine doctors are general practitioners who care for a variety of conditions and typically see patients over the course of their entire lives—from teenage to senior years. They treat illnesses, injuries, and diseases; conduct diagnostic tests and routine exams; and refer patients to specialists when needed.

Recommended Schools

What is a Family Medicine Doctor?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in family medicine doctor roles:

  • Test and treat patients for illnesses and injuries
  • Perform annual physicals and routine tests to evaluate a patient’s overall health
  • Prescribe medications and take samples to be used in laboratory tests
  • Refer patients to specialty providers when required
  • Update and maintain patient medical records

A Day in the Life of a Family Medicine Doctor

Family medicine doctors are commonly primary care providers that serve a variety of their patients’ needs over the course of their lifetimes. After an individual outgrows the pediatrician—usually in their teenage years—they switch to family medicine doctors to care for all of their general health needs. Family medicine doctors see their patients frequently—usually at least one a year for an annual exam—and are the first line of defense for discovering health issues and taking care of illnesses and injuries.

On one hand, family medicine doctors care for healthy patients and help them stay healthy. They perform annual physicals, ensure patients receive any necessary immunizations and shots, and perform regular diagnostic lab work to try and identify issues before they progress. They counsel patients on healthy living choices, encouraging overweight patients to eat better and exercise, or teaching young patients on the best practices of safe sex. They work to keep patients healthy over the long-term.

On the other hand, family medicine doctors treat patients for illnesses, injuries, and minor diseases. When patients fall ill with the flu or a sinus infection, they often visit their family care doctor for treatment and medicine. They may also go to the family doctor when needing stiches or suspecting a broken bone. The family medicine doctor prescribes the necessary medicine or treats the injury, and he/she also commonly refers patients to specialists when needed for more advanced treatments.

Typical Work Schedule for Family Medicine Doctors

Most family medicine doctors work full-time schedules, and overtime is common in this line of work. They often keep regular business hours, but they may need to be available in evenings or on weekends for emergencies.

Projected Job Growth for Family Medicine Doctors

Demand for family medicine doctors is expected to grow in the coming decade as a result of increased access to medical care among the general population, as well as the demands of an aging Baby Boomer population who will need increased care as they move into their senior years.

Typical Employers

Most general practitioners work in private offices, either self-owned or shared with one or more other providers. Some may also be employed by hospitals, health networks, healthcare companies, or urgent care centers.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Family Medicine Doctor

The first step in becoming a family medicine doctor is to earn a bachelor’s degree. While your major as an undergraduate is flexible, you’ll want to make sure to take courses in biology, chemistry, math, and physics. If a premed major is available, it’s ideal. If it’s not, it’s not critical. Most premed students major in a biological, social, or physical sciences subject. The most important thing is that you take the required classes for admission into medical school and earn high grades in all of your courses.

After earning your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to take the MCAT—a standardized test for aspiring medical school students—and begin applying for medical school. Admission to medical schools can be competitive, so it’s important to have excellent grades, a high score on the MCAT, compelling letters of recommendation, and a record of participation in extracurricular activities. If you feel your qualifications are lacking, it may be to your advantage to pursue a master’s degree before applying to medical school.

Medical school is a graduate, professional program that lasts approximately four years. The first two years are spent in classroom study, and the last two are spent in residencies where you learn how to be a doctor by working for and observing experienced physicians. In medical school, you can earn an M.D. (Medical Doctor) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), though many family medicine doctors pursue D.O. degrees. To earn your medical license, you’ll need to complete medical school and pass the required exam.

Family Medicine Doctor Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Family Medicine Doctor salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Family Medicine Doctor's can make an average annual salary of $192,120, or $92 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $130,560 or $63 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #9 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Family Medicine Doctor. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Family Medicine Doctors

  • 93.7%   Doctorate
  • 3.3%   Masters
  • 2.3%   Bachelors
  • 0.3%   Associates
  • 0.1%   College
  • 0.2%   High School
  • 0.2%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Family Medicine Doctor job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 14,300 jobs for a total of 154,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 10.2% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #192 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Family Medicine Doctors

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Offices of physicians 83,400 8,600 9%
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 18,300 -700 -1%
Self-employed workers 13,000 2,300 2%

Want To Be a Family Medicine Doctor? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →