The Average Salary of a Surgeon

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The Average Salary of a Surgeon

The average salary of a surgeon is $247,520 per year.

Surgery is a prestigious field that requires a high degree of skill, dedication and hard work of its members. Not surprisingly, surgeons’ compensation reflects this fact. Let’s take a look at the average salary of a surgeon and some of the best places to be a surgeon. 

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Average Salary of a Surgeon: The Basics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a surgeon was $247,520 per year, $119.00 per hour in 2015. Even the lowest-paid 10% of surgeons earn $111,420 per year, $53.57 per hour, so the chances are high that becoming a surgeon will result in a six-figure salary. The average salary of a surgeon is higher than the average salary of doctors, with the exception of anesthesiologists, who earn roughly as much as surgeons.

The top-paying state for surgeons is Wyoming, followed by South Dakota, Rhode Island, Oregon and North Dakota. The top-paying metro area for surgeons is Worcester, MA-CT. Other high-paying metro areas include: Portland-South Portland, ME; Pittsfield, MA; Manchester, NH and Dover-Durham, NH-ME.

Related Article: The Cost of Medical School


Where Surgeons Work

According to BLS data, most of the surgeons in the U.S. work in physicians’ offices, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $256,120. Second to physicians’ offices for the highest concentration of surgeons are General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $213,740. Outpatient Care Centers are next up. There, surgeons earn an annual mean wage of $237,670. A smaller number of surgeons are employed in colleges, universities and professional schools, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $140,180. Last up are what the BLS terms offices of other health practitioners. In those offices, the mean annual wage for surgeons is $202,510.

Related Article: The Average Salary of a Doctor

Becoming a Surgeon

You may have heard that the cost of becoming a doctor, including the cost of medical school and other expenses, has soared. Aspiring surgeons must get BA and MD degrees and then complete years of residency. The length of surgical residency programs varies by field.

According to the American College of Surgeons, surgical residency programs last five years for general surgery. But some residency programs are longer than five years. For example, thoracic surgery and pediatric surgery both require residents to complete the five-year general surgery residency, plus two additional years of field-specific surgical residency.

Surgeons must also be licensed and certified. The fees for the licensing exam are the same regardless as specialty, but the application and exam fees for board certification vary by specialty. Maintenance of certification is also required. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it qualification. The American Board of Surgery requires continuing education, as well as an exam at 10-year intervals.

Bottom Line

Surgeons earn some of the highest salaries in the country. However, the costs associated with becoming a surgeon are high, and student debt may eat into surgeons’ high salaries for years. The costs of maintaining certification and professional insurance are significant ongoing costs associated with being a surgeon.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/megaflopp, ©iStock.com/XiXinXing, ©iStock.com/shapecharge  

Amelia Josephson
Amelia Josephson is a staff writer covering financial literacy topics at SmartAsset. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.

The Average Salary of a Surgeon

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