Top In-Demand Locum Specialties

Kristen Campbell
Jun. 23, 2020
10-minute read

From flexible hours to more options for travel, being a locum is a perfect way to find more balance and fun in your career as a physician – and some specializations are more in-demand than others. Locums in high demand can be paid at higher rates, have more options for workplaces, and have more options for the positions they can choose. Sound interesting? Below we recap the top in-demand locum specialities of 2020.

1. Surgeons

There are plenty of options for locum tenens surgery doctors, no matter what specialization – since surgeons are always in demand, this locum work is especially attractive in rural, indigenous, or Northern areas, where locum tenens surgery physicians who are willing to travel can be paid up to $1800 per day for their work

Being a locum in a surgical specialty has other benefits as well – this kind of work will allow you to see a broader range of surgical cases, which will benefit your career as a physician by exposing you to different types of patients and situations. Surgeon locums across the country are more needed than ever, since many surgical specializations are seeing doctors retiring in large numbers – when this happens, many clinic and hospital administrators will hire locum doctors to fill the positions until they can get a suitable full time hire. Different surgical specializations are also in higher demand. For example, podiatry locum tenens are one of the specializations retiring in large numbers, and this will impact the demand for these locum positions. 

2. Ophthalmology

Opthamologists are the highest paid medical specializations in Canada – and they are always in demand, whether you are doing full time work or hired as a locum. Because opthamologists are so specialized, clinics and hospital administrators are always interested in calling in locums to cover off breaks, vacations, and retirement.

The specialization is so in demand that many of these locum positions will be in the same clinic as the existing doctor, covering off overflow patients. Locum tenens ophthalmology jobs are available across the country and are highly paid – opthamologists in Canada bill an average of $790,000 per year, although the amount you earn will depend on the locum position, location, and the number of patients that you will see. For other eye care practitioners, locum tenens optometry positions are also highly in demand, and willing locums can find many opportunities to work more flexible hours, see more patients, and travel across the country!

3. Internal medicine

Internists are one of the more in-demand specializations – this is because they are one of the more generalized of the medical specialists. Internists focus on any of the internal organ systems and patients who need treatment for these systems. These specialists are often retiring, which means locum tenens internal medicine positions are readily available. In addition, because the specialization is more generalized, there are plenty of opportunities to assist patients in rural, northern, or underserved areas of the country – these locum tenens internal medicine positions are often highly paid, with rates exceeding $2000 per day.

4. Anesthesiology

Anesthesiology locum tenens roles are some of the most in-demand worldwide – anesthesiologists can be used in many different procedures, and the specialization as a whole is seeing retirement in larger numbers than before. When this happens, there are many hospitals, clinics, and surgical practices that will create anesthesiology locum roles to cover patient overflow, doctor shortages, and retirements. Anesthesiologists in Canada make an average of $431,000 per year, and there are many positions available for anesthesiologists both in the United States and abroad.

5. Radiology

Being one of the more in-demand medical specializations means that radiologists also top the list of locums in demand. Locum tenens radiology positions are available around the country and are always needed to replace doctors and specialists who are away. Because of the nature of the work, radiologists are especially able to choose flexible roles – there is enough demand to ensure there are full time, part time, and contract or seasonal positions. Radiologists who want to work abroad or in the United States can be happy too – there is plenty of work around the world, and these locum tenens radiology jobs often pay the same or more than you would earn as a radiologist, depending on the length or duration of the term.

6. Dermatology

As a diverse specialization with lots of different uses, dermatology is one of the more popular opportunities for locums. Locum tenens dermatology roles are widely available in Canada and abroad, and due to the specialized, patient-focused nature of the job, tend to involve longer term contracts covering for doctors who are on leave, retiring, or have left the practice. Since residency spots are competitive for new dermatologists, there are fewer doctors entering the profession at one time, which means plenty of opportunities for locums to fill the gaps!

7. Emergency Medicine

Emergency medicine is one of the highest demand locum specializations – and for good reason! Locum doctors in the ER can expect to be covering on-call positions, taking on overflow patients, or taking over for doctors who are on leave or retired. Whatever the job opening, the ER physician has the most opportunities of all the specialties for locum work. Depending on where you want to work, this locum work can earn you a higher rate of pay then you earn elsewhere, and the ability to work in the ER will make you highly marketable as a locum worldwide. Many locum agencies can place ER doctors in countries like England, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, because of the nature of the work. The costs for airfare, relocation, and moving expenses are often included in the compensation packages for these positions – so if you’re willing to work, you could find yourself travelling the world for free!

Emergency medicine is also popular with physicians who have just finished medical school. In addition to the high availability of the work, there are plenty of more flexible or part time locum jobs available for evenings and weekends, which is perfect for medical graduates who might work in a full time practice and are looking for extra hours.

8. Urgent Care

For similar reasons to emergency medicine, urgent care locum tenens positions are also highly in demand worldwide. Packed emergency rooms mean more patients trying to seek urgent care, and hospitals always have opportunities for locums to cover overflow patients, on-call times, and doctor shortages. Like doctors in the ER, urgent care locum tenens have the ability to travel almost anywhere in the world, often with their travel and moving expenses covered as part of their compensation.


As long as there are babies to be delivered, jobs for OB/GYN doctors are always in demand! In addition to the delivery room, OB/GYN locums are especially needed for women’s annual checkups, physical exams, and other more specialized issues – new locum jobs are always appearing in this field, and you could find yourself working in places like hospitals, women’s clinics, or private practices.

10. Family Physicians

General practitioners are some of the most in demand physicians in the medical field – so it’s no surprise that great locums are highly sought after! The role of the locum doctor is crucial for family medicine – since many family doctors work in the private practice setting, they will be responsible for their overhead costs and monthly fixed expenses, no matter how many patients they are able to see. This means that if they want to take a vacation, research leave, or retire, the practice will need locum doctors to fill the gap! Because of this, there are family doctor locum roles all across the country. Whether you’re in a major metropolitan area or somewhere more rural, there is a perfect locum role for you. Make sure to check out classified ads and other websites like Locumunity  to find the perfect fit.


Locum doctors in all specializations will have their pick of great, high paying job opportunities. Most of these opportunities come with additional benefits – like more flexibility, travel, or work-life balance. Whatever your specialty, your work as a locum is sure to be exciting – so do some research, take your time, and jump in to a job that seems like a perfect fit! If you want to learn all the ins and outs of locuming check out our Ultimate Locum Guide.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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Dr. Nour Khatib left medical school for a finance career, but a persistent calling encouraged her to return years later and become an emergency physician.

20 Jobs in High Demand for Doctors in Canada

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When you’re deciding on the specialization you will eventually choose, it’s important to consider the demand for doctors in Canada. We’ve pulled together 20 of the most in demand specializations to help you narrow it down.

Kristen Campbell
Kristen Campbell is a content writer with experience writing for technology, real estate, healthcare, and higher education. She holds a BA from McMaster University and a B-Comm. from the University of Calgary, and is passionate about creating content that’s both educational and engaging.
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