Surgeons: Salary Overview
Surgeons are highly trained professionals who operate on patients to treat injuries, diseases, and deformities.
They perform surgeries in order to fix broken bones, treat cancerous tumors, and difformities.
A surgeon’s job description typically includes taking a patient’s medical history, updating charts to include current findings and treatment, reviewing test results, and performing surgeries.
They can use invasive, minimally-invasive, or non-invasive surgical methods.
Some surgeons practice general surgery while others specialize in one of the following fields, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, pediatric surgery, vascular surgery, transplant, or neurosurgery.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for surgeons was $255,110 as of May 2018 but salaries vary depending on the surgeon’s specialty, the level of experience, the industry, and the region of employment.
Beginners typically make less than $100,000 a year while experienced surgeons can make more than $500,000 a year.
When calculating a surgeon’s earnings we should also mention that in order to become a surgeon you first have to finish four years of medical school and this can leave you with a huge student loan debt.
Surgeon Salary by Specialty
Salaries and total compensations vary widely depending on the surgeon’s specialty.
According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2019, the average annual compensation for plastic surgeons was $471,000 while general surgeons earned, on average, $362,000 a year.
Salaries also vary depending on the region of employment, the place of employment, and the surgeon’s experience and education.
For example, self-employed general surgeons earned, on average, $386,000 per year while employed general surgeons made $348,000 a year.
As a self-employed surgeon, you can choose to either be a practice owner or you may partner with other physicians.
Being self-employed can help you earn a higher compensation package but it also implies additional responsibilities.
Becoming certified by the American Board of Medical Specialists, the American Osteopathic Association, or the American Board of Physician Specialties can improve your employment prospects and earnings potential.
To become certified in your specialty you will need to spend several years in a residency program and pass a specialty certification exam.
Keeping up with the latest technologies and knowing how to perform minimally invasive surgeries can also improve a surgeon’s earning prospects.
Surgeon Salary by Industry
Surgeon salaries also vary based on the industry of employment.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surgeons held approximately 38,200 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them being employed by offices of physicians, by general medical and surgical hospitals, or by colleges, universities, and professional schools.
Surgeons who were employed by offices of physicians earned, on average, $265,920 a year or $127.85 per hour.
General medical and surgical hospitals offered a $225,700 mean annual salary for surgeons.
The average annual wage for surgeons who worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools was $175,410 per year.
Outpatient care centers employed only 710 surgeons but paid them, on average, with $277,670 per year.
Specialty hospitals offered a mean annual wage of $235,770 for surgeons.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment for surgeons is projected to grow 1 percent in the United States from 2018 to 2028.
Demand for surgeons is expected to grow but it will be tempered by new technologies that allow surgeons to treat more patients in the same amount of time.
Job prospects vary depending on the surgeon’s specialty and the region of employment.
Employment opportunities are expected to be good especially for surgeons who are willing to relocate to underserved areas and for those in specialties dealing with health conditions that affect aging baby-boomers.
Cardiovascular surgeons, for example, will be especially in demand in the future.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Surgeons. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.