Neurosurgeons are surgeons specializing in the nervous system. While they must undergo years of schooling and specialized training, all of that hard work pays off when they enter the workforce. Even at the start of their careers, neurosurgeons tend to earn more than doctors in general medicine. Neurosurgery generates more money for hospitals than primary care, so employers are willing to pay neurosurgeons a higher salary for their expertise.
In 2012, all surgeons averaged an annual salary of $230,540, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure doesn’t account for specialty or years of experience, two factors that have significant bearing on earnings. A survey by Allied Physicians found that surgeons specializing in neurosurgery earned $354,000 in their first and second years in practice. MedAccord sets the average starting salary even higher at about $500,000 annually. The highest reported starting salary was over $750,000 a year.
As neurosurgeons gain more experience, salaries can reach upward of $936,000 a year. With just three years of experience, neurosurgeons averaged $541,000 a year. Those in practice as a partner can make as much as $1 million annually, according to MedAccord.
The high salaries available to neurosurgeons are partly due to the limited number of people who complete the education and training it takes to become a specialist. Those looking to become neurosurgeons must complete four years of undergraduate education, another four years of medical school, and then an internship and residency program. A neurosurgery residency can range from six to seven years. It takes an average of 14 to 15 years of education and training total to become a neurosurgeon.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment for surgeons as a whole to grow by as much as 24 percent through 2020. This is much faster than the average growth for all U.S. occupations (14 percent). The 24 percent growth rate equates to the creation of over 168,000 new jobs, some of which will be in neurosurgery.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Physicians and Surgeons
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Surgeons
- Allied Physicians: Physician Salary Survey
- MedAccord: Physician Salary
- Wayne State University: Residents & Fellows
- Indiana University: Residency Program
- Forbes: The Best- and Worst-Paying Jobs for Doctors
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images