What Surgeon Makes the Most Money (Top 8)

What Surgeon Makes the Most MoneyWhat Surgeon Makes the Most Money

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money in 2021

There is no doubt that surgeons are amongst the highest paid professionals in the medical field. In fact, in many countries the list of top 5 highest-paid physician specialties is composed entirely of surgeons.

Lets review the data available online and see which field of surgery has the highest paid doctors. As you will see below, the numbers vary depending on sources. Organizations that create annual salary reports use their own methods to obtain and classify this data, hence the difference.

 

Top 5 highest-paid physician specialties ( according to Medical Group Management Association)

In 2019 MGMA analyzed data from more than 6 000 organizations and 160 000 physicians. Here are 5 specialties with highest compensation:

 

1. Neurosurgeon – $875,000

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money - Neurosurgery

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money – Neurosurgery

Neurosurgeons hold the number 1 spot in this list, with an average reported salary just under 1 million USD. Considering the number of years required to become neurosurgeon and the workload they have to deal with, this is well deserved pay.

2. Orthopedic surgeon: spine – $835,000

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money - Orthopedic Surgeon (spine)

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money – Orthopedic Surgeon (spine)

Orthopedic surgeons have become one of the highest paid doctors in the world. They diagnose and treat injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. All major sport teams in the U.S and Europe have at least one specialist on standby and pay millions of dollars annually for their services. Spinal orthopedic surgeons focus on clinical diagnoses around spinal bones and muscles, like scoliosis.

3. Pediatric neurosurgeon – $818,000

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money- Pediatric neurosurgeon

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money – Pediatric neurosurgeon

In third place we have pediatric neurosurgeons, who treat things like tumors and spinal defects in children. This differs from regular neurosurgery, since a child’s anatomy and physiology are not the same as adults. One needs to finish 7 years of residency and 1-3 years of fellowship to become a pediatric neurosurgeon.

4. Cardiovascular surgery – $795,000

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money - Cardiovascular surgeon

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money – Cardiovascular surgeon

The stakes are really high in cardiac surgery, as you have to deal with the heart. Intensity of work varies, but sometimes they have to perform really long operations, up to 12 hours. You need 7-9 years after you finish med school to become a cardiovascular surgeon and probably will have to work up to 80 hours/week.

5. Orthopedic surgeon: hip and joints – $756,000

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money - Orthopedic Surgeon - Hip and Joints

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money – Orthopedic Surgeon – Hip and Joints

Orthopedic surgeons specialize in things like hip and knee replacements. They mainly work with older patients. They also need to be on call in case of accidents and usually work more than 60 hours/week. To become an orthopedic surgeon you need at least 6-7 years after you graduate from med school. This includes a minimum of 5 years residency, plus fellowship.

Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2021

This report lists several surgery specialties among top paid medical jobs in the US.

6. Plastic Surgeon

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money - Plastic Surgeon

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money – Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgery is leading the list with average annual compensation of $526,000. The interesting fact is that plastic surgeons salaries increased by an average of 10% in 2020, despite the fact they did not have as much work as in previous years – elective surgeries stopped almost everywhere during the pandemics.

7. Orthopedic Surgeon

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money - Orthopedic Surgeon

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money – Orthopedic Surgeon

The numbers in this report are lower than in the previous one. According to Medscape average annual salary of orthopedic surgeons is $510,000

8. General surgery

General surgeons are trained to perform a wide variety of procedures, including common medical issues such as appendicitis, hernias, cholecystitis, etc. All types of surgeons begin their training as general surgeons first. According to this report their average salary is around $370,000

Annual Physician Compensation Report (Doximity)

These data were obtained from the survey responses from 135,000 U.S. doctors. Here is the list of specialties doing best in terms of annual compensation :

  1. Neurosurgery — $746,544
  2. Thoracic surgery — $668,350
  3. Orthopedic surgery — $605,330
  4. Plastic surgery — $539,208
  5. Oral and maxillofacial — $538,590
  6. Vascular surgery — $534,508
  7. Cardiology — $527,231
  8. Radiation oncology — $516,016
  9. Gastroenterology — $485,817
  10. Radiology — $485,460
  11. Urology — $472,941
  12. Otolaryngology (ENT) — $472,273
  13. Dermatology — $449,494
  14. Anesthesiology — $445,533
  15. General surgery — $439,824
  16. Colon & rectal surgery — $438,811
  17. Oncology — $437,280
  18. Ophthalmology — $424,488
  19. Pulmonology — $374,293
  20. Nuclear medicine — $367,741

 

Six out of ten top paid specialties are related to surgery.

Europe

Finding reliable data for Europe is even harder. The EU is composed of 27 separate countries with their own medical systems. The income of doctors varies widely in these countries. Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are referred to as the highest paying countries for doctors. In general, salaries for surgeons in the EU are less than in the U.S. The same is true for physicians. According to Medscapes International Physician Compensation Report 2019, the average salary is twice lower in the UK and Germany than in the U.S.

Summary

According to various sources, the highest paid doctors in the U.S are working in fields of plastic, neurologic and orthopedic surgery.

Sources

https://www.mgma.com/data/benchmarking-data/provider-compensation-data

https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2021-compensation-overview-6013761#3

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/practices/list-20-highest-paid-specialties-2020-as-average-physician-pay-dips-doximity

https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2019-international-compensation-report-6011814#14

https://www.doximity.com/2020_compensation_report

See Also

Difference Between Medical Assistant and Physician Assistant

Average Pay for Doctors in 2021

Physician Organizations in USA

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