There were 42,410 surgeons employed in the United States as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most surgeons specialize in specific areas of the body, such as the gastrointestinal tract or heart. They mainly work in general and specialty hospitals and surgical centers. In some facilities they are paid per procedure, while in others they are paid a salary. If you want to become a surgeon, you can expect an average annual income above $200,000.
Salary and Qualifications
Surgeons earned average annual incomes of $230,540 as of May 2011, according to the BLS. That translates to $19,212 per month. To become a surgeon, you must complete a bachelor's degree and four years of medical school, and then spend three to eight years in a residency program or internship. Subsequently, you must pass the national Medical Licensing Exam, or USMLE, to become a licensed physician and surgeon. To be successful, you need patience, empathy, manual dexterity and organizational, communication, problem-solving and leadership skills.
Salary by Industry
In 2011, average monthly salaries for surgeons varied somewhat by work environment. The BLS reports that surgeons in specialty hospitals earned the highest average salaries at $238,120 per year, or $19,843 per month. Specialty hospitals are those that focus exclusively on a particular type of procedure, such as cardiovascular, orthopedic or cancer surgeries. Surgeons who worked in a physician's office or for the state government averaged $19,814 per month and $19,493 per month, respectively. Monthly earnings were slightly below the national average in outpatient care centers and general medical and surgical hospitals, at $18,457 and $18,219, respectively.
Salary by State
The BLS reports that among the states, surgeons in North Dakota earned some of the highest incomes at an average of $243,360 per year, or $20,280 per month. The BLS only reported data for states with large enough sample sizes. Surgeons in Ohio averaged $19,691 per month, while those in Connecticut averaged $19,616. Surgeons earned slightly less in Florida and Kentucky at monthly averages of $19,233 and $19,218, respectively.
Jobs for physicians and surgeons are expected to increase 24 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. That compares to a 14 percent projected growth rate for all occupations. Most of the job growth will be spurred by a growing number of elderly Americans, who usually require more surgeries and treatments than younger folks.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physicians and Surgeons
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Surgeons
- U.S. News & World Report: University Directory: Surgeons Job Description - Career Video, Education and Salary Outlook
- American College of Surgeons: Frequently Asked Questions
- Southcoast Health System: General Surgeon Opportunity Overview
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