A Health Care Manager's Salary Vs. a Surgeon's Salary

by Beth Greenwood

Neither health care management nor surgery comprises a single career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the terms medical and health services managers and notes that these individuals may have duties ranging from the management of a single clinical unit to an entire hospital. Some health care managers are members of senior management, such as the chief executive officer or chief financial officer. Surgeons may specialize in a wide variety of areas as well. All of these factors affect salary.

Diversity is the Norm

When it comes to education, health care managers may have anything from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate, according to the BLS. Some health care managers may have clinical degrees in nursing, medicine or similar fields, while others may specialize in health information, finance or information technology. Surgeons complete the typical path of college, medical school and residency and, in many cases, an extended training period called a fellowship. Typical surgical specialties include cardiovascular surgery, orthopedics, trauma, oncology, maxillofacial surgery and breast surgery. Other surgeons may specialize in a patient population, such as children or women.

Settings and Salaries Vary

Salaries for medical and health services managers averaged $98,460 in 2012, according to the BLS. Most people in this occupation worked in hospitals, where the average annual salary was $104,680. Others worked in settings such as nursing care facilities, home health and outpatient care centers, where salaries averaged $82,240, $88,670 and $94,720 respectively. Although only small numbers of medical and health service managers worked in these industries, the best-paying jobs were in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing and computer systems design and related services, with salaries of $142,210 and $146,160, respectively.

The Top Dogs

The most senior individuals in health care management include the CEO, COO, CFO, chief nursing executive and others such as the top managers in human resources, materials management, information systems, legal services and managed care. Salaries for these individuals in 2011 generally varied according to the size of the organization, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives -- the highest salaries were in organizations with net revenues of $1 billion or more. In these organizations, managed care executives earned $265,000, human resources executives earned $313,000 and legal services executives earned $363,000. The typical nursing executive salary was $279,000, while CFOs earned $476,000, COOs earned $624,000 and CEOs earned $898,000.

Money in Medicine

The BLS tracks only three surgical specialties. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons earned $216,440 in 2012, obstetrician-gynecologists earned $216,760 and general surgeons earned $230,540. Becker’s Hospital Review reported that in 2010, salaries for surgical specialists ranged from $325,295 to $767,627. Breast surgeons earned the least at $325,295, while plastic and reconstructive surgeons were in the midpoint of the range, with an annual salary of $433,510. Pediatric cardiovascular surgeons earned the second-highest salary at $762,846 a year, and neurological surgeons were the top earners, with an average annual salary of $767,627.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

Photo Credits

  • Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images