Plastic surgeons repair, reconstruct or replace physical defects of patients, including those of the skin, face, muscles, extremities and other areas of the body. They meet with clients to discuss various procedures and schedule them for surgery. If you want to become a plastic surgeon, you need to get both a bachelor's and medical degree. In return, you can expect to earn a salary averaging more than $300,000 annually.
Education and Qualifications
The minimum requirements for a plastic surgeon are a four-year bachelor's degree in any major and a four-year medical degree. At that point, you'll need to take and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination to become a licensed medical doctor, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Plastic surgeons are also required to complete five-year residences and then pass another exam for certification through the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Plastic surgeons must be compassionate, empathetic and physically fit to handle long hours in their offices and hospitals. Other essential requirements include an attention to detail and organization, communication and problem-solving skills.
The average annual salary of a plastic surgeon was $317,000 in 2012, according to the latest available data from Medscape, or $6,096 per week. This represents a 17.4 percent increase over the 2011 average salary for a plastic surgeon of $270,000 annually, or $5,192 weekly. Plastic surgeons' salaries were ranked seventh among the 25 surgeons and physicians listed, according to Medscape. Orthopedic and cardiologists earned the most at $405,000 and $357,000 per year, respectively, or $7,788 and $6,865 weekly.
One of the key factors that will impact your salary as a plastic surgeon are referrals, which you can best obtain through other physicians. You must also satisfy your clients to get referrals. Geographical location can also impact your salary. You'd likely earn more in California or Washington, D.C., because living expenses are higher in this state and district. For example, if you earned $320,000 as a plastic surgeon in Orlando, you'd need to make $428,504 in Los Angeles to enjoy the same living standard, according to CNN Money's "Cost of Living" calculator. In Washington, D.C., you'd have to earn $473,166 to maintain the same living standard as in Orlando, or approximately 48 percent more.
The BLS projects a 24 percent increase in employment for physicians and surgeons from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the 14 percent growth rate for all occupations. Population increases among baby boomers, who are most likely to have cosmetic surgery, may increase job opportunities for plastic surgeons during this decade. Newer technologies will enable all surgeons to increase their number of procedures, which may also increase jobs for plastic surgeons.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Physicians and Surgeons Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Physician or Surgeon
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physicians and Surgeons: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Physicians and Surgeons
- Medscape: Physician Compensation in 2012
- American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc.: Booklet of Information
- The Ohio State University: Plastic Surgery
- Medscape: Plastic Surgeons Compensation in 2011
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go In Another City?
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