What Surgeon Makes the Most Money (Top 16)?

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money?

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

Let’s 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 methods to obtain and classify this data, hence the difference.

Watch the Video for the 16 Highest Surgeon Salary in the U.S.

Top 16 highest-paid physician specialties (According to Medical Group Management Association)

In 2019, MGMA analyzed data from more than 6000 organizations and 160,000 physicians. So, how much do surgeons make?

Remember: Years of experience, geographical locations, economic climate and type of practice influence surgeon salaries.

16. Head and Neck Surgeon $289,068

Head and neck surgeons are highly paid in the US. Here, the average salary of a head and neck surgeon is around $289,068. Houston has the highest average total salary for head and neck surgeons.

15. Maxillofacial Surgeon – $242,740 to $311,460

To become a maxillofacial or oral surgeon, you must first have an accredited Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Next, you need to complete a four-year course in dentistry.

Then, you have to complete additional coursework on oral and maxillofacial surgery. In the United States, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon earns around $242,740 to $311,460 annually.

14. Urologist Surgeon ($239,868 – $476,480)

To become a urologist, you must finish a residency program for five to six years, approved by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). You must learn general surgery during the first two years of residency training, and the next three years are entirely devoted to urology.

In the US, the average salary of a Urologist ranges between $239,868 to $476,480. Salary can vary significantly based on their education, credentials, additional talents, skillset, and experience.

13. ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) Surgeon ($225,287 – $470,264)

An ENT surgeon generally performs different surgical methods in the nose, ear, and throat. Every year, they earn around $225,287 to $470,264, depending on their experience, education, certification, and additional skills.

12. Ophthalmologist (Opthalmologic Surgeon) $266,800 – $363,000

Students must complete a bachelor’s degree and four years of medical school before becoming ophthalmologists.

Next, they must complete three years of ophthalmology training followed by an intern year of residency. Ophthalmologists in the US earn between $266,800 and $363,000 every year.

11. Gynecology and Obstetrics Surgeon ($267,816 – $371,473)

To become a Gynecology and Obstetrics Surgeon, you must first graduate from medical school. You must complete an OBGYN residency program from a reputed organization accredited by the American Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

The average salary of a Gynecology and Obstetrics in the US is around $267,816 to $371,473. It may vary based on their certifications, education, skillset, and experience.

10. General Surgery – $370,000

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 general surgeon salary is around $370,000

9. Orthopedic Surgeon – $510,000

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

8. Plastic Surgeon – $526,000

Plastic surgery is leading the list with an 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 pandemic.

7. Vascular Surgeon – $534,508

Vascular surgeons usually operate on the arteries and veins disease in every part of the body. However, they don’t focus on the veins and arteries of the heart and brain.

This profession is also a high-paying one globally. On average, a vascular surgeon earns $534,508.

In vascular surgery, surgeons usually operate by restoring the blood flow within the human body.

It may include angioplasty, which implies opening the blocked blood vessels or removing plaque within the diseased veins and arteries.

Some surgeons also specialize in particular vascular interventions, and their pay is according to their specialties and skills.

After graduation, you may need 5 years of general surgery and 2 years of vascular surgery training to become a vascular surgeon.

6. Thoracic surgeon – $ 668 350

Thoracic or cardiothoracic surgery refers to operations or surgeries that take place in the chest. It’s one of the highest-paid specialties, where the highest earnings of surgeons in the USA is $563,076.

In the USA, the average earnings of thoracic surgeons are $407,577-$563,076. In Switzerland, you can earn around $ 668 350 a year through this profession.

There’s a high demand for thoracic surgeons worldwide. Thoracic surgeons are specialists who operate on the esophagus, heart, lungs, and trachea.

Thoracic surgeon candidates usually need a 4 year UG degree and a medical degree to become a thoracic surgeon.

In the USA, thoracic surgeons have high-paying roles. That’s why it’s the best place to earn more in this profession.

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

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/per 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 of residency plus fellowship.

Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2021

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

4. Cardiovascular surgery – $795,000

The stakes are high in cardiac surgery, as you have to deal with the heart. The work intensity varies, but sometimes they must perform 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.

3. Pediatric neurosurgeon – $818,000

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. To become a neurosurgeon, one must finish 7 years of residency and 1-3 years of fellowship to become a pediatric neurosurgeon.

2. Orthopedic surgeon: spine – $835,000

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 sports 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.

1. Neurosurgeon – $875,000

Neurosurgeons hold the number 1 spot as the highest-paid surgeons on this list, with an average reported salary of just under 1 million USD.

Considering the number of years required to become a neurosurgeon and the workload they have to deal with, this is well-deserved pay.

What Surgeon Makes the Most Money

surgeon salary in the US – Top 10

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.


Finding reliable surgeon salary data for Europe is even harder. The EU is composed of 27 separate countries with their own medical systems.

The income of surgeons 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 Medscape’s International Physician Compensation Report 2019, the average salary is twice as low in the UK and Germany as it is in the U.S.


According to various sources, the highest-paid surgeons in the U.S. work in plastic, neurological, and orthopedic surgery.

See Also

Medical Billing and Coding Salary

Physician Assistant Salary

Difference Between Medical Assistant and Physician Assistant

Average Pay for Doctors

Physician Organizations in the USA

How Much Does a Nurse Practitioner Make

Radiologist Salary

Sonographer Salary

Current Version
August 28, 2021
Written By
Gvantsa Qvariani
June 18, 2023
Updated By
Shubham Grover
July 29, 2023
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.

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